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Help! I need a new latch for the hatch on my old car

Mechanic with a wrench

Andreas Rodriguez/Getty Images/iStockphoto

I have a 1993 Legacy wagon with relatively low mileage, but it has rust. The back latch for opening the hatch has stopped working and I presume the mechanism inside has broken. Can you tell me what getting this fixed would entail? It may be too complicated or expensive to be worth it, but the car is a workhorse. – Monica

The repair likely involves removing the inside panel and inspecting the mechanism. That is a relatively simple job – perhaps 15 minutes of labour. Since replacement is a strong possibility, you could buy a used unit for the mechanic to install. Search the web for a unit or locate an automotive recycling yard. If it has a similar model – perhaps one that had been in a head-on collision with no damage to the rear, or one that had been taken off the road due to rust, they will sell that part.

Blue lights

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Can we somehow get a law that outlaws these bright blue lights that too many idiots feel they need no matter how much they blind the person approaching from the other direction? – Doris

We have such laws but they are not enforced. The "blue" lights you are referring to are most likely aftermarket or replacement bulbs that do not meet the required DOT standards. They not only emit a brighter light, they do so in a lens and reflector that does not provide proper cutoff.

Synthetic oil

Can I safely switch to synthetic oil (Versa CTV 2011-20,000 km)? My previous experience with a 1995 Neon was bad – as soon as I put in synthetic oil, the engine start leaking at some gaskets. – Minh

You should be good to go at that low mileage and age. The problem with the Neon was likely older seals that had deteriorated or hardened to the stage the thinner synthetic oil managed to sneak past. Seals and oils have improved lot since then.

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