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Dislodging Pradeep's Phone

edited July 2012 in The Show
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Poor Pradeep. His cell phone is buried deep in the ductwork under the driver's seat of his BMW. How can he get it out -- other than hanging the car by its front bumper and shaking it, that is?

(Want to hear the call? Listen right here.)

He's tried the coat hanger. He bought the special grabbing tool. He's even executed a few rather high-speed driving maneuevers. Still, no phone.

Tom and Ray's suggestions? Try a panic stop, hitting the brakes hard. If that doesn't send the phone flying, head to the dealer, look at the duct work and figure out where to drill.

And if his phone is still hiding? It's time to take the seat out!

Meanwhile, one deeply lodged cell phone is gnawing away at Pradeep's waking moments. Can you help? Share your solutions here!


  • How about turning on the AC to push on the back side of the phone and a shop vac to pull on the front side?
  • Turn the heater on at the highest fan speed (in a mode that sends the greatest air flow thru the duct in question). Then, insert a small length of tubing that's attached to a vacuum source (the strongest shop vac you can find). When the sucking end of the tubing contacts the phone, hopefully the combination of push and pull (air flow and suction) will enable you to pull the phone out.
  • Well it's quite simple! He goes to the bait store and buys the longest fish hook pliers. The raps the tip of each side with electric tape to avoid scratching the phone and to give it better grip. Then he digs around till he finds the phone and retrieves it.
  • A piece of duct tape (sticky side out) wrapped around a piece of foam on the end of the coat hanger might work. It would have to be wrapped with masking tape in such a way that only the distal end is sticky - or it may join the phone"s entombment.

    On the other hand if Pradeep is an engineer (of any type), it may be time that he reduced theory to practice and got his hands dirty by removing the seat himself.

    If the above does not work, drive over to my house. As I live in Costa Rica, I can guarantee a dislodgment before he gets here.

  • You need a borescope (also called boroscope), which is a fiberoptic viewer that can be threaded into inaccessible spots like this duct. You can rent one (or even buy one) cheaper than the labor charges to take everything apart. (Google boroscope). Then using that plus your grabber tool you might be able to latch onto the phone and pull it out.
  • Get a stick and wrap Gorilla tape around it so the sticky side is out and stick it in.
  • Duct tape all the other heating/AC vents closed leaving the one w/ the cell phone open thereby increasing the air pressure on the phone. Drive to the top of the steepest, bumpiest and longest, rarely traveled street. Turn on heater or AC to "High". Drive backward down the street intermittently applying brakes hard and turning from left to right to jiggle the phone back out. Good luck.
  • Switch to a basic cell phone plan, drive outside your coverage area and the phone will start to roam...

    ~ de Vie
  • Open the hood and locate the heater air inlet.

    Turn the heater on at low temperature and low fan speed.

    Place a lighted candle near the opening of the duct in which the phone is lodged.

    Fully open the valve on a portable MAPP torch, DO NOT LIGHT IT.

    Bleed MAPP GAS from the torch into the heater air inlet until you hear a boom.

    Remove the phone from whatever it impaled.

    For more spectacular results close all the windows, place the lighted candle in the lower left corner of the dash board. Use evaporate gasolene into the heating inlet in stead of the MAPP gas.

    From a real engineer;-)
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