DR. WALLACE: I know that you will consider this a very stupid letter, and I doubt that you will answer it, but I'm going to send it to you anyhow. I'm a 19-year-old girl and I'm living on my own. I've got a fair-paying job and have been paying all my bills. I'm splitting a lot of expenses with my roommate, who is in the same situation as I am.
My problem is that I need to buy a used car, but I'm afraid that I'll be taken advantage of. Can you please tell me what to look for when buying a used car? — Timid Buyer, Hobart, Indiana
TIMID: First of all, take a friend with you when you go shopping for a used car: You'll feel much better with a friend of any age alongside you during the process. It's nice and often reassuring to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and the extra set of eyes could benefit you as well. For further tips, I took your question to a local used-car salesman I know pretty well. He's a good businessman who truly takes excellent care of his customers, and now 90 percent of his business is via personal referrals.
He said that since the engine is the most important and expensive part of the car, you should be aware if it is noisy or hard to start, idles roughly, smokes, or if the engine response is slow to respond when given gas.
Next, check the interior and exterior for ripples in the body (probably sure signs of a wreck) and rust (usually covered by floor mats — lift them up!)
Check all accessories and make sure they are operable. Your last check should be the tires, tailpipe and muffler.
After looking the car over, take it for a test drive to check the acceleration, brakes and general driving comfort. If you still like the car after inspecting, have a qualified mechanic give the car a once-over. This pre-purchase inspection is generally a reasonable, small cost that could literally save you thousands of dollars in the future.
Finally, "Timid," please know that all letters are important to the sender and are certainly considered important to me and my staff. We truly appreciate the interest and communication, be it a question or a comment on a previous column. We read them all and appreciate all constructive feedback, no matter if the writer agrees with my answer or not. A good public discourse is important to us all, and it certainly starts with very important letters like yours. Thank you!
SOCIETY SHOULDERS SOME BLAME HERE
DR. WALLACE: I'm doing a study on an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, for a school project. I am a regular reader of yours and can remember you writing previously about anorexia. Any information you can provide me will be appreciated. I'll be sure to give you 100 percent credit in the footnotes. - Student, via email
STUDENT: Sadly, about 2.2 million teens aged 13 to 18 will experience anorexia or a similar eating disorder during their life. Society must take much of the blame for this particular problem, as a high priority is placed on a thin, youthful appearance for both genders these days.
Feelings of low self-esteem and failure, unrealistic expectations placed on a teen by parents and the desire to be a super-achiever are symptoms that can lead to anorexia.
Most anorexic victims will not admit they have an eating disorder, so they rarely seek help. That is why professional help is mandatory once this disorder is discovered. The anorexic usually believes he or she is overweight, even upon viewing his or her body in the mirror and seeing the reflection of a young person who is grotesquely thin.
Your school and local public library should have ample information on eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa. Of course, you can also go online to read about this disorder in more detail as well. It won't be necessary to include credit to me for the above information in your footnotes. The information is general knowledge, but indeed extremely important. Please know this: Should you, an acquaintance or a family member even suspect that a person they know might be demonstrating potential signs of anorexia nervosa, have them seek professional help immediately. It literally could save a life.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.