Dear Readers: A pre-owned car can be a great gift or smart purchase for yourself, but be careful. Cars damaged in floods can wind up for sale. Let’s discuss what to look for:

● Rust is a dead giveaway that there has been water damage to the vehicle.

● The presence of residual mud/water staining on the carpet or upholstery points to water damage.

● Hiring a mechanic to do a once-over on the car? That’s money well spent.

● There are websites that will check the vehicle identification number for the car you are buying.

Dear Heloise: I enjoy reading all of the recommendations about recycling and reusing items. Please also mention the first "R" in the three R's: "reduce."

If I don't need it or already have a suitable substitute, I don't get it. Plastic or paper shopping bags are one example that comes to mind. If I can carry my items in my hand throughout the store, I can carry them to the car or home.

Karen K., via email

Karen K.: Excellent point!

Dear Heloise: During last winter, I turned on the seat warmer in my car, and this hint came to me: If it can keep my backside warm, why not pizza?

Voilà! I turned on the passenger seat heater, put the pizza on the seat, and when I got home, the pizza was perfectly hot!

This would work with just about any food you'd like to keep warm.

Joann H., Massillon, Ohio

Dear Heloise: I recently had total knee replacement, and my trainer passed along this tip to me. For icing down after exercising, he said to mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 2 parts water in a zip-close plastic bag and freeze it for about 12 hours. It becomes a cold gel pack.

Peter H., Staten Island, N.Y.

Readers, add a drop of food coloring if you’d like, and label the bag.

Dear Heloise: In the big-box stores, they have many checkout registers, but nobody to run them.

It's not a good idea to make buyers stand in line too long — they'll take their business somewhere else. If the register doesn't ring, then no sales, no money, store closes!

Burch E., Dayton, Ohio

Burch E.: It does look silly to have upward of 20 or more checkout registers and maybe only five open. Management needs to open more lanes as the flow demands.

Dear Heloise: File this one under "sometimes it irks me; sometimes I laugh": If I text somebody, and that person calls me to respond!

Julie H. in Texas: The reason I texted you is because I didn’t necessarily want to talk to you!

Julie H. in Texas

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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