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FRONT SEAT IS NO PLACE FOR CHILDREN

Dear Tom and Ray:

I write with anguish at the boneheaded advice you gave to the dad whose 8-year-old daughter gets car sick. Sure, putting her up front in the passenger seat might help her car sickness, but probably by ending her life or sentencing her to serve it out in an iron lung. From the column: "If she's properly belted in and far enough back from the air bag, she should be fine." Yeah, if she never moves a muscle, if she doesn't slide forward to let her feet drop comfortably off the seat cushion, if she never leans forward to change the radio station or pick up a box of tissues off the floor. I hope you correct this bad information. -- Officer Mark Bergin, Child Seat Safety Coordinator, Alexandria, Va.

Tom: Well, you told us, didn't you! Thanks, Mark.

Ray: We stand corrected. Obviously, the safest place for a child is always in the back seat. And NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recommends the back seat for all kids 12 and under, since you can't rely on them to sit still even if they are belted in.

Tom: So we'd like to amend our advice to the dad with the car sick 8-year-old. Scratch the front seat suggestion. We recommend plastic seat covers and a case of Lysol.

What's the life of a transmission?

How long can one reasonably expect a manual transmission to last these days? I drive a 1991 Volvo wagon. At 33,000 miles, I had my First and Second gear synchros replaced by Volvo. Then 60,000 miles later, I had the same symptoms and same diagnosis. I was given two options: $1,200 to fix it or $1,500 for a factory rebuilt transmission. -- Serge

Tom: A transmission certainly should last 100,000 miles, Serge. In fact, it should last far longer than that unless you drive like an animal.

Ray: I'm guessing that there was something awry in that original transmission. I don't know what it was, but my guess is that it was mis-manufactured.

Tom: Right. Olaf dropped it on his foot when he was trying to install it because he had too much aquavit during lunch.

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