Blowout on an L.A. freeway

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I was about 10 years of age and sitting in the back of our family car, a lemon yellow early '70s model Pontiac, when I first learned that a tire can blow out on your car. My dad was driving down a freeway in Los Angeles and soon the car was swerving and then jolted to a safe stop at the side of the road.

Today I am realizing that I haven't had a single other scary vehicle malfunction on or off a freeway during the rest of my life -- until last night. In a weird case of history repeating itself, I had a tire blow out as I was driving my three kids on a freeway in LA!

The kids were all safely belted in the back. We just finished a day at Disneyland so we were still in "happy-mode" and I was driving them from Anaheim, home to Arizona.

One way vehicles have improved since my first tire blow-out experience back with my dad, is they now tell you when something is going wrong. My first clue there was a problem was when I was navigating from the 57-North freeway onto the 91-East, a warning sound dinged and a yellow exclamation point lit up and words appeared above my speedometer saying "low tire pressure".

Soon the vehicle started handling like the fun-house car we had just been driving inside Toon Town's Roger Rabbit ride! I swerved to the small freeway shoulder as traffic zoomed past us at full-on freeway speed.

Now, I admit it was such a bummer to end my nice day with my kids in such a scary way. But, overpowering that is a grateful feeling because luck was on our side over-and-over again last night.

First, when I pulled over with the swaying, three tire and one bare tire-rim car -- there was not JUST the narrow shoulder, but also thankfully there was a small patch of land where my kids could exit the vehicle and stand in relative safety. So we climbed out and I called the Auto Club.

Next, as I was still in the automated phone answering system at the AAA Auto Club, a California Highway Patrol officer in "Hollywood movie hero fashion", appeared out of nowhere on his motorcycle and zoomed up over some rocks to get to where we were.

He gave us assurance and immediate help. My kids commented on how they felt better seeing his friendly smile. He told me that we could wait for the Auto Club OR he would make a call to the California Freeway Roadside Assistance service and they could probably arrive pretty quickly to change my tire.

I learned it is a free service for stranded folks who find themselves in a scary and dangerous roadside predicament like we did. Ten minutes later, a one man pit-crew that the officer called arrived and within about a half hour we were on the freeway again, on the road home to Arizona, counting our blessings with our spare tire bolted in place.