Show Rundown

#1230: A High Octane Straw

Original Air Date: 07.28.2012
Show Open Topic

Boycott Car Talk! Here's why.

Call 1

Edwin Bethea (, Georgia) - 1993 Lincoln Town Car

Edwin’s hearing a noise--usually when he’s going 30 to 35 mph and the transmission is about to shift--that sounds like he’s driving over rumble strips. His dealer changed his transmission fluid, but it didn’t make the noise go away. Tom and Ray think his lock up torque converter isn’t engaging. it would be expensive to fix, so he can have it disconnected--he’ll just get even worse fuel mileage than usual.

Call 2

Kristen Tygart (, Oregon) - 2005 Saturn Vue

On a family camping trip, Kristen rear-ended her husband’s car. Her car showed no signs of damage, but immediately after, the air conditioner stopped blowing cold air. Tom and Ray think she probably cracked the condensor, which cause refrigerant to leak out. It will be many hundreds to fix. There’s also a slight chance she just popped a fuse.

Call 3

"Andy" Giles Lyon (, New York) - Buick

Andy borrowed Dad’s car for a drive to the country with his girlfriend. He ran out of gas, but found a farmer to lend him some--while transferring gas, Andy dropped a straw into the tank. Ever since, car has knocked, and stalled on occasion. Andy hasn’t confessed about the straw--is it doing damage, or was it old gas? More likely old gas is causing the problems. Andy’s also added a lot of dry gas--Tom and Ray suggest he try getting the injectors cleaned.

Call 4

Brian (Birmingham, Alabama) - 1987 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

Brian’s car is making a noise, from the front end. When it goes over a pothole, he hears a low rattle. On sharp curves, it’s a clank. He’s spent a lot on this car and is wondering if it’s time to get rid of it. Problem is likely a bad stabilizer link or bushing, or control arm bushing--shouldn’t be too expensive, and he should keep the car--his repairs will be cheaper than a new car payment.

Call 5

Mary Sokolowski (Newport, Rhode Island) - 1999 Nissan Altima

Mary’s clutch is slipping. She’s trying to put off the repair bill, but wants to know if she’s damaging the car by driving it, and if she’s in danger. Answer is yes to both--if she keeps driving, she can damage the flywheel, so the repair will be even more expensive. And, the car at some point will stop moving, which can be very dangerous, especially if she’s on a train track!

Call 6

Susanne Rubins (Syracuse, New York) - 1993 Mazda Protege

Susanne’s car was overheating. Tom and Ray said the electric cooling fan wasn’t working. Susanne wound up having several other problems, including starting, and had to get three alternators replaced. The last alternator also fixed the overheating problem, so that part was a wrong answer. But, the fan relay may come off the alternator, so Tom and Ray claim being right, since they didn’t say why the fan wasn’t working.

Call 7

Jerry (Moscow, Idaho) - 1986 Isuzu Trooper

Jerry’s car began making a noise about six months ago, which nobody has been able to diagnose. It began after a minor accident, and it’s a kind of rhythmic sound that seems to be coming from the rear differential. He’s tried replacing wheel bearings, the differential gear assembly, and tires, but noise is still there. Tom and Ray think he damaged the left rear axle-- it should be easy for s mechanic to check.

Call 8

Gail (Salt Lake City, Utah) - Volkswagen Beetle

Gail really wants an old VW Beetle, but needs AC. Is there a way to install it? Tom and Ray laugh--Ray suggests buying a portable AC at Home Depot and putting it in the window. Tom and Ray eventually tell Gail to forget the Beetle and get a Mini.