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I am the owner of a Chevy Astro Van with...

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am the owner of a 1989 Chevy Astro Van with a V6 4.3 liter engine. I have a problem. I have to add a gallon of antifreeze every four weeks or 500 miles. The dealer has pressure tested the system twice and cannot find any leaks. After replacing the radiator cap and thermostat, he now suggests that I replace the head gaskets, at a cost of $1,000, but he's not really sure that will solve the problem. The van has less than 30,000 miles on it. Should I spend $1,000 for head gaskets?

TOM: Well, Gary, it sounds like the dealer believes coolant is leaking into the cylinders. And the reason he's not sure if head gaskets will fix it is that it could be something WORSE. It could be cracked heads, or even a cracked block.

RAY: And none of these things should be happening to an engine with 30,000 miles on it. So unless you overheated the car and kept driving it, which would be gross negligence on your part, we don't think you should have to pay anything for this repair.

TOM: And I'm sure General Motors is going to agree with us and take responsibility for this, because (as I have boldly predicted for the last three years) GM is going to be the car company of the 90's

RAY: They'd better hurry. It's already 1993!

TOM: I have faith that GM is learning to do whatever is necessary to make its customers happy. Here's my latest little reason for optimism, which arrived in the same batch as your letter, Gary. Read on.

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