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#0844: The Owner's Manual Black Market

Original Air Date: 11.01.2008
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Department of Broad Appeal: sheep who love Car Talk.

Call 1

Meghan Gately (Vail, Colorado) - 1998 Jeep Cherokee

An engine/exhaust manifold question. Her check engine light keeps going on and off, mechanic said it's a cracked manifold. There's a baby rattle sound from under the hood when accelerating. Also, the car takes a long time to accelerate. Exhaust manifold needs to be fixed, but that may stop car from running altogether, because catalytic converter is plugged--setting off oxygen sensor and check engine light.

Call 2

Doug Ulmer (Loveland, Colorado) - 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada

A power steering question. The engine revs. Power steering fluid reservoir is full. Wife loves the car, won't give it up. The power steering pump is probably worn out and needs to be replaced. Get one at a junkyard, because it'll come with pulley attached.

Call 3

Amy Malinowski (Chicago, Illinois) - 2007 Ford Focus

Her car was recently was broken into, and the only thing that was stolen was the owner's manual. Why would someone only steal the manual and leave the valuables? No idea. We'll post the question on our web site and see what folks think.

Call 4

Jason Finkle (Lubbock, Texas) - 2000 Chevrolet Impala

A heating/ cooling/ coolant question. The low coolant light has been on for a year, them about six months later, he noticed low operating temperature on the engine. He thinks it's a bad temperature gauge. Probably needs a new thermostat, and a new low coolant sensor. His friends Stumpy and Meat say to do it himself, wife says he's crazy. There won't be great savings on this job, if he does it himself, but it should be a fun job. He could screw it up without proper guidance.

Call 5

Julianne Marley (Minneapolis, Minnesota) - Honda Odyssey

A buying/relationship question. She shares a nanny with a friend, and want to buy a nanny-mobile they can share. Husband thinks buying a car together will ruin the friendship. Is it stupid, and also what kind of minivan should they buy? They could agree in advance on the payments on a new car, or buy something used that's cheap, and the consequences if it fails are not enormous. Try a used Volvo wagon, and agree to put a little money aside for repairs.

Call 6

Ben Strickland (Auburn, Alabama) - 1998 Honda Passport

An engine/head gasket. It's losing coolant, and blows a big puff of smoke when he starts car, runs rough at first then is fine until he turns it back off and it starts the process again. Check engine light is on. Spark plugs are getting fouled from coolant and aren't firing. Engine might hydro-lock. Try one of the many fine additives, like Bar's Leak. Only temporary?eventually the engine or head gasket will need to be replaced.

Call 7

Hannah Kaufman (Denver, Colorado) - 2001 Mazda MPV

A transmission/engine/mount question. She just got it two months ago from mother. When shifting into reverse, drive and first and second, there's a delay and then it jerks. The mechanic said nothing is wrong with the transmission. Is it the car, or is there a problem? Could just be low transmission fluid level. The worst case, though, is that the transmission might be wearing out. Take it to a repair shop and have them check the color of the transmission fluid. Have the fluid flushed, which might help resolve the symptoms. If no improvement, it might be time for a new transmission.

Call 8

Peter Cushing (Boston, Massachusetts) - 1998 Volvo S70

A question about the spare tire. The spare tire appears to have exploded. Is this possible? The whole tire ruptured in 12 spots. He used it in the Spring--it's likely he did something to damage it then, and didn't notice.