Show Rundown

#1401: Love (and a Mazda) in Ashes

Original Air Date: 01.04.2014
Show Open Topic

A new Puzzler category?

Call 1

Shelly Weiss (Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts) - 1990 Honda Civic

Shelly and her husband were leaving Foxwoods Casino (after losing a lot of money). Their Check Engine light was on, so they lifted the hood and saw the distributor clunking. They tried to make it home but the car died. They had it towed and the shop fixed the timing, but now the car has no pick up. Tom and Ray think the problem is in the valve timing.

Call 2

Steve (Austin, Texas)

Steve is a UPS driver. He sees his fellow drivers getting fancy new trucks, but every time something goes wrong with his, the company insists on fixing it and keeping it running. How can he sabotage it and get a new truck? Tom and Ray say there are ways to sabotage, but Steve should take the old truck as a badge of honor, that the company thinks so highly of him that he can handle an old beater... and when one of the other guys gets laid off, he can get their new truck.

Call 3

Ellen Ganci (Schoharry, New York) - 2001 Toyota Corolla

Every year a friend gives Ellen cases of really bad homemade wine. It’s undrinkable, and she wants to spare his feelings, so she wonders if she can use it as windshield wiper fluid. Tom and Ray say this is not a good idea. Red wine may cause visibility problems, and she’ll have wine residue on the car and dripping into the insides. Ellen needs to do an intervention and tell her friend he’s a lousy vintner.

Call 4

Brent Jones (Louisville, Kentucky) - Mazda

Brent’s girlfriend’s car wouldn’t start. In trying to fix it, Brent set the car on fire, it burnt to a crisp, and his girlfriend dumped him. He likely erred by disconnecting the fuel lines from the engine. Though it’s academic, Tom and Ray think the starting problem was caused by a faulty fuel pressure regulator.

Call 5

Susan Ohanion (Charlotte, Vermont) - Ford Explorer

After recent ice storms, Susan and her husband were without power. Her husband, a theoretical physicist, wanted to get power by hooking an inverter to their car battery. Would this work and be safe? Tom and Ray say it would be safe but you’d get very little power--not enough to run a furnace or stove. They’d be better off buying a portable generator.

Call 6

Sarah Fleming (Detroit, Michigan) - 1988 Honda Accord

Sarah's clutch was replaced by “backyard mechanics." Now the car pops out of 5th gear and grinds when she tries to get back in. It will stay in 5th longer when engine is cold. Did they screw up the clutch job? Tom and Ray say it's more likely that her 5th gear synchro is gone, which means she needs a new or rebuilt transmission. So it's not the clutch guys’ fault. Go back and try to make amends, or use bungee cord to keep it in 5th.

Call 7

Tyler Buckner (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) - 1989 Toyota Corolla

The brakes make a knocking sound which speeds up as the car speeds up. It goes away when he steps on the brake and comes back when he takes his foot off the brake. Tom and Ray say it's likely a warped disc or bad caliper. It could also be something more serious, like a missing bolt on the caliper, so he should get it looked at soon.

Call 8

June Mays (Birmingham, Alabama) - 1996 Jeep Cherokee

June bought this car in order to four-wheel in the woods. They just put speed bumps in the office parking lot; does she have to slow down for them? Taking them at high speed pushes steering and suspension to the limits, but Tom and Ray say the real issue is that she's likely to drive herself crazy and rattle her teeth. She should slow down, if only to relax a little.