Show Rundown

#0912: Everything I Don't Know About Cars, I Learned from Car Talk

Original Air Date: 03.21.2009
Show Open Topic

Tom and Ray discuss a letter from an auto parts clerk, who dispenses advice learned from years of listening to Car Talk.

Call 1

Meredith Kinee (, New York) - 2003 Hyundai Elantra

A fuel/gas filler question. She fills the tank and it stops every 20 cents. Sometimes it spits it back. It takes a VERY long time to fill. Told it would cost $500 to fix. Guys say the gas vapors can't escape, so tank is telling the pump it's full when it isn't. She needs to have the charcoal canister valve replaced, should cost less than 500.

Call 2

Wayne Wasserberger (Sand Point, Idaho) - 1994 GMC Jimmy

A 4wd/suspension question. After he has it in 4wd, you take it out it makes a noise like "blbbllbllblblblllllwlwlwllwl...", then clunks, and the car shudders. Guys say noise is coming from the transfer case--it's having trouble coming out of four-wheel drive. Transfer case could be on the way out. If he's lucky, may just be low on fluid.

Call 3

Michelle Curry (West Seattle, Washington) - Jaguar XJ6

A dump/keep question. She has too many cars and wants to dump one. 97 Jaguar XJ6, '01 Audi TT, and a 01 BMW 325i. TT is AWD, others are lousy in the snow. She got the BMW from her son, and still owes money on it. Guys say keep the Jaguar and the TT, dump the BMW--she can get more for it than she thinks.

Call 4

Emily Lansbury (Garrison, New York) - Dodge

An engine question. The car spews black smoke out the tailpipe. Only happens when she drives, not to husband. The problem is likely the choke not opening, because she drives shorter distance than husband, so it never warms up. Choke or choke pulloff may need replacing. She's also concerned about car polluting--Ray suggests trying to retrofit a catalytic converter, but better, only drive it on special occasions and get a hybrid for daily use.

Call 5

Jeff (Portland, Oregon) - 1997 Subaru Outback

A starting question. Once every couple of months, the car won't start. No clicks, nothing, battery dead. Jump starts, works fine. Replaced battery and alternator. Possibly a bad connection at the battery or elsewhere in the circuit. Could clean the battery post connections to preempt the problem. He asks if it could be alternator, guys say no way.

Call 6

Christy Welsh (Rockville, Maryland) - 2008 Toyota Sienna

A question about the electric tailgate question. The tailgate is automatic and is controlled by button or a remote control. Some days tailgate won't stay up and will almost whack her in the head if she's loading something in the back. Try using the other remote control. One remote may be faulty. If not, it might be the switch in the door.

Call 7

John Terrell (Falmouth, Massachusetts) - 1996 Honda Odyssey

A suspension/brakes and wheel/bearings/calipers question. There's a thumping sound from right front wheel. The noise starts at 30 mph. Tire dealer says it's from a stuck/frozen caliper. Can he drive it to Framingham so his son will fix it for free? Not safe to drive at highway speed, have son come down and fix it.

Call 8

Lindsay Pritchett (Winder, Georgia) - 1996 Ford Mustang

A starter/engine/belts question. Every time she turns it on, it goes "Whooop." Dad just bought her this car, and she's 16 years old. Coming from either the flywheel or the starter motor. May need a starter motor. She may have caused problem by continuing to hold the key after it starts.

Call 9

Peter Slutsky (Washington, District Of Columbia) - 2006 Subaru Outback

A tires and ethics question. He borrowed a friend's car. Got a flat. Fixed it, then offered to pay for it. Friend wrote back that since it was 4wd he would have to get four new tires and therefore they should split it. The tires have about 18k on them. Friend is right, split the cost. Flat tire happened while he was driving, so he's responsible. T&R say he should pay for two of them. The friend offered that, so he should be content with it. Negotiating will damage the friendship.