Home » I Left A Used Tire In Michigan So A Friend Checked It In As Luggage And Flew It To LA. What Is The Weirdest Car Part You’ve Brought Onto A Plane?

I Left A Used Tire In Michigan So A Friend Checked It In As Luggage And Flew It To LA. What Is The Weirdest Car Part You’ve Brought Onto A Plane?

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The one thing I left in Michigan during my move to LA was the $20 used tire you see above. Luckily, my friend Adam travels from Detroit to LA fairly regularly, and volunteered to check the tire into his luggage. He is currently in California, with the tire in the trunk of his car, ready to complete the 2,500 mile used-car-transportation process. This leads me to the question: What is the strangest car part you’ve ever brought onto a plane?

That’s a fairly heavy tire, too: It’s a 31-inch BFG All-Terrain, and likely filled with at least some amount of water, given that the tire sat outside, and that removing water from inside a tire is a fine art that I have yet to master (I usually just throw the tire down on the ground a few times to bring the water level down so I can transport it without splashing everywhere; I still end up getting water all over the place).

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I’m perfectly willing to admit that asking a friend to fly a $20 tire that I bought from a junkyard across the country is a little absurd, but don’t underestimate junkyard tires! I’ve gotten some great black rubber gems over the years — name brand stuff like these BFGs — and I prefer them to used no-name-brand tires. Plus, if you’re still hesitant, just understand that, if you’ve purchased a used car, you’re almost certainly driven a car with used tires whose history you don’t know. At least in the case of junkyard tires, you can inspect them thoroughly both inside and out (key things to look at are the date code, the outside (check for damage or dry rotting), and the inside carcass (make sure the structure hasn’t been compromised. Then make sure they can be easily balanced, and that they hold air. I’ve had great success, but your mileage may vary.

This tire will be a spare for my $350 manual transmission “Holy Grail” Jeep Grad Cherokee overlanding build, which I’m excited to start soon. I’m still getting my affairs in order in LA (I don’t like buying and assembling furniture nearly as much as I enjoy buying and assembling cars).

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Anyway, thank you Adam for indulging my ridiculous tire-hoarding tendencies (look at that stack above in my parking spot under my apartment). I bet lugging that thing around sucked.

It leads me to a question: What is the oddest car part or tool you’ve ever brought onto a plane? I once transported a Nissan Pao vent window from Hong Kong to North Carolina for Jason; I also brought him a Yugo steering wheel from Serbia. Plus, I flew a clutch disk (which I’d turned into a going-away gift for former Jalopnik EIC Patrick George) from Detroit to New York. Oh, and then there was this:

Tell us your strangest car part transport stories.

[Editor’s Note: I just want to note that David gave me the Yugo steering wheel in LA, and from there I took it to Denmark, and then back to North Carolina. So that wheel maybe ended up with more miles traveled than the rest of the car. Well, probably not, but it’s definitely been to more countries! – JT]

[Editor’s Note: The third (and final thus far) Jalopnik Film Festival occurred in Los Angeles. I lived in New York. Someone needed to bring the trophy, which was mostly just a big ol’ piston from (I think) a VM Motori 4.2-liter diesel motor with a base. I assumed, incorrectly, that I could bring it on the plane. The TSA immediately pulled my bag when they saw it and were like “what is this thing?” I tried to explain it, but I was told I was carrying a weapon and that I’d have to check it. And that, my friends, is why you always go to the airport early enough to go through security twice! – MH]

[Huibert’s Note: I can’t see WP files but I took a prototype steering wheel on a plane once when I worked at Jag. I walked up to the red line at the airport when I arrived and told them what I was carrying and they were all interested in it but let me through anyway. I could have had a suitcase full of coke but because I got their attention focused on the steering wheel, they let me through. -HM]


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121 Responses

  1. This seems like a fantastic way to ship used tires actually, or am I missing sth? Shipping them via ground is definitely way more than the cost of a checked luggage piece, right?

    Now someone just needs to set up a “matchmaking service” between travelers and shippers, or I may just be soending too much time on Jeep forums!

  2. You are missing the whole point of relocating. Moving across the country should bring relief.
    Mr. Tracy, why do you cling to your rusty past so strongly?
    The loss of a twenty dollar tire should never even enter your consciousness.
    You made your poor friend bring it with him? As carry on?
    Don’t be a moron.
    Don’t become carrion yourself in LA.

    1. Ah you can take the boy out of the midwest, but you can’t take the midwest out of the boy.

      Besides, I have plenty of miles on Delta to allow at least one free checked bag…errr…tire

  3. Former postal employee here. I saw used tires wrapped like this and mailed all the time. It’s really cheap to do so. I used to wonder who in God’s name would go to the trouble to mail an ordinary sized used tire. In God’s name, it’s David and his friends.

  4. One Ducati MH 900e, disassembled into parts and stuffed into three large suitcases. Transported across international borders in 2008.

  5. That parking spot tho. Do I spy a Ford Fusion in it? And is your apartment management cool with those tires there? I would think a fire Marshall wouldn’t be pleased with that set up, although it is great for avoiding hitting the wall!

    1. A corporate managed apartment or even a regular condo association probably won’t look too kindly on a pile of tires in the garage.

      And maybe Galpin Ford has temporarily given DT some CA legal wheels.

  6. This is a quintessential David Tracy post. It has almost all the important elements:

    1) Focus on something odd that Dave did
    2) Some amount of extreme effort to recover something essentially worthless
    3) Roping a friend into an awkward situation with no acknowledgement by David that any of this is at all unusual
    4) A photo of some portion of David’s hoard

    The only thing missing is a description of a rusted-out junker as a “practically rust-free gem.”

  7. I once shipped four blizzak tires through fedex because it was by far the cheapest option. Weren’t wrapped or anything. They just slapped a label on each tire.

    1. My sister in law works at a fed ex warehouse, says unwrapped tires are notorious for the labels falling off the rubber, then sticking to another package. Then a guy expecting four 37″ mud terrains is confused when he receives 3 tires and someone elses Shutterfly order.
      I’m glad yours worked!
      Also I love my blizzaks.

  8. I once tried to check a Chrysler A543 transmission as luggage. I was even willing to pay the over weight fee! It inside the bin was just a little too over weight, and my wife ended up shipping the bin to me in Texas, where I 5 speed swapped my Caravan before I drove it home to Pennsylvania.

  9. a dismantled Ex- Spanish post office Vespa Px125 – several trips from England to US – I think the giant lock box raised the most eyebrows. Virgin Atlantic seemed fairly cool about it.

  10. Not me but my friend managed somehow to fly a -70 Dodge Challenger body front corner, including the front of the fender, lamp assembly etc. he pulled from the junkyard in US. He flew it to Europe.

  11. In the 80’s, was a service manager for Malibu Grand Prix, a company built by Pasadena firemen which used in-house built formula cars on our own race tracks. Off the shelf parts were used wherever possible and we had a production date, once per year, for the Dana golf cart rear axle housings (drum to drum) built to our specs.
    All this to say that I had to bring one from Memphis to Denver on one trip and so I wrapped it (about 50lbs) tightly in a large black canvas tent bag and checked it. In Denver it came down the chute system for skis and everyone there heard it clanging and banging against all the metal “chuting” as it worked its’ way down to the collection area. It was quite the “bing!”….”bang!’…..”bong!”…..etc as it came down. Not to mention the stares from everyone who watched me pick up this strangely shaped bag and wrestle it onto the rental shuttle…

    haha, good times,memories, thanks David for being the wayback machine!

      1. BTC, ……don’t get me started. there are stories from a heart attack/doa while racing….to Carroll Shelby in Dallas…to Valerie Bertinelli in Puente Hills (LA)…..blah bla blah

  12. Nothing large, but I did take the custom ZHP shift knob (no //M) to Germany with me when I picked up my 328! wagon in 2011. Swapped it out right on the floor of BMW Welt.

    Then in 2015, when I picked up my M235i, a friend in Hungary ordered me new Eurospec sunvisors without the stupid US airbag warnings and a Euro headlight switch with the rear fog lights button. Brought those back over with me and put them on in the US. If anyone finds an Estoril Blue on Oyster six-speed slicktop M235i with no airbag warnings, a Euro Headlight switch, Tech Package, and the inner trunklid mounted warning triangle, it was probably my car originally. Two tiny dings in the driver’s door were acquired in the parking garage at the Porsche Museum the second day I had it. Some wanker in a Corolla. Sigh.

    Technically not me, but a friend who was flying out to meet me to drive a ’00 Saab 9-5 V6t wagon I bought in Oklahoma City back to Maine was bringing all the tools and parts to do a brake job on a friend of his’ Volvo in NY on the way. He was supposed to fly to Springfield, MO but missed his connection. He ended up meeting me in St. Louis instead, but his bag didn’t make it. That bag of parts and tools ended up chasing us across the country. Finally picked it up in Cleveland, did the brake job in a college dorm parking lot as planned. There were a number of weird things that happened on that trip, most amusing was he got pulled over in NY by a lady state trooper who could not understand why we were passing through NY to get to ME… Obviously not a geography scholar.

  13. You empty a tire with the standard tire-flip. Set a tire upright. Imagine an axis parallel to the ground, through the center, centered in the tread on either side. You want to rotate the tire around that axis. Stand beside the tire, grab the top of the front of the opening: fingers curled around the bead. Pick it up, step forward briskly and as the tire swings forward and up you bring your hand back then down. If spun about that axis, the water should stay in the bottom until the tire hits ground, then it’ll spray ‘up’ the sidewall and out.
    Don’t be in that plane.

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