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My horn beeps spontaneously, make it stop!

Dear Tom and Ray:

Please help! I have a 1982 Buick Electra. Anytime the weather is 25 degrees or colder, my horn will start to blow between two and four in the morning. This is causing me a great deal of embarrassment. What's your advice?

RAY: Well, our first piece of advice is to make sure you're not somewhere you shouldn't be between two and four in the morning. A man standing in his pajamas in 25 degree weather next to a car with a stuck horn is bound to attract unwanted attention.

TOM: Our second piece of advice is to park this car in a heated garage until you get it fixed. My guess is that your problem is related to the cold weather. The first possibility is that the cold is causing the horn contacts in the steering wheel to contract and touch. When they touch, that signals the horn relay to close. When the relay closes, the horn blows.

RAY: If you don't believe things contract when they get cold, Dom, reach into your swim trunks next time you go into the ocean for a swim.

TOM: The other possibility is that the cold is acting directly upon the relay itself, and causing it to close. I'd start by replacing the relay for $10. If that doesn't work, have your mechanic remove the steering wheel and "adjust" the contacts.

RAY: If both of those measures fail, perhaps you can get a job driving around waking up the town's milkmen.
Dear Tom and Ray:

I have recently purchased a 1989 Honda Civic Wagon from a local dealer. Can you give me some tips on upkeep? I'm not accustomed to dealing with Japanese cars.

TOM: Well, the most important thing is to bow a lot before you get into the car. And make sure you bow from the waste with your back straight--no cheating!

RAY: Actually, Joe, we prescribe the same basic maintenance for all cars, foreign and domestic. First, follow all of the instructions in the owners manual. If it says to change the spark plugs at 15,000 miles, change them. If it says to change the timing belt at 90,000 miles, change it. If it says to rotate the fuzzy dice at 30,000 miles, rotate them.

TOM: Second, don't follow all of the instructions in the owners manual. Most manufacturers don't require frequent enough oil changes. We recommend that you change your oil and filter every 3000 miles--regardless of what the owners manual says. Many cars--including yours call for oil changes at 7,500 mile intervals. That's too long in our opinion. Changing the oil frequently is probably the best thing you can do for your engine.

RAY: Finally, drive gently. That doesn't mean don't drive fast, it means don't be hard on the car. If you're constantly flooring the gas pedal and then slamming on the brakes, you're going to put additional wear and tear on all the moving parts. The harder you work them, the faster they'll wear out.

TOM: One final suggestion. Try not to use the words "import quota" when you're in or near this vehicle.
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