Join the Car Talk Community!

#0820: Tanis and the Hydroxy'd Caravan

Original Air Date: 05.18.2008

   Best Moment

This week on Car Talk, husband John plans to convert his wife Tanis' minivan to hydrogen power--with nowhere else to turn, she looks to Tom and Ray to talk some sense into him. Bad idea. Is John headed for a three-alarm inferno, divorce court, and a plaque in the Car Talk Wacko Hall of Fame, all with one click of the ignition? Or, could he be on the cusp of becoming this century's tinkerer-extraordinaire? Also, from the Department of Eternal Love, Sven's found the car of his dreams--a '62 Austin that's been dormant for decades in his neighbor's garage. Can our hosts help him dust it off and craft an offer his neighbor can't refuse? Plus, the sad sound of a transmission "kaputing," creative windshield wiper management, and an apology for one car fire our hosts didn't cause. All this, a puzzler from the Billionaire-and-His-Trees Series, and lots more, this week on Car Talk.

Review this Show | 10 Reviews | Need Help Listening? View Call Details

This Week's Puzzler

How can four plants be planted such that they're all equidistant to each other? Find out!

Last Week's Puzzler

How much money did the Car Talk social club bring in?

Login or Register to rate and post comments

Show Review - 399

by red

MIT should take back your diplomas

by Anonymous

I listened with amusement turning to horror as you treated a major pseudo scientific crock with seriousness today. "Hydroxy" in his gas? What is hydroxy? There is a hydroxyl group in organic chemistry, and an hydroxide ion in solution, but hydroxy? Didn't you hear the guy tell you this magic device was going to put HHO into his gas? The last time I checked, this was water; but I only have an MS in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. You guys know better than this; you cant put mystical substances into your gas...he never mentioned hydrogen. We have enough problems with lack of scientific knowledge without you car gurus adding to it. BTW,just before writing this, a local news show had a story about pills you can put in your tank to get 20% more mileage. Thank god they debunked it I do enjoy your show, and am a regular listener.

7 year old boy

by Anonymous

Your best ever show was you answer to the 7 year old boy on advertising.

Favorite Moment: none

More on Hydrogen convertion

by Anonymous

I am very interesting to see some one has finally bringing this topic up to you guys, but I am a bit disappointed not to see more discussion on the subject. With all the "water 4 gas" or the convention of water to get "brown gas" and therefore increase gas mileage from WWW, I think you should have a dedicated program time to discuss more inside of it.

Favorite Moment: Bring up "outside box" thinking

HHO gas

by lleffler

17 May 2008 Hi C&C, Your show today was excellent as always. I have a puzzler ans cummin up right after -- you post the puzzler. BUT, the reason for this post is the recent talk about Brown gas or HHO gas or WHATEVER! Now look, I am really interested in conservation, I believe in the peak oil concept, I believe we need to get off oil for security, and I believe global warming is real. But, we need to be real, watch out for the hype; I THINK (being cautious here) that the HHO idea is not real. Two concerns come immediately to mind. One: you need to separate the hydrogen gas from the water (ok, I know, electrolosis is NOT new, but, I doubt Brown [the so-called inventor of HHO] really has a new idea). The separation takes significant energy, so what's the balance? Two: safety. I understand the hydrogen gas is not stored; but, is mixed with a thing called - duh - oxygen. Now if hydrogen and oxygen mix at the right temperature; well, bad things can happen. So, you two MITers, give it your research and let us know. Really, your input would be very helpful. Say, if it IS real, then we gotta go for it, but it's more likely Blue Smoke! Thanks for everything!

Hydroxy'd Caravan?

by HankLay

Da Boys approached, but did not address the REAL question: Why would this scheme NOT fit the category, Perpetual Motion Machines? How can one use alternator/battery energy to create hydroxy to save fuel energy?! NO WAY, even at 100% conversion efficiency!

Favorite Moment: Tanis' name.

7 year old boy

by Anonymous

Your best ever show was you answer to the 7 year old boy on advertising.

Favorite Moment: none

Hydrogen generator gadget

by Anonymous

Regarding Tanis' husband's scheme to gain extra mileage by generating and reintroducing hydrogen into the car's engine: I don't think this can work. According to my understanding of the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, you cannot extract more energy from a system than you put into it in the first place. He is asking the car's engine to do additional work to break water into its elements. He cannot get any more enery from recombining (burning) the hydrogen in the engine than what was used to generate the hydrogen in the first place. If he could get his contraption to work, he would be inventing the world's first perpetual motion machine! If he really wants to increase his car's efficiency, he could concentrate on how to convert all the energy the engine wastes as heat into useful work. Kudos for trying though! Great show as always.

Subaru Head Gasket

by Se7enLC

Take a closer look into this issue - Subaru increased the warranty on the head gasket on those models to 8 years/100,000 miles for just that reason. Your problem should be covered under that warranty extension. I would say call up subaru and ask them about it to see, and bring that information to the dealer.

it's perpetual motion!

by maltmann

Sorry but this one needs debunking. The HHO thing is not going to work. The process needs more energy than it will generate, and it is impossible to change that (see previous ref to 1st thermo law). It's not out of the box thinking, it's just junk science. Why, oh why, didn't you call him on it?

Forgive Me Tom and Ray for Framing You

A listener gives a long-overdue confession and apology...

Support for Car Talk is provided by:

Donate Your Car,
Support Your NPR Station

...and get a tax break!

Get Started

Find a Mechanic



Rocket Fuel