Show Rundown

#1104: Power to the People

Original Air Date: 01.22.2011
Show Open Topic

Tom and Ray share some of the worst MIT course evaluations, ever.

Call 1

Tracy McIser (Oxford, Ohio)

A heater question. The heater won't blow hot air--only gets lukewarm. Dad's a mechanic, suggested trying with AC on, not much better. Cousin has a Ford with same problem. Tom and Ray suggest she start by checking the thermostat. If that's okay, it could be a bad heater control valve, or a plugged heater core.

Call 2

John Blair (San Francisco, California)

A clutch/transmission question. He bought the car used from someone who said it was 'cheap and reliable.' When he shifts into reverse from a dead stop, he often hears a horrible grinding noise. Tom and Ray say what he's likely hearing are the reverse synchros being chewed up, and he needs a new clutch/tranny. Could be that the clutch is not disengaging properly, so first he can try bleeding the clutch, replacing the master and slave cylinders.

Call 3

Francesca Facco (Chicago, Illinois)

A fuel/relationship question. She's having a disagreement with her boyfriend. When driving on 'dangerously low' tank, is it better to conserve fuel by shifting into Park (Francesca) at a stop light, or letting car idle in Drive (boyfriend)? Tom and Ray say it doesn't matter--idle speed is almost the same.

Call 4

Colette Ireland (, Alaska)

A buying question. She's an airline pilot, just got transferred from Alaska to San Francisco. Can't afford to buy a house in SF, so she's thinking of buying a Westphalia Syncro, and living in the airport employee parking lot. Worried that it's hard to maintain and expensive. Tom and Ray say go for it--she can hook up with other 'Syncro Heads', who can help with advice, and parts. Suggest she go to Burning Man.

Call 5

Scott Palmer (, Oregon) - 1986 Nissan Pickup

Stump the Chumps! The car wouldn't start. No noise. His friend Fat Tony brought his 'big bucket o' tools' and determined it wasn't battery. Tom and Ray said it was a bad starter motor. Wound up being bad starter relay. Wrong Answer, but Scott admitted giving some incorrect information that may have affected the answer.

Call 6

Laura Clapp (Nashville, Tennessee)

A driving question. The gas pedal sticks in up position--she has to punch it to get it go---once it goes, it's fine. Tom and Ray say it's a sticky throttle, caused by carbon build-up. Easy fix, can do it at gas station.

Call 7

Sarah Pekee (Los Angeles, California)

An engine fire question. She took the car to the dealer for service, spent 130 dollars. She drove five miles, check engine light came on, car slowed down, black smoke started pouring in. She got out, and car burst into flames, now totaled. Dealer offered 'replacement value', but she thinks they owe her more. What did they mess up? Tom and Ray say it could have been any number of things, but it's going to be impossible to pin anything specific on them now. Dealer gets points for at least accepting responsibility, and not blaming Sarah. Take the offer, get another Volvo and move on.

Call 8

Doug Robinson (, New York)

A buying/ marital question. His wife keeps her car really messy, and Doug's a neat freak. He's been able to avoid sharing cars because she can't drive stick.He needs to replace the Golf, and she's suggested an automatic, so she can drive it. What should he do? Tom and Ray say not to get an automatic--avoid the marital stress. Ray says to tell wife stick will give better gas mileage. Tom suggests arguing he needs a stick shift to 'preserve his manhood.'