When the rains come, bust out the hairdryer!

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 2006

Dear Tom and Ray:

My daughter owns a 1977 VW bug that she parks on the street. When it rains hard, the car won't start. To get it started she has to take off the distributor cap and dry it with a hair dryer. Is there anything we can try or do?


RAY: Well, ignition spark is always weaker in the rain, even under the most perfect conditions; even if you just had a complete tune up, even if you just installed new spark plug wires, even if the car you're trying to start is not a '77 Volkswagen Bug!

TOM: So the first thing you should do is try to make the conditions as close to perfect as possible. Start with a complete tune up (especially if you haven't done one since 1978), change the plug wires, and have all of the spark-related components (ignition rotor, coil, distributor cap etc.) checked and replaced if necessary.

RAY: But if I were you, Ozzie, I'd seize this opportunity. Go out there every morning and hose down the entire engine. Give it a good long soaking. Hopefully, your daughter will get so frustrated that she will finally get rid of this death-trap and get something safer.

TOM: The bug was a lousy car by 1977 standards, and by today's standards, it's even worse. Do you know why there's no crash test data on the bug? They tried to do the test, but even the crash test dummies refused to get into it! Besides, it was raining that day and the bug wouldn't start.

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