Q Dear Tom and Ray:

Hi, guys. I figured you might have an answer to my dilemma: I am moving to Turkey (that's the country, not the bird) and have to decide what kind of car to buy there. The options are a pickup truck, like a Nissan Frontier crew cab, versus a compact car, like a VW Golf. The 2004 models of these two cost around the same: about 35 to 40 billion Turkish liras (which translates to about $30,000 U.S.). The pickup has a diesel engine, which is much cheaper to run (gas costs about three times more in Europe than here). And my folks have a vineyard in Turkey, so I would be able to use the pickup for jobs on the farm, too. But I'm also concerned about safety and comfort (the vineyard is about three hours from where I'll live). Some highways in Turkey are not divided, and the drivers there put Italian drivers to shame when it comes to obeying rules, so I have nightmares of having a head-on collision in this pickup truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives high marks to the Golf but not to the Nissan. Can I really compare the two? Which one will I be safer in? Thanks a bunch! And if you respond, I'll bring you a bottle of my wine the next time I'm in the country! -- Batu

ARAY: I'd go for the truck, Batu. It's not that uncomfortable. Plus, the diesel, being more primitive technology, will be more reliable for you over there. Not to mention the savings in fuel costs and the ability to separate the passenger compartment from the cargo area. (Those readers who work in the agricultural sector will understand immediately why that is desirable.)

TOM: As for safety, yes, the Golf has better crash protection, under most circumstances -- although the Frontier doesn't rate badly in the U.S. crash tests, either. Given the choices, I'd say the pickup truck is just the ticket, Batu.

RAY: But you should know that cars sold in different countries are not always sold with the same equipment. The United States forces manufacturers to meet a lot of safety and emissions standards that other countries don't. So, crash-test results for vehicles in the United States may not apply to the Golf or Frontier you buy in Turkey. You'll have to find out whether the Turkish versions of those cars are exactly the same as the cars sold in other European countries. And if so, check the European safety data for guidance.

TOM: But we would advise you to "do as the Ankarans do." Buy a vehicle that's common over there, so it'll be easy to get serviced and easy to sell when the time comes. And get a diesel.

RAY: And by the way, Batu, I think this wonderful advice is worth more than just one bottle of wine, don't you?

Dear Tom and Ray:

In the past six months or so, four auto-repair shops that I sometimes use (including a Toyota and Subaru dealership) have started to heavily promote additives. They claim that $43 worth of additives for fuel, oil, coolant and transmission (identified as BG30K and BG525) would lower wear and tear on these systems, plus provide other benefits. The auto manufacturers I checked with are cagey about these additives, saying they think the additives are a good idea but they don't officially recommend them. Since the costs of these additives add up over time, I'd like to know if they're worth it, or if they're just a new profit center for repair shops. -- Dennis

RAY: It sounds like a profit center to me. And I'm going to look into it as soon as I get back to the garage, Dennis!

TOM: Actually, we know some Subaru dealers who recommend an oil-cleaning additive. Maybe they've found it helpful. Or maybe they just want the extra eight bucks' profit on each oil change?

RAY: But we don't recommend additives to our customers unless they're trying to treat a specific problem. There are certain situations in which additives can be helpful. For example, BG, which makes the additives you mention, also makes stuff called 44K, which we find to be terrific for cleaning gunk and carbon off of valve trains and out of fuel injectors.

TOM: We're not familiar with BG30K. I suspect the nomenclature refers to potential profits (i.e., the average shop makes only $30K a year pushing BG30K, while it can clear $44K on the valve-train cleaner).

RAY: So, I'd skip it, Dennis, unless the manufacturer specifically recommends it, or unless your mechanic is trying to solve a specific, diagnosed problem.

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(c)2004 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi

and Doug Berman