Show Rundown

#1410: Car Talk Vs. The Marital Industrial Complex

Original Air Date: 03.08.2014
Show Open Topic

It's tax prep time at Car Talk Plaza, and there's a question about one of Ray's deductions.

Call 1

Mike (Tulsa, Oklahoma) - 1989 Ford Taurus

In cold weather, when Mike drives over a significant bump, the car makes a noise like aluminum cans being crushed. It seems to be coming from the front. It only happens once and goes away in warmer weather. Mike can replicate the noise by bouncing the bumper up and down while the car isn’t moving. Tom and Ray think it could be a control arm bushing, but suggest Mike get a friend to help him by lying under the car while Mike bounces the bumper.

Call 2

Erin (Palo Alto, California) - Toyota

Erin’s husband taught her to drive Standard. She was driving with a friend and he said she was shifting incorrectly when coming to a stop. Her husband shifts down through gears, but her friend shifts to neutral, and then puts it in first when the car is stopped. Who’s right? Neither! But Tom and Ray say Erin’s husband is less wrong than her friend. You should use the brake to slow the car, and keep it in neutral until you’re ready to start moving again.

Call 3

Will Shortz (, New York) - Saab

Will’s car has trouble starting. It usually happens at night, in cold weather. He turns the key, and nothing happens. The next morning, the car is fine. Tom and Ray think that’s where the problem is, with the car's ignition cutoff system, or it could be the starter or neutral safety switch.

Call 4

Susan Modissett (Charlotesville, Virginia) - Honda

Susan and her brother drove home for Christmas in his car and she noticed the temperature gauge never got above C. She froze the entire trip. Her brother said the engine was “too efficient” to generate enough heat in very cold temps, but Susan thinks he’s got a bad thermostat. Who’s right? Tom and Ray say Susan is right--her brother’s explanation is completely bogus. He has a bad thermostat.

Call 5

James Stahl (New York, New York)

James is getting married this summer. Instead of registering for house stuff, he and his fiancee want to register for a car. Is this within rules of etiquette, and how would they manage it? Tom and Ray say go for it. They can see if they can set something up with a local dealer, or ask guests to “buy” parts of the car.

Call 6

Anita (Los Molinos, California) - 1992 Toyota Pickup

Anita’s car makes a noise "like heavy breathing.” It happens after she’s been driving for 5 to 10 minutes and comes to a stop. The idle also seems to speed up and slow down. Once she starts moving, everything is fine. Tom and Ray say it could be a vacuum leak, or a problem with the air flow sensor, the coolant temperature sensor, or just incorrect timing.

Call 7

Eric (Brighton, Massachusetts)

Eric’s Dad’s life-long dream is to drive the Alcan highway and he wants to do it this summer. The only people who’ve agreed to join him are Eric and his sister. Eric wants to know if it’s crazy to go and what kind of vehicle they should take. Tom and Ray say it probably is crazy. They will be ready to kill each other by the end of the trip. But if they do go, get something with as much private space as possible, like a conversion van.