Click & Clack Talk Cars
By Tom & Ray Magliozzi
Dear Tom and Ray:
I took my 2006 Honda Civic
hybrid to a store for an oil change. The manager
told me he could not do oil changes on hybrid
cars, because the engine can start even with the
ignition turned off and the keys out of the car.
He said he would have to disconnect the
electrical system or he could get a serious
shock. He said I must have noticed that the car
would start all by itself even with the key out
of the ignition. He said it does this to charge
the battery. I never once noticed the car
starting by itself. He said only Honda can safely
change the oil in a hybrid. Is there any merit to
what he told me? - Robert
TOM: The guy was misinformed,
Robert. Once its turned off, this car
wont start unless someone turns on the
RAY: Its true that an
increasing number of cars come with something
called a "passive entry" system. With
these systems, you approach the vehicle with the
key fob, and the car "senses" that you
have the key.
TOM: Once it senses that the
correct key is close, it will let you unlock the
doors and start the engine without actually
taking the key fob out of your pocket.
RAY: But even with a passive
entry system, you have to push the
TOM: This guy may have had an
experience with a hybrid where someone left the
ignition on. Since hybrids are silent in their
electric mode and only start the engine when they
need to, it may have appeared to him to be off.
RAY: Then, if the hybrids
computer determined that the battery needed to be
charged, it may have started up and scared the
lug nuts off him. Who knows?
TOM: But if the car is
legitimately turned off, it will not start by
itself. And you can get your oil changed
anywhere, Robert. Well, anywhere but from this
By Greg Zyla
Sponsored by Curry Automotive
Vibration Kill Eric Medlen?
A story in the
Houston Chronicle by writer Bernardo Fallas
reported that the brain injury that caused Eric
Medlens death was likely the result of
severe tire vibration and not the impact of the
ensuing low-angle crash against a retaining wall
during a test run in Gainesville, Fla. Medlen
crashed March 19 at Gainesville Raceway. He died
March 23 after his family consented to his being
taken off life support.
NHRA Senior Vice
President Graham Light, in a TV interview during
the OReilly Spring Nationals, concurred
that Medlens death did not result from any
impact with the guardrail.
Fallas said that
all NHRA PowerAde Drag Racing Series drivers and
crew chiefs were informed of the
"vibration" situation at a safety
meeting conducted by John Force Racing via
teleconference before Fridays qualifiers.
Prior to this
revelation, everyone had thought the accident
came about because of a tire failure and the
resulting crash into the wall. Forces
findings, however, point to extreme tire
vibration caused by an unknown source or sources
for causing the head trauma to Medlen and the
tire blowout, according to Fallas article.
fatality is the first death in NHRA Funny Car
competition in almost 38 years, the last being
Gerry Schwartz, who died in a crash with Pat
Foster when Foster crossed into his lane on June
15, 1969, in Dallas.
In ending, I hope
no other top-end "vibration" situations
occur. Severe vibration up to half-track has
become common as the tires plant and grow or lose
traction, but Medlens high-speed situation
is a first.