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Dear Tom and Ray: What would be the most likely cause of excessive static on the AM radio band in my truck? How can I get rid of this static?


Ray: We can suggest some very fine FM stations, Tim.

Tom: Actually, your problem is not AM, it's RF. Your ignition system is creating radio frequency interference (RFI), and it's being picked up by your AM radio.

Ray: RFI usually comes from the alternator or old spark-plug wires, and an RFI filter usually solves the problem.

Tom: Just hobble on down to your local Radio Shack, or a similar establishment, and ask them for an automotive noise filter for your AM car radio. It costs about $20 and attaches to your radio's power line.

Make wrecker "tow' the line

Dear Tom and Ray: My '97 GMC three-quarter-ton four-wheel-drive pickup recently stranded me with a faulty fuel pump. The dealer towed me 25 miles and called me the next day to inform me that not only would I be paying for a new fuel pump, but I'd also be paying for a new transmission. A tow-truck operator suggested that since the '97 models don't allow you to shift the transfer case to Neutral, they shouldn't be towed for more than a few miles. Is this true? Is it possible that the tow job ruined my transmission?

- Fred

Ray: I'd say "likely" is a better description, Fred.

Tom: I agree. It's extremely odd that the transmission on a 3-year-old vehicle - which had no previous transmission problems - just happens to buy the farm right after a 25-mile tow. So I think you're right to be more than a little suspicious here, Fred.

Ray: But while the transfer case MIGHT have been involved (GM claims that you CAN put this transfer case in Neutral), I'd say it's more likely that the tow-truck driver accidentally towed the car with the automatic transmission in Drive (or something other than Neutral). If the transmission was in gear during a 25-mile tow, that certainly could have overheated the transmission and cooked it.

You shouldn't have to pay for it. So what should you do? Well, both dealerships and reputable towing companies carry liability insurance to cover just this kind of screw-up. And whether they set the transfer case incorrectly or set the transmission incorrectly, one of the parties is going to have to make a claim to pay for your cooked transmission, Fred.

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