Q: Dear Tom and Ray:

I really need your help. In a couple of months, I will acquire a limited-edition 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo from my father. Dad has "collected" a few cars, and this one has been sitting in the garage for years with only 9,000 miles on it. Dad is giving me the deep family discount on the purchase of the car, and no doubt he will remain attached to the car long after it's mine. Therefore, he expects me to take care of the car and drive it "his way." By the way, my dad is an obsessed car freak of the most demented variety. I am now 31 years old. When I was 16, my dad taught me to drive "his way or no way at all!" One of the things he told me is never to downshift during normal driving, because it wears down the clutch. (Dad: "Brakes are cheaper than a clutch.") I'm daddy's girl, so I live by these words. But my boyfriend absolutely cannot accept this principle. He downshifts in his own car all the time. Boyfriend, Dad and me all agree that you shall be the arbiters of the dispute. Please tell us your ruling!

-- Michelle

A: TOM: Okay. But no one's going to like it: You should run as far away from this car as you possibly can, Michelle.

RAY: I agree. And run fast. Your dad is absolutely right about downshifting, but that's beside the point. We just came out with a brand-new album called "Why You Should Never Listen to Your Father When It Comes to Cars" (1-888-CAR-JUNK to order). The theory behind the album is that 98 percent of the world's misinformation about cars comes from fathers (the other 2 percent comes from us). So don't get this as a gift for your dad unless he can take a joke.

TOM: But one of the calls in this collection has to do with when a father should "let go." There was a young woman named Becca, whose father insisted that she fill out a little notebook every time she got gas, checked the oil, put air in the tires, etc. And Becca did this dutifully for years. But finally she just couldn't take it anymore.

RAY: So we told her to take the stupid little book and throw it out the sunroof while she was driving at 60 mph. And our reasoning was this: It was ruining her relationship with her father. She was really angry at him. She had become an adult, but he was still trying to control her and treat her like a child via the car he had given her. And it was simply time for him to let go. It was the best thing for both of them.

TOM: And here you are, 31 years old, and he's going to be--metaphorically speaking--sitting in the back seat of the Porsche every time you drive around with your boyfriend.

RAY: And relationships are hard enough without having your father sticking his two cents in all the time. Ask my kids!

TOM: So I'd say, "Thank you, Dad. I love you. It's wonderful of you to offer me such a great deal on the Porsche, but it's just not the right car for me right now. You keep it. I'm going to get something else."

RAY: But just make sure he doesn't turn around and offer your boyfriend an even better deal on his Lamborghini.

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