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#0906: He'd Rather Fall Down a Flight of Stairs

Original Air Date: 02.07.2009
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Full disclosure in auto ads, courtesy of one seller on Craig's List.

Call 1

Kate Brickley (Newport News, Virginia) - 1999 Chevrolet Malibu

Her battery died recently, she replaced it, and now car periodically won't start, no lights, no juice at all, unless she jiggles her steering wheel. Tom and Ray suspect that the neutral safety switch is worn out or out of adjustment. That's more likely than a bad battery.

Call 2

Russ Bayer (, New Jersey) - 1999 Mazda 626

The automatic antenna makes a horrible grinding noise and no longer retracts. How can he stop the noise? Gear is stripped. If he disconnects the motor, the antenna will stay up permanently, and the noise will stop.

Call 3

Elizabeth Weiland-Gruber (Minneapolis, Minnesota) - 1997 Chevrolet Lumina

She just inherited the car from her mom. When the tank is half full, she hears a noise she's dubbed the "wolf ghost." It only happens when she brakes and when the tank is half full, or less. Tom and Ray are stumped but suspect that the gas tank is vibrating, possibly due to a loose baffle and that the noise is a sympathetic vibration.

Call 4

Jean McGuire (Ocean City, Maryland) - 2002 Chevrolet Camaro

A body/power windows. She can't get the windows up and down. First the driver's window went, then the passenger. Either the motor or regulator burned out--expensive to fix.

Call 5

Ryan Hill (Columbus, Ohio) - 2007 Saab 9-7X

When he backs up, it feels like the air compressor is preventing the back wheels from going. Car bumps and hops, like when he's trying to turn with 4WD on. But, this only happens in reverse, and only on occasion. He should get his transfer case adjusted by the dealer.

Call 6

Nicole Benjamin-Ma (Boston, Massachusetts) - 2002 Nissan Sentra

An ethics/parking/relationship question. She parks on the street and when it snows she spends an hour digging out a spot--recently, someone's been stealing it. She's tried leaving notes. Legally, she "owns" spot for 48 hours, so after that nothing she can do... Tom and Ray suggest talk directly to the guy taking the spot--try crying and crutches.

Call 7

Chris Misterek (Chandler, Arizona) - 1997 Toyota Tacoma

A brakes/vacuum question. When he slams on the brakes in a panic stop, they work. If he pushes gently, pedal sinks to the floor and car doesn't stop. Been like this for almost a year. Brake master cylinder is failing. Get it looked at ASAP?only two wheels are being used to stop the car. Don't drive. Get it fixed immediately.

Call 8

Stephanie Migliazzo (Rochester, New York) - 1997 Saab 900

Ever since she bought this car, it breaks down every 3 months it breaks down. She wants to get rid of it, but her fiance loves it. They've looked at used Volvos but couldn't find one in the price range. Tom and Ray decide that this a test of the relationship; she and her fiance need to figure out a compromise on their own.

Call 9

Steve (Portland, Oregon) - 2005 Subaru Legacy

A question about headlight lamps. He's replaced them at least a dozen times. The voltage seems fine. Tom and Ray thinks his problem is dirt--he didn't realize he's using halogen bulbs, and has been getting firngerprints on them which kills them. Use gloves.