Diagnosis: an acute case of cheapskatery

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

We recently bought an '85 Toyota Corolla Diesel from my mother-in-law. The car runs great, but we're having a problem with the air conditioning. When you start the car, it works fine. But then the light on the A/C switch starts flashing, and the compressor goes on and off with it. If you shut the engine off and restart it, the air will work again for a while. Lately, my husband has been turning the engine off while we're moving to restart the A/C. This is making me very nervous. Please help before we die from the heat or worse.

RAY: Well, Kimberly, it sounds like your air conditioner switch is on the fritz. The fact that the light on the switch is flashing on and off along with the compressor suggests that the switch itself may be faulty.

TOM: It could also be a bad air conditioner relay, a loose connection somewhere, or a bad ground. Whatever it is, it doesn't sound like a serious or expensive problem. Any mechanic who knows Toyotas ought to be able to figure it out in no time.

RAY: The problem is going to be getting your husband to take the car to a mechanic, Kimberly. He sounds like a real cheapskate to us.

TOM: Buying a diesel powered car is one sure sign of acute and incurable cheapskatery. He wasn't content to buy a regular Corolla and get 40 miles to the gallon. He had to suffer with the noise, the smell, and the added pollution of a diesel so he could get 42 miles to the gallon. Not only that, he had to buy a USED Corolla diesel, and he had to short-change his poor mother to get it!

RAY: So it's no surprise to us that your husband's inclination is to suffer in heat and risk his life (and yours) rather than take this car in to a mechanic. I pity you, Kimberly. Acute cheapskatery is not an easy thing to live with. If you don't believe me, ask any of my brother's wives.

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