Bob writes in with an auto-philosophical question: Why are some gear shifters floor-mounted in the center while others are on the steering column? Tom and Ray explain why designers can pretty much put the shifter anywhere they want.
Dear Car Talk
Terry's boyfriend turns off the car at every single red light. He claims this saves fuel (and money). Terry worries that all this does is annoy other drivers and will wear out her starter in the long run. Who's right? Find out what Tom and Ray say, right here.
Anne's Prius needs a new battery and she's tempted to replace it with a much-cheaper, aftermarket version. Tom and Ray aren't quite ready to endorse this move yet because they don't know enough about these batteries. Want to help Tom and Ray?
Stephanie lost the tip of a sparkplug and she's worried it fell into her engine. She's wondering how much damage this will do. Tom and Ray say she should find a mechanic with a boroscope. Find out what the heck that is, and why it will help Stephanie, right here.
Robert's mechanic thinks his engine mounts are showing some wear and due for a replacement. But Robert wonders how this can be true for a gently driven truck with less than 100,000 miles on it. Tom and Ray say there's a considerable distance between "showing wear" and "need to be replaced".
Anne's ready to trade in her Subaru Outback for something a little more fun. She wants a convertible. But she's also looking for something safe with good gas mileage; a 93-year-old lady has to be a little bit practical. What do Tom and Ray suggest? Something in red, obviously.
Michelle's fiancé is a perfect guy except for one annoying habit. He doesn't remember to put the car in park before turning off the engine. Michelle worries this damages the car and she wants Tom and Ray to talk some sense into her man. Will Tom and Ray side with Michelle on this?
Dennis's turn signals have gone haywire. They blink and flash like shorted-out Christmas lights. Tom and Ray say that's good news--all those pretty, twinkly lights flashing should distract Dennis from the bad news they have to give him. How bad is the news?
Katie just finished driver's ed and was taught that driving through puddles can impact a car's braking capability. The instructor said they could solve this by braking lightly a few times after hitting a puddle. But her dad says all this does is wear out the brakes.
Steve needs to do some repairs on his Dodge Durango but his friends are giving him conflicting advice. A mechanic buddy says he should definitely use real Dodge parts, but a friend who does auto rebuilding says he can get away with aftermarket products.
Dan has a Chevrolet Astro Van with a very particular horn. It won't honk unless the temperature is warmer than 55 degrees. Unfortunately, Dan lives far enough north that such fine weather is not the norm. Tom and Ray say modern horns are pretty simple.
Steve is a private eye, but there's one case he hasn't been able to crack--the dashboard lights in his surveillance van flicker on and off while he's driving. Can Tom and Ray solve this mystery? How much scratch will Steve have to lay down to fix his little problem?