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TOM: These two letters arrived in the same envelope, and we thought you'd want to see both of them (we love these little lovers' spats):

Dear Tom and Ray:I usually drive between 35 and 40 mph, and I keep my Toyota Tercel in third gear until I go over 40 mph. My soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend, Stan, argues that I should be in fourth gear all the time, even at 35 mph. He is a pilot and thinks he knows everything about driving anything with an engine. Of course, he is wrong. Please tell him so in your column. Thank you very much. - Miriam

P.S. If he is right, I'll eat the page this column is printed on.

RAY: Here's the accompanying letter:

Dear Tom and Ray:

My fiance, Miriam, insists that she has to leave the transmission in third gear until she goes over 40 mph. I say that once she has reached 35 mph, it is OK to shift into fourth gear, as long as she does not need to accelerate or go up a steep hill. In fact, I say that on a straight and level road, she can even drive in fourth gear at, say, 30 mph.

On the infrequent occasions when I have been permitted to drive her car, I have noticed no problem driving around in town like this. I have tried to explain this to her, but she just won't listen to me. You are my last hope. The whining of the transmission is starting to drive me nuts! She has stopped listening to me. I'm sure she will see it my way after you explain it to her. - Stan

RAY: Gee, Stan, I'd lighten up if I were you. I mean, do you really want to ruin a perfectly good relationship over something as petty as this?

TOM: Yeah. What Miriam is doing isn't harming the car. The only disadvantages to shifting later are that you use a little more gas, and it makes a little more noise. So what's the big deal?

RAY: Of course, Stan, you're entirely right. Miriam could shift into fourth gear at 35 mph or even less, as long as the engine isn't bucking or chattering.

TOM: So we're enclosing some chocolate syrup for her, in hopes that it will make this newspaper go down a little easier. Good luck, you two lovebirds.

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have an old-style battery in my '85 Bonneville. When it needs water, would it be of any benefit to add leftover battery acid from another battery instead of distilled water? - Wally

RAY: Gee, Wally. This is one of the wackiest ideas I've heard in a long time. It ranks up there with my brother's idea for the "car-boat-plane-bicycle."

TOM: I wouldn't mess with the battery, Wally. If you make the acid concentration too high, you'll actually dissolve the lead plates in the battery. And then all you'll have is a big plastic tub of acid, which, to the best of my knowledge, does not make any electricity.

RAY: Stick to water, Wally. As you suggest, distilled water is best, but most municipal tap water is fine, too.

TOM: Hey, do you think you're taking good care of your car? Are you sure?

RAY: If you're like many of our customers, you may be ruining your car without even knowing it. Yes, even you! Find out how. Send for your copy of our informative pamphlet, "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!"

TOM: Send $3 and a stamped (52 cents), self-addressed, No.10 envelope to Ruin No.1, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.