Show Rundown

#1350: Stop and Smell the Tailpipe

Original Air Date: 12.14.2013
Show Open Topic

Ray makes a strategic move and beats the computer chess master.

Call 1

Genevieve Van Devander (Morgantown, West Virginia)

Genevieve and her 14-year-old son disagree over her Kia’s starting problem. It reads low on gas and occasionally won’t start. When she turns the key, it makes a weak “ grrruuh” noise. She thinks it’s the fuel pump. Her son thinks it’s the gas gauge. Who’s right? Regarding the starting problem, neither. It’s probably the battery, starter motor, or a loose wire. But she may also need a new gauge even though that’s not the cause of the starting problem.

Call 2

Kai Staats (Loveland, Colorado) - Subaru

Kai gets his car tuned regularly and after about 4,000 miles it begins sputtering and lurching. His mechanic changes the spark plugs and the car is fine for a while but the problem comes back. His mechanic also says a different plug is getting fouled each time, so the problem isn’t one cylinder. There’s no oil leak, or smoke. Ray thinks the ignition coil may be marginal--it has just enough power to fire the plugs when they’re new. Tom thinks this is kinda bogus, but the guys suggest closing the gap and cleaning, rather than replacing the plugs next time this happens.

Call 3

Tom (Chicago, Illinois) - 1985 Chevrolet Caprice

Tom makes teeth--he got this car from a mechanic in exchange for a set of teeth. When he starts the car after it’s been sitting, it makes a knocking sound, which goes away once he shifts into gear and the car warms up. Tom’s mechanic says there’s a crack in the flywheel, and the noise goes away as the metal expands as the car warms. Is this plausible? Tom and Ray say sure, it’s plausible--Tom can check the flywheel himself. There’s a small chance it’s piston slap, though.

Call 4

Bill Engleman (Big Bone, Kentucky) - 1996 Subaru Impreza

Bill and his wife just got this car, and want it to last a long time. But to get home they have to traverse Big Bone Creek, which can sometimes flood up to two to three feet. Will they damage the car driving through this? Tom and Ray say they should avoid driving through water that’s more than a foot high. Bil should have gotten a truck with big tires!

Call 5

Jackie Caswell (Burlingame, California) - 1993 Ford Explorer

Jackie was bringing home a rat for her pet python’s escaped behind the dashboard and died and not she can’t get it out-. How can she remove the dashboard? Tom and Ray advise her to go straight to the dealer and pay whatever it takes to get the rat out--the smell will kill her.

Call 6

Matt Dalton (Medford, Massachusetts) - 1990 Honda Civic

Matt hears a squeaking noise when he steps on the brake. Is it the pads rubbing or are the pads glazed? Can he just drown it out with music? And if so, what kind? Tom and Ray suggest strings--a Mozart divertimenti. But Matt should get his brakes checked, too; it could be dangerous.

Call 7

Dave Cheslow (Salem, Virginia) - Chevrolet

Dave’s radiator hose blew while he was driving home from Thanksgiving. Immediately after the transmission started acting funny--the car seems to go into neutral at the top of first gear. Are these two problem related or just a coincidence? Tom and Ray say it's likely a coincidence, and Dave is probably headed for a transmission rebuild. There’s a slight chance the two are related, because of a problem in the transmission cooler.

Call 8

Helen Cloy (Gulfport, Mississippi) - Volvo

Helen smells exhaust in the car. Her mechanic says it’s coming in through the vent, and suggested keeping air on recirculate, but this doesn’t sound right to Helen. Ray thinks the smell may not be just exhaust. It could be oil leaking onto the exhaust. She should go back to the dealer and get it fixed because whatever it is, breathing it is not healthy.