Since we test vehicles, tires, and car accessories on a regular basis, we are not usually surprised by a tire puncture. However, we recently had a tire pierced by what we can only surmise was a meteorite. The image above shows the result of the object's unlikely penetration through the tire. According to Space.com, thousands of meteorites strike Earth each year. A huge meteorite struck a car in New York in 1992, passing through the trunk. Coincidental to this flat tire, many people in New England reported seeing a meteor.
The object first appeared to be a large chunk of metal. The second image shows the look from the outside of the tire. We applied a strong magnet to the object and found it was non-ferrous. It still may have been stainless steel, but once the tire was removed from the rim, it was apparent the object was a stone of some type.
Interestingly, there appeared to be a bit of tire melting around the perimeter of the stone. Hmm. Hot stones capable of going through a tire are unusual on the surfaces we drive on. The tire puncture happened on Metro Boston roads, not off-road, and the driver didn't pass through any paving zones or unusual road construction.
If a stone can cut through a tire, we would assume this would be a common occurrence. Our tire shop tells us that it is not. They have removed objects of every type from tires including crescent wrenches. However, the experienced tire tech tells us he had not before seen a stone go through a tire and then remain in place. This one actually held enough air for the car to be driven about ten miles before it went to zero pressure. Did the melting help seal the air in?
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The tire that was punctured was a Toyo A36 grand touring tire on a Mazda CX-5. It was only partly worn with approximately 34,000 miles on it. The other three were in great shape. These tires were not degraded or mistreated.
What's your take on the object? An uncommon, but possible stone impact that happened to drive the stone into the tire, but not then be flung out? And what about the melting we observed? If you have a guess better than a meteorite strike, we are happy to entertain your speculation in the comments section below.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin