#1410: Car Talk Vs. The Marital Industrial Complex

Mar 08, 2014
This week on Car Talk, will James and his fiancee incur the wrath of Miss Manners and their families by registering for gifts at Louie's Lexus rather than Chafing Dishes R Us? Elsewhere, Puzzler Master Will Shortz is having trouble starting his Saab. Will Tom and Ray trade a diagnosis for the answer to 9 Down? Also, Mike may need a gregarious gullible geek to help figure out why his car is creaking; Susan's brother hit new heights of bogosity by trying to convince her she's freezing in his car because it's too efficient; and can Eric spend his summer driving the Alcan highway with his dad and sister, and remain on speaking on terms with either one? All this and more, this week on Car Talk.

Show Open Topic

It's tax prep time at Car Talk Plaza, and there's a question about one of Ray's deductions.

This Week's Puzzler

The Emission Mission: Ralph is in the shop trying to fix two Camrys. What is he doing?

Last Week's Puzzler

Matchstick Math II: Can you correct the equation by moving one matchstick?


ALCAN Highway.

You guys need to get out more! The guest was looking at starting the trip in Edmonton and travelling to Alaska - Maybe Anchorage? or Fairbanks? You were talking about 3 weeks behind the wheel etc etc etc..... In any case, it is a beautiful drive, paved all the way except where "Normal" road maintenance is underway, and and can be driven in 4-5 easy days. You can stop at numerous towns and roadside restaurants along the way, and there will be no need for the 100 lbs of canned tuna. A van, SUV or comfortable sedan will be fine. Winter is a different story.
Favorite Moment: 

Anita's 1992 Toyota Pickup

This is a quirky but known problem with these trucks. The revealing question is, believe it or not, whether she had the cooling system drained before the problem started. On refilling, there can be air bubbles trapped in the bypass pipes, which are responsible for telling the cold idle control valve whether the engine is at operating temperature or not - it opens to allow extra idle air when it thinks the engine is still cold. When its opinion is wrong - because the trapped air bubbles don't conduct heat the way coolant does - it stays open, and the computer keeps trying to reduce the airflow to compensate, resulting in the pulsation. The test is to feel the little hose going to the valve, after the engine is warmed up: if the hose isn't too hot to touch comfortably, you've found the problem. The fix has nothing to do with anything the guys mentioned. It's to redrain the cooling system and unclog all the coolant hoses and passages that serve the cold idle control valve...there are a BUNCH of them, and some of them are TINY. Then refill the system, burp out the trapped air, and the problem will be gone. It's wise to examine beforehand the hoses you'll be dealing with, and if they're old, pick up new ones from Toyota ahead of time, so you won't be stuck with an undriveable truck in the midst of it all.
Favorite Moment: 

Guys, the AlCan is paved, mostly!

I drove the AlCan in 1996 (1971 IH Scout II), 2003 (1996 Pontiac TransSport SE), 2010 (round trip 2007 Malibu LS, which my daughters drove S in 2011 while I drove a 26' UHaul Adventure). The Malibu LS is my favorite choice on the drive between Cordova, Alaska and Spokane, WA based on the price of fuel in Canada and the exchange rate, now about $1.11 USD/$1.00CN. I admit to usually driving solo, even though I offered the passenger seat in the GMC U-Haul cab so my daughters could take a break from each other; no takers (That's OK, Dad, the U-Haul is yours). Cordova's 87UL price was $4.95USD a few months back, and Canada's I'd estimate for $5/gallon, probably more like $6USD now. Get a copy of The Milepost before you go; a helpful trip planner. Take the leisure van! One Cordova friend bought one (eBay Motors, I recall) and drove it back from Florida.
Favorite Moment: 
Besides the 68-year old's AlCan dreams (He's only ten years older!), this Toyota fan enjoyed the call about the pickup truck, um, Toyota and (Tacoma or Tundra?) a white one. The answer to her problem would be different if it was red or green. If I had to guess while listening, I'd guess white as being more than 50% of trucks sold. Poor color choice for snow country, though...


I loved the show, but I wanted to give a Giant Rasberry to the young woman who lives in Charlottesville, VA, but doesn't know where it is! Southwest VA is the home of VA Tech who are the arch rivals of UVA whose home is in Charlottesville. It is in the center of the northwest quadrant.
Favorite Moment: 
The lady from CA who didn't know or care what make or year her truck was. She did know it was white.

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