Find a good home for your orphaned lightbulbs

Dear Car Talk:

I’m sure, like many others, I’ve accumulated unused automotive lightbulbs for cars I no longer own (the result of being forced to buy two-packs when only one bulb is needed).

Is there someplace I can donate them, so they can be used by someone? I’d hate to throw perfectly good bulbs into the landfill. -- Jim

RAY: Ah yes, the bulb orphanage, Jim. We all have one.

You might take a lesson from our esteemed producer, Doug Berman. Last year, he ordered something from Amazon. I think it was an extra-large tube of hemorrhoid cream or something.

The next day, a box shows up at his door. He opens it up, and in the box is not what he ordered, but a set of brake shoes for a 1987 Buick LeSabre. He doesn’t have a 1987 Buick LeSabre. But he does have itching and burning.

So, he calls Amazon and says “you guys sent me brake shoes by accident. Can you send me what I actually ordered -- ASAP -- and I’ll send you back these brake shoes?”

Amazon says “Don’t send them back. It costs us more to ship them back than they’re worth. Do whatever you want with them.”

Well, like you, Dougie doesn’t want to throw them out, so he takes them down the street to a repair shop. And he explains to the woman at the desk what happened, and asks if, by any chance, she wants to trade the brake shoes for some Preparation H.

No, he offers them to her and says, maybe you’ll have a customer who’s going through some tough times and you’ll be able to help them out. She happily accepts the donation, and -- as far as we know, there are four fewer brake shoes in the landfill now.

So, try your own mechanic, Jim. Or try a shop nearby. Put them in a box, donate them, and let the shop add them to their bulb inventory. And either some lucky customer will be thrilled that an older, unusual bulb is in stock just when he or she needs one, or the shop will toss them in the landfill.

Windshield cracks may expose bigger issues

Dear Car Talk:

My 1998 Toyota Camry developed windshield cracks at the upper corners recently. They grew longer, so I took it to a national chain for a windshield replacement. They looked at it and said they wouldn’t replace the windshield until the rust was repaired.

I went to the internet to learn more. One discussion said it could cost as much as $2,000 to repair -- if it could even be repaired. Another said junk the car.

The car is in excellent shape. I spend about a $1,000 a year on it to keep it that way. Please give me some of your wisdom on this problem. -- David

RAY: My wisdom’s the same, David: You can either spend about $2,000 to fix it or junk the car.

Here’s the problem. They can’t replace your windshield because there’s no longer anything solid to attach it to.

The windshield is actually held in place by a gasket that attaches to the surrounding metal. If any -- or all -- of that metal (the roof, the side pillars and the cowl) is rotting away, the gasket will be loose, the windshield will move around and likely crack.

It’s not easy to just patch up the rust with Bondo, because there’s probably not enough solid metal there to work with anymore.

So, the solution -- assuming the rust is at the top or on the sides -- is to replace the car’s roof. A body shop would have to find a junkyard Camry of the same vintage for you -- one without the same rust problem.

The junkyard would then cut off the old roof, usually at the bottom of each pillar, and deliver it to your body shop. Then your body shop would cut off your roof and weld on the new one.

And when you add in the sanding, the paint job and the new windshield, you’re easily looking at $2,000. If you really love the car, and it really is in great shape, that would be your best option. But keep in mind that if the metal around the windshield has corroded to the point that it no longer casts a shadow, it’s likely that there are other parts of the car that are rotting away, too.

So get someone to really look it over carefully before you invest in a new roof. And if the rot is pervasive, buy a new roof with a new car under it instead. Good luck, David.

Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at

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