Toyota Tercel

Sep 27, 1996

RAY: I will confess that this needed a little help, a little embellishment, obfuscation...

TOM: Which I know you're very good at.

RAY: This was sent to us by Bud Olmstead from Fayetteville, North Carolina. This came via the internet. Here it is:

We helped my daughter and son-in-law buy a nice, used, '89 Toyota Tercell with A/C, 5-speed transmission, power steering, da da dadada - took it to our trusted mechanic and he said it looked good.

They bought the car, and the only thing they added to the car was one of those cheap digital glue-on clocks, new floor mats, and a pair of fuzzy dice.

When they drove the car home they stopped at a rest stop, and after their rest the car wouldn't start. They turned the key and nada. No crank. They tried several times, and finally the car started. When they arrived home they called us and told us the problem, and we called the previous owners and threatened a lawsuit and all that. They swore up and down that the car had never given them a problem.

And then for a few days after that the car seemed to work OK one day, and not work OK the next day. If they persisted and they kept trying the key, it would work. They couldn't figure it out. They finally in desperation went to a Toyota dealership and had the car looked at.

Now the daughter tells Dad what the problem was. These are the hints, because you are going to have to tell me what the problem was with the car.

TOM: Oh. The daughter goes to the dealership and they figure it out.

RAY: They fix it.

TOM: Now she reports back to Daddy-o what the problem was.

RAY: Number one: There was no charge for the service she says. Number 2: The problem was caused by something she did after she got the car; something she bought.

All the information you need is embedded right here in this little letter from Bud.


TOM: Simple, simple. We know it wasn't the stick on clock, unless it was draining the battery.

RAY: It wasn't the stick on clock, wasn't the high-end fuzzy dice. It had to have been the floor mats.

TOM: Surely.

RAY: This car, as many manual shift cars have a switch, which unenables the starter motor.

TOM: Un-enables. Cool.

RAY: It's a starter defeat switch which requires that you step on the clutch pedal in order to start the car because we're too stupid in this country to...

TOM: ...know to step on the clutch...

RAY: ...when we start the car and they're afraid, if some unsuspecting oaf would start the thing in gear and crash into somebody else, then the company would be sued for millions and millions of dollars.

TOM: Or as I have done, drive into your garage door. Those garage doors can't take a joke.

RAY: Not the wooden ones anyway. So, when she she put these new thick floor mats in, she was interfering with the operation of this switch and every once in awhile, if she was angry and put the clutch pedal down especially hard the the car would start or maybe if the floor mat shifted position. Of course all the dealer did was fling that floor mat into the back seat and solve her problem.

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