Question - I have a '95 Dodge Grand Caravan LE. On Monday I was putting something in the back, and when I went to close the rear gate, the entire back window broke out. I took it to a Dodge dealer and they said "Oh, those bolts on the shocks that hold up the gate tend to break, but I've never seen one bust out the rear window." I asked if they'd consider paying for it, and everyone got real quiet, like I had just mentioned E.F. Hutton. The bill is $573.

I have a friend who says the same thing happened to her '92 Caravan, and that Dodge fixed it for free. Is that true? - Bill

RAY: Yes. They were fixing this problem on '92 Caravans, Bill. I know because it happened to my wife's Caravan last year, and it was fixed for free. TOM: It's a design flaw. One or both of the gas-filled pistons that hold the rear liftgate open detaches from the inside of the car and just hangs there. If you don't see it, I guess you can close the gate on it and break the window.

RAY: That didn't happen to us, because my wife noticed the thing before closing the lift gate, but your wife is living proof that it CAN happen.

TOM: And if I were you, I'd try to get them to pay for the whole thing. They may argue that you were negligent and should have noticed the piston hanging there and not slammed the lift gate on it. But I think you can argue, rightfully so, that if they hadn't produced a defective part that was hanging there in the first place, you'd still have a fully assembled rear window now, wouldn't you?

RAY: If they paid for it for '92s, and the '95s are still having the same problem, I can't imagine what reason they'd have for not fixing it on your car, too. So I'd ask again, Bill. And call your Chrysler zone representative and have a chat with him or her if you're not satisfied with the dealer's response. Good luck.

Question - We have a 1992 Subaru Legacy all-wheel-drive wagon. It was recently in to the dealer for its five-year checkup. In addition to a tuneup and a timing-belt change, they also installed new brakes. Now my car's brakes squeal every morning when I back out of the driveway (that's the only time they squeal). I took the car back and was told by the service rep that "it's our island atmosphere causing the brakes to rust overnight" (we live near the ocean). Every guy I tell this story to nearly doubles over in laughter! Yet the service rep told it to me with a straight face and seemed very honest and sincere. Could he be right? - Judy

RAY: Well, don't fall for that straight-face stuff, Judy. They teach us that at MIT - the Mechanic's Institute of Technobabble. If we can't say "they all do that" with a straight face and have a nun believe us, they won't let us graduate.

TOM: But the service rep may be right in this case. Brake rotors can quickly build up a very thin coating of rust (which is all it takes to make a slight crunching or squealing noise on your first brake application of the day). And if you live right near the ocean, it's entirely possible that it could happen overnight. And the fact that it only happens the first time you step on the brakes, and then goes away, supports that theory.

RAY: However, arguing against that theory is the fact that it never did this before your "five-year checkup." So one possibility is that they gave you new pads, but didn't resurface your rotors. And if that's the case, I'd ask them to do that.

TOM: It's also possible that they didn't apply enough of the SSG (special Subaru grease) to the back sides of the pads. That's designed to keep the brakes from squealing. So ask them to try that, too.

RAY: If they can't fix it, however, I wouldn't be overly concerned. I really don't think it's a safety problem. In fact, it may be a safety advantage! You know how those big trucks go "beep, beep, beep" to warn people when they're backing up? Well, consider this your backup warning, Judy!