No-Brainer of a Non-Starter

Jun 18, 2011

RAY: This puzzler came from someone named Rob, who used to work for Applied Logic.

TOM: Let me guess -- he's fired now.

RAY: Unauthorized use of company e-mail. Rob says:

My wife owns a 1992 Olds Achieva with a quad-four, five-speed-manual transmission and power everything. One morning, she's heading out to work, and her car won't start. I go out and listen as she tries to start the car. She turns the key. Not even a click. Being in a hurry, she takes my car.

I put the battery charger on her car, and later in the day, I go out and I start it right up. I drive it around a bit to charge the battery. Everything's fine.

The next day, the exact same thing happens. I find instructions for determining if there's a drain on the battery. There's no drain. So, I buy a new battery.

Still, the problem persists. I jump start the car and drive to the dealer. The dealer can't find a thing -- and charges us $10. We told them to let it sit there overnight and try it in the morning. They called the next morning and said what?

TOM: It started right up.

RAY: So, we go to the dealer. My wife gets in with her keys -- and it won't start. We're standing there scratching our heads -- at which point, I ask her, "Did you just buy something for your car?"

And she says, "Yes!"

What did she buy?
Answer: 
RAY: Here's the answer. Rob's wife had bought new floor mats. She had an Olds Achieva with a quad four engine and a five-speed manual transmission. And because she has a manual transmission she has a starter inhibit switch attached to her clutch pedal, which prevents the starter from engaging unless the pedal is depressed all the way to the floor.

And when she puts the new floor mat in, it prevented her from pushing the clutch far enough down. But when Rob gets in with his big legs, he has no trouble mashing this pedal to the floor.

So all she had to do was cut a piece off of the floor mat or pull it back a little bit, and voila! The car started. All the hints were there. So who's our winner?

TOM: The winner this week is Charles Gruber from Shaplee, Maine. Congratulations, Charles!

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