The only problem with the new motor vehicle odometer antifraud statute is that it is "totally useless," according to the chairman of the Senate consumer subcommittee.

Sen. Wendell Ford (D-Ky) has taken a look at a regulation recently proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it says would "require odometers to be tamper resistant and to indicate when a vehicle's cumulative mileage exceeds 100,000 miles".

Based on what I've seen so far, I think it may be impossible to develop a tamper-proof odometer," says Ford. "THis regulation by no means assures that an odometer is tamper proof." Ford said one of his female staffers - "who has very little mechanical aptitude"- reset an odometer "in just a matter of seconds".

NHTSA officials have agreed to perform an odometer lablratory demonstration before the subcommittee on June 29, and at the same time present a cost-benefit analysis for the rule.

But Ford already is skeptical. "I can tell you, if I was buying a used car and depending on this standard to guarantee accurate mileage, based on what I've seen so far, I'd have about as much confidence as you'd get from kicking all four tires," he said yesterday.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission still is waiting for word from the White House on who will be named to succeed Chairman S. John Byington who leaves office at the end of this month.

White House insiders say the new chairman will be one of the three Democrats on the existing commission: R. David Pittle, Susan King or Edith Barksdale Sloan.

The tension must be pretty high at the commission. Their week they held an election of their own and, after considerable political posturing, elected Susan King to be vice chairman, a post whe will hold for a year.

Prior to the election, Pittle removed himself from the running they need higher rates because of increased theft of pornographic books and periodicals.

He said the shipments includes such wide-circulation magazines as Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler.

"I guess nobody rips off the National Geographic," Foley said.

Several consumer groups and individuals are asking owners of Ford Pints or Mercury Bobcats to attend a Department of Transportation public hearing next Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the DOT building, 400 7th St. SW, Room 2330.)

"We want everyone to be there, whether they have had problems with their cars or not," says Lyn Wexler, who is organizing the effort. "We just want everyone to show their concern for the safety problems with these cars."

Anyone interested in testifying at the hearings or in search of more information can call Wexler (244-0350) or the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer group (659-1126).