Join the Car Talk Community!

Tommy’s Drive to Work

The Puzzler


RAY: This is from Tommy's New Ride Series and it was sent in by Scott Murphy, although I did monkey around with it a little bit, as you would expect. Pay attention.
Some of our listeners may not know this, even though it's been all over every media outlet imaginable, but Tommy has a new car.

TOM: Yeah!

RAY: Well, not exactly new, it's 19 years old. But it's new enough to have lots of things that his other car didn't have. It has heat, lights, and windshield wipers. It also has one of those newfangled six-digit odometers. It can register as many as 999,999 miles.

So one fine morning last week, Tommy gets into his new car to drive to work. He fires up his engine and before pulling out of the driveway, he notices something interesting. His odometer reading is a palindrome. Do you know what a palindrome is?

TOM: No.

RAY: It's a number that reads the same forwards as it does backwards. For example, if his odometer read 175,571 miles, that's a palindrome number. 1 - 7 - 5, 5 - 7 -1, reads the same forward and backwards. 'Well, that's cool,' he says to himself, and off he goes.

Naturally, he's in no hurry to get to work, so he stops at his favorite cafe and gets his usual quadruple espresso macchiato, and about an hour later, he shows up at Car Talk Plaza. Just as he pulls into his 'Reserved for the Big Cheese' parking spot, he notices that his odometer reading again is a palindrome. And no, the odometer is not broken, but it is indeed a palindrome number once again.

So he's gotten in the morning, seen a number, driven some number of miles - not many, cause he only drove for an hour,--not even, most of the time he was drinking coffee -- and his new odometer reading is again a palindromic number.

Here's the question: How far did he drive that morning?

Think you know? Drop Ray a note!

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

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