The Reluctant Camry

Aug 20, 2011

RAY: Amanda buys a nice used Toyota Camry and adds a glue-on digital clock, new floor mats, and fuzzy dice. The next day, the engine won't crank. After several attempts, the car finally starts. This pattern repeats-sometimes the car starts right up, and sometimes it takes several tries.

Desperate, Amanda goes to a dealership. Going against years of rigorous training, the dealer fixes the problem without charging her. They tell her it was caused by something she bought after she got the car. What was it?
Amanda's Camry has a manual shift, and, like many stick shift cars, it has a switch that disables the starter motor. The starter defeat switch, called a clutch interlock, requires that you step on the clutch pedal to start the car. Manufacturers put these in because they think we're stupid. They're afraid some oaf will start the car in gear and crash into somebody, and they'll get sued for millions of dollars.

So, as Amanda's new, thick floor mats slid around, they sometimes prevented the clutch from going all the way to the floor, which interfered with the switch. The dealer generously fixed the problem by flinging the mats into the back seat.

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