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August 29, 2013
Car troubles and my favorite F-words: Fall, Fridays and Football

Fall is my favorite season, Friday my favorite day and watching football is one of my favorite past times.

I guess you could say fall, Friday and football are my favorite F-words.

The weather cools down, mountain canyons are colorful and football season starts.

And on Friday, the workload is less, Thursday’s edition of the Transcript-Bulletin is published, and I get to go to football games.

So I was feeling good last Friday when I drive down Interstate 15 to one of my favorite Utah destinations: St. George. I’ve lived down there twice.

Another plus, I was en route to watch two of the top teams in 3AA football — the Stansbury Stallions and the Desert Hills Thunder. I didn’t like the Stallions missing out on an opportunity to pick up a lot of confidence with a victory. The Thunder won by two touchdowns.

During the trip down on Friday, all was well with my 1999 Nissan Sentra, which has covered 170,000 miles. It had just been inspected and passed with flying colors, which did surprise me for some reason. I have a fresh battery and the tires are top of the line, although they’re starting to wear a bit. I’ve never had a flat tire with this set.

I stayed in St. George Friday night and had a lunch date in Las Vegas with a lady from Henderson, Nev., Saturday. I only paid for lunch — in case readers might suspect I was up to something else.

I left Vegas Saturday evening and started to hear a little “thud, thud, thud, thud” from underneath my car. It didn’t seem too serious. I even thought it might be ruts in the road.

I stopped in Mesquite for a buffet that included crab, and left Mesquite about 10 p.m. to stay a second night in St. George.

Now, the “thud, thud, thud” had turned into a “bop, bop, bop, bop” and it was extremely loud. When I got up to 45 mph and faster, and let off the gas, it was even louder. My first thought was a flat tire, but I got out and the tires were OK. Then I thought: It might be the transmission. This car is old and I might need a new car.

Fortunately, I made it back to St. George about midnight Saturday and checked the oil. It was OK.

Sunday morning, I stopped at an auto parts store on St. George Boulevard. The man there told me there was a mechanic on duty at a little gas station about 300 yards away. He also gave me names of two other mechanics. “That first one might be around. The other guy you will probably have to wait until he gets out of church,” said the man behind the counter.

I drove over to the gas station and explained the situation. The mechanic drove the car around the gas pumps. “It’s not the transmission, it’s the exhaust,” he said. He put the car up on a lift and yanked something off the car. “There, that will stop the noise.” he said.

Great. Nothing big.

I started to head north on the freeway back to Tooele County. But when I got up to freeway speed, that old familiar noise forced me to exit and call one of those off-duty mechanics the guy from the auto parts store gave me.

“I’m home, but drive on over and I will look at it,” said a guy from the Santa Clara area. I drove over to his house, and explained the situation.

“Let’s take it for spin,” he said. He drove and I was in the passenger seat. “It’s not your exhaust,” he quickly said. As we picked up speed the “thud, thud, thud” sounded loud and clear. He turned the car around and headed back to his house. “This car isn’t safe to drive,” said the young mechanic from Santa Clara.

He looked underneath the car and grabbed a lug-nut wrench. “Your left front tire was about to fall off,” he explained.

After my Good Samaritan tightened the lug nuts, we hopped back into the car, accelerated, and the noise had disappeared.

“You better have those lug nuts torqued down at Walmart before you leave St. George, and have them checked again in Cedar City,” he said. I followed through on his advice.

Fortunately, my tire didn’t fly off while driving through the Virgin River Gorge last Saturday night, or anywhere else for that matter.

Good news for me I’m not dead or recovering from serious injuries in a hospital somewhere. I still can enjoy fall, Fridays and football for a while longer. Hopefully, a lot longer.

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