Show Rundown

#1345: Forensic Mechanics

Original Air Date: 11.09.2013
Show Open Topic

Do you have what it takes to be a mechanic?

Call 1

Zoe Brady (Eugene, Oregon) - 1989 Acura Integra

Zoe’s car lurches in 1st gear or reverse and she’s embarrassed by it. This happens whether or not her foot is on the clutch, and usually stops when she goes faster. Tom and Ray say it could be bad ignition timing, so she should get that checked--or there could be nothing wrong. Some cars just do this.

Call 2

Paris Mariano (Haverhill, Massachusetts) - Nissan

Paris is interested in a used car but the owner won’t let him test drive it on the highway, because it has no plates. How can he check it out to see if it’s okay without driving? Tom and Ray say he can test the clutch, do a compression test, see if the car blows smoke on start-up, take the cap off, and jack the car up to check tie rod ends and wheel bearings. The car may still need work, though.

Call 3

Donna DeFiore (Seattle, Washington)

Donna’s husband says she should never let this car’s gas tank get below 1/4 full, because “dregs will get into the carburetor.” Her co-workers say this is nuts because the car is fuel injected and gas filters will catch any “dregs.” Tom and Ray agree with Donna’s co-workers--dregs are not a problem. But, it’s still good not to let the car get below 1/4, because the fuel pump is in the tank, and keeping it immersed helps keep it cool.

Call 4

Wendall Stacey (Memphis, Tennessee) - 1993 Ford Bronco

Wendall’s truck caught on fire suddenly and burnt to a crisp, right after a 200 mile drive. Insurance is investigating, but Wendall wants to know what caused it. Tom and Ray don’t have a good answer--given how fast the fire spread, it’s unlikely to be electrical. It could have been fuel, and it's possible the fire started while Wendall was still driving. He was very lucky!

Call 5

Cheryl Evans (Chandler, Arizona) - 1997 Nissan Pickup

Cheryl is teaching her daughter to drive a stick. Her daughter asked what would happen if you shifted, say from third to reverse while going 30 mph. Cheryl thought it was impossible to do this. Tom and Ray say it is possible, but very difficult, and if you manage to do it, the transmission will fall out.

Call 6

Ben Hain (Rochester, Minnesota) - 1984 Ford Pickup

Stump the Chumps. Ben called because his truck was bucking. Ray thought it was a bad ignition module. Ben says it turned out to be a vacuum leak behind the carburetor. Wrong Answer!

Call 7

Barry (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) - Chevrolet

This car belongs to Barry’s attractive co-worker,. Her wipers don’t work. He told her it wasn’t a fuse, which impressed her. Now he needs ideas for what it could be. Tom and Ray say it likely is a fuse, so he’ll need to explain his earlier fuse dismissal....then he’ll need to check the fuses and figure out how to make a fuse replacement drag out over several days.

Call 8

Deborah Millbower (Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts) - 1989 Honda Civic

This is Deborah’s first car and she’s struggling learning to drive a stick shift. On top of that, the car makes high-pitched whirring noise, usually when shifting into 1st or 2nd gear and in wet weather. It happens regardless of whether the car is moving, and the noise goes away on its own. Tom and Ray think it’s likely the timing belt tensioner, and the noise is associated with revving the engine.