Show Rundown

#1317: The Neon of Dorian Gray

Original Air Date: 04.27.2013
Show Open Topic

"The show is a good because people like listening to idiots," and other Car Talk reviews from 8th Graders.

Call 1

Nathan Okie (Huntington, West Virginia) - 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser

Nathan was towing a heavy boat with his Land Cruiser. The gas mileage was terrible and to make 60 mph in 5th gear, he pretty much had to floor the accelerator the whole way. Now he wonders whether he'd have been better off in 4th gear at higher rpm. Tom and Ray say yes--in 5th gear the engine generates less power.

Call 2

Liz Chartier (New Haven, Connecticut) - Volvo

Liz has Volvo-woes and she describes them in song. Her new-to-her car veers to the right while she’s driving. She took it for an alignment, but her guys said they couldn’t make the numbers match. Tom and Ray think the car was in an accident some time and something got bent or broken like the frame, strut, or strut tower. Liz should go back to the dealer and demand they either fix it under warranty or issue a full refund.

Call 3

Trent Blankenship (Dubois, Wyoming) - Ford Aerostar

Trent claims that the passenger side of his van had a stroke. The window, blinker light and tail light, all went out simultaneously. He re-did fuses, but the window still doesn’t go up or down, and the tail light won’t blink. Tom and Ray diagnose two problems--the window could be because of a bad motor or faulty wiring in the harness and the light could be a bad bulb or bad flasher.

Call 4

Jim Rich (, Oregon) - 1989 Geo Metro

Jim sold this car for $250. Every time the new owner drives 10,000 miles in it, he gives Jim another $100. This has happened five times, and Jim is beginning to feel guilty; he’s collecting much more than the car is worth. How can he get the new owner to stop paying him? Tom and Ray sugest they agree on a charity to donate the mileage money there. And as it so happens, they have a few ideas about which charity should get the $100--their local NPR station, of course!

Call 5

Ian (Fort Collins, Colorado) - 1996 Dodge Neon

Ian’s odometer runs backwards. When the speed goes over 50 mph, the trip and regular odometers both begin to go backwards. When the trip odometer hits zero, the regular odometer stops. Tom and Ray say the vehicle speed sensor in this model is mechanical, so something is making it turn backwards. What could it be? Totally stumped, our hosts turn to obfuscation and conspiracy theories suggesting it could be some ingenious plot by Chrysler...

Call 6

Donna Pacyga (Spokane, Washington) - 2000 Subaru Outback

Donna’s new husband says she needs to replace her windshield every couple of years because it gets pitted and becomes unsafe. He insists everyone knows this, but Donna thinks he’s crazy. Tom and Ray say he’s right, but only in theory.You should replace your windshield when it become difficult to see through, but every two or three years is excessive and expensive. Insurance should cover it when it becomes unsafe.

Call 7

John Egan (Pagosa Springs, Colorado)

John’s seatbelts have stopped retracting in both his vehicles. Since they need other, more expensive work, he’d like to fix the seatbelts himself and he wants to know if this is safe. Tom and Ray say seatbelts are self contained, so all he has to do is un-bolt the old one, and insert the new. But the seatbelts may be covered under warranty, so it’s worth checking with the dealer.

Call 8

Dana Sheridan (, Virginia) - 1986 Volkswagen Jetta

Dana called in because her Jetta was jerking in first gear. Tom said it was a classic case of “schmutz on the clutch” but Ray thought it was a timing belt problem. They also said it could be anti-chatter springs. Turns out all their ideas were wrong. Dana's Jetta had a rotted breather hose.