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Dear Tom and Ray:

I am perplexed by my 1986 Acura Integra. I had the front brakes relined at 13,000 miles and the rear brakes done at 29,000 miles. Each time, it cost me $159. It is my contention that brakes pads should not have to be replaced that soon. Please help me to understand this situation. - TheodoraRAY: Mileage is not really a good predictor of brake life. The lifespan of a set of brakes is more closely related to how frequently and how strenuously they're used. A car driven by a wimpy driver like my brother, for instance, could go tens of thousands of miles without ever needing brakes - especially if it's only driven on the driveway . . . er, I mean highway.

TOM: On the other hand, a car driven in city traffic by a nutcake like my brother - racing between stoplights - could easily need brakes after only 13,000 miles.

RAY: Are you the kind of person who sleeps late and then has to zoom through traffic to get to work on time? Is your secret desire to be a New York City cab driver or a pizza deliverer? These personality traits are better indicators of brake life expectancy than mileage.

TOM: But 13,000 is on the low side of the "brake replacement range." And it's our opinion that Honda and Acura brakes do wear out somewhat faster than other manufacturers'. The Integra could probably use heavier duty brakes, but a lighter duty foot on your part will do even more to extend the intervals between brake jobs.

Dear Tom and Ray:

We recently purchased a 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity with a V-6 engine. The engine is quiet at idle, but when we accelerate, we hear a humming or light groaning. The Chevy service manager's advice is "don't concentrate on the noise." He says we are making something out of nothing. What do you think? - Robert

TOM: The noises you refer to are heard in many Celebrities. When the car is running well, you hear the owner humming. This humming quickly turns to groaning when the car starts running poorly.

RAY: Actually, my guess is that the sound you're hearing is coming from the transmission. The GM transmission used in this car exhibits a lot of "growl," particularly on hard acceleration and particularly in low gear. If none of your neighbors has been missing a small dog, the growl probably is transmission noise. GM ought to improve it, but your service manager may be right when he says that they all do that.

TOM: Go back and ask the dealer to let you drive another new Celebrity. If you hear the same noise, you're out of luck; it means they really are all like that. If you don't hear the noise, insist that they fix your car. If they still refuse, contact the Chevrolet zone office in your region and see if you can get the zone manager to intervene on your behalf.

RAY: And if our advice turns out to be faulty, Robert, just don't concentrate on it.

Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack Talk Cars c/o King Features Syndicate, 235 East 45th Street, New York, NY 10017.