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Question - I own a 1990 Honda Civic DX with about 80,000 miles on it. In March 1994, the front brake pads were replaced and the rear brakes were adjusted. Since then, the brakes make a grinding, metallic crunching noise whenever I apply them. At first the noise was not that noticeable, but now it's louder and very annoying.

I did take the car back to complain, but the service station couldn't find anything wrong. So I took it to another station, and they also said the brakes were fine, and that the noise was probably "dust impregnation," and nothing to worry about. What is this "dust impregnation" problem? - Kathy

TOM: Dust impregnation is an epidemic among teenage dust particles, Kathy. And we join with the surgeon general in recommending education and abstinence to combat it.

RAY: What I think your mechanic is referring to is the metallic dust that has worn off the brake pads. Brake pads and discs are both made of metal, so when they rub together and create friction to stop the car, some of that metal inevitably gets worn off. And some of that dust may stay on the discs and make a little noise. But that's only a small part of the problem, Kathy.

TOM: Most of your noise is being created because those new pads you got are vibrating. When brake pads don't fit absolutely perfectly, they move around. And even a very small amount of movement by the pads, when it's happening very rapidly, can make a surprising amount of noise when you apply the brakes.

RAY: And in our experience, most aftermarket brake pads don't fit as well as original-equipment brake pads, and for that reason, they make more noise.

TOM: Here's what I would do. I'd go back to the service station and ask them to put a set of genuine Honda pads in there. In our experience, these original-equipment pads seem to work best.

RAY: And make sure your mechanic installs all of the auxiliary hardware that comes with the original pads, and that special grease they give you, too. Those clips and shims, safety pins and Post-it-notes all play a role in keeping the pads in their proper place, and keeping them nice and quiet. Good luck, Kathy.

Question - Mercedes Benz has changed its E series body style, and added those nice, round, bug-eye headlights. I would like to know when Mercedes will change the S series body style. The local dealer says he has no information at this time. Do you? - Paula

TOM: Here's what we know, Paula. The mid-sized E Class was updated last year. And the larger S Class is not due for a redesign until the end of the century, which - last time I checked - is about three years away.

RAY: Since it's still several years off, we don't know whether the styling will be similar to the current E Class that you like. Things seem to be getting "rounder" in general at Mercedes, but who knows exactly what they'll do with it by then. I wouldn't be surprised if they even made it a little smaller.

TOM: By the way, Paula, you must have big bucks if you're looking at an S Class Mercedes!

RAY: Yeah. Wouldn't you be just as happy with an E Class, and 10,000 copies of our latest pamphlet?

TOM: What's one secret of financial success? Driving a used car! Read How to Buy a Used Car: Things Detroit and Tokyo Don't Want You to Know. You can order it by sending $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No.10 envelope to Used Car, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.