#1220: The Black Hole of Auto Metaphysics

May 19, 2012
This week's Car Talk kicks off with one listener's brilliant (and only sorta wacko) theory: a non-essential repair on an old car creates a parallel universe in which everything else starts to break. Then it's off to New Mexico, where Nolina has two choices for dealing with a disintegrating head gasket: a $2500 engine re-build, or a $10 can of Bar's Leaks. Any bets on which side Tom and Ray come down on? Elsewhere, Michael in New Jersey needs to replace his beloved minivan with something that can accommodate his Daniel Pinkwater-ish body and his very picky teenage daughter; Brian's looking for a way to convince Little League parents to stop parking in his driveway that doesn't involve slashing tires; and on Stump the Chumps, does Tom manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of a Ray victory? All this, and lots more, this week on Car Talk.

Show Open Topic

Do non-essential repairs on an old car create an evil (and expensive) parallel universe?

This Week's Puzzler

Fields of yellow, field of green. How is it that the same crop is being grown?

Last Week's Puzzler

It's Pinewood Derby time, and John's sons have each built a car. How did they figure out which car was faster, when it seems too close to call?


May 26 Show - 1st caller - Volvo won't start

The Volvo uses a Bosch fuel injection system which has a "one-way" valve in the fuel pump. This ball bearing + spring assembly probably has a tiny piece of debris trapped between the ball and the ball's sealing surface. Thus when engine is off and car is parked uphill, fuel stored in the lines up to the injector rail all drain back into the tank. To start, she has to wait until the fuel pump has replenished the entire fuel distribution system. BTW, cranking per se may not be necessary, as usually turning the key on will energize the fuel relay and get the pump going. Listen carefully before cranking and she may hear a soft whirring sound that is the fuel pump doing its thing. It can take 20-30 seconds to refill the fuel system if the injector rail is dry. Problem not apparent if car is parked downhill.
Favorite Moment: 

Kids' sports parking

I am a mini-van driving parent who always parks legally, and I also live near a large sports complex. So I have seen some creative solutions keep my cohorts out. A rope across the drive held by two metal stakes and a "no trespassing" sign works well and is easily unhooked for authorized parkers. You could even stage a fake towing in full view of the baseball game. Or you could stand out there and charge people $5 to park like the homeowners around the fairgrounds. Good luck!
Favorite Moment: 
See! it WAS and air bubble!

Black Hole of Auto Metaphysics

Excellent and cheerful description of a baffling conundrum that has puzzled car owners for centuries. Didn't Leonard Da Vinci address this issue in his notebooks? My beloved 1997 Honda Odyssey with 255,000 miles (body by RUST) is silently listening and waiting for me to do body work (or maybe just wash the thing) and then.....?
Favorite Moment: 
The wonder, the respect in your voices for this amazing theory was truly a thrill for this alert listener.

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