Guest blogger Walt Brinker, author of Roadside Survival, is back on the DIH blog with some short vignettes about his experiences with car breakdowns, which have previously been published in the Fayetteville Observer. Walt’s tips are great for drivers of all ages, but parents may find them especially useful to pass on to their teen drivers. This week, Walt talks about the importance of being prepared—even when you have help from a commercial roadside service.
On I-40 near Durham, I encountered a Nissan Titan pickup with right rear tire that was flat and shredded. The driver, "Bill", told me that roadside service was due any minute. He was a retired Navy corpsman (medic), so I decided to stay and chat with him until help showed. The service guy appeared with pickup, loosened the lug nuts, and quickly jacked up the pickup. Bill said he didn’t have the tool needed to lower his spare tire located under the pickup’s bed. Unfortunately, neither did the roadside service guy. I tried with my tools and discovered they would not work since the Nissan required a unique T-fitting where the sectioned shaft mates with the mechanism under the truck to lower the spare. I asked Bill to double check behind his rear seat, and he found most of the kit to lower the wheel--including the Nissan-unique tool with T-fitting--but his kit was missing the lug wrench/crank needed to turn the shaft. My jack crank’s square shaft hole was too large, so it would not grasp the Nissan shaft. I suggested that the service guy use my vise-grip pliers to turn the shaft. He did and fortunately, it worked. My only productive assist effort in this instance was to provide that key tool – but it was enough.”
Commercial roadside assisters may not always have all the tools needed to change a flat tire, so at a minimum you still need to stow all tire-changing tools that come with your vehicle.
Great advice. Always be prepared because you never know what you’ll need in an emergency situation like a flat tire. Make sure the car your teen is driving is equipped with everything they might need in the event of a breakdown. Walt will be back in a couple of weeks with another vignette and more useful tips for dealing with vehicle breakdowns.