Q. Dear Tom and Ray:
I write with anguish at the boneheaded advice you gave to the dad whose 8-year-old daughter gets carsick. Sure, putting her up front in the passenger seat might help her carsickness, but probably by ending her life or sentencing her to serve it out in an iron lung. From the column: "If she's properly belted in and far enough back from the air bag, she should be fine." Yeah, if she never moves a muscle, if she doesn't slide forward to let her feet drop comfortably off the seat cushion, if she never leans forward to change the radio station or pick up a box of tissues off the floor. I could go on. With 32 hours of certification training from NHTSA and AAA as a child passenger safety technician, you bet I could go on. But I hope you guys go on and correct a dangerous piece of advice. Thank you for your attention.
--Officer Mark Bergin,
child seat safety coordinator, Alexandria
A. TOM: Well, you told us, didn't you! Thanks, Mark.
RAY: We stand corrected. Obviously, the safest place for a child is always in the back seat. And NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recommends the back seat for all kids 12 and under, since you can't rely on them to sit still even if they are belted in.
TOM: So we'd like to amend our advice to the dad with the carsick 8-year-old. Scratch the front-seat suggestion. We recommend plastic seat covers and a case of Lysol.
Dear Tom and Ray:
I have a 1979 Ford F-100 pickup with two-wheel drive, a 302 engine and only 60,000 miles. My problem is heat. In the winter, there's enough to defrost ice off the windshield, but not enough to warm the cab. I've flushed and back-flushed the radiator and the heater core. It appears there are no clogs. The temperature gauge rides right in the middle of the "normal" section. But I'm cold! What's my next step?
RAY: Heated socks, Jeff. With a cigarette-lighter adapter.
TOM: Actually, the first thing you should do is check to make sure the engine is heating up properly. You do that by sticking a thermometer in the radiator as the truck is warming up. The dashboard gauge is probably correct, but it's worth checking before you go any further.
RAY: Assuming that your coolant is actually getting hot enough, then I'd throw in another heater core. Even if the flow through your current core appears to be okay, it could be so encrusted that the corrosion is acting as an insulator and preventing heat transfer into the cab. And in this truck, the heater core is easy to replace.
TOM: If that doesn't do it, then the problem might be in the vents. If it seems worse when the truck is moving, your vents may be letting in too much cold, outside air.
RAY: And if all else fails, since your car is of legal age (over 18), you have our permission to put a piece of cardboard in front of the radiator and forget about it. Good luck, Jeff.
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(C)1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman