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Dear Tom and Ray: The rear window of my 2000 Ford F-150 leaks from the top. Can I just have the seal/molding replaced, or should I have the whole window redone? And if so, can I use a window I find at the junkyard? – Deb

Tom: Well, if you want the cheap solution, Deb, get one of those sailor’s rain hats, with the flap that goes down the back of your neck. That’ll at least keep the rain from running down your shirt and into your shorts.

Ray: But a better solution would be to replace the weatherstripping. Unless the glass is cracked, there shouldn’t be any need to replace the window itself.

Tom: But to replace the weatherstripping, the window has to be removed. So you just need to go to a mechanic or an auto-glass shop and tell them you want the window reinstalled with new weatherstripping.

Ray: They’ll pop it out, replace the old, dried-out, cracked weatherstripping with fresh new stuff, and put your window back in. If you’re right, and that’s where the water is coming from, that should take care of it.

Tom: And you definitely want new weatherstripping. It’s fine to get rear-window glass at a junkyard if you ever need it, but there’s no reason to buy old weatherstripping.

Ray: And besides, when you’re driving a 13-year-old truck, you really can’t risk parking at a junkyard. It’s just too easy for your truck to be mistaken for fresh “inventory.”

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Dear Tom and Ray: What is the best way to have transmission fluid changed? Around 2002, I had my transmission fluid changed by the recycle method at a quick-change oil place. About a week later, the transmission went completely out at a cost of a couple of thousand dollars. After selling that car, I bought another used car and wanted to have the transmission fluid changed.

From that first experience, I decided to have it changed by dropping the pan and changing the filter. I now have a 2005 Chrysler 300C that needs the transmission fluid changed. What do you recommend for having it changed – dropping the pan, or the backflow recycle method? – Jim

Ray: We like the recycling method. That’s where a machine is hooked up to your transmission’s cooler lines, and then, as the transmission pumps out the old fluid, the machine replaces it with all brand-new fluid.

Tom: Then the machine attaches to the wallet cooler lines of the customer and extracts the payment. That’s why we like it so much.

Ray: Using the old-fashioned method of “dropping” (i.e., removing) the pan is acceptable, but it always leaves old fluid in the torque converter. So at the end of your fluid change, your “new” transmission fluid is still, at best, only 3/4 new.

Tom: There’s a myth that we’ve been hearing forever that changing the transmission fluid on an old car will hasten the demise of its transmission. People will say, “I knew a guy with an old car who changed his transmission fluid, and a week later, the transmission died.”

Ray: Yeah, that’s what Jim says.

Tom: Oh. So it is. Well, in my opinion, any transmission that will die soon after a fluid change was almost certainly on death’s doorstep before the fluid change.

Ray: I mean, when do most people with old heaps suddenly decide they need to change their transmission fluid? When the transmission starts acting up, right?

Tom: That’s probably what happened with you, too, Jim. So, if your transmission is already slipping, or making hard shifts, or failing to shift at all, a fluid change is not going to be a long-term, miracle cure. If you’re replacing really old, burned-out fluid, it might help you for a while. But whichever method you use, you’re really unlikely to make it any worse. Good luck.

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Stop the madness! You can stop driving like a knucklehead, and you’ll help your car in the process. Learn how your driving habits can harm your car in Tom and Ray’s pamphlet “Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!” Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Ruin, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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