Today, Dave is storing his daughter's Nissan Altima and wants to know how often he needs to drive it to keep it running. Tom and Ray explain why the occasional short drive is the best way to maintain the battery and exhaust systems.
Dear Car Talk
Barbara's car has a push button starter. She pushes it once and the car starts up just fine, but her husband holds it down until the motor engages. She's worried this will wear out the starter. Tom and Ray have done some research in the field of Deliberately Trying to Burn Out Starters, and have some highly unscientific data to report. Here's what they found out.
Emma is looking for her first car and she's fallen for a 1975 Mercedes 240D that will likely need its differential replaced very soon. Should she try to negotiate the price with the seller or just walk away? Tom thinks Emma is a young woman of extremely refined tastes, but Ray cautions that the car may spend a lot of time parked in her driveway. Read the case for and against, right here.
A mechanic at John's local quick oil change place told him his ball joints were worn. John hasn't noticed any changes in the handling or tire wear, and he doesn't trust this guy. What should he do? Tom and Ray say even if this mechanic is running a scam, John would be wise to heed the warning and get a second opinion. Find out why, right here.
A reader is concerned that the next big solar flare will knock out the computerized parts in his car. Naturally, he's thinking about buying an older car to keep around just in case. Can Tom and Ray help him? And what fashion tips will they offer for constructing his tinfoil hat? Read all about it, right here.
Greg found some power steering fluid of questionable vintage while cleaning out his parents' garage. Now he wonders if it would be risky to mix them up and use them. Tom and Ray say he should go ahead and mix them together, as long as he's mixing them for the sole purpose of making it easier to transport to the nearest recycling facility. Find out why using this cocktail in a newer car is a terrible idea, right here.
Patrick and his old roommate had so much fun on their post-college road trip 25 years ago that they're doing it again--same route and same car, a 1960 Triumph TR3. What should they bring with them to help with it inevitably breaks down? Will Tom and Ray have any advice for Patrick? (Or will they be too busy fishing for an invitation to tag along?)
Dann gets his oil and filter changed regularly, but he wants to know if he should get the car lubed too. Are all those squeaks and squawks coming from the undercarriage just his imagination? Tom and Ray explain why most cars don't need lube jobs anymore, and have some alternative uses for their now-idle grease gun. (Toilet seat on April Fool's Day, anyone?)
Jim just bought a new Mazda and he's worried that the oil recommended by his owner's manual is too lightweight. Can Tom and Ray set Jim's fears to rest? Find out how oil has changed over the years and who can get away with using the lighter stuff, right here.
Hayley's getting a new car and she likes the model with the turbo engine but her dear old dad says turbo engines never last. Turns out that times have changed. Tom and Ray say turbo engines now are a good bet for all reasonable drivers. What should unreasonable drivers get? Traffic court.
Howard filled his new Mini Cooper S with regular for a full year before the dealer mentioned it would run better on premium gas. Now he's freaking out! Has he irrevocably damaged his car? Tom and Ray try to soothe Howard's worries with actual car info (plus some mental health suggestions). Read all about it!
Carolina is worried about the crayon smell in her daughter's Volvo. They've tried everything to get rid of it, but nothing's worked and Carolina is worried it might be some dangerous chemical. Tom and Ray are stumped, so we're turning to you, our clever fans to help Carolina out. Read Carolina's question and tell us what you think.
Harvey has an idea... he wants to develop a lawnmower type pull-start system to start his truck in case the battery dies and there's no one around to give him a jump. Just how bad is this idea? And what should he do instead? Tom and Ray's take, right here.