Dear Tom and Ray:

Several weeks ago you got a letter from a woman whose Honda Accord was whistling. You suggested she have the doors and windows checked, as that was a frequent source of whistles. We have a 1987 Honda, and it too whistled. I mentioned it to my dealer when I was in for an oil change, and he said they knew about the problem and would fix it under warranty. They replaced the rubber molding around the windshield, and the whistling disappeared. Enjoy your column! - LauraTOM: Thanks for writing to correct us, Laura. We heard from you and about 50,000 other Honda owners who told us the same thing. The case of the whistling Honda has been solved . . . the windshield molding did it!

RAY: You've also given us the opportunity to remind people that the dealer is the place to go when you have a problem that's out of the ordinary. Most people try to avoid dealers because they think they're myxomycetous spheroids (scientific notation for "slime balls").

TOM: But when your problem is unusual, going to the dealer can actually save you time and money. Since dealers see the kind of car you drive day in and day out, they may know immediately what's wrong with it. That quick diagnosis could save you lots of money - assuming, of course, you get out of there before they have a chance to "diagnose" anything else!

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1983 Camaro. The gas gauge indicator goes all the way to empty when the car is turned off. Then it goes all the way to full when the car is started. It never shows anything in between, no matter how much gas is in the tank. What's the problem? - John

RAY: Well, John, we have good news, and we have bad news. The good news is that your gas gauge is working perfectly when the car is turned off. With the key in the off position, it's supposed to read zero.

TOM: I guess you know the bad news. When the ignition is on, the gas gauge is supposed to tell you how much fuel is in the tank.

RAY: The fact that the needle stays at "full" means that the gauge on the dashboard is working properly. Your problem is somewhere between the gauge and the gas tank. It could be the wire that connects the two or the gas tank sending unit (the device in the tank that measures the fuel level and tells the needle where to point).

TOM: And there's more bad news, John. Considering the age of the car, my guess is that the problem is in the sending unit, rather than the wire. Replacing that is going to cost you $100 to $200.

RAY: If that's too much to spend, John, just try to remember to fill up the tank frequently. Then keep your fingers crossed and carry a copy of the "Click and Clack Guide to Cheap Inns and Motels" in the glove compartment for when you miscalculate.

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