Is Irene's '04 Ford safe to pass along to her granddaughter?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 2009

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am an old lady, 83, and I have a 2003 Ford Focus Coupe with all the bells and whistles and only 3,000 miles on it. It has sat in my Ohio garage since 2004 with only an occasional one-mile trip around the block. My granddaughter graduates from college this summer and I want to give her this car, but the local garage says it isn't safe, that it needs new everything, even tires. Please, "Say It Ain't So." Just what do I need to replace? I have had the oil and gas changed, and the brakes sanded. What else do I need to do? Thank you for your help.

-- Irene

TOM: Nothing. The car should be perfect just the way it is, Irene.

RAY: I agree. Safety experts -- and tire salesmen, I might add -- now say that tires should be replaced after six years, regardless of tread wear. They say that the rubber dries out and degrades, making the tires less safe, even if the tires aren't used much.

TOM: So you might want to consider giving her an additional gift of a set of tires next year for her birthday. Or let some other family member do that. But otherwise, just give her the keys, and tell her to please drive safely.

RAY: She's a lucky girl to have you as a grandmother, Irene. All I got from my grandmother were some Italian phrases that I'm not allowed to use in public.

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