Chocolate Chip Cookies and Timing Belts

Apr 19, 2022

We have a new puzzler this week. Here it is.

A customer called me the other day with this question.

He said he had an interesting thing that happened to him over the weekend. He was driving his car. Out on a pleasure drive with the wife and the 2.3 kids. So here he is on this excursion and the car started running very badly. Real bad. Low power and everything. He didn't know what was wrong. But there were no repair shops open on Sunday. So he pulls into one of those little gas stations. All the mechanics are out on their boats, of course. 

This was one of those gas stations where they only sell chocolate chip cookies, milk, and gasoline and you have to pay for everything before you get the gas. Anyway, the attendant comes out and he says, "Gee, I don't know much about cars, but I happen to own one of these here. I'll look at it if you'd like me to. I don't know if I can fix it with milk and cookies, but I'll do my best!"

He said the guy seemed actually quite knowledgeable. And after careful study of 40 or 50 seconds, he said, "You have a broken timing belt."

And the customer said, "My car couldn't possibly run without a timing belt. I had that happen on my last four cars so you can't drive if you have a broken timing belt."

He said to me, "Do you believe this guy?" 

And I said, "Yes, I do."

What's going on here? Is it the timing belt? And what kind of car was it?

That is our puzzler for the day. 



It is puzzler answer time again.  

This was the one where the customer called me and said he had an interesting thing happen. He was driving his car on a pleasure drive with his wife and 2.3 kids. So he's on this excursion and the car starts running really badly. Low power. Just chugging along. Really bad. Bucking, chugging. It didn't know what was wrong. So he pulls into a gas station.

He asked the guy to look at it, the guy checks it out. He says, "I'm pretty sure you have a broken timing belt."
And the customer says, "I couldn't possibly have a broken timing belt. The engine wouldn't run."
So, he calls me and says, "This guy tells me I have a broken timing belt. And yet my engine runs. How could this be? What's going on here?" 
And for extra credit, we wanted to know what kind of a car is it? 

What's going on is part one. And part B is what kind of a car is it? For extra credit. 

Here's the answer. It was a car that had two timing belts! So when he said you have a broken timing belt, he was correct. 
And the reason the car was still running, is because the car was running on the other timing belt.

And for extra credit, the car was a Subaru!

It would have to be the correct timing belt was broken for the car to still run. One of the timing belts drives the valves on the right side of the engine, which is on the passenger side of the engine. It has to be a pancake style, four-cylinder engine, horizontally opposed. Two pistons on one side and two pistons horizontally opposed on the other. 

The non-broken timing belt was continuing to work and that was the one that also drove the distributor.

So the engine kept running on two cylinders, which is why it was struggling so much!


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