Show Rundown

#1325: Look Ma, No Keys

Original Air Date: 06.22.2013
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Finders Keepers? What mechanics find in customers' cars.

Call 1

Teri Thomas (Toledo, Ohio) - 1985 Honda Accord

Teri is hearing a noise from the back of her car that sounds like a bongo drum, a bit like the spare tire is hitting something. Her mechanic can’t find anything wrong, but they did tell her the rack and pinion is wearing out, and will need to be replaced soon. Tom and Ray say she can ignore the noise, if the exhaust system and struts look okay. They suspect the rack may have been misdiagnosed. It could be a worn tie rod end, which she needs to get fixed--that could be dangerous.

Call 2

Eric Shanks (Charleston, South Carolina) - 1994 GMC Jimmy

Eric is having AC troubles. When he starts the car and turns on the air, he has to open the hood and thump the blower motor relay switch to get the fan to kick in. Once it’s on, if he changes fan speeds, the AC cuts out. He replaced the relay, but that didn't solve the problem. Tom and Ray think the relay is fine, and the issue is with the switch itself.

Call 3

Tama Tappan (Nashville, Tennessee) - 2001 Jeep Cherokee

Tama’s car smells bad, real mold, or dirty gym socks. She’d like to sell the car but the smell is too bad. Tom and Ray think the cause is mold spores from water getting in. Either someone left a window open in the rain, or there’s a leaky windshield or plugged evaporator drain. She can try covering the smell with deodorant, but to really get rid of it they’ll have to take the carpets out.

Call 4

Maria Zarnecki (Hood River, Oregon) - 2000 Volkswagen Jetta

Maria relocated to Oregon from California last Winter and since then, she’s noticed that her oil has gotten clumpy. It looks like green pistachio ice cream. The local VW dealer said this is common in Oregon, from colder weather and condensation, and nothing to worry about. Maria is also driving shorter distances. Tom and Ray agree with the dealer--she’s not driving far enough to warm up the engine enough to purge the water from the crankcase. She can solve this by taking the car on longer drives, at least occasionally.

Call 5

Steve Finch (Campbellsville, Kentucky) - Dodge

Steve can turn the car off and remove the key while leaving it in drive. He’s often forgotten to remove the key, and the car has rolled away. It crashed into his parents’ deck and has even run over Steve. Problem is in the shift linkage--either he needs to get that replaced, or figure out some way to make himself remember to put the car in park.

Call 6

Nancy (Encinitas, California)

Nancy’s mom used to drive with two feet and her aunt still does. Nancy wonders if it's legal, and she's worried it might be a hereditary condition! Tom and Ray say it's legal and not necessarily dangerous. They suspect that as people age and reflexes slow, people fear they won’t be able to switch pedals fast enough. But, they usually see old men driving this way, men wearing hats.

Call 7

Betsy (Framingham, Massachusetts) - 1979 Cadillac Fleetwood

Betsy is a an attorney handling a divorce case. She’s been given the title and instructions to sell the car and divide the proceeds. The car appears to be in good shape but doesn’t run. She has no idea who to sell it to, or how much to ask. Tom suggests selling to a mom as a minivan alternative. She may be able to get $500 for the car in its current state, but if she spends a couple hundred to get it running, it could be worth a lot more.

Call 8

Jordan (Iowa City, Iowa) - Ford

Jordan’s car is making two different noises, a high pitched squeal coming from the front and a growling crunching sound. He’s been given various diagnoses: alternator, fuel pump, water pump. Also when he drives at 40 to 45 mph, the car has trouble engaging its last gear. Tom and Ray think all the noises may from the transmission, and it may be ready to go.