DRIVE Is any car

safe for a teenager?

By Jim Mateja

Chicago Tribune

Q:I have a 1996 Volkswagen Cabrio in great shape that's paid for. My husband wants to give it to my 16-year-old son, who will have his license soon, and get a new car for me. Do you think a VW Cabrio is safe for a teen-ager? -- M.L., Bay Minette, Ala.

A: Depends. The VW Cabrio may be in great shape, but in what shape is your son? How safe is your 16-year-old (or any 16-year-old) and how safe do you feel having a novice driving an open-top car, no matter what brand or nameplate, even if it's paid for?


Q:Another important reason to save the Monroney label, or window sticker, is to get all the available discounts when you buy auto insurance. Most insurers give discounts for anti-lock brakes or air bags but require proof of purchase when these devices are optional on a model. -- L.B., Chicago

A:Absolutely correct, and thanks for passing along yet another reason to keep the label as well as a few extra copies.

Q: Is VW going to introduce a Jetta Cabrio next year? I read that they are going to discontinue the Beetle convertible next year. -- B.F., Chicago

A:The Beetle convertible was introduced for the '03 model year, and Volkswagen says it plans to keep offering it for several years. You probably read that at the end of July, VW is going to stop production of the original Beetle, which it has been building in Mexico for markets outside the U.S. As for a Jetta Cabrio, VW says such an offering is possible and you may see one on the auto-show circuit soon. But it hasn't been approved for production so it won't appear in 2004.

Q:Every year we struggle with hair dryer, razor blade and fingernail polish to remove old stickers from the windshield. How can we do the job easily? -- R.B., Des Plaines, Ill.

A:Well, there's always abracadabra. Or, you can place the sticker in a plastic sleeve and then tape the sleeve to the window so you only have to use hair dryer, razor blade or fingernail polish to remove the tape. But are you sure you have the hair dryer on "hot?" That usually very easily loosens a corner so you can peel the sticker away and then clean off any stickum with nail-polish remover.

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