QDear Tom and Ray:

Help! My wife will either kill me or divorce me based on your answer to the following question. I prefer to think that I am a law-abiding citizen, so if the speed limit is 45, I do 45. Usually, this goes on for only a few minutes before I am severely tailgated (less than one car length). The company I work for suggests in its safe-driving course to slow down and allow them to pass. Also, they say to never speed up; it only encourages them to get closer. My wife says to ignore them and just go a little faster than the speed limit. So, my question: Should I pick out my own casket now, or just start collecting the tickets until my license is pulled? Thanks! -- Neal

A TOM: Actually, you are absolutely entitled to drive at the speed limit, Neal. Those jerks who are tailgating you are the ones who are breaking the law. If there were an accident and they crashed into you, they'd be 100 percent responsible, no matter what the cause.

RAY: And assuming you're in the right-hand lane -- where you're supposed to be when you're not passing -- it's their job to pass you, and leave you alone. You are under absolutely no obligation to speed up or slow down for them. And they have no right to intimidate you.

TOM: So, if it makes you feel any better, you can go to divorce court feeling smug and superior, because you're 100 percent in the right, Neal.

RAY: However, if you're tooling along in the left lane, you're in the wrong. That lane is only for passing, and if someone pulls up behind you in the left lane, you need to get out of the way immediately -- because you shouldn't even be there in the first place unless you're in the process of passing someone.

Dear Tom and Ray:

My neighbor warms up his diesel F250 pickup truck every morning for 20 minutes. He says he is "protecting" his investment, as he just got a new $5,000 engine. I say he is killing his neighbors. I can't find anything on the 'Net about warming up a diesel engine in San Francisco. I've only seen suggestions that you warm up a car in really cold climates. What's up with this? -- Sue

TOM: Has he made an offer on your house yet? I think he's trying to smoke you out, Sue.

RAY: There's absolutely no good mechanical reason for him to warm up his truck like that. It shouldn't need to be warmed up at all in that climate. Ever. It's certainly not doing the engine any good.

TOM: All he's doing is wasting fuel and getting himself uninvited to the hot-tub party you're having Saturday night with 24 of your sorority sisters. Mention that the next time you see him, and see if the light goes on.

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am 25 years old and buying a car for the first time in my life, and I live in a city. I am trying to decide if it would be better to buy a new Scion xA or a Certified Pre-Owned Volkswagen Beetle. I have no experience in fixing cars or knowing how to identify a good used car, so buying a random used car from somebody intimidates me, and could be costly. I have heard good things about VW's Certified Pre-Owned program, though. The purchase price of the Scion xA is within my budget, but as with any new model, I'm concerned about what long-term problems it might have. I like the design and handling of both cars equally. Which would be the better buy? -- Melissa

RAY: I'd lean toward the Scion for you, Melissa.

TOM: The key, to me, is that you have no experience owning a car, and therefore you want something as simple and trouble-free as possible.

RAY: You can't get much more trouble-free than Toyota, which makes the Scion. We drove the xA and loved it. It's a perfect little car for a city. It's economical, fun to drive and even pretty versatile. It's got four doors, plus you can open the hatchback and fold down the rear seats, and move your stinky futon sofa every September for the next few years until you settle down.

TOM: The main advantage of the Volkswagen is that it's undoubtedly a safer car in an accident, being 500 pounds heavier and generally more substantial. However, VW has had a poor reliability record over the past half-dozen years. And buying a used one means you're almost certainly going to have to deal with fixing stuff.

RAY: Whereas the Scion is not only more reliable, but it's brand-new and comes with a new-car warranty. So you're all set for the next three years -- actually, five years on the major engine components.

TOM: Our one requirement is that you get the optional side air bags and side-curtain air bags, Melissa. Unfortunately, they don't come standard on the Scion, and your parents wrote to us and made us promise to insist. But with that addition, the xA should be everything you need.

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

(c) 2005 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi

and Doug Berman