Up & Coming Weekly

January 14, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 19 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JANUARY 15-21, 2020 UCW 19 WALT BRINKER, Contribut- ing writer. Comments? Editor@ upandcomingweekly.com. 910- 484-6200. ON THE ROAD Toyota Highlander: No Access to Spare by WALT BRINKER Walt Brinker, 1966 West Point graduate, retired US Army infantry lieutenant colonel and Vietnam War veteran, retired civilian proj- ect manager, instructor at FTCC, and Eastover resident, has pro- vided well over 2,000 free-of-charge roadside assists as a hobby. With experience from these assists he wrote a book, "Roadside Survival: Low-Tech Solutions to Automobile Breakdowns" for the everyday motor- ist. He also set up a website, "road- sidesurvival.com", to help individu- als, driver education teachers, and law enforcement. This vignette cap- tures one of his many assists, along with lessons. The Toyota Highlander was stopped on the Interstate highway shoulder. The right front tire was flat. Its occupants were roasting on the hot summer day. "Joseph" from Cameroon, the driver and father of the family, told me that he couldn't get to his spare tire because the vehi- cle's rear hatchback, which covered access to lower the spare, wouldn't open. So I jacked up his vehicle, removed the flat tire wheel, wrapped it in an old sheet and put it in my car. Joseph and I took it to a Walmart for repair — all it needed was a valve stem. While we were there, I pointed out a portable 12-volt jumper battery and compressor, which could come in handy. He was not interested. Tire repaired, we returned to his vehicle, where I remounted the wheel. His 8-year old twin daughters, coached and rehearsed while Joseph and I were gone, performed a really cute, lively thank you dance for me. Very nice! Before I departed I suggested Joseph visit the nearby Toyota dealer to fix the latch on his rear door; he declined, saying he was in a hurry. His wife remarked acidly, "We might as well not have a spare tire." I decided to leave before their fight. After taking the next exit and return- ing toward the Toyota, I noticed that it had not moved. I circled back and again stopped. Evidently, while Joseph and I were away, the family had used the sound system, running down the vehicle's battery. So I gave him a jump start. I then gently reminded him about that portable jumper battery we had seen, suggesting he might want to recon- sider. He smiled and said, "No,I don't think so", before thanking me and driv- ing away. Driver tips: 1. Don't drive without a spare tire, especially in hot or cold weather, with one's family. Not having access to the spare is the same as driving without it. 2. If you know of a problem that restricts performance of basics such as changing a tire, get it fixed before a trip. As the saying goes, "The good Lord helps those who help them- selves." 3. Consider keeping a 12-volt por- table jumper battery and a 12-volt air compressor in your vehicle. Note: portable batteries require periodic recharging after each use or monthly, at least, otherwise they will underperform. Total loss of charge will end the battery's effective life. Driving with a spare tire is a helpful tip. You never know when one could come in handy.

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