CLICK & CLACK : A Mustang Makeover

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a fairly beat-up 1994 Mustang GT 5.0 convertible. I fell in love with it at first sight. Okay, it had a transmission problem, but it was still under warranty, and just above my price range. I found a great transmission guy, who figured out what the other dealer had not, and fixed my boy up. After 10 years, he became a little unreliable starting on cold mornings. Anyway, I say "sidelined" because I bought a new Toyota Solara. Since then, I have burdened my boyfriend (now my unsympathetic husband), my parents and several friends by begging for a cozy and dry garage in which to park my baby. I've put new brakes on, kept the oil changed. Driving that car still feels great! So, my dilemma: The Solara is going to be paid off soon. Woo hoo! I see the newly freed-up cash as an opportunity to finally shower my very deserving old buddy with some much-needed TLC. My husband sees keeping the car and spending any money on it as a complete waste of time and cash. I estimate that $3,000 to $4,000 would go a long way toward bringing him back to his former glory.

Am I wrong? Am I having a problem letting go? I mean, when I met my husband, he thought I looked hot in that bad boy with the top down! Do you think he could be jealous? I question my husband's love for me, since he seems unable to understand how important this is to me. I need advice and family counseling that only you guys can offer. Please help. -- Cynthia and her beloved bad-boy Mustang

RAY: Cynthia, one of the keys to a healthy marriage is maintaining a balance between "you guys" as a couple and each one of you as individuals.

TOM: Together, you need to make joint decisions about crucial issues, like where to live, how to raise your children and whether you should get HBO and Showtime, or just HBO.

RAY: But there has to be room in the marriage for each of you to be yourself, too. And we can tell from this letter that this '94 Mustang is part of who you are.

TOM: Right. So, while it's possible for your husband, or even me, to say that it's a piece of junk and a waste of money -- and be correct -- driving this car makes you happy.

RAY: And if your husband is half the man we think he is, he'll realize that your happiness is a bargain at a few thousand bucks.

TOM: Right. It took a house, a car and half my assets (twice) to make MY first two wives happy.

RAY: So explain to him that you know it's impractical, but it's important to you, and it makes you happy. And if that doesn't work, cut a deal and tell him he can get his Powermatic Model 4224 3-horsepower woodworking lathe for the basement.

Dear Tom and Ray:

I had a car accident. My vehicle would not stop because a brake line ruptured and the fluid leaked out. My wife says that it was because I am so heavy, and that the force I apply with my big, fat foot blew out the line. She says that if SHE had been stomping on the brakes, this wouldn't have happened, because she is, uh, several pounds lighter than I am. Please say that I am right! -- James (a fat guy in Wisconsin)

RAY: Well, she's right that there is a relationship between the amount of force you apply with your foot and the amount of pressure in the brake lines, James.

TOM: But those brake lines are made of metal. And they're designed to take as much pressure as any human being -- no matter how circumferentially challenged -- can lay into them. So there's no way you blew a brake line just because you're a porker, James. The brake line failed because it had rusted out and you hadn't had anyone look at the brakes in a long time.

RAY: That's especially important when you live in a place like Wisconsin, where they use a lot of salt on the roads in the winter.

TOM: But we can say with complete confidence that your wife is 100 percent wrong, James.

RAY: She can legitimately blame you for breaking the recliner in the TV room and flattening out the seat cushions on the family sofa, but you're off the hook for the brake line, James. And we're glad you came through the accident with your sense of humor intact.

Got a question about cars? Write to Click & Clack in care of The Post, or e-mail them by visiting the Car Talk Web site at

Copyright 2007 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman

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