Vietnam veteran pens book on roadside survival tips

Millions of drivers will be hitting the road soon for the Thanksgiving holiday. Last week, Good Day Atlanta introduced you to a man who helps provide roadside assistance as a hobby. 72-year old Walt Brinker has stopped for more than 2,000 stranded drivers. After the Vietnam veteran helped his first driver in 1980, Walt decided it made him feel good and helped calm his PTSD.  He's turned all of that roadside knowledge into a book and now he's sharing his tips. 

Walt Brinker is at home under a hood. The North Carolina man has helped stranded drivers all across the country. "By far, the most common kind of break down is tire-related. 75-percet of people I end up helping have got a tire issue, a blow out, the tread has come off, or they just have a regular old flat tire," explains Walt.

He's put his firsthand experience into a book about roadside survival. "The book is all written based on trial and error, the hard knocks. I didn't sit back and theorize and dream up the stuff that goes in the book, it's the stuff I actually use and have used for 20-30 years," he adds.

Walt says good maintenance is the key to avoiding many problems, but if you do find yourself with unexpected car trouble, he urges you not to stop in the middle of traffic, and to move to a level shoulder. "Regardless of what the problem is, once the car is on the side of the road, you need to think safety. Mainly from getting hit from behind," Walt says.

He encourages you to get a reflective vest, some caution triangles, and maybe even a flashing light. A few tools from his "trunk of tricks" can go a long way in the case of an emergency.

"This looks like a lot of stuff, but it really isn't in terms of volume and how much room it takes in your car," replies Walt

A few basics include the fattest, longest jumper cables you can find, gloves to protect your hands and an old beach towel. "A lot of times people don't want to change a tire because they don’t wat to get dirty, they don't want to get on the ground, nobody does. I don't want to get dirty, I know you don't," adds Walt.

Walt is big on working smarter, not harder. So when changing a tire, he shares that a small piece of wood can help keep a jack more stable and that a steel pipe, he calls a cheater bar, can also speed things up. "You simply slide it over the end of the handle and you see it quadruples the effective length of the handle, giving you much more leverage," suggests Walt

What about if you add gas to your vehicle, yet it still won't start? Walt shows off one of his tricks, "Rock the car. I'm jumping up and down, the car is rocking side by side and the gas in the gas tank is sloshing around until it finds the intake and it starts. Magic!" Exclaims Walt.
Finally, Walt says a common problem when your car just dies, is loose battery clamps. "I said pop the hood. His battery clamps were both loose, so I tightened them up. That was it. I saved him big bucks and a lot of inconvenience and a lot of wasted time. So, that's what experience gets you and that's what I try to capture in the book, those nuggets like that that will save you all kinds of grief," recalls Walt.

And for loose battery clamps, you need a specific size wrench that fits your battery. The time to find out what size you need is not on the side of the road though, so check your car now. Walt also urges you not to forget about your spare tire. He calls it the "biggest bugaboo" of them all and adds that many times, it's flat or needs air, too.

Right now, Walt is working with driver's education departments in hopes they can incorporate his book into some of their curriculum for teen drivers. 

You can find part one of our interview with Walt Brinker, You can also get more about his book on his website: