Show Rundown

#1153: That Car Needs a Fin

Original Air Date: 12.31.2011
Show Open Topic

From Autolingerers to Carcophony, Tom and Ray share new offerings from the world of Auto-linguistics.

Call 1

Vanessa Nagle (, Connecticut) - 1993 Pontiac Sunbird

Vanessa’s car makes a noise when shifting gears--kind of like a paper clip in a coffee can; happens at the low RPM of each new gear--seems to be coming from underneath. The car runs fine, just makes the noise. Tom and Ray thought it sounded like a classic loose heat shield, but if it isn’t really happening at the same RPM, she should get the timing checked.

Call 2

Eddie Falona (, New Hampshire) - 1985 Ford F150

Eddie’s truck has a starting problem. One day it will be fine, the next, he’ll get nothing, except maybe a brake light. He’s replaced the battery and cleaned and checked all the terminals--if he jumps right from the battery to the solenoid, it starts. Tom and Ray think the problem is likely a bad neutral safety switch, but could also be a bad ignition switch.

Call 3

Stephan Shaw (Brooklyn, New York) - 1988 Volkswagen Golf

Stephan’s car has a tendency to run rough, exude black smoke, and stall. He replaced coolants temp sensor--car still stalls, so he turns the engine off in gear, coasts, restarts it, and it’s okay for 15-20 minutes. Tom and Ray think the problem is likely in the computer-- it's getting a bad signal in run mode, so putting it into “limp home” mode. Stephan should get computer scanned, and also check the thermostat.

Call 4

Jim Campbell (Dallas, Texas) - 1992 Infiniti G20

Jim’s mechanic has warned him his right front axle is about to go, but wants $700 to fix it. Jim’s been driving it like this for a while--can he just wait until the axle breaks before fixing? Waiting could be dangerous--the car would stop moving, and this could happen, say on a railroad track. He should get the axle replaced, but he can save some money by getting a rebuilt axle instead of a new one.

Call 5

Megan Otterstron (, Oklahoma) - 1992 Geo Prizm

Megan’s ready to buy a new car, and is looking for something that will attract a guy. What should she buy? It depends on the kind of guy she’s looking for. Since she’s in Oklahoma, a pickup truck is an option, but Tom and Ray ultimately recommend a Jeep Liberty--not too big, but sends the message that she’s independent.

Call 6

Dan (Chicago, Illinois) - 1992 Toyota Tercel

Dan sculpted a dorsal fin on top of his Tercel. Will it affect the car’s aerodynamics and safty? No, it likely won’t hurt--may even make it more aerodynamic.

Call 7

Reuben (Yonkers, New York) - 1995 Toyota Camry

Reuben’s Camry makes a rattling noise when he’s accelerating from a dead-stop, going uphill. Sounds like it’s coming from the engine, like something is loose--once he’s up to speed it goes away. Tom and Ray thinks it’s a broken motor mount, and should be easy to detect.

Call 8

Mary Anne Depaolo (Northfield, Michigan) - 1998 Ford Mustang

Mary gets a new Mustang every year, courtesy of her husband’s job. A month ago, she filled the trunk with compost--her husband says the compost is ruining the trunk, and she needs to get it removed. Mary wants to leave it in over the winter, to help give the car ballast. Tom and Ray largely side with the husband--compost may be creating mold spores, and is definitely ruining the carpet. Tom suggests she try a science experiment to see how much damage it does, but she’s probably better off de-composting the car.