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#1130: Tickling the Electrons

Original Air Date: 07.23.2011

   Best Moment

This week on Car Talk, are you ready for some wacko theories? Dennis in California puts Tom and Ray to the test, pondering his friend's contention that the best way to charge a dead car battery is by turning on every accessory in sight. Is there anything to this notion of "tickling the electrons"? Elsewhere in Wackyland, Jenny is convinced that her Civic has a harder time starting when its gas tank's not full; Linda needs to retro-fit her ATV to make it a good Summer sled-dog training vehicle; and mechanic-turned-sculptor Coby learns what happens when you add a few extra tons to a half-ton pickup. All this, plus some choice Last Words, and lots more, this week on Car Talk.

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This Week's Puzzler

3rd Open: Mail--The Poem ??Tom Green??s Auto?? and Puzzler Apology 1:50 Find out!

Last Week's Puzzler

2nd Open: Mail. ??Last Words?? 2:15 from 0128. Also used in 0629) Find out!

Show Open Topic

Gas conservation idea - brick in the gas tank.

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Above & beyond

by Anonymous

At the recommendation of my regular repair shop, I went to Summit Transmission and Jerry Kubitsky. My shop was puzzled by the "issue" with my transmission and said Jerry is the best transmission guy in San Diego. Well, they were right. Not only did he take extra time (with patience) to explain the detail of the problem. After he thought is was resolved, there was still a question. Instead of being satisfied with the result, Jerry took more time and effort, on his own, to further research the issue. He found a remote issue and spent another 10 or so hours redoing things, and another $300 or so in extra parts. I (and most others) would have been OK with the first fix or would have never known the difference. I am so grateful that he went above and beyond the expected and the basic repair. I am now confident my jeep will be with me for many more years. I love that jeep and want to keep it awhile longer. Jerry was fabulous, patient, and honest.


by Anonymous

Waveaction has it right! P=IxE (Power = Current x Voltage). The Battery will only draw an amount of current proportional to the difference between the charging voltage and the discharged battery voltage, and will absorb the Power at this Current level. As you demand more power from the Alternator (lights, fan, radio), the additional Current demand will cause the Alternator to increase its Output Voltage in order to increase its Current output. This causes the Voltage difference between the battery and Alternator to become greater, which allows more current to flow, and charge the battery slightly faster. At some point of loading (adding the heated seats, rear window defroster, and electric dashboard Hibachi), the Alternator can no longer keep the voltage level up with the massive current draw, and when the system voltage falls below the battery voltage, then the already stressed battery is pressed into service, and supplies current to the system.

Favorite Moment: There must be 50 ways to spell you, Coby . . .


Famous Last Words...

'There's no way this could possibly go wrong.'

The Ford Is My Auto, I Shall Not Want Another

One man's ride is another's affliction.

Novel concept for increasing MPG

Hey, it worked for the toilet!  Let's try it on the car.

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