Show Rundown

#0837: Is the Prius a Chick Car?

Original Air Date: 09.13.2008
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Washington Post Style Invitational - translate classic quotes for Los Angeles residents younger than 40.

Call 1

Sarah Daggett (Arlington, Massachusetts) - 1998 Honda Civic

A transmission or brakes question. The car won?t move; it's stuck in her parking garage. Didn't drive it for most of the Summer. Likely that wet weather rusted the brake drums to the parking brake lining. Try rocking the car to pop it out. If it doesn't work, she'll have to tow it to the shop.

Call 2

Lou Harris (San Francisco, California) - 2000 Ford Focus

A clutch question. First stick shift car, recently moved to SF, drove up Lombard St. Car was smoking, got a burnt rubber smell. Smell was clutch burning up--she may have done it, or it may just be age, since it has 130K miles on it. Test to see if clutch is slipping, if it is, get it fixed. Also needs to see if she can really drive a tick in SF--if sha can't, sell it and get an automatic.

Call 3

Craig Goza (Edmund, Oklahoma) - Honda Odyssey

A brakes question. When the car has been sitting, he hears a god-awful squeal from right rear brakes, goes away after the first couple of stops. Did the brakes himself a year ago. Didn't start until months and months after the repair. Ray suggests that moisture is getting in through hole in the backing plate--plug may have been misplaced. Also, take off drums to make sure he didn't damage anything doing repair.

Call 4

John Cohn (Avondale, Arizona) - Toyota Prius

Metaphysical and gasaphysical questions: Is the Prius a chick car? He always thought it was--guys say they've never considered it a chick car. Also, is it more gas efficient for him to accelerate gently from a stop, or to "lead foot" it? Guys say it's the same as a regular engine--Lightly accelerating is more gas efficient, in this cae even moreso, because you're using the electric motor.

Call 5

Rose Hardwick (Hardwick, Massachusetts) - 1999 Mazda 323

An exhaust/muffler/suspension question. There is a metallic scraping/grinding sound coming from rear end. It is worse when people sit in the back seat. Went to muffler shop, they didn't test drive it, just welded a new rear piece on. It might be a broken shock or spring in the back. Go back to muffler shop and insist they test drive it, bring big friends to sit in the back.

Call 6

Mark Wiener (Dubois, Wyoming) - Subaru

A brakes repair question. He replaced brake pad, had to disconnect one of the lines. Reservoir got low, now has bled everything, and put in 1 1/2 quarts of brake fluid in, but brakes are still spongy. He probably bled it wrong--did it backwards. Try again, the right away, and problem should go away.

Call 7

Erin Logan (Phoenix, Arizona) - 2001 Honda Civic

An electric/window motor question... She just moved to desert from Boston. Rear window won't move. She needs temp fix until the funds to repair come in. Just wants to get the window up. She will probably need to take the door apart, since coaxing it up didn't work. Employ her 9 year old nephew to help fix it herself.

Call 8

Rochelle Dujan (Cincinnati, Ohio) - 2007 Toyota Prius

An electrical question. The noise when backing up is really annoying. Is there any way to turn off the noise? She could try to partially cover the speaker, but should probably just suck it up and live with the noise--it's a good way to alert, say, blind people, that she's backing up, especially since the Prius is so quiet. Her buzzer may actually be sickly, so she can go to the dealer to see how it compares with other Priuses.

Call 9

Murray Middleman (Los Angeles, California) - 1999 Lexus RX 300

Transmission question. It died. American mechanic says $3500. Armenian mechanic reworked it. Six months later, goes about 10 feet and makes a big bump. Could be a sticking valve in the transmission. Could try one of the many fine additives or try changing the fluid. Leave it with his mechanic for a while, so he can experience it.