From: Jim Wheeler

Hey guys,

I listen to your show every week and it's great! One night at my girlfriend's house I was raving about you guys to her, and how I somewhat pride myself on being able to understand a lot of the diagnostics you guys give, as my father was a mechanic his whole life.

The next morning we both leave to go to our places of work, and it being a Sunday, I told her she should tune in and catch the repeat. We both got into our separate cars, and as she started her 15-year-old Honda, it made a horrible grinding sound. I thought this was funny and laughed to myself. She drove away peacefully, not knowing about my mocking. That's when I got into the car I was driving, which was a brand-new 2006 Ford Taurus, to find out it would not start at all! Karma most certainly was back from vacation. I tried a couple of times to start it, the engine just wouldn't catch.

Completely infatuated with my own arrogance, I began to diagnose my problem: it's a brand-new car, so its unlikely the starter is broken, the alternator is working fine and the battery is not dead. So I tune into the show in hopes that someone called in with a similar mysterious problem. A half hour goes by, and at this point I am starting to freak out, because this, I should also mention, is not my car. This car belongs to my sister who is currently in England and doesn't know I'm using her car to get around.

Fearing that something is seriously wrong and broken with her brand-new car, I break down (no pun intended) and start to call my uncle who is also a mechanic and runs his own garage, hoping he'd come give me a tow. This is when my friend Andy, who beat me to the call, smugly asked if I had gas in the car. In my defense, the car was parked on quite a steep incline, but the answer was no, I did not in fact have any gas in the car.

Needless to say I did not tell my father about what had happened for fear of being kicked out of the family. I was not so lucky with my girlfriend who found out, and now requires me to bow at the oil stain in her parking lot where her car needs a weekly fill of oil. "At least MY car has gas!" I currently ride a bike to get to work.

Jim Wheeler

[ As Read on Car Talk]