Kent's Exploding Ford Aerostar

Feb 05, 2000

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. Who sent this? Kent Hartfield from Texas; somewhere in Texas. You're gonna like this. I think you're gonna like it.


RAY: He says, "I was driving my Ford Aerostar down the road in Arlington, Texas, last June, when all of a sudden I heard a muffled BANG that was immediately followed by the motor dying." You get this? He's driving along...Ford Aerostar...all these things are important.

TOM: Everything's important.

RAY: Pay attention!

TOM: You don't have to tell me that, man. I know that every word you speak is a pearl.

RAY: Driving along...BOOM! Muffled boom. The motor dies. "I pulled off to the side of the road and popped the hood. This has a little hood because the engine is kind of buried. And looked to see what had happened. Once I saw what had happened, I thought, Gee, this is gonna cost a lot to have fixed. I closed the hood, got back in the van, started the engine and drove off."

TOM: Wow.

RAY: What happened?

TOM: He didn't say where the boom-bang came from. But since he opened the hood, we can assume that it came from the front of the vehicle?

RAY: Well, I'll give you that. The muffled bang came from under the hood.


RAY: From the engine compartment.

TOM: Engine compartment.

RAY: And the motor stopped running.

TOM: Stopped running? And he said, "This is gonna be expensive to fix." Yet it started right up again. This is puzzling.


TOM: It's hot. The question is, what happened to the car, and the hint is that it's June.

RAY: June, and the muffled bang.

TOM: This is more than a muffled pop. It's a bang.

RAY: This called into play all kinds of different pieces of knowledge.

TOM: It's June. It's hot. It's Texas.

RAY: It's June. It's hot, and he has the air conditioner on.

TOM: Of course.

RAY: And when he's driving along the high pressure hose from the air conditioner compressor blows; filling the engine compartment with what? Refrigerant.

TOM: Refrigerant. R-13.

RAY: R-13A, 134A, and it blows all the oxygen out of the engine compartment. Because it comes out in such a huge volume and such high pressure, it displaces all the oxygen necessary for combustion, and of course the freon—

TOM: And the engine stalls.

RAY: — is not supportive of combustion and the engine stops running.

TOM: Wow.

RAY: As soon as he opens the hood, the stuff has a chance to dissipate. He sees the broken hose—

TOM: This is going to cost a lot to fix.

RAY: This is going to cost some serious money and of course he closes the hood and drives off.

TOM: I like it.

RAY: And he makes a hole in the ozone layer.

TOM: Kent himself, personally, is responsible for a little bigger hole in the ozone layer.

RAY: Another pin hole in the ozone layer that's making our temperature go up here in greater Boston, and I thank you Kent. You're doing—

TOM: A great job.

RAY: A great job. Who's our winner?

TOM: The winner is Donald Miller from New York, New York.

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