Show Rundown

#1237: Vlad the Impala

Original Air Date: 09.15.2012
Show Open Topic

Naming Cars: Car Talk listeners share their suggestions.

Call 1

Martha Galarty (, Wisconsin) - 1998 Chevrolet Van

This is the family van. Occasionally while driving, it will suddenly act like it’s run out of gas--stops moving, and kind of sputters. If she pushes the gas pedal to the floor and releases, it will jerk forward. Then, if they turn the car off and let it sit for a while, it will be okay. Tom and Ray think this is a classic failing fuel pump, but there’s also a small chance it could be a clogged fuel filter.

Call 2

Fatymah Joseph (, Ohio) - 1989 Honda Civic

Fatymah calls her car, “Little Red." Little Red is having a hard time shifting fron 2nd to 3rd--it makes a loud crunching sound, then the engine seems to “vroom.” Her 3rd gear synchro is kaput...may just be a linkage problem, but more likely she’s in for a new tranny and clutch. She can try living without 3rd gear, but it’s only a 4-speed, so she probably wants to fix it. Try to blame it on her little brother, but more likely just has over 230K miles.

Call 3

Steve Alberts (, Texas) - 2002 Toyota RAV4

Steve’s car is blowing whitish gray smoke when he starts it after sitting all night. It usually goes away after about 30 seconds. Oil leak? He doesn’t think he’s losing oil, but, he needs to check more closely. If it’s not burning oil, it’s probably nothing--a lot of cars do it.

Call 4

Kate Carson (, Massachusetts) - Dodge Magnum

On a family vacation, her mother-in-law was driving a rental car down Mount St. Helens. They didn’t know how to downshift, so Mom was careening down hairpin turns at high speed, and wouldn’t use the brake because she thought overuse could have made brakes fail. They should have pulled over and read the owner’s manual to learn how to downshift, because Mom was sort of right--overuse could have caused brakes to glaze over.

Call 5

Jordy (San Francisco, California) - 1991 Honda Accord

Jordy’s having brake problems--In hot weather, when he has the AC on, he loses his brakes--the pedal goes all the way to the floor and he has to pump several times to get the car to stop. He's been doing this for two years! He needs a new master cylinder, and needs to do it immediately--San Francisco is not a good city to be driving around without brakes. Tom and Ray think he's crazy for having waited this long.

Call 6

Matt Dammery (Arlington, Virginia) - 1988 Acura Integra

His older brother talked him into changing the timing belt. He said it would take “half a day." Matt started on Mother’s Day, and the job is still not done. The car now runs like, "doo doo." Did they screw it up? Yes, Ray believes they made the “classic rookie mistake”... he didn’t get correct tension, and now timing is off a tooth. May not have done permanent damage. He needs to try again, and they’ll know when they get it right because the car will run like a dream. And, don’t ever listen to your brother.

Call 7

Elizabeth McLoud (Arcata, California) - Volvo

Elizabeth’s car is making a loud squealing/squeaking sound. This is espeically embarrassing because she’s a student and needs to get to a 7 AM class--so her car is waking up the whole town. The noise seems to go away when she steps on the brakes. Tom and Ray say it’s most likely a stuck brake caliper. There’s a very small chance that the problem is the belt tensioner.