Show Rundown

#1341: Kitty-Corner Snow Tires

Original Air Date: 10.12.2013
Show Open Topic

Physics Bubbas to the rescue! Listener tips for how to drive on washboard roads.

Call 1

Helen (Salt Lake, Utah) - 1984 Toyota Pickup

Helen moved to Salt Lake City from Milwaukee. Her gas mileage improved from 300 miles to 400 for a tank. But then she got new tires, and her mileage dropped back to 330. Where did her miles go? She may have an inaccurate gas gauge, but Tom and Ray say she first needs to figure her miles per gallon, not per tank. She may have been filling up less regularly when she first moved.

Call 2

Henry Randolph (Bossier City, Louisiana) - 1988 Ford Thunderbird

Henry’s oil and temperature gauges are erratic--they peg and then return to normal. He doesn’t think the car is overheating. He’s replaced the voltage regulator and gauges, and the armature. Ray suggests Henry buy a second thermostat, and hook it up so he can determine if the car is overheating--he may have a blown head gasket or cracked block. Tom thinks it’s just a bad ground, and Henry can find a new or used instrument cluster in a junkyard.

Call 3

David Appel (Denver, Colorado) - 1996 Nissan Maxima

David went to buy two snow tires for his girlfriend’s car, but dealers would only sell him four. Is this just a ploy to make money? No, Tom and Ray say it’s legit--four tires will improve handling. Of course, Tom can't end the call without first coming up with a wacko idea to buy two and put them on opposite corners.

Call 4

Pam Doody (Amherst, Virginia) - Volvo

Pam called because her car was billowing smoke from under the hood. Tom and Ray said it was a leaky valve cover gasket or a blown main seal. Pam’s mechanic said her flame trap was plugged, not letting oil through. Wrong Answer, but Tom and Ray protest the verdict.

Call 5

Cathryn Meraskes (Lakewood, New Jersey) - Chevrolet

When Cathryn steps on the accelerator, she often hears a “boom boom” sound, and the car feels sluggish. The noise goes away and the car is then fine. It happens almost every day, but her mechanic hasn’t been able to replicate it. Tom and Ray say it’s likely backfiring through the carburetor, but it could also be a motor mount. Cathryn should leave the car with her mechanic for a full day--he should then be able to hear it.

Call 6

Lisa Regan (Berkley, California) - 1991 Mazda 323

Lisa recently had her clutch replaced. The mechanics said the first clutch was faulty, so they did the job a second time--now the car doesn’t feel right--shifting seems stiff. Did her mechanics mess up the job? Tom and Ray think they didn’t bleed the system properly the second time, so air is trapped. If the system is bled, everything should be fine.

Call 7

Keith (Roslindale, Massachusetts) - Geo Metro

Can Keith install an aftermarket air conditioner in this car? Tom and Ray say it’s not a good idea--if the car is only three cylinders, it may have trouble handling AC and, say, getting up a hill at the same time.

Call 8

Laura Solitaire (New Brunswick, New Jersey) - 1995 Honda Civic

Laura often forgets to turn her lights off, and kills her battery. This is a bare-bones model--is there any kind of bell or something she can install? Tom and Ray say she can probably find something at JC Whitney. She can also try re-programming herself, so she remembers to turn off the lights.