Just after we came to this decision, I heard a whump coming from the back of my car. Startled, I looked in the rearview mirror. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary, and the car felt okay (well, at least as okay as it's felt for a few weeks now....it's been doing a lot more vibrating at certain speeds than I remember it doing in the past (yes yes, I've been meaning to get this looked at), but it didn't feel any different than it had, say, yesterday), so I kept on driving at my usual fairly-rapid pace...I was probably going 75 or 80 MPH. I don't like to drive much, so I'm always in a hurry to get wherever I'm going. It's best to stay out of my way. I had a box of books in the trunk, so I figured perhaps that had shifted about, or maybe one book had leaped out of the box.
Well, a couple minutes later, I heard a much louder whump whump-whump! coming from the back. This was much more frightening. It basically sounded as though 3 softballs had been fast-pitched at my trunk simultaneously. I slowed down, looking again in the mirror, but saw nothing. I kept thinking maybe it had been road debris or something, but I saw nothing bouncing away, or off other cars, or whatever. If it was the books in the car, the box must have exploded, sending books flying every which way to have made that much noise. And I hadn't even been taking a curve or changing speeds or anything that would account of the contents of my trunk shifting so much.
So I slowed down significantly, put on my turn signal, and got off at the next exit. I popped my trunk, and my sister and I both got out to examine the car. First I looked for dents or marks in the trunk, that would show a rock had hit the car. Nothing. I opened the trunk, hoping to see books scattered everywhere. The box of books looked back at me innocently, all of its contents still neatly in place. Finally, I looked at my rear-right tire, and found my problem. A large chunk of the tread was peeling itself off the tire! The tire hadn't actually exploded, but it was working on shredding itself apart. I was apparently pretty lucky that it didn't just burst itself into pieces all over the highway!
Scary. But it wasn't flat or anything, so I decided to drive home on it. I drove slowly (well, slowly for me at least....the speed limit), and took surface roads home. I kept both hands firmly on the steering wheel, in case it decided to blow out. You know how it is, once you suspect something wrong with your car. You start really listening and paying attention to it, questioning and worrying about every noise and wobble it makes, when the same behaviors would be totally ignored if you weren't already worried for some reason. We kept reassuring the car. "Good little car, just a little further now, you can do it. You're almost there. Just take us to Taco Bell, then home, then you can rest." (Well yes of course we still went to Taco Bell. I mean, we needed our steak bowls, didn't we? And the car was really behaving just fine.)
Anyway. We got home perfectly safely, and enjoyed the steak. This morning I got up early and took it to a tire place which is conveniently located just blocks from my house. It is now there, being doctored. They are going to replace both rear tires and check the alignment for me. Hopefully it will be healthy and home soon, and ready to take me to work!
Well, the tire people just called. They were trying to do the alignment, and they discovered that my hub...rotator? ...hub attacher? ...hub thingy? ...is broken too, and need to be replaced. I'd be suspicious, but like I said, it has been doing a heck of a lot of vibrating recently, so I knew something was wrong and needed fixing. This seems to make sense. So I'm letting them replace that too. Will cost more money though... *sadness* ...and take another hour or so before I can have it back.
Made it to work by 1, which is later than hoped for, but at least now it's fixed. And WOW, my car drives so smoothly now!! It's funny: my car's vibration crept up on me so gradually, and so steadily, I didn't really notice it happening. I just thought it had always had a shakiness to it at high speeds. Now, however, it has none at all! Nice. I'm glad I got it fixed, even if it took an actual problem before I got around to doing it....