Seize The Smokin' Truck

May 02, 1998

RAY: Hi! We're back. You're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers and we're here to discuss cars, car repair and the new puzzler.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: This is a brand new one. It was inspired by a photograph I saw in the paper recently.

TOM: No kidding?

RAY: Yes. Picture this.

TOM: We discussed this, just the other day!

RAY: We did. In the green room.

TOM: In the green room.

RAY: Yes. With one of our endless hours of preparation for the show.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And I... If the truth be known, that's one of the reasons my brother isn't at the garage when he should be because he's spending 18, 20 hours a week --

TOM: Preparation.

RAY: Preparation.

TOM: Preparation is everything. People don't understand that. I remember when I was, in the old days, when I was a college professor. And I would teach three hours a week. And people would say, "You work three hours a week?" No, I don't work three hours a week.

RAY: I work four.

TOM: I work one hour a week. Preparation is everything. You think we just walk in the studio and come up... Come on! Everyone know --

RAY: I remember a few years when my brother was about to resign his lucrative professorial position, and he presented the evidence to our father, and told him that he was going to leave because it was just too much and Dad says, "Well, I mean, if it's too much for you, couldn't you work like, you know, instead of five days a week, couldn't you work like just two days a week? Wouldn't that lessen the burden on you?" And Tommy says, "I'm only working one day a week now."

TOM: And he still is incredulous. He doesn't understand.

RAY: One day. He worked one day a week.

TOM: He's mumbling. Every once in a while, even today, he mumbles.

RAY: And he's quitting. I don't understand.

TOM: One day a week.

RAY: Well anyway, here's the puzzler, I'm driving down the highway and I see way up ahead one of those diesel tractor trailers spewing from its smoke stacks the vilest, blackest, thickest, most acrid smoke imaginable --

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And as luck would have it, I'm closing in on the guy and I realize that after a minute or so that he's pulled over to the side of the road --

TOM: Um.

RAY: And the thing is running and the smoke is just pouring out. So, I pull up next to him and I put down my passenger side window and I say, "Hey, knucklehead. You're killing everyone behind you. Why don't you shut this thing off?" And he says, "I did."

TOM: Ooh.

RAY: I turned it off, but it won't shut off.

TOM: Oh.

RAY: Right?

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: I gotta remember the rest of it now because this is very important.

TOM: This is important. Yeah.

RAY: And I say to him, "Well, obviously something's wrong. Why don't you stall it out?" He says, "I can't. It has an automatic transmission." And he says, "But don't worry. In a couple of minutes, the engine will be seized."

TOM: Phew.

RAY: And I say, "Really?" And I look at an emblem affixed to the side of his truck and in an instant, I know why.

TOM: Yep.

RAY: What did that emblem say? There's an emblem affixed to the side of the truck.

TOM: There's gotta be two parts.

RAY: There's an emblem affixed to the side of the truck.

TOM: And Part B --

RAY: Is what was happening.

TOM: What was going on?

RAY: All right. What did the emblem say? But if you know what the emblem said --

TOM: You'll know --

RAY: You'll know what part. It's unnecessary to explain.

TOM: Exactly.

RAY: Show your work. You got the answer that's good enough. We don't need the work, it's just unnecessary --

TOM: Or if you saw the same picture in the newspaper that we saw the other day --

RAY: Then you'll know the answer.

TOM: Then you'll know the answer also.


RAY: What did that emblem say?

TOM: Fiat. No? No.

RAY: No. He was, as we know, from the earlier --

TOM: I happen to know the answer.

RAY: Description, he's driving a diesel truck, but the emblem I see says, "Turbo charge."

TOM: Yes, indeed.

RAY: And the reason he can't shut the thing off is that the turbo charger has failed and it is sucking the crank case oil out of the engine.

TOM: We should mention that the way that you shut off an alter... a regular car is when you turn the key to the off position, you're stopping the spark from occurring.

RAY: Right. And the way you turn off a diesel --

TOM: Which ain't got no stinking spark --

RAY: No. You shut off the fuel.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: So, you close a valve which prevents fuel from getting from the tank to the injectors, and the engine obviously shuts down, but now with the turbo failed, it doesn't need the fuel in the tank anymore, it's using the motor oil as a fuel.

TOM: Umm.

RAY: And that's why the smoke is thick and black and ugly and vile and nasty.

TOM: And what's going to happen is it's going to suck all 38 quarts of oil out of that giant --

RAY: In about five minutes.

TOM: Out of that giant diesel engine and when the oil is gone, then it's --

RAY: Boom!

TOM: Gonna stop.

RAY: Pretty good, huh?

TOM: I, I, I like it.

RAY: Anyway, who's our winner this week?

TOM: Ah. We have a winner. Here it is. Ooh. The winner is Lee Vande Visse from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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