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March 28, 2010

Car Talk

Tom and Ray settle family debate: can 'plopping' into car seat really harm shocks?

Syndicated columnists

Dear Tom and Ray:

Hello! My older sister has a 1996 Saturn SC2, and she is constantly yelling at my sister, my mom and myself for supposedly "plopping" into the seat. She claims that because we don't carefully control our muscles while we get into the car, the impact from our weight falling into the seats will harm the shocks. I don't believe this at all. Also, I don't think that I am getting into the car so clumsily. I think she is mistaking the feeling of the car slightly sinking when more weight is added for my being careless when getting into the car. It's at the point now where I regret riding with her after I get in the car. Can you tell me if there is any merit to her claim? Thanks!
-- April

Tom: There's nothing like family, is there, April?

Ray: You know, there are more direct ways of telling loved ones that they need to lose a few pounds than what she's doing. I mean, look how diplomatically my brother handled it. When I cleared 200 pounds, he just started making beeping noises whenever I backed up.

Tom: Your sister's claim has no merit, April. The weight of you guys "plopping" into the car would have no effect on the shocks at all. If anything, she could argue that it might affect the springs.

Ray: But the springs are designed to hold the weight of the car. So even if you guys are all on the "sturdy" side, you still can't compete with 2,500 pounds of Saturn SC2 that the springs are already supporting!

Tom: More importantly, the bumps and potholes that your sister encounters while driving around are much harder on the springs (and every other part of the suspension) than anything you guys could do by simply entering the car, no matter how hard you land.

Ray: So you can tell your sister that you've checked with the experts -- and checked with us, too. And you've all been cleared to land on the seats without further comment.

(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk Web site.)

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