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How to disable a car...

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MaryWitzl

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I've tried to research this on the internet, but I'm having trouble, and the only friend I have who knows about cars is away from home.  If someone wanted to disable a car so that it could be driven a short distance (2-3 miles), but then fail to start up again how might they go about it?  I thought maybe a hole in the radiator might do the trick, or draining the radiator to almost empty.  This would need to be accomplished in about five to ten minutes, so it couldn't be something too elaborate. 

If anybody out there knows, I'd be very grateful for this information!
#1 - November 22, 2010, 07:16 AM

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Off the top of my head--when my husband came to visit me once a million years ago when we were in college, his car got vandalized...except we didn't know it until he left and was a few miles down the road, about to get on the PA turnpike...and his car died.  The vandals had discharged a fire extinguisher into his gas tank, and it clogged all the filters in the fuel line so that no gas could make it to the engine.  Maybe a box of cornstarch would do the same thing?  It's something that could be done quickly and leave no trace...
#2 - November 22, 2010, 07:43 AM
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You can also yank out all the spark plug wires. It's pretty quick and effective.
#3 - November 22, 2010, 08:05 AM
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 09:24 AM by Aimee Walker »
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MaryWitzl

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Thank you, Marissa and Aimee -- I'll keep those in mind. I think the fire extinguisher idea might work better because the car needs to be initially operable so that it can be driven away, then conk out and refuse to start up again.
#4 - November 22, 2010, 08:29 AM

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Buy a really, really old car in California (for $200) ... then take it Montana ... When winter comes, it will start up and run but then stop in the middle of traffic, for no reason ... The cops will ban you from driving it after three warnings.  Of course, you'll have to change your plot and all, Mary. I'm no help. Giggle.

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#5 - November 22, 2010, 10:32 AM
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I don't know if this still works, but, years ago, pouring sugar in the gas tank disabled a car really well. My mother got in trouble for doing it to the neighbor's car.  :ohno

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#6 - November 22, 2010, 11:16 AM

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Banana in the tailpipe? (Or exhaust as they say in the UK.) I saw it in an Eddie Murphymovie, Trading Places maybe?
#7 - November 22, 2010, 11:44 AM

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PS It works! I just checked (I was intrigued myself). Looks like an easy but effective method, especially as you don't have to get into a gas tank to do it.

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/769/if-you-shove-a-potato-in-a-cars-tailpipe-will-the-car-explode
#8 - November 22, 2010, 11:46 AM

Banana in the tailpipe is in Beverly Hills Cop.  :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tKt4KTfppA

Priceless.
#9 - November 22, 2010, 12:04 PM

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Thanks for that link! Made me chuckle.
#10 - November 22, 2010, 12:14 PM

MaryWitzl

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Francziska and Jaina, Eddy Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop was on my mind when I was writing this chapter, but the problem with the banana in the exhaust pipe is that it disables the car right away and I think sugar in the gas tank has a similar effect. I want that all-important delayed reaction. I'll bet Axel Foley could have helped shown me how to do this right away... :)

Vijaya, we once bought an old car in California and took it all over the States. The exhaust conked out on us right in the middle of Yellowstone Park and there happened to be a mama bear in the vicinity. I don't think anybody has EVER fixed an exhaust pipe so fast -- our speed was Guinness Book of World Records standard just thinking about that bear.

I think I'll just have to leave this detail out until my car-knowledgeable pal gets back from London, but thanks anyway!
#11 - November 22, 2010, 12:20 PM
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 12:23 PM by MaryWitzl »

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A less destructive way would be to cut a hole in the fuel line.  Stick something to make a hole in the oil (brain going blank) pan, take out the air filter - not sure if this would stop the car, but it would sure run funny. 

You want to do something that will start the car, but drain either the gas, oil, or radiator within a distance that will stop the car or make it run hot so that the driver will have to stop the car.  Even removing the oil cap will spurt oil all over the engine which will not begin to show up for a few miles - I know this because some idiot who change my oil never put my oil cap back on.  I had to stop to figure out the problem, the carefully drive until I could find a place to buy an oil cap, oil and fill up my car.  Luckily I went in the direction of one town to another small town instead of the middle of nowhere.  I would have had to wait for a tow truck to bring me an oil cap and oil. 

Draining any fluid from the car would make it either stop or run hot so the driver would have to stop.  A hole in something would mean waiting for repairs.
#12 - November 22, 2010, 02:06 PM
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The fire extinguisher seems like the most on the money. I have a trick my dear old dad told me about that let's a car start up just fine, then quite a few minutes later and not start up until it cools off, then it will start again and stop again after a few minutes just as before.

Frozen peas in the gas tank. They are drawn to the gas line and plug it up. When the suction is gone, they drift away.
#13 - November 22, 2010, 02:14 PM
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MaryWitzl

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Thank you, Liz and Sam -- those are great suggestions. I really like the idea of draining the radiator, but a stunt like putting frozen peas in the gas tank sounds truly kid-friendly.  (I would never have thought of putting frozen peas in somebody's gas tank. I wonder who thinks up these things?)
#14 - November 22, 2010, 02:18 PM

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Frozen peas in the gas tank. They are drawn to the gas line and plug it up. When the suction is gone, they drift away.
:ahh :applause :dr  Perfect!

#15 - November 22, 2010, 02:36 PM
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What is it that those nuns do to the Nazis' car in The Sound of Music to keep them from following the von Trapps? That oughta work!
#16 - November 22, 2010, 05:53 PM

Ok this is not what you asked but if you stick a big old nail in a tire, it will cause a slow leak that, depending upon how much you drive, will cause a flat tire in a fair amount of time.
#17 - November 22, 2010, 06:01 PM
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MaryWitzl

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Thank you, everybody!   There's no reason why a combination of these wouldn't work even better. Now I'm thinking frozen peas in the gas tank, a nail in the tire, and most of the water in the radiator drained off.   God, my poor characters...I feel so mean.

(And here I was getting worked up over two snapped antennae and my learners' stickers peeled off the bumper!)
#18 - November 23, 2010, 02:58 AM

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What is it that those nuns do to the Nazis' car in The Sound of Music to keep them from following the von Trapps? That oughta work!

They pulled the spark plug wires and several other wires.
#19 - November 23, 2010, 02:15 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

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