•Q. Every morning when I walk out the door to go to work, there is bird poop all over the sides of my car. Always in the same exact spot. Granted, there are telephone/cable/electrical wires hanging over my driveway, connected to my house. And there is a tree nearby. But neither the tree nor the wires hang directly over my car. I know for a fact that the birds like to sit on my side-view mirrors and do their business all over my car. I’ve washed it off once already a week ago, but now it’s getting just downright embarrassing, so it’s time for another washing. This didn’t happen last spring, so I don’t know what’s gotten into the birds that would drive them to destroy the appearance of my vehicle. Any suggestions on how to keep the birds away from my precious black 2007 Ford Fusion? Thanks.•
RAY: I think you’ve got some narcissistic birds. Maybe they’re celebrity birds?
TOM: We helped a woman once who had a similar problem. One particular bird could see his reflection in the car window, so he liked to sit on the mirror and admire himself.
RAY: I guess he particularly liked to admire himself after breakfast, because her car looked a lot like yours does.
TOM: Actually, we don’t know if he was admiring himself or “hitting on” that pretty bird he “saw” in his reflection.
RAY: In any case, you can eliminate the appeal of your car for these birds in one of two ways. You can cover up the windows so they can no longer see their reflections …
TOM: Or you can make the “perches” less appealing. That’s the way I would go.
RAY: You know the birds are sitting on the side-view mirrors. So cover them with something that makes it hard for them to sit there.
TOM: Like a taser?
RAY: No. Not nice. I would suggest trying something like kids’ birthday party hats. You know, the cone-shaped hats with the elastic chin straps? Buy a bag of those, and toss them in the car. When you get home at night, put one on top of each side-view mirror. You even can use the elastic bands to hold them in place. The conical shape should make it hard for the bird to perch there, and I’m guessing they’ll find someplace else.
TOM: I like the party hat idea. They’re cheap, and easily replaced. So if one gets too soggy after a rainstorm, for instance, you can retire that one and slap on another. Go to iParty.com and stock up.
RAY: Well, don’t get too many, because you might not need to use them for long. Once you interrupt these birds’ routines, they may go find another car that they like better and forget about what fun it is to Jackson Pollack your Fusion.
TOM: Or maybe they’ll decide to fork over $25 a month and avail themselves of the full-length mirrors at a nearby gym. Good luck.
•Q. I turn 70 in a couple of years and want to do two things to celebrate: Enter a triathlon and drive across the country on back roads in a new convertible. Assuming I survive the first idea, I need advice on convertibles. Since I don’t have a garage, a hard-top is a necessary option. There are several nice ones, and I LOVE the Volvo. The trouble is, the mileage is so poor. While this car would not be my only wheels, I just can’t bring myself to support the car industry’s poor efforts at better mileage. Do you think they will wake up in time for me? I have three years to make a decision — and to find someone fun to travel with.•
RAY: If it were my brother, he’d combine these two events, and attempt to do the triathlon IN the convertible. He’d get less winded that way.
TOM: Yeah. The bad news on the car front is that there’s no premium, midsize, four-seat convertible that’s head and shoulders above the others in terms of gas mileage. Aside from suffering from the industry’s lack of commitment to increasing fuel economy, convertibles also suffer from excess weight. They require extra structural reinforcement to make up for the rigidity that steel roofs usually provide, so they tend to be heavier than their “roofed” sedan counterparts, which further decreases their mileage.
RAY: The good news is that the auto industry is in the process of waking up to the issue of fuel economy after a deep, 30-year slumber. So it’s entirely possible that you’ll have better choices in three years than you do now. Someone even might come out with a hybrid convertible in that class, which would really raise the bar.
TOM: But at the moment, you’re right. The Volvo C70 convertible that interests you is rated at 19 mpg city, 28 highway, which means you’ll average about 22. That’s OK but not great.
RAY: The best of the bunch probably is the Audi A5, which does a little better, at 24/31. The Volkswagen Eos, which is a size smaller than those two, comes in at 22/30. The other Volvo-size convertibles, like the BMW 328i, the Lexus IS 250, the Ford Mustang and the Infiniti G37, are in the same mpg ballpark as the Volvo, or worse.
TOM: So I’d wait to see if one of those companies — or some other company — takes some bolder steps and separates itself from the pack. And if one does, you should reward it with your business in a few years. And take the trip before doing the triathlon, just in case!
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