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Easy fix for a time-traveling car

Car Talk

Dear Tom and Ray:

My car time-travels into the future. I have a 2004 Volvo XC70 station wagon (I know it’s dowdy, but it’s better than a minivan, right?) that for some reason does not keep proper time. I can set the clock to the correct time, and within days it will be running fast. Within two months, the clock is fast by 20 minutes. I can understand losing time because of a weak battery or something, but advancing in time? Any thoughts? OK, let me clarify that: Any thoughts pertaining to my question? — Lisa

TOM: We actually do have a few of those, Lisa.

RAY: If you’re the kind of person who is chronically late, you may have a spouse who is surreptitiously nudging your clock ahead in an attempt to get you to be on time.

TOM: Several of my exwives used to try that on me.

RAY: Oh, I don’t think they wanted you to be on time. They were just trying to make the day of the divorce settlement come sooner!

TOM: Most likely, Lisa, the clock itself is faulty. And, unfortunately, the clock in this car is part of the instrument cluster.

RAY: And when you find out that in order to replace this clock, you have to replace the whole instrument cluster for $1,000, you’ll embrace the time-honored solution for malfunctioning automotive clocks.

TOM: You’ll go to the hardware store, and for four bucks, you’ll buy yourself one of those stick-on digital clocks. You’ll peel off the backing and slap it right onto the instrument panel, over where your current clock sits.

RAY: Now, it’s possible that your entire instrument cluster is beginning to fail. If something crucial in the cluster stops functioning — like the speedometer — you may be forced to replace the whole thing at that point.

TOM: Or, if you’re lucky, your regular mechanic will know one of the places that fixes these panels for a few hundred bucks, and he’ll be able to send it out for you.

RAY: But I wouldn’t bother just for the clock. Even if you’re a Volvo owner and you’re used to leaving the dealership with angina after seeing the estimate, that’s a lot for a clock. Especially given the age of the car and the price of the alternative. Good luck, Lisa.

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In their pamphlet “Should I Buy, Lease, or Steal My Next Car?” Tom and Ray break down the strategies for buying a car, so you can make the most of your money. Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Next Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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Get more Click and Clack in their new book, “Ask Click and Clack: Answers from Car Talk.” Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or email them by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.

(c) 2012 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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