Q: My daughter has a 2000 Ford Expedition SUV and drops her kids off here often. Our driveway has a slight incline to the garage. When the kids open their back-seat doors, there is a gap between the door and the pillar. This is an open space through which our grandkids stick their heads to wave hello. The doors are heavy and could close on their arms or necks. Is there an easy fix? Is there a piece of plastic webbing that could be attached with a few screws?
We called Ford safety spokesman Wes Sherwood who said there have been no issues with the door openings so there is no suggested "fix."
However, Sherwood points out that your daughter could use the child safety locks—standard with the power locks on Expedition—to keep the kids inside until she or you open the doors for them from the outside.
Q: You seem to write only about expensive gas-guzzlers and tout highway mileage when most people drive in the city. Only rich people can afford guzzlers.
A: We write about the newest vehicles and if that includes so-called guzzlers, so be it. By the way, when including a picture of bumper-to-bumper traffic with your letter it may have been more effective to use a jam here rather than one in India.
Q: Your statement about the Pontiac GTO lasting only a short time based on styling and performance (Transportation, March 30) isn't quite accurate, at least as I see it.
I didn't buy one, but it wasn't the looks and performance that stopped me. The moment I saw the trunk, or lack of one, I got turned off.
The other "feature" that I wasn't happy with was rear-wheel-drive. Here in Chicago, we get something called snow, which tends not to mix well with RWD cars.
A: Until you came along, we never got one letter, e-mail or phone call from a reader citing the trunk as the reason he or she didn't buy the GTO. Did get several regarding styling and performance as well as long delays in getting cars from Australia, where the GTO was built.
Stability control and traction control help counter the RWD problem with snow, just as with the new Pontiac G8 sedan.
Q: I wanted to question your response to K.R. regarding the DOC fees dealers are allowed to charge (Auto letters, April 6), which you indicated as $150.
According to "Buying a New Vehicle" from the Illinois attorney general's Web site, "The documentary fee is illegal if it exceeds $53.52."
After moving from Illinois to Georgia, I was surprised to discover that dealers were charging $300-$600 in DOC fees here. After doing a little research, I discovered the Illinois limitation, which Georgia doesn't seem to have.
—C.E., Marietta, Ga.
A: The DOC fee for handling paperwork was $53.52 until Jan. 2 this year, when it increased to $150 in response to successful dealer lobbying.
Q: Regarding the $150 DOC fee Illinois dealers are allowed to charge, is it possible for a consumer to apply for a new title and license plate transfer on his own without having the dealer do it?
A: Nope, says Jerry Cizek, president of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, which represents about 500 Chicagoland dealers.
If you buy a vehicle from a dealer, he's going to have you do the title application and plate transfer through him as well as ensure all state and local taxes are paid.
Send questions about cars and trucks to Jim Mateja, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., 4th Floor, Chicago IL 60611, or send e-mail with name and hometown to transportation @tribune.com.
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AUTO LETTERS BY JIM MATEJA