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Audio of Episode #2027: The Dregs Theory | Car Talk

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station description America's funniest mechanics take calls from car owners.
The Best of Car Talk
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Duration: 54:17
This week on The Best of Car Talk, Donna's husband warned her not to let her new Camry's gas tank fall below 1/4 full, because the dregs might damage a crucial part. Does the fact that this part no longer exists automatically throw this advice into the Land of the Booooooogus?
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This week on The Best of Car Talk, Donna's husband warned her not to let her new Camry's gas tank fall below 1/4 full, because the dregs might damage a crucial part. Does the fact that this part no longer exists automatically throw this advice into the Land of the Booooooogus? Elsewhere, John can only keep his car from stalling by opening the hood and touching the engine. Does this fix have anything to do with the fact that John's a Catholic priest? Also, Tom is looking for a "girlfriend car," but can't decide if his wife should be able to drive it; Michael will inherit his father-in-law's Town Car if he can figure out it's odd steering and stalling problem; and way up north in Alaska, Linda needs to retro-fit her ATV so her sled dogs will get their off-season workouts. All this and more, this week on The Best of Car Talk.
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the question. Oh, yeah. The sparrow, uh, was coming back to me. Is there a big truck involved in the bridge? Yeah. Remember the story of the Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. I've read it. Read it when you read it a couple of years ago. No, you read it when he first wrote it in 1937. I read that I read the galley proofs. Well, this is the story of the bridge of Tom and Ray in Borneo. There's a bridge connecting to islands that's constructed of bamboo, lashed together with hemp. It's been used for hundreds of years. Pedestrian traffic and vehicular traffic moving both directions and the bridges four miles long with you. Because because they all picture painted, I can see four miles of hemp holding up people things. Bamboo, Bamboo. Yeah, and the bridge has a weight limit of 20 tons. So one day a truck pulls up to the bridge and the official stop him and say we have toe way you because it looks like it's gonna be close to the weight limit. So he drives onto the scale in the truck is full of sedated pigs. Pig iron and dead chickens with the driver in the truck. It weighs exactly 20 tons. Man. What are the chances of that? What are the chance? So the guy at the other end of the bridge gets the signal. He weighs all the other traffic off the bridge. Clearly, if the weight limits 20 tons, they can't allow anyone else on the bridge. So now the bridge is empty and this fellow is allowed to drive across. As he is crossing the bridge, a sparrow begins to follow alongside. Know what are the chances of that? Then it begins to hover over the truck, flapping his wings. And just when he's a little bit on this, Sparrow hasn't had, like, chili for lunch on. Just when he's a little beyond the halfway point in the bridge, the sparrow gets ready tow land and does land on the truck. What does the driver do to keep the truck at the sedated pigs and the dead chickens from plunging into the abyss E abyss or the 4 ft of water that's below the over the under the bridge? Wow, what great question. What does he do? What does he do? Not what happens. But what does the driver do or what can he do? Well, hey, hey. Could do a lot of things. For example, figuring that his shoe weighs more than a sparrow, she could throw a shoe out the window so he could jettison something else. But he needn't do anything. Wow. Trick question. What does he do? He does nothing. Because in driving from the beginning of the bridge to the halfway point, a 20 ton truck is going to what consume fuel. And it will easily consume an amount of fuel that's greater than the weight of the Sparrow. So when the sparrow lands on the truck, nothing happens. Do we have a winner? Yes. Winner this week is Ruth Bogus from Port Byron, Illinois, And for having her answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got. Ruth is going to get a $26 gift certificate to the shameless commerce division at car talk dot com, where she could get in extremely skimpy car talk bikini, what with someone bikinis. Oh, sorry. I'm in a T shirt. What did I say? I met a lovely 100% cotton car talk t shirt. You're losing it, man. It happens to me whenever the weather warms up. I get distracted thinking of bikinis all time. Well, anyway, we'll have a brand new. Yeah, well, it's certainly not automotive. And I got to remember this one because this might be my last shot. Yeah, well, it z from the wonderful world of law that'll be coming up in the third half today. So don't go anywhere right now. If you have a question about
we are. Hi, We're back. You're listening to car talk with us. Click and clack the tap it brothers. And we're here to talk about cars, car repair and, uh, the answer to last week's puzzler. But first, the question. Oh, yeah. The sparrow, uh, was coming back to me. Is there a big truck involved in the bridge? Yeah. Remember the story of the Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. I've read it. Read it when you read it a couple of years ago. No, you read it when he first wrote it in 1937. I read that I read the galley proofs. Well, this is the story of the bridge of Tom and Ray in Borneo. There's a bridge connecting to islands that's constructed of bamboo, lashed together with hemp. It's been used for hundreds of years. Pedestrian traffic and vehicular traffic moving both directions and the bridges four miles long. With you is the all picture painted. I can see four miles of hemp holding up people things and bamboo. Bamboo. Yeah, and the bridge has a weight limit of 20 tons. So one day a truck pulls up to the bridge and the officials stop him and say we have toe way you because it looks like it's gonna be close to the weight limit. So he drives onto the scale in the truck is full of sedated pigs, pig iron and dead chickens with the driver and the truck. It weighs exactly 20 tons. Man, what are the chances of that? What are the chance? So the guy at the other end of the bridge gets the signal. He weighs all the other traffic off the bridge. Clearly, if the weight limits 20 tons, they can't allow anyone else on the bridge. So now the bridge is empty and this fellow is allowed to drive across. As he is crossing the bridge, a sparrow begins to follow alongside. Know what are the chances of that? And it begins to hover over the truck, flapping his wings. And just when he's a little bit on this, Sparrow hasn't had, like, chili for lunch on. Just when he's a little beyond the halfway point on the bridge, the sparrow gets ready tow land and does land on the truck. What does the driver do to keep the truck at the sedated pigs and the dead chickens from plunging into the abyss E abyss or the 4 ft of water that's below the over the under the bridge. Wow, What a great question. What does he do? What does he do? Not what happens. But what does the driver do or what can he do? Well, hey, hey. Could do a lot of things. For example, figuring that his shoe weighs more than a sparrow. She could throw a shoe out the window so he could jettison something else. But he needn't do anything. Wow. Trick question. What does he do? He does nothing. Because in driving from the beginning of the bridge to the halfway point, a 20 ton truck is going to what consume fuel. And it will easily consume an amount of fuel that's greater than the weight of the Sparrow. So when the sparrow lands on the truck, nothing happens. Do we have a winner? Yes. Winner this week is Ruth Bogus from Port Byron, Illinois, and for having her answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got. Ruth is going to get a $26 gift certificate to the shameless commerce division at car talk dot com where she could get in extremely skimpy car talk. Bikini, what with someone Bikinis. Oh, sorry. I'm in a T shirt. What did I say? I met a lovely 100% cotton car talk T shirt. You're losing it, man. It happens to me whenever the weather warms up, I get distracted thinking of bikinis on time. Well, anyway, we'll have a brand new. Yeah, it's certainly not automotive. And I got to remember this one because this might be my last shot. Yeah, well, it z from the wonderful world of law that'll be coming up in the third half today, so don't go anywhere right now. If you have a question about your car, give us a call it 888 Car talk. That's 8882 to 72 55 Hello. You're on car talk. Hi, this is Tom from Morristown, New Jersey. Tom Morristown, Morristown. Not as opposed to Morris O Moores. Oh, that's confusing. Well, I need help, all right? I need car help, and I need marriage help. And we're here for you. Tom. We're here for you, Ben. I drive a 1990 Acura Integra and It used to be my wife. So then we go off and she, of course, gets herself a nice, big fat, uh, expedition. Because we have thousands of kids and I get her car. The master cylinder, I believe, is going out. I learned that from listening to you guys that when I step on the brake, it's sort of relaxes away from me down to the floor board. And if I pump on, if I just stamp on it, it stops right away. That's not a problem. Sounds like the master cylinder to me. Well, so here's my question. I was planning thinking about getting a new car anyway. Well, don't drive this one. In the meantime, I mean, you're not driving this car. Are you on Lee every day to work and back? Well, that's all right. So I shouldn't say. For instance, wait till August or September to get a new car. No, I'm well, you could wait a zoo long as you want to get the new car. But you can't wait to fix the master cylinder unless you want them to chisel on your tombstone. I told them there was something wrong with thing. Is gonna cost me a lot of money. No, no, no. A few 100 bucks. A few 100 bucks, including the labor. Oh, thousands. No, no, no. This is cheap. Okay, Maybe you could, Gentlemen can help me with the marriage question. Okay? I'm going to sell this car sooner or later, and I want to get the girlfriend car. And instead of the girlfriend car, I want to get, like, a two seater convertible, etcetera, etcetera for, you know, a guy with three kids and that kind of thing. And I want to get it with standard transmission. Now, my wife You mean this is a car with which you would pick up your girlfriend? This is in lieu of a girlfriend. Oh, that's what a girlfriend. But if you got a girlfriend, you could pick eso in lieu of a girlfriend. Yeah, and you want to get a stick shift and your wife doesn't want you got it? She is not not driving stick. What's the car? I was thinking, like if you know, Miata or something like that. Okay, well, be careful because the Miata has getting a reputation as a chick car. I know. I was thinking that, too. I was thinking about a used Porsche Boxter. That's a chick car. Really? E no, not not, Not even. It doesn't matter which one you get. The basic question still is. Do you get the stick shift or not? And I have kind of the same problem because I have a car that my wife can't drive, she says. Well, if we're gonna have which one would that be? I can't or won't. I have a car that nobody could drive As a matter of fact. And she says, If we're gonna have to cars, then I ought to be able to drive both of them, because what if in an emergency, I need to take your car instead of mine? I can't drive it exactly to which I say tough. That's it. That's not very nice. That's it. What's the sense of getting Ah Boxter If you're going to get a automatic transmission, does the Integra have stick shift? No, because it used to be her car. Now I had a nice, uh, Honda Civic back when I was a medical school that had a stick shift, but I had to give up my my car when she got the expedition? No, here's my one. What? My one sentiment about stick shift. You live in New Jersey, which has high population density high in the country and there and yeah, and therefore traffic. Yes, I hate driving stick shift in traffic. I don't care how good the clutches, How smooth the shift there is. It really starts toe wear you down after a while, especially if it's every day sitting in stopping you will flip out. Come on, it's worth every It's worth every ounce off left leg that you lose. E think you I think you have to go with stick shift. I'm going with because, I mean, what's the sense of getting the car? If it's gonna have an automatic wussy little automatic transmission in it, you might as well get yourself a Taurus. Alright, you'll you'll regret it. Gentlemen, When when my wife kicked me out of the house, I'm driving straight to Cambridge s. You could sleep in my garage with eso. You're you're a doctor. Yeah, but you'll be able to treat that that condition that you get. What kind of doctor are you? A real doctor. I'm a I'm a colorectal surgeon. Erstwhile known as a proctologist. Really? Honest to God, no one would ever kid about that. No, no, no, no, no. You should buy a Ford probe. E got plenty of probe. Hey, thanks for calling. Tom E. Uh, 88 eight. Car talk. That's 8882278255 A lawyer on car talk. Hi, this is Linda from Kotzebue, Alaska. Linda, another wacko from Alaska. How you doing, Linda? I'm doing good. Where In Alaska. Way up. All way down. Way up, Katsav. You is about 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle. E can't even conceive of that. E s o what frozen fish facility you're working at? E mean, get this. She wasn't born there. She went. Thio of her Onley will orders a bottle of your own free will. You went to, uh, Apache there. Alaska for gnocchi, Alaska. Well, you know, it's not as bad as people might get. E all that. It's not e. I can't even conceive. This is the classic two seasons, you know, like july 15th and winter. But but But we'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and we'll give you an opportunity to extol the virtues of Okefenokee, Alaska. Wherever it is, you do it, but how can we help you? In the meantime, well, here's my question. I have a team of nine sled dogs, and they need to get exercise in the summer as well as the winter winter. Part is easy, but in the summer we have to hook them up to something with wheels and have them run up and down. The few roads that we have around here toe Gilo exercise. So you want some kind of vehicle on wheels that they can pull around? We have a vehicle, and what I want to know is how best we should use this. It's a brand new all terrain vehicle. It's Ah Honda with four wheel drive manual transmission, and we'll hook the dogs up to the front of this and have them pull it down the road with us sitting on the back. We were debating on whether we should leave it in neutral and have the dogs pull it. However, we think we might wear our breaks out really fast, holding the dogs back or trying to slow them down or stop them, or should we leave it in gear and let him pull it? Or would that be bad for the transmission? That would be bad for the dogs. E. How How big is this thing? It's in a TV. It's, you know, it's just a It's a little thing. It's one of those things. You're driving the woods, right? Mhm. Right. And you're wondering if you could leave it if you could put it in. You see, if you put it in gear. No, you don't want to do that. The engine is going to turn over. I don't think I don't think I want you to do that. I don't I don't want to do that because I think you're gonna wrecked the engine. Here's what I like better. Plus, I mean, it's gonna be, uh I guess the problem is, this thing is too easy to pull for these nine dogs. Yeah, we need to be able to slow them down or for training purposes to We need them to work a little harder. Well, this thing is too small. I mean, what does this thing weigh? It can't even wait £1000. I don't know how much it weighs but Yeah, I think it's under 1000. Well, I think that's the problem. It's too light. And you need ballast. Yeah. And what the best ballast I can come up with is more dogs? Nine dogs in the front, two in the back. That's pulling the other way. That's it. We'll do a tug of war with the cement blocks. Yeah, such thing. You're gonna sit in this thing right while they pulled? Yeah, that's right. And you're gonna say Mush. Mush. Yeah. Hike, hike way. Let's go back. And can we go back a step? I wanna go back two steps. Okay. How did you get there? Where were you really from? Well, I grew up in Illinois, but I've been working for the National Park Service for a lot of years, and we park Rangers like Thio travel around, and Alaska is a pretty exciting place to come to its sort of like being in the Peace Corps up here. So we thought this would be an interesting place to go. So there are other people up there besides just you eyes that true? Yes. There's of actually 3000 people in this town. And how many dogs. Oh, it sounds like it's about 10 to 1 ratio way. That's why they call it the Cal Can Highway E would use the brakes. And then if you really have to slow the thing down, they're gonna downhill. I would put it in gear. Now, you don't have to put it in first. You can put it in high gear. Well, whatever gear seems toe, maintain the right speed so you don't run over the dogs. E mean, that would be important. E. I'm not worried about the engine. Is it under warranty? Yeah, Brand new. You should read the book to find out if there are any prohibitions about such. I mean, what's the chance that they're gonna have something in there pulling by sled dogs? I think you've got a pretty good chance of being able thio do it without damaging the thing. Okay, so you suggest using the brakes Mostly. But if I really need a lot of help, then to go ahead and put it in gear and use the gears because the brakes, the brakes are easy to replace. And I mean, my first choice would be cement blocks. Yeah, that would be the best and easiest thing to Dio. Just make the thing heavier. Or you could rig something up that would drag on the ground. Exactly. You know, like some kind of a stick that you could use to dig into the ground. That would slow you down Enough, maybe. Yeah. You need, like, a blade. You know, it would be nice if you could make this useful. What? We'll let you like a blade that you'd use on a road grader. Yeah. Maybe we could grade the road. You could You could make new roads, right? All right. You say, Where do you want the road? And that's what you take in the amount of cut that you take with the blade will determine how slow the vehicles I would try to fashion. Don't forget, you've got plenty of time. Well, we have to be good at making up things from scratch and a lot of Jerry rigging up here in this far away place. So I think we could probably fashion a road grader. You could do it, Linda. Yep. See you. Thanks for your good luck. Have fun. Good luck. Anytime. Bye bye. Wow. She sounds like a lot of fun. You know, all the people we've talked to from Alaska who we think are wackos all sound like they're having. Well, don't forget there's hardly anyone there that doesn't wanna be there. Yeah, well, that's true. Yeah, they're there because they want to be there, and that's where they wanna be. And that's it. And they seem to be pretty happy. Most of us stay where we are because we feel that we have toe and we don't know how to get out of here. And we can't escape, right? Their wives won't let us on. They're not driving the work, getting stuck in traffic every day. So there's something to be said for that. And you don't have ah, horn on a dog sled so you can't hear wrap up. Oh, that's craziness. That we're here in the city. I think I might be considering this. I love the cold. Okay, it's time for me and my brother to take a short break and work up a detailed outline for the next 20 minutes of the show. I have the outline and here that's right here roaming the world one and then take calls. Roman the world to for, uh I thought fool around was one and take calls was to love to discuss this. We're doing e got a big old truck She got 18 way with a hammer down I'm thinking how great I feel Get to my destination Unload all this frustration on finally get on with what I know is really on Even though tears shape
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