To the editors:

As I read your reader’s lament, and the responses from the auto industry, regarding the auto headlights that don’t shut off automatically when you turn the ignition off [Straight Dope, March 2], I was surprised that no one mentioned what I feel is an even better alternative that is currently available at nominal cost. This is a tiny device, which can be purchased for under five dollars and installed by virtually anyone with the barest minimum of mechanical aptitude, which emits a beep or some other type of audible warning whenever you turn off the ignition without first switching the headlights off. Then it is a simple matter to switch the headlights off before getting out of the car.

I first encountered this wonderful little device in an old 1969 Rambler American I once owned, which had it built in at the factory. (This fact alone proves that Ramblers were one of the most underrated, and unfairly maligned, of automobiles in automotive history.) After that I discovered that you could buy the device at just about any auto parts store, and since then I have never purchased a vehicle without immediately installing one. Believe me, it has saved me more than once from the inconvenience and expense of a dead battery!

Another auto accessory I would not be without is intermittent windshield wipers. An after-market device to accomplish this costs around ten dollars and can be installed by a do-it-yourselfer with only slightly more mechanical expertise.

I have never been able to afford a new car, and in fact my current 1983 Dodge pickup truck is the first vehicle I ever owned that was newer than the 1960’s. But thanks to simple little devices such as the two mentioned above, I am able to drive in a modicum of style!

John Wason

Canton, Illinois