Show Rundown

#1126: The Engine and Wallet Massage

Original Air Date: 06.25.2011

Call 1

Marina Parker (, Pennsylvania) - 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Question about the ABS light and noise. The car has 250,000 miles on it, and Marina loves it. But it’s got a couple problems. First, the ABS kicks in in non-ABS situations. Second, there’s a clunk noise when she makes a right turn. It seems to be coming from under the front passenger seat. Are these problems related, and serious? The problems are probably unrelated. Problem one is just a bad ABS sensor, easy to fix. The second problem is likely a bad axle, and more serious.

Call 2

Ryan Calo (, Michigan) - 1990 Ford Taurus

Question about the engine. Ryan went in for an oil change, and got talked into an “engine shampoo." The mechanic told him his oil was black and this was damaging the engine. Did he get ripped off? Yes, he got ripped off, but it likely didn’t do any damage. Old oil should turn black--that’s how you know it’s working.

Call 3

Babette (Kansas City, Missouri) - 1984 Honda Accord

Question about stalling. In cold or wet weather, the car dies on her. She’ll be driving, and it will lose acceleration, then stall. If she pulls over and stops the engine for a bit, it will start back up and run fine for a while, before shutting down again. Mechanics have checked and replaced many things. Tom and Ray believe she has carburetor icing--causing poor air flow to the engine. She needs to find a mechanic familiar with carburetors.

Call 4

Gus (Scotch Plains, New Jersey) - 1982 GMC Pickup

Question about the transmisson. Gus can’t shift into Park using the column shifter. If he goes at it from underneath, he can get it into Park. But this is impractical. The guys think something is bent, impeding shift linkage--could be a bad motor mount. Gus can check that stuff--he can also change to a floor shifter, which would probably alleviate the problem.

Call 5

Jim Clark (Seattle, Washington) - Subaru

Question about the starter. Car got broken into, and his radio got stolen. Now it won’t start--it cranks, but it doesn’t get a spark. He’s tested a bunch of stuff, can’t figure it out. Guys think it’s possible thieves were after something else and cut some wires, but can’t come up with a definitive answer. Suggest Jim get the book so he can figure out the wiring.

Call 6

Alicia (San Francisco, California) - 1991 Saab 9000

Question about noise and a mechanic. Alicia got her alternator replaced. Now when she starts the car, it makes a grinding, nasty noise. Car starts, and noise goes away a few seconds after she replaces the key. Adding to the problem-she went on a bit of a date with the mechanic who did the alternator. Did the alternator job cause the starting problem, and does she have to go on another date to get it fixed? Unlikely that the two are related--it’s possible she has a bad belt tensioner, which was revealed by the mechanic putting on a new belt. But it’s more likely the problem is her starter drive, which would be unrelated to the alternator job.

Call 7

Steven Tayara (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)

Question about gas. Steven’s looking to settle a bet. He says if you buy gas early in the morning or late at night, when it’s cooler, you’ll get more for your money because of gas density. Tom and Ray say this is true, so Steven wins the bet--but the difference is so small, you’re unlikely to notice it.