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Dear Tom and Ray:

The owner's manual for my 1987 Ford Taurus lists "Fluid changes of band adjustments on a 4-speed overdrive automatic transaxle" under "items never requiring maintenance." The dealer recommends that I do have the transmission serviced every 30,000 miles. The Ford service hot line said it was basically up to me. Should I have it done just in case? - BarbaraTOM: I'd say so. If you read the fine print in your owner's manual, it says that you should service the transmission if you drive under one or more of the following conditions: You drive in hot weather, you carry heavy loads, drive in hilly terrain, tow a trailer or carry a car-top carrier, or operate a taxi or a door-to-door delivery service.

RAY: And since anyone with kids operates a taxi and a door-to-door delivery service, most people fall under at least one of these categories.

TOM: The bottom line is that it will probably help, and it certainly can't hurt. And spending $50 or $75 every 30,000 miles is not much money to maintain a part of your car that could cost $1,000 if it needs to be replaced someday. So I'd especially recommend it if you plan to keep the car for the long haul.

RAY: If Ford backed up its recommendation with, say, a lifetime warranty on the transmission, I'd say fine, leave the transmission alone. But since they're leaving themselves all that wiggle room with all those conditions, I think it's safer to spend a few bucks and change the fluid. Good luck, Barbara.

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1985 Nissan Sentra with 125,000 miles on it. The 20-amp "Engine Control" fuse blew as I was driving. After I replaced the fuse, the same thing happened again. I was in the process of accelerating both times. I've checked over the engine and cannot see anything loose. What could be causing this overload? - Kerry

RAY: I can think of two possibilities, Kerry. One is that you're getting a current surge from an over-charging alternator.

TOM: My brother once tried to get a "currency surge" by overcharging for an alternator, but the customer complained and put an end to that.

RAY: If it's not a faulty alternator, it could be a short circuit. You may not realize it, but when you accelerate, things under the hood move around. You feel your back push against the seat when you step on the gas, right? Well, the same sort of thing happens in the engine compartment, and a wire may be shifting just enough to short out when you accelerate hard.

TOM: If you've had an accident in this car, I'd look carefully in the area of where the accident occurred. It's possible that a wire is somehow being pinched by the body.

The Magliozzi brothers' radio show "Car Talk" can be heard each Saturday at 10 a.m. on KUER FM 90.1 If you have a question about cars, write to Click and Clack Talk Cars c/o King Features Syndicate, 235 East 45th St., New York, NY 10017.