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Still discussing new car options...

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RAY: Well, here we are again, still discussing options.

TOM: I told you when we started discussing options that it was going to take a long time. It takes as long to decide what options to buy these days as it does to decide what car to buy.

RAY: We've already discussed air bags, anti-lock brakes, engines, rust proofing, extended warranties, sunroofs, and power accessories. So let's get right to the important stuff today.

SOUND SYSTEM

RAY: If you spend a lot of time in your car, and you like music, a great sound system is a real treat. The best systems are those designed specifically with the car's acoustics in mind, like the systems Bose makes for certain Infiniti, Acura and GM models.

TOM: Yeah. And the one K-Mart makes for my '63 Dodge Dart. But don't just get the best stereo available. Some manufacturers, unfortunately, mistake "lots of buttons" for "good quality sound." Radios with lots of tiny, little buttons are not only stupid, they're also dangerous. First of all, you'll probably sell the car before you figure out what all those buttons do. But more importantly, they're so small that you're forced to take your eyes off the road when you use them. And while you're performing micro-surgery on your equalizer, who's watching the road??

RAY: Our advice is to get as good a stereo as your ears can appreciate, provided it's nice and simple to operate. Unless, of course, you live in a high crime neighborhood like New York City. Then skip the radio entirely and use the money to pay for singing lessons.

DIGITAL DISPLAYS

TOM: This is another area where manufacturers get carried away with technology. Just because they can make digital dashboards, they do. We think they're harder to read, not to mention distracting and cheap looking.

RAY: You want simple, functional controls in your car. Remember, you want to be able to understand and use these controls while driving the car at the same time. Don't get carried away by lights, colors, flash, and dazzle, like my brother did when he bought his '63 Dodge Dart.

AIR CONDITIONING

TOM: You don't need air conditioning. When I drive along in my '63 Dodge Dart, as long as I have the vent windows pointed at me, I'm fine.

RAY: He's nuts, folks. It takes him 20 minutes to peel his wet clothes off every time he gets to work in the summer. Everybody should have air conditioning. Not just for the comfort, but also because it helps de-fog the windows when it's raining. Is it something you can live without? Sure. But why should you?

TINTED GLASS

RAY: Tinted glass is great. It helps keep the sun from heating up the car. It helps the air conditioner work more efficiently, it keeps the car cooler even if you don't have air conditioning, and it makes it just a little bit harder for other drivers to catch you picking your nose at stop lights. A must.

WIRE WHEELS

RAY: I hate wire wheels. First of all, you can never get them clean. Second, if you live where it snows, ice and snow get in there and freeze and throw your wheels out of balance. Wire wheels belong on bicycles and 1948 Morgans.

TOM: Next week, we'll talk about four-wheel drive, traction control, automatic vs. standard transmissions, and the life and death issue of whether to get a clock in your car.
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