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After 35 years, Click and Clack hang up the wrenches

Brothers Tom, left, and Ray Magliozzi have been on the radio for 35 years -- the last 25 nationwide -- explaining how cars work, and how to fix them when they don't.

Two distinctive voices of American car culture will fall publicly silent this September when “Car Talk,” National Public Radio’s successful do-it-yourself mechanic show, stops producing original programming.

Brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi have been on the radio for 35 years -- the last 25 nationwide -- explaining how cars work, and how to fix them when they don’t.

“Click and Clack,” as the Magliozzi brothers always called themselves, demystified the automobile for millions by carefully listening to their callers’ concerns and offering answers from their decades of experience under the hood.

They weren’t always flattering to Detroit, its automakers or their products, but they never shied away from their opinions and they were never disingenuous to their audience.

Most importantly, the Magliozzi brothers diagnosed mechanical problems over the phone with a disarming, self-effacing humor that demonstrated an important point: Being a good mechanic, like being a good doctor, is often more art than science.

When they were wrong -- or, as one brother would argue to the other, “full of it” -- or they just didn’t know, they said so honestly. When the diagnosis was bad, they offered it up with sympathy, and were usually greeted with sincere thanks.

Of course, it’s easy to be kind and funny when your advice and diagnosis isn’t being delivered with a bill. But it’s harder to make adults and kids laugh while listening to people talk about mechanical issues on the radio -- something the brothers did week in and week out.

Tom, 74, and 63-year-old Ray will still be on the air for a while, drawing recorded material from 25 years of archived conversations. They’ll also continue to do their newspaper column and run their Web site, cartalk.com, NPR says.

But just as the comic strip “Peanuts” seemed different in reruns after Charles M. Schulz passed away, so to will “Car Talk” likely change when the Magliozzis turn off their microphones.

My Saturday mornings just won’t be the same.

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