We ask readers: Why aren't Americans buying new US cars?

The demand for new cars is high, based on scrappage rates and three years of subnormal sales, yet millions of motorists boycott the domestic-car showrooms.

Why are so many people sticking with the old car instead of buying a new one? Is it quality? Price? Interest rates? What?

We'd like to find out.

US carmakers today are caught in an agonizing bind:

* The need to spend unprecedented amounts of money -- $80 billion over a 10 -year period -- to upgrade the cars and assembly plants to meet the demands of the 1980s.

* Yet, people are unwilling to buy the domestic cars in the numbers required to get the job done.

Indeed, the economy is bad and unemployment is up, interest rates are sky high, Detroit's image needs polish, and the imports are pushing hard. Even the year-old ''voluntary export curb'' on Japanese cars is bad news for Detroit as the Japanese shift to higher-profit models, a price area that Detroit could traditionally count on.

Thus, the US auto market continues in flux as the industry waits for an upturn.

To sample reader views on prospects for the US car industry, take a few minutes to jot down your thoughts on a separate sheet of paper:

* I bought a new 1982-model US car, or plan to buy one, because: OR

* I decided to keep my old clunker because:

Send to Automotive Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.

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