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posted: 7/29/2012 4:14 AM

Claustrophobic driver wants to avoid power windows, locks

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Q. In the next year or two I will be in the market for a new car. This is going to be a challenge because I want roll down windows. Also I don't want the doors to automatically lock when I start the engine. Are there manufacturers that will make a car to a person's specifications? They used to do this years ago. I was trapped in a car and get claustrophobic now when in a car with power doors and windows. I have thought about a convertible (cut the top to escape) or maybe a manual moon roof. I want to know I can get out if something goes wrong with the electrical system. Any ideas?

A. It is going to be a challenge to find a new car that does not have the power features you dislike. I did a little search and few popped up, but they are small economy cars and you may have to order it that way.

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Ask.cars.com had the following information: "Among 2012 models available with manual windows are the Chevrolet Sonic 1LS and 2LS, Ford Fiesta S, Hyundai Accent GLS, Kia Rio LX and Nissan Versa 1.6 S."

There may be others, but note that all of these are base models of subcompact cars, the "price leaders" that let manufacturers advertise lower prices than their rivals. You will want to check, but I would guess most of these models also have manual locks, but even if they don't, they can be unlocked manually.

If you are looking for a larger vehicle, you may need to consider the convertible option, if that would work for you. You can do an online search to see what is available in a convertible.

Q. Thanks for the recent article about Mobil 1 synthetic oil. You certainly have come across with clear and accurate information that most others wouldn't have answered or ignored. As an engineer, I tell all my friends to follow the designer's recommendations. I do not have the data or vast experience the writer has about synthetic oil, but with these modern fluids, there is no question the days of changing oil every 3 or 6 months, or 3,000 or 6,000 miles, just doesn't ring true and it is appreciated that you have printed this trustworthy answer. I own a Lexus and an Infiniti and always disagree with the shops about changing oil every 3 or 4 months. And they do use synthetic oil.

Do you think it is somewhat of a scam to be changing the brake fluid, the power steering fluid, transmission fluid and radiator fluids at premature intervals, without other work being done? I have my own personal feelings about all of these, but sure would like your input. What do you think are the right intervals?

A. Thanks for your input and kind words. With regard to the other fluids you mentioned, I would change them at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer, or if other service is being done that relates, or if the fluid is contaminated or dirty prematurely.

So, let's say you are replacing a leaking water pump, I think it makes sense to flush out all the coolant and change it even if you are a little early on the recommended interval. The same would hold true if you are doing a brake job; it makes sense to change the brake fluid at that time.

As far as transmission fluid goes, I tend to be pretty religious with changing that. My famous Tahoe with over 200K has the original transmission. I plow snow and tow heavy trailers with it. I'm convinced that keeping the transmission fluid clean pays off long-term.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit douglasautomotive.com. Send questions to underthehood@dailyherald.com.

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