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Why won't my car start in the rain?

Dear Tom and Ray,
I drive a 1985 Subaru Wagon. This car is fabulous, except, every time it rains and I shut the car off--but continue listening to the radio--within 4 or 5 minutes, the car won't start again. This only happens when it rains.

RAY: Sounds like a safety feature to me. It keeps you from driving that beast in the rain.

TOM: Actually, the fact that it happens only when it's raining indicates that the problem is probably electrical. My guess is that your spark plug wires are bad, and need replacing. If electricity is escaping through worn out wires, there may not be enough juice getting to the plugs to start the car.

RAY: Also, if your battery is weak, and you drain it by playing the radio with the engine off, you may be contributing to this problem. A weak battery combined with old, damp wires could be what's leaving you out in the rain. Replace the wires, and have your mechanic check out your battery and charging system. In the mean time, stop listening to the radio. I can assure you that there's never anything worth listening to anyway.

Dear Tom and Ray,
I recently took my Toyota Corolla Wagon in for its 15,000 mile check. My mechanic told me I had a "bubble" on my left front tire. He rotated the tires (front to back). Will this take care of the "bubble" and is this situation safe?

TOM: No and no. I hate to burst your bubble, but rotating the tires won't make your problem go away. A bubble is a tear between the inside walls of the tire which appears as a lump on the sidewall. Have you been driving up onto curbs recently? Is K-Mart having another one of those crazy sales? Altercations with curb stones are the most common cause of bubbles, although they can also result from defects--which is why they are covered in some tire guarantees .

RAY: Bubbles may be great if you're Lawrence Welk, but if your a tire, bubbles lead to blowouts. If your bubble-brain mechanic told you not to worry about it, you need not only a new tire, you need a new mechanic.

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