I have a 1996 Cadillac SLS four drive with only 43,000 miles. I have a very weak right hand and serious injury to my left arm and cannot turn the key to start. Is there any way to get an automatic button or starter? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I don’t want to have to buy a new car at my advanced age and low mileage use.

QUESTION: I have a 1996 Cadillac SLS four drive with only 43,000 miles. I have a very weak right hand and serious injury to my left arm and cannot turn the key to start. Is there any way to get an automatic button or starter? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I don’t want to have to buy a new car at my advanced age and low mileage use.


ANSWER: There are many companies that can retrofit you car with different style ignition start systems. Check online and/or the local hospital for a referral. Remote car starters are also a possibility, however, the ignition key would still need to be turned to unlock the steering wheel and also keep the engine running.


 


QUESTION: I have a 2008 BMW 5 series. The tires are original with 26,500 miles on them. As of last week and over the past few months, all the tires have been plugged because of large nail, screw and who-knows-what-else punctures. How safe is it to continue driving plugged tires long distances particularly in the hot summer months? I’m thinking new tires all around. Your opinion would be appreciated.


ANSWER: My answer is the tires are safe to drive on. The one safety item is that any time a tire is repaired from a puncture, the speed rating is void. Some shops just use a plug from the outside in and other shop break the tire down and repair the puncture from the inside. Either repair will seal the puncture. Just remember there is no speed rating.


 


QUESTION: I own a 1998 Ford Windstar limited edition that has been great so far. Recently I’ve been having what I think is a shifting problem. Three times when trying to enter the highway, the car would go but barely broke 20 mph and once I had to drive home doing 35 mph. If I tried to go faster the car would buck and shake and get noisy. About five blocks from home the car acted normal and has been ever since, even getting 70 mph recently. The mechanic couldn’t find any computer codes. The transmission shop did a compression test that was normal, the fluid is clean. This has us baffled. Do you think this is a transmission problem or mechanical or even a computer problem? The van has 125,000 miles and runs great except for this intermittent problem. I really enjoy this car and would like to keep it. Thank you for any help.


ANSWER: With no fault codes present, did the technician check for any history or pending codes? The noise you mention does sound mechanical not electronic. Check a dragging brake, especially a rear brake shoe. Without more information there is no way anybody can pinpoint your problem. Have the technician check the free wheel spinning of all four wheels.


 


QUESTION: My sister-in-law has a 2011 Dodge Journey with every conceivable option. She’s had it for a year now, and without warning the car will die on her. However it starts right up again. This has occurred on several occasions. No light comes on. Dealer says it could be the weight of her key as she has everything but the kitchen sink on her chain. Is this possible? Otherwise what is your opinion?


ANSWER: The problem with a stalling condition like this is, without computer-based information, it’s anyone’s guess. As for the heavy ignition key chain, this is possible and found on older vehicles. The good thing is the dealer can connect a scan tool then test the car and record the information from the computer. When the engine stalls they can look at all the information and review it to see what actually happened. They can also send the information to the engineering department for their opinion. The stalling is considered a safety issue and you have certain legal rights that you may want to look into if the stalling is not resolved.


Junior Damato writes weekly about cars. You can send questions to him care of the Old Colony Memorial, 182 Standish Ave., Plymouth, MA 02360.