Gangsta Van

Mar 29, 2010

RAY: The germ of this puzzler was sent in by Ken Dales. He writes:

"Back when I was in college, I had a great part-time job driving a delivery van -- you know one of those Dodge Ram vans or something to that effect. I never asked exactly what I was delivering or why. The money was really good and occasionally I got to use the van on weekends for camping, or starting my new midnight moving business. Now with all the money that I made, I was able to take a week off for spring break with my classmates. I think we went to Mexico. Upon my return, I was broke and eager to get back to work.

"Well, the first day back, I noticed a rumbling noise coming from the rear of the van. I wasn't too concerned but I figured I'd mention it to the boss. Well, he wasn't too concerned either, so I forgot about it. And then one day about two weeks later, I was making a delivery about as far out of town as I had ever been, when I noticed that the rumbling seemed to be getting much worse. I was driving down a slight incline when I heard a loud bang, like a gunshot. I always knew that this guy was involved in some shady stuff, and I figured somebody was shooting at me, but I never really expected gun play.

"Anyway after the gunshot the engine began to race and for a few seconds it sounded like something was dragging on the road. As soon as I could, I pulled over, shifted into Park and turned off the engine and got out of the van to see what the blazes was happening.

"Within about one second I realized I had just done something terribly wrong. I had made a terrible mistake. What did I do that was wrong and what had actually happened?"
RAY: Here's the answer. The drive shaft had broken, more precisely a U-joint broke - that was the gunshot sound. And now the transmission was no longer connected to the wheels. The drive shaft was dragging on the ground before it finally fell out.

So what did I do that was so wrong? I put the transmission in park and then got out of the van to look. Well with no drive shaft Park doesn't lock the wheels and the van started to roll down the hill.

TOM: You bet.

RAY: Because Park is in the transmission, and if the transmission is disconnected from the wheels, now the back wheels are free to go any place they want. So, do we have a winner?

TOM: Yes we have a winner. The winner this week is Cindy Cartwright from Wellston, Oklahoma, and for having her answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Cindy's going to get a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at, with which she can have her choice of useless Car Talk products.

RAY: Congratulations, Cindy!

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