Can Tom and Ray help Marge get to the hairdresser on time?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 2008

Dear Tom and Ray:

My 1997 Honda Accord Wagon has 89,702 miles. I'm 82 -- I drive 36 miles round trip once a week to bowl. The rest of the week, I go to shop, church, clubs, etc. All of that is probably 10 miles, total. My problem is that, mostly after the 36-mile round trip followed by several stop-and-go errands, the car will not start. The key just doesn't work. The Honda dealer said it would cost $350 to fix. I'm 82 -- I can't deal with this stress. Suggestions, please, NOW. I need to go get my hair cut. Thanks. -- Marge

RAY: We've been waiting to hear from you, Marge. Your neighbors have been writing to us, complaining that your beehive is getting awfully ragged around the edges.

TOM: You say, "The key just doesn't work." I assume you mean that you turn the key all the way to the "start" position to start the car, and nothing happens. You get dead silence. If that's the case -- given the conditions under which this happens -- then you probably need a starter motor.

RAY: And that's about $350. It may cost a little less at an independent shop than it does at the dealership. If you don't have an independent mechanic you like and trust (because if you trusted this guy, you wouldn't have written to us and canceled your hair appointment), you can find one through our Mechanics Files.

TOM: You go to, click on the Mechanics Files, and enter your ZIP code and the word "Honda." It'll give you a list of mechanics in your area who work on Hondas and have been personally recommended by other readers and listeners of ours.

RAY: Maybe you can even find a good place within walking distance of your beauty shop, Marge. Then they can swap out your starter while you're sitting under the hair dryer reading the latest copy of Vogue. Good luck.

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