Could that lightheadedness Kelly's feeling be Camry-induced carbon monoxide poisoning?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 2008

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently had my 1994 Toyota Camry XLE in for a front exhaust leak. The main symptom was a muffled noise coming from the front. After the repair, I still heard the noise, though not as bad. And call me crazy, but I feel lightheaded and dizzy, and I have a weird feeling in my throat. Could they have done something wrong with the repair and now carbon monoxide is leaking into my car? Is there a way to test for a carbon monoxide leak in the car? -- Kelly

TOM: Kelly, if you're still alert and conscious by the time you read this, go to a hardware store with your windows rolled down, and buy a carbon monoxide (CO) detector for your car.

RAY: For 20 bucks, you can get a battery-powered one. Put it in your car, let the car run for 10 minutes (without you in it), and then check the reading. I'm guessing you've got CO.

TOM: You've got all of the symptoms: Dizziness. Lightheadedness. Writing to me and my brother for advice!

RAY: Carbon monoxide is deadly stuff, Kelly. It's also invisible, odorless and tasteless. So the only way to know whether it's present is with a CO detector, or via autopsy (we're assuming you prefer the former option).

TOM: The noise you were hearing was exhaust escaping, under pressure, from a cracked exhaust manifold under the hood. And it's certainly possible that your mechanic botched the job. He may have been wrong about where the leak was coming from, he could have replaced your manifold with a used one that was also cracked, or he may just be a moron, like my brother.

RAY: Exactly! We're everywhere, you know!

TOM: So get it back to him right away. Like today. Like now. And leave all the windows down when you drive it there. After he fixes it, test it for CO again -- right there at his shop, before you drive it away.

RAY: And when you're convinced that your car is completely CO-free, take the detector you bought and give it a new home in your bedroom, Kelly. Good luck. And don't wait. Seriously.

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