Checking out from Pro Automotive after the drive shaft repair, Keith noted that the rear tires were showing sidewall cracks and he sure would hate to see a blowout and the trail of sparks when the battery boxes drag the car to a halt. As usual, Keith is right, so we paid a visit to the tire store over the weekend for new shoes. Turns out all four tires were the same age (2009 vintage) and the fronts would be showing signs of dry rot soon enough, so I had all four replaced.
The replacements are the same model 195/65 r15 Falken tires that came off. That size seems to be a bit odd and not available from every manufacturer, also sadly unavailable in low rolling resistance tires. Due diligence on Google turns up that Falken, although it sounds vaguely Scandinavian, is the performance brand for Sumitomo Tire company, and pretty well rated on the review sites. I don't know how many miles may have been on the old set, but they showed very little wear for seven year old tires.
I was pleased with the way Discount Tire handled the whole affair. They let me drive the car into the service bay so I wouldn't have to explain the startup process. They used hand tools for removal and installation rather than pneumatic impact guns, then hand torqued the lugs. They wire brushed the studs and wheel mount areas and even asked where I wanted the balance tape mounted.
It's probably psychological, but the car seems even smoother, so between the new drive shaft and new shoes, we're making progress toward a more civilized ride.