DEAR BRUCE: My husband and I purchased our first new automobile. We were thrilled. We have had so many used cars, and we finally decided that we could afford a new car. You can imagine how unhappy we have been since the car has had to be towed four times. Yes, that's right, four times in the first six weeks that we have owned it. It just keeps quitting. I have to say that the dealer has been very, very accommodating in terms of loaning us automobiles and is sympathetic, telling us that there will be no cost other than the towing. They pay for the first towing but they say that's the only one that they will pay for. Is this reasonable? — G.P. in Pennsylvania

DEAR BRUCE: My husband and I purchased our first new automobile. We were thrilled. We have had so many used cars, and we finally decided that we could afford a new car. You can imagine how unhappy we have been since the car has had to be towed four times. Yes, that's right, four times in the first six weeks that we have owned it. It just keeps quitting. I have to say that the dealer has been very, very accommodating in terms of loaning us automobiles and is sympathetic, telling us that there will be no cost other than the towing. They pay for the first towing but they say that's the only one that they will pay for. Is this reasonable? — G.P. in Pennsylvania

DEAR G.P.: I don't find that reasonable at all. I am assuming that you don't carry towing insurance, either, with an organization such as AAA or on your regular liability insurance policy. You might want to consider picking up one of these coverages. They are very inexpensive. There also is a plan available with most cell companies, if you have a cell phone.

Having said that, if a brand new automobile is breaking down so many times, it seems to me that the manufacturer or the dealer or some combination thereof should pay for the towing. I would bring this to the manufacturer's attention and ask for their opinion.

DEAR BRUCE: My daughter, 25, has started selling items at craft shows. Her challenge is the financial resource needed to purchase the items initially for resale later. I am contemplating investing in this in one of two ways. I would either lend her the money as a loan, which she will repay in installments until she has enough capital to make the purchases herself, or put up the money for the inventory each time, four or five times a year, and then take a percentage of her take.

Her investment is the booth and rental time. We are estimating that she will make between $1,000 and $2,500. I thought 10 percent would be a good percentage — S.W., via e-mail

DEAR S.W.: Since the amount of money is so modest, a straight loan to your daughter, under whatever terms you two agree on, would be the easiest and cleanest way to handle this. You might wish to make it open-ended and, assuming that your daughter is a responsible person, that should work for both of you. I would not get involved in a percentage deal.

DEAR BRUCE: I backed out in my car and hit a lady who was parked across the street. I know that I am wrong. I offered to have the car fixed at my body shop. They estimated the most it would be was $400. She agreed to get it done there. Then all of a sudden she decided to get two other estimates and they wanted $700 and $1,100. Now she says that she wants me to pay her in cash the highest amount. I told her that I would settle and I would take care of this myself as I did not want to make a claim against my insurance company. She demands to know my insurance company's name. Do I have to give it to her? — Reader, via e-mail

DEAR READER: You are not obliged to tell her about your insurance. You must understand that you have no obligation to pay her anything until such time as a court of proper jurisdiction orders you to pay and then they would set the number. When someone is without question, wrong, you make a settlement but when the other side gets unreasonable and demands that you pay the higher amount you simply say you will pay this amount or she will have to go to court and have a judge order that you pay more. The likelihood is that for this kind of money she is not going to make a trip to court. The very basic understanding that you must have is that until such time as a court orders a payment you have no obligation to pay. The reality is though that when you know you are wrong, why go through all the pain of a court appearance? It's obvious she's trying to make an extra buck.

Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 2095, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.