A mechanical approach won't solve an emotional problem.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm a 17-year-old and I've listened to your radio show and read your column for
many years. My dad has an '89 Dodge Caravan (I guess he must have been a nerd)
with a five-speed transmission. My mom just bought a new car, so I usually get
stuck driving his old van, which is embarrassing. The only good news is that it
has 223,000 miles on it. It has the original clutch and it still works great.
The stupid thing won't break. He taught me, my sister and my sister's friend how
to drive a stick on it, and the clutch won't die. I've even tried teaching my
friends on it. When I drive it around I try to peel out because he said not to
do it. It doesn't even slip. My question is, how can I ruin this car real bad,
so he won't even want to get another one? Thanks. -- Neil

P.S. It would be great if I could make it look like an accident.

TOM: Well, you can let my 17-year-old son drive it. That seems to be the kiss of
death for any car.

RAY: Neil, I think you're approaching this all wrong. You're looking for a
mechanical solution to what is essentially an emotional problem.

TOM: Right. I mean, you can simply ride the clutch -- leaving it halfway out
while you drive around -- and eventually it'll burn out. But your father will
just replace it. It's a few hundred bucks, and what's that compared to the cost
of a new car, right?

RAY: Or you could loosen up the drain plug and let all of the oil run out,
causing the engine to seize. But then, if there's any justice in this world,
he'll see this column, rebuild the engine and take the money out of your
allowance until you're 38!

TOM: So, I think a more clever -- and less harmful -- approach is called for.
Try this, Neil, say: "Hey, Dad. Can I take your Caravan tonight? I love driving
it because there's lots of room in the back for me and my girlfriend (wink,

RAY: I bet he'll say, "Oh no, mister. That Caravan stays home. You're taking
your mother's '99 Miata, and I don't want to hear another word about it!"


Keep your car on the road and out of the repair shop by ordering Tom and Ray?-s
pamphlet, "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!" Send
$3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box
6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.


?(C) 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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