Nosey Device or Noisy Relay?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 16, 2017

Dear Car Talk:

First of all, I love your show and your column. My question for you is this: Could I have a tracking device inside my car? I have a 2011 Honda Civic LX, and for the first time tonight, I heard, on two separate occasions, a vibrating noise, like a cellphone makes when it's on "vibrate-only" mode. The vibration came from inside the center console on the dashboard, behind where my radio is located. Thanks. -- Jennifer

I doubt it's a tracking device, Jennifer. But it sounds like you have some unpleasant person in your life, or formerly in your life, whom you're concerned may be tracking you. That's unfortunate.

In which case, on the off chance that anyone is listening, next time you're in the car, say something like this: "You're not going to believe this, but my ex-husband called me and said he's planning to rob a bunch of banks. He says he's been reading books on safe-cracking and stocking up on rubber face masks."

I think what you're hearing behind the dashboard is more likely to be a failing, lazy relay of some kind -- those tend to buzz. Or it could be a part of the ventilation system, like a "blend door," that's sticking when it's trying to open or close -- and you're hearing the little motor trying, unsuccessfully, to open or close it.

I really doubt it's a tracking device. They tend not to make noise, for obvious reasons. If you did have a tracking device, it would more likely be attached magnetically, under the car somewhere, probably near the back bumper, where the perpetrator could retrieve it and change the batteries every few days.

So if you're really worried about that, try taping a sign under your rear bumper that says: "Frank, I told you to get lost. Go rob a bank or something." Good luck, Jennifer.

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