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My Geo Metro miles gives me a nasty shock whenever...

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Dear Tom and Ray:



My 1992 Geo Metro (45,000 miles) gives me a nasty shock whenever I get out and
close the door. Oooww! Is something wrong with it? It has done this
occasionally for years, but lately it seems worse.

Could it have something to do with the night I was driving in a really bad
storm and think we got hit by a lightning ball? -- Gina

RAY: Hmm. You think there's residual electricity that's still floating around
in your Metro from the lightning? And it discharges itself a little bit at a
time on your finger?

TOM: I don't think so, Gina. You're experiencing the joys of static
electricity. And the main problem is the tires. Most modern tires are now "low
rolling resistance" tires. And they do a worse job of discharging static
electricity than older tires that decreased your mileage.

RAY: You say it's gotten worse recently. Have you also replaced the tires
recently? That wouldn't surprise me with 45,000 miles on the car.

TOM: Unfortunately, when circumstances combine to create static electricity --
dry weather, poor discharge and polyester leisure suits -- your options are
limited. You can't change the weather. You don't want to reduce your gas
mileage by buying old, "higher rolling resistance" tires. And you don't want to
give up a perfectly good wardrobe of white-piped, powder blue active wear. So
what do you do?

RAY: There are two options, Gina. One is to touch the car with the tip of the
key before you close the door. That would discharge the static through the key,
leaving your finger unzapped. The problem is that you have to remember to do
it, and be careful not to touch anything accidentally on the way out of the
car.

TOM: The other option is to buy a couple of static-discharge strips from your
local auto-parts store. They are rubber strips with wires embedded in them that
hang off the bottom of the car and discharge your static electricity into the
ground. Their only problem is that they're cheap junk and they wear out, so
they need to be replaced every six months or so.

RAY: But that's the way I'd go. If it's a choice between getting zapped and
getting gypped, I'd get gypped in this case.

* * *

What's one secret of financial success? Driving a used car! Read "How to Buy a
Used Car: Things Detroit and Tokyo Don't Want You to Know." You can order it by
sending $3 and a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) No. 10 envelope to Used
Car, P.O. Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.
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