Join the Car Talk Community!

"It's the stingy person who spends the most."

RSS
Dear Tom and Ray:


I have a 1981 Subaru. It's the bottom of the line model, and it has 125,000 miles on it. I'm writing to you because I always try and get a good idea of what's wrong before I waste my time going to a repair shop. This saves me a lot of time and money. Anyway, the car starts and runs fine. But after about five or ten minutes, the heat coming out of the vents turns cold. Then, five to ten minutes later, the air turns hot again! This keeps up no matter how long I drive around. What do you think?
Stuart

RAY: Stuart, there's a famous Click and Clack axiom that says "It's the stingy person who spends the most." I want you to practice writing that a thousand times.

TOM: The reason my brother is saying that is because you have a very simple problem that you could turn into a very expensive problem by trying to save money and delaying the repair.

RAY: Your problem is that you don't have enough coolant. When the engine coolant is low, the heating system is the first thing to be deprived. If you're lucky, some additional coolant is all you need.

TOM: However, since you've been such a cheapskate (and we know you're a cheapskate 'cause you bought a bare bones Subaru), you've been driving around all this time with insufficient coolant. This could easily lead to overheating. Engines with aluminum heads--like the one in your Subaru--don't take well to overheating. If you overheat the engine, you can easily blow a head gasket and/or warp the head.

RAY: If that happens, you're going to be out anywhere from $400 to $1000 instead of $8.95 for a gallon of antifreeze. So go out and add some coolant, cross your fingers and start writing:
It's the stingy person who spends the most.
It's the stingy person who spends the most.
It's the stingy person....
Tags (Browse All)

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login / Signup
Support for Car Talk is provided by:

Donate Your Car,
Support Your NPR Station

...and get a tax break!

Get Started

Find a Mechanic


Go



Submit


Rocket Fuel