Atom's Jeep Liberty is losing time and he's worried that it might be a sign of a bigger problem with the vehicle. Tom and Ray say it's a sure sign of a bigger problem--Chrysler used cheap parts. Atom's best solution is an oldie, but a goodie. Find out what they recommend, right here.
Dear Car Talk
Joe's a self-proclaimed old-timer who's driven manuals his whole life, always taking care never to keep the clutch depressed at stoplights. Now he has a newish Mini Cooper and he's wondering if the wisdom is still true. Tom and Ray say nothing's changed and he should keep up the good work. Find out how this will prolong the life of both the clutch and the release bearing, right here.
Deb's back window is leaking and she wonders if she can replace it on the cheap from junkyard parts. Tom and Ray think her window is probably fine--it's the weatherstripping that needs to go. Find out why weatherstripping should always be new, and why Tom and Ray say it's dangerous to park a 15 year old car at a junkyard, right here.
Kunaal loves his 2011 Skoda Fabia and wants it to last forever, so he takes care to always warm up the car before he drives and he never runs the AC during the first few minutes of the trip. Tom and Ray think this is unnesessary for someone who lives in Mumbai, unless temperatures drop to well below freezing....in which case Kunaal will have much bigger problems. Find out why, right here.
Jim needs to change the transmission fluid in his 2005 Chrysler 300C, but he's a little nervous about it. The last time he got this done (on his previous car) the transmission went out a week later. Tom and Ray explain the different methods and try to reassure Jim that the fluid change was not responsible for the demise of his last car.
Karen's 2000 Toyota Corolla is running still fine, but the paint is peeling off. Tom and Ray explain why this happens to certain model years and lay out a range of options, each one lower-cost and more aesthetically questionable than the last. Find out what they suggest, right here.
Maurice is loving the great mileage he's getting in his Chevy Volt. He wonders if he can improve things further if he reduces weight by keeping the gas tank almost empty. Tom and Ray think this might technically improve mileage, but by such a small amount that it's not worth the risk. Risks include: annoying friends and spouses, ending up out of gas and out of charge, naked, fleeing from a pack of hungry wolves.
Tom and Ray get a letter from John, from the department of armchair economics. While driving around, he started wondering whether the brake in his Toyota Sienna was the same part as the brake in the Toyota Corolla ahead of him at the light. Tom and Ray explain why it makes sense for auto manufacturers to use lots of shared parts.
Tom and Ray counsel a nervous Honda Fit owner who's been advised not to park his car in the garage until a fire-causing defect is repaired. How worried should he be? Tom and Ray say it's possible he can ignore the warnin. For example, if he's been wanting an excuse to remodel his garage...
Tony bought new spark plugs for his 2002 Dodge truck from an online store. Now he's worried he chose the wrong kind. Tom and Ray could set his mind at ease, but first they decide to chronicle the entire history of spark plug design. Read all about it.
Nick's newish Camry is great except for one problem--he can't remove the wheels when he needs to swap in his snow tires. The dealership was able to help him out (with sledgehammers). The service manager says Nick can loosen the lug nuts just a bit and then drive a short distance, and the wheels will come loose on their own. Can this possibly be good advice? Tom and Ray offer some clarification, right here.
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. But Tom claims there's one good reason to keep it on the steering column...snuggling.
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? If you've replaced your hybrid battery with an aftermarket part, write in and tell us what happened.