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    | AutoSite | InsWeb | The WWW Speedtrap Registry |
    | Europe Through the Back Door | Salon Wanderlust |
    | Best Fares Online | ApparelNet | Style Aisle | Chic Simple |

    Car Ownership
    So you've bought the car. Now you're faced with keeping it. No Web site will show you how to soup up your Topaz to run like a Testerossa, but these might help when that radiator hose develops a crack the size of the Potomac.

    AutoSite: Autosite's section on post-purchase maintenance (under the "Owning Your Car" heading) offers clear diagrams of the various components under the hood, plus trouble-shooting menus and graphics with plain-English descriptions of what might go wrong and (maybe) how to fix it. For the truly adventurous/foolhardy, an auto encyclopedia includes instructions on how to fix most systems.

    InsWeb: InsWeb makes car-insurance shopping easy; fill out a somewhat lengthy form on your first visit, then it funnels your data to eight insurers for rate quotes (not estimates, but actual prices). Only Nationwide provides instant quotes via the Web site; the others, including Amex and State Farm, send quotes later via e-mail.

    The WWW Speedtrap Registry: This site's best section is the post-June 1997 database, which includes details like speed measuring technology used, average ticket cost, marked or unmarked police cars and how often the trap is active. The information, submitted by site visitors, can be erratic, but the data for suburban Maryland hit on the mark.

    – Michael Tedeschi

    Travel
    Most online travel sites claim to find you the lowest prices on airfare or hotels, but none has technology remotely capable of delivering that; most also claim to offer exclusive deals, but they're rarely as good as what you can dig up yourself. These three avoid those cliches:

    Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door: Rick Steves and his staff have been at the task of touring Europe on the cheap for many years, and the company's site is loaded with dirt-under-the-fingernails advice about which rail pass to get, which towns aren't overrun by Americans yet and which museums are worth a look.

    Salon Wanderlust: This spawn of e-dom's most literate online magazine is a gem, collecting travel journalism written with zany, often libidinous flourish, plus a backlog of Informed Sources stories – spunky, only slightly paranoid reports about the everyday realities (airlines, rental cars, insurance) of an activity that's supposed to take you away from, well, everyday realities.

    Best Fares Online: This online outpost of Best Fares magazine comes from perhaps the nation's most devoted Fare Nerd, Tom Parson. Check out Parsons's almost-always-updated Top 25 bargains, a good way to scope out the best of the bunch (while allegedly reserved only for Best Fares subscribers, it's accessible to non-subscribers too).

    – Craig Stoltz

    Fashion
    ApparelNet: Looking for some jewelry from Taxco, Mexico, or a store that sells that special kind of sunglasses? Start with this site's 2,000-plus links to other fashion and clothing-related Web pages, running the gamut from uniforms to hair ornaments to custom-made garments. It's easy to navigate, and you don't have to see any pictures of ridiculously rail-thin models to find what you're looking for.

    Style Aisle: Head here for some fashion advice from Dorothy Cline-Metz, Entertainment Tonight's clothing diva (click on the "Fitting Room" link and watch out for the annoying scream that greets you when the page loads). Find out what body type you have, what clothes look good on you and what to avoid in the fitting room.

    Chic Simple: This one's packed with basic information about how to dress classically, but simply. The Frequently Asked Questions portion is the most informative, clearing up issues like T-shirts in the office, the deal with cuffs on trousers and how to maximize a travel wardrobe while minimizing what you must stuff in a suitcase.

    – Mary M. Remuzzi

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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