Q My Jenn-Air microwave, purchased in 1990, works great, but the white paint on the "floor" is now eroded and rusty. Is it OK to spray it with white spray paint, or would that interfere with the safe operation? Since there's nothing else wrong -- it is used only 6 months each year -- I don't want to replace this appliance.

A The good news is that you indeed can do this. The bad news is that the materials might cost as much as a new microwave, unless you have metal-free primer and paint on hand. Oh, and it's quite labor-intensive.

Ron Weber, a small-appliance expert at the Mr. Appliance repair store in Oakdale, provides these directions, which start with "a lot of surface prep":

Sand the damaged area down to the surface, then thoroughly clean the entire interior with soap and water until there is no oil residue remaining.

"In order for the paint to stick, you have to remove all the food oil," Weber said. "It's very hard to get all that out. I would recommend using Dawn dish-washing soap, which is really good at removing food oil.

"Make sure the surface is squeaky-clean, like glass-clean. Otherwise you'll have to do the job twice."

Then tape up the surrounding areas of the microwave before priming and painting. "You don't want to get any paint where you don't want it to be," he said.

Both the primer and the paint must contain no lead or other metals. Weber strongly recommends FDA-approved primer and paint.

"Nothing with any kind of metal," he said.

BILL WARD

Recycling car seats

Q Where can I recycle baby car seats?

A While the folks at Twin Cities-based Eureka Recycling salute you for trying to keep your old seats out of a landfill, they also report that there are no easy recycling options. Separating the multiple elements -- including plastics, metal, nylon and foam -- that go into a car seat is too labor-intensive to be financially viable.

Because of recalls and changing safety regulations, some donation centers won't accept any used car seats. Most of those that do won't take seats that are more than five or six years old or appear to have been damaged or altered in any fashion.

Some businesses that sell seats will take old ones in trade, but that doesn't necessarily keep them from eventually ending up in a trash bin.

JEFF STRICKLER

Send your questions to Fixit in care of the Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av., Minneapolis, MN 55488, or call 612-673-7032, or e-mail fixit@startribune.com. Sorry, Fixit cannot supply individual replies. Fixit appears Sunday on page B3.