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#0947: Differentials Flambe

Original Air Date: 11.21.2009
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Paternal combustion: things you never hear dad say.

Call 1

Jonathan Jackson (Leesburg, Virginia) - 2001 Mazda Tribute

Engine question. His engine is spitting out his spark plugs. This has happened to him 3 times, all to different plugs. All of a sudden there is a BOOM, and his car sounds like a German tank. Likely problem is that last time plugs were replace, they were not put in tight enough and have worked their way loose over time. Tighten the plugs up, and it should be fine.

Call 2

Stephanie (Eugene, Oregon) - 2001 Jeep Cherokee

heat/cool/ac question... The vents in her car won't go where she wants them to go. Only coming at her feet. Now that it's rainy in OR, she has a wet dog and a wet husband and a wet and muggy inside of her car and it's too foggy to see! Engine also running a little rough--problem is with blend doors that direct air, likely a vacuum leak not allowing them open and close properly.

Call 3

Virginia (New Haven, Connecticut) - 1996 Ford Contour

A question about theft. Last week her car was broken into, but since she had nothing of value in the car, they didn't take anything. Since shparks on the street, should she leave the car unlocked, hoping that anyone breaking in would just open the door, look around and leave without doing any damage? Sure, also leave the glovebox open (but remove =lightbulb if it has one so you don't kill the battery), and a sign saying, 'Nothing of value inside.'

Call 4

Rick Robbins (, Idaho) - 1996 Subaru Legacy

Rear differential question. He had rear diff replaced, and after driving a few miles, it burst into flames. Has happened two more times, on different replacements. Getting them at junkyards, slight chance they're not the correct ones for this car. More likely, it's a faulty viscous coupling in the transaxle, imposing a load on the shaft.

Call 5

Kirsten (Portland, Oregon) - 2003 Chrysler Town & Country

A fuel/engine question. The van is supposed to be a flex-fuel vehicle, but when they use E85 fuel, engine runs rough and gas mileage decreases, but it's 60 cents a gallon cheaper. When they use regular gas, check engine light comes on. Lower mileage is due to lower BTU's in E85--check engine light may just be oxygen sensor having trouble adjusting to new mixture when they switch over, and not a big deal. Need to do a dollar per gallon calculation to figure if E85 is worth using.

Call 6

Mary Coombs (Reston, Virginia) - 2005 Subaru Forester

buying... She loves the car, but she has a HUGE dog (160lb newfoundland) and needs a car that fits a dog crate and has AWD, because she also skis. Tom and Ray suggest she get a Honda Element. She likes a Toyota Sinna, which the guys also think would be fine.

Call 7

Barbara Hirschman (New Haven, Connecticut) - 1993 Chrysler New Yorker

A steering question. She is getting a weird squeaking noise, every morning, that sounds like a mouse living in the steering drive. This is especially noticeable when it's cold or wet, goes away after car warms up. Sounds like a power steering belt that needs to be replaced. It's old and cracked. Take it to mechanic, and leave it overnight so they can hear it.

Call 8

Claire Carter (Gillette, Wyoming) - 2004 Subaru Legacy

A driving/safety/dump/keep question. She has a 04 Buick Rainier and a 04 Subaru Legacy. Every 2 weeks she has to drive over the mountains (140 miles) to deliver her son to her ex. Part of the drive is snowy, sharp corners and scary roads, with no cell phone reception. Only wants to keep one car--which is safer for this driving? Depends. If the Rainier has stability control, keep it. Otherwise, it's up to her.