By Heloise April 10

Dear Readers: In the market for a used vehicle? It’s smart to do your homework. Learn everything you can about the make and model of the car you’re interested in, of course, but there’s something else you should check when you find a car you like: the vehicle identification number.

The vehicle identification number, or VIN, is 17 characters that can give you a wealth of information, such as whether the car has been totaled in an accident or natural disaster (such as a flood), or if it has been reported stolen.

Unscrupulous people can refurbish cars that have been totaled and resell them. This is illegal, because it is not safe. And stolen vehicles, of course, cannot be resold.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free VIN check service at You also can call 800-835-6422. This is one way to protect yourself and be a responsible consumer.

Dear Heloise: Regarding the hint in February about where to hold the steering wheel when driving, the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock hand position versus the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock one is very confusing to current young student drivers. They have spent their entire lives looking at digital clocks!

Diane E., Springfield, Ill.

Dear Heloise: I use what I consider the best and easiest method for stopping hiccups. I got this from a teacher when I was a sophomore in high school in 1950, and it has been successful for me ever since.

I try to focus on something while taking deep, slow breaths. Usually three or fewer breaths and the hiccups have disappeared!

Lee D., Watertown, Wis.

Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column. I've not been able to find house slippers because I wear a 9 slim, or AAA, and no one makes these anymore, just narrow, medium or wide.

I also need to have the left heel built up, which complicates my problem! I hope you or a reader might know of a resource.

Marilyn B., San Angelo, Tex.

Marilyn B.: So sorry for your struggle. Contact a shoe-repair business. They should provide you with guidance, and they may know of specialty retailers who will guarantee you a good fit for your house slippers. Readers, any other hints for Marilyn?

Dear Heloise: I save every cap on hair spray cans because I have so many uses for them. My biggest use is on my dressing table to hold upside-down lotions, in the shower for shampoo bottles, and on the dresser for any kind of small bottle, such as an eyeliner bottle. This makes it easier to clean by just sliding the caps from one side to the other. I use one in the kitchen miscellaneous drawer to hold paper clips and keep the drawer tidy.

Carmelina M., via email

Carmelina M.: Great repurposing hint!

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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