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#1112: The Bowling Ball Incident

Original Air Date: 03.19.2011

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This week on Car Talk, driving over a bowling ball is not good for your car, but it sure makes for a great story, especially when it happens in front of a topless bar. Also, Kat in San Diego is wondering why she's going through brakes faster than Tommy goes through wives; Sid's Volvo has begun speaking Greek to him; and Jeff in Ohio thinks his Corsica may be trying to tell him something by conking out when his fiancee takes it to the bridal shop. All this, the early returns on our pseudo-scientific survey on the Male-Female Heated Seat Dichotomy, and lots more, this week on Car Talk.

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This Week's Puzzler

Ray's thinking of two inventions from long ago. One of them has thousands of moving parts. The other has one part, and it doesn't move. They both do the same thing. What is he thinking of?

Last Week's Puzzler

Did you figure out what the following state's names have in common: Maine, Vermont, New York, Iowa, Florida, Texas, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. What do they have in common? Find out!

Show Open Topic

Tom and Ray open the show with the results of our recent poll on genders.... and heated seats!

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Cars Discussed on This Week's Show

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    Show Review - 1567

    by jbharuch@netzero.com

    Show Review - 1572

    by Anonymous

    What about 2 feet drivers?

    by gasman32

    On today's show a woman called in about her brakes wearing out every 8500 miles. You never asked her if she braked with her left foot, a common cause of early brake wear and tear. Steve Blum

    Great show guys! (and lambda stuff)

    by Anonymous

    First of all, I've been listening to your weekly podcast for almost a year now. I love every single episode, you guys are awesome! I just wanted to tell you guys, regarding the call about the lambda (λ) light on the Volvo's dashboard, that it comes from the "lambda factor", which is the air-to-fuel weight ratio divided by the stoichiometrical reaction of the perfect mixture. In other words, it is a factor that says how far is a mixture from being ideal. With optimal conditions you would have a lambda factor of 1. Anything below that value indicates a rich mixture and anything over it a lean one. So, since the oxygen sensors used in cars determine the air-to-fuel ratio, they are also called lambda sensors or sonds. Hope this is useful and keep it up guys. Cheers from Buenos Aires, Argentina. (And yeah, it's warm around here these days.) Santiago

    Favorite Moment: From the lawyer's call: "Pull over you knucklehead!"

    Brake insanity

    by Swordsmith

    I drove my last F150 for ten years, over 250K miles and had to get one brake job. Current one is at 122K and the brakes are still fine so far. 8500 miles I'm pretty sure I could get using shoe leather for brakes. I really can't imagine that just a habit of driving fast between lights can possibly cause this kind of difference in brake life. I want to hear her on Stump the Chumps!

    bowling Ball - Montour Falls

    by Anonymous

    Growing up in Montour Falls I was amazed that this could happen until I rembered they tore down the only bowling lane in town years ago. Now the natives have nothing else to do but bowl for foreign cars. OMCS-76

    The bowling ball story - flashback!

    by cwfritz

    It's been a long time, but I know exactly where that bar is - that's Kuma Charmers! That is one nasty ti**y bar. I never went inside, too many monster trucks and old Harleys in the gravel parking lot. It's out in the middle of nowhere without any law enforcement for miles, and Bowling For Mazdas is a totally plausable pastime. Thanks for the flashback.

    Kat needs more training, not more pads

    by ChromeJob

    I have "burning feedback" (pun intentional) for you about this episode; that's probably why you didn't answer the phone this morning. I am of course talking about Kat, the San Diego mom going through brake pads faster than toilet tissue. If she truly needs new pads twice a year, drives 17,000 miles a year, then she's grinding pads down to the metal within 8500 miles. That's roughly the rate at which most weekend race car drivers do. She must be doing some incredible braking on those California roads! Here's what we need to tell her, and ASAP: get some advanced driver training. She believes she's a "good" driver but she needs to become a "better" driver. Her problems are over if she can learn to “snub and release" her brakes to set the speed where she needs it, instead of (I suspect) riding the brakes. She may also be “last minute" braking and holding the brakes at each stop, where “chauffeur braking" (smooth, even pressure to bring the car to a halt, with a slight release of pressure at the final stop) will get better performance and endurance from her brakes. Why the urgency? She's almost certainly overheating her brakes with her Dukes of Hazzard driving style. Even with new pads and (I hope) new brake fluid in her car, she's probably experiencing brake fade during her so-called normal driving, and she will have less than effective stopping power when she needs it most, in an accident! She's most certainly overheating her rotors and boiling her brake fluid. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she's already experiencing brake fade after dropping the kids off at school, takes it to her mechanic saying, “brakes need service again," and her mechanic thinks, “Woohoo, this month's boat payment is in the bag!" Her husband should buy her stainless steel brake cables and a dash-mounted velocity meter instead of jewelry, she'll get much better use out of them than earrings. Thanks for the great shows, guys, keep on truckin'.

    Volvo Lambda.

    by Surfer

    Hi, the Volvo lambda sensor, if the car has got catalysator (did it have?), shouldn't the lambda sensor be changed, otherwise the catalysator will soon be broken?

    Favorite Moment: Jane's car making noise, "How's your family?", hah hah.

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