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#1210: The Mothership Has Landed


When do you need to use a turn signal?

Original Air Date: 03.10.2012

   Best Moment :30

Description: 
This week on Car Talk, we revisit a caller's unexplained electrifying vehicular event. Was it an atmospheric abnormality? A UFO? Beam 'em up, Scotty! Then it's warp speed to Georgia where Caroline has another curious conundrum: has a car alarm mysteriously installed itself on her Saturn? Elsewhere, Libby is looking for the perfect car to run away in, and Bob is in dire need of marriage advice. Could the turn signal hold the answer to marital bliss? All that, plus a new tantalizing puzzler from our "Travel and Leisure" series, this week, on Car Talk.

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This Week's Puzzler

Why did the number of pickpocketing complaints go up after the signs warning of pickpockets were installed? Find out!

Last Week's Puzzler

Why were the front tires flat when the water pump was being repaired? Find out!

Show Open Topic

Tom and Ray share mail from listeners regarding the now-fabled, "Incident at Waccabuc."

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Libby's Odyssey, Element-al

by manofthesheeple

T & R missed the boat on this one. Honda Element is the car for Libby. So obvious.

Libby From Seattle

by Grrracie

Libby, I absolutely second the advice to get a small pickup, but I want to be more specific: I vote for a Toyota Tacoma pickup. I'm a Yankee girl, like you, born and bred in upstate NY and spent years in the city. Love my little cars, BUT I live in Texas now and I have a little TOYOTA TACOMA pickup with an extended cab and a cap for the back. You will be comfy and be able to sleep laid flat out, plenty of room for stuff AND we've owned two of these now, they both reached about 300,000 miles before needing major repair. We paid $,500 for the last one, found on Craigslist. As a bonus, if you get a the 4 cyl with a manual transmission you will get very, very good gas mileage!! Happy Trails!

Libby from Seattle....Get a van!

by NanC

Come on Guys...a pickup? Really? That is such a guy thing. lol I started out traveling in an F350 pickup, but find my E250 cargo van to be safer and more convenient. I am among a growing number of older single women that travel in vans. They are roomy and safe. I have a double bed in mine, raised high enough to store totes underneath it. That still leaves floor space for a chair and table. It locks securely and if there is a problem I don't have to go outside to access the drivers seat as I would have to with a pickup. There are many groups of vanners that would be glad to share info with Libby. Have her check Yahoo groups. I am a member of which are women helping women with ideas and suggestions on van living.

Favorite Moment: There are too many good things on your shows to pick a single moment. Keep on laughing!

Turn Signal

by clg7996

Anytime you change lanes, or turn, you must use the turn signal. It's the law (in Illinois where the caller was from). Many years ago I lived near the caller, I was pulled over on the way to work in the morning by an officer in training because I forgot to use my turn signal in the left turn lane. Happily, it was just a training exercise and I only got a warning.

Favorite Moment: Always love Car Talk!

Lady Going Cross Country

by Whereisthebus

I may have flipped my gourd, but why on earth would one come on the radio, state her name, where she's leaving from, (plates), and indicate that she's travelling solo, and has mongo financial resources, and, give a fair indication of the route she's going to take - oh yeah - and will blog about it. It just doesn't seem wise. I travelled for four months, oftentimes sleeping in the car - an old Subaru wagon, with a cargo carrier atop - otherwise in a tent. No cell phone. The wagon was adequate for sleeping, but the recommendations for a van? Way better. Definitely not a pickup with cap. Having four-wheel drive, and a standard transmission was priceless. (Rain gullys on red roads. Brakes burning down mountain roads). If you decide on a car, you'll want clips or clothespins and fabric for window shades. The wasp spray is a great idea. The only time there was a threat was at a populated rest area outside Tacoma. This was 20 years ago, too, and I wonder, what with cell phones, etc., if other travellers watch out for each other now, the way they definitely did then. Best of luck.

Favorite Moment: It is enough just hearing your voices.

Lady traveling South

by pa_woodswoman

Arty Lady....I think it would be wonderful if our paths crossed...and with Libby from Seattle, too! Happy Trails! PA_woodswoman

Lady Traveling South

by Arty Lady

PA Woodswoman's response is spot on for all she says.A mini van is much safer, and you don't have to go outside if it's raining. I've traveled long distances in mine, camping and sometimes staying in the large truck stop chains with no problem. There's a lot of info on the internet about this type of adventure. My additional suggestion would be to get a smart phone from a very good carrier. There were times when my phone was the only one that could get a signal in the backwoods. PA Woodswoman - hope our paths cross some day and we can compare adventures.

Favorite Moment: Just hearing the caller - makes me want to start out on the blue highways again.

Lady going cross country

by pa_woodswoman

Please! Not a pickup! Women traveling alone should be in a vehicle where they can drive away in a dangerous situation. In a pickup, they would have to exit the back to drive off, and be in harm's way. I belong to a group of women campers who travel alone, sleep in our vehicles and safety is paramount. My vehicle is a minivan, and should danger present itself, I can get into the driver's seat and drive away (or run over whoever is posing a threat!). I've traveled thousands of miles in my van in comfort. The rear seats have been removed. I built a cot high enough to store plastic totes underneath for clothes and other items, including a Coleman cooler and stove. Campmor carries a folding potty, if needed during the night. A can of wasp spray is an effective weapon, and properly aimed, would disable an attacker long enough to escape harm. There are many of us in the group, including one woman who is 80 years old, and traveled cross country alone last year with her dog in a 1986 van. Some members camp in cars. Our priority is always safety, followed by enjoyment in seeing where the road goes! It is an economical way to go. I'd be happy to give this lady tips on vehicle camping if you would give her my email address. My best advice: Take the road less traveled! Happy trails!

Favorite Moment: Hearing your laughter!

Lady going cross country

by snapmeyer

IRT the lady leaving Seattle and heading south...My very first thought as to what kind of vehicle was a pickup with a cap on it. Up until 2007 I had a Mazda B-3000 (read: Ford Ranger) manual with an extended cabin and one of those sliding back windows. I sprayed in a liner for the bed and wnet to a local cap company and had one put on with a matching front sliding window so I had access to the bed from the cabin. The cap had side windows that slid open (screened in) so I could sleep back there with a pad and a sleeping bag. I mounted a small shelf at the front of the bed so I could reach my tools (or the cooler) without out cluttering up the cabin. It was perfect for cross country trekking and I could stop anywhere and crash out in the back. So I had a mobile sleeping pad and enough room to store my mountain bike, camping equipment and essentially all my junk, and then some, and keep it locked up. I think she should get over having a pickup and follow your advice on it. Thanks Andrew Meyer San Antonio

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