Show Rundown

#1211: Ashley Wants the Wheel

Original Air Date: 03.17.2012
Show Open Topic

"Write your answers on..." Tom and Ray share a few puzzler answer submissions received here at Car Talk Plaza.

Call 1

Paula Fortier (Merrimac, New Hampshire) - 1987 Ford Ranger

Paula occasionally has trouble starting her car. She turns the key, and holds her foot on the gas, hears popping sounds for two to three minutes which get faster, then car finally starts, and runs fine. Usually happens when it’s wet. The problem is the secondary ignition, car not firing on all cylinders right away. Could be bad spark plug wires, spark plugs, coil, or distributor cap. She may want to go for a full-blown tune-up.

Call 2

Andy Rosen (Alpharetta, Georgia) - 1998 Mitsubishi Montero

Andy’s steering wheel makes a rubbing, kind of whisking sound--coming from between the wheel and plastic behind it. he wants to spray WD-40, but his wife thinks this is a bad idea. The whisking is likely just caused by shrinkage in plastic from cold weather--he doesn’t need to do anything, but if he really wants to spray something, Tom and Ray suggest silicone rather than WD-40.

Call 3

Cindy Lasodavich (, California) - 2005 Jeep Liberty

A question about windows and the wind buffeting effect. Every time her kids open back windows the vibration pummels them. Is there any way to counter it? Tom and Ray don’t know of any--it’s a by-product of cars being more aerodynamic.

Call 4

Tom Barthleme (Trenton, New Jersey) - 1994 Honda del Sol

A few weeks ago, Tom’s car wouldn’t start. So he called a tow truck and got it jumped, dealer replaced battery. A week and a half later, the check engine light came on; dealer said entire ECU (computer) needs to be replaced, will cost around $1500. Did the guy who jumped him mess something up? It's unlikely--if you mess up a jump-start, you can usually tell right away. It was probably just a coincidence.

Call 5

Ashley Judd (Nashville, Tennessee)

Ashley’s husband is a race car driver--Dario Franchitti. Whenever they go anywhere, he refuses to let her drive. How can she get behind the wheel? Tom and Ray say it’s unlikely he’’ll let her drive--after all, it’s his profession! So, she asks about getting her own car, preferably a truck. Tom and Ray recommend a Toyota.

Call 6

Kaya Wielopolski (Queens, New York) - Dodge

When Kaya puts her Dodge Dark into Park, it occasionally rolls--whether on flat ground or a hill. If she puts it into Neutral, and then slams it back into Park, it will stand still. Also, occasionally shifts late, if she punches accelerator from a stop. The problem is likely in the shift linkage--the rod is just out of adjustment. Should be an easy fix.

Call 7

Geoff Gilbert (, Montana) - 1988 Toyota Corolla

Geoff’s car got vandalized--windows smashed, and wires and hoses cut. He thinks it’ll cost about $800 to repair, but he only paid $300 for the car. His dad says to dump it and move on. Tom and Ray agree with dad--even if he fixes this stuff, carburetor will likely go soon. Get something a bit newer.

Call 8

Mary Rawson Foreman (Santa Barbara, California) - 1996 Volvo 850

Mary Rawson’s car needs brake work. A friend, who has a crush on her, has offered to do it for free--says he’s done brakes on other cars. Should she let him? Tom and Ray say he should be able to handle the brake job, but warn her about being careful not to lead him on.