Q: Do people still install kill switches on their cars? We will be traveling to many places and will likely log 3,000 to 4,000 miles. Our drive will take us through many states and will have many stops. We are a little worried about car theft.
A: Hidden ignition or fuel pump kill switches were once quite popular and could be installed quite easily.
Today, many cars have anti-theft systems built in. “Old-fashioned” kill switches are just not very common. A better option would be to add an aftermarket alarm or vehicle tracking system to deter theft.
I’m concerned about a cutting into a wiring harness to add a switch that could possibly cause an issue later.
I recently drove about 1,600 miles over three days and took the advice of all police departments: remove or hide any valuables, park in well-lighted areas, and lock the car and take the keys.
Q: How do you feel about driving an electric car in the snow/winter? I know I have left my fully charged cellphone in the car overnight, only to have it almost dead in the morning.
A: Electric cars will lose up to 40% of their battery capacity in very cold weather. Although, for most EV drivers, this isn’t a problem. Most EV drivers recharge their cars every night and many will — depending on the car — precondition the battery and the car prior to heading out. Using this method, you are getting into a warm car and maximizing battery capacity even when the weather is cold.
In Norway, where they have pretty cold winters, 65% of the cars sold last year were electric.
Q: Any ideas on a “PO299” check engine code on a 2017 Chevrolet Malibu and on a 2018 Malibu? This is happening when operating in minus-10-degree weather, and the check engine light and reduced power lights are on.
A: The code indicates under-boost from the turbo. The most common issue is dirt, debris and even moisture in the mass-air-flow sensor.
At those temperatures, moisture could also be freezing as air is entering the air intake.
Cleaning the mass-air-flow sensor may fix the problem. If not, a further inspection of the turbo charger is warranted.
Q: My neighbor recently noticed that my driver’s side brake light on my 2013 Cadillac XTS was not working.
I called my Cadillac dealer and asked if I had to bring the car in for a fix or was it something that I could easily handle myself. After a long pause, the service guy asked if I was sitting down and proceeded to tell me that the bulb was not replaceable and that I had to replace the entire rear taillight assembly at a cost of more than $800, which included taking off the rear bumper to get access to it. Huh?
A: The LED bulb set is replaceable separately from the entire taillight assembly. The dealer may have wanted to replace the entire assembly from experience that many of these Cadillac lights have a water intrusion problem which causes moisture in the taillights.
The typical dealer price on the LED bulbs is about $250, and aftermarket parts can be purchased for less. Even the GM original part can be purchased online for $125.
There are several YouTube videos you can watch that explain the installation.
Q: I own a 2008 BMW 328 with a 6-cylinder engine that is going through oil. My mechanic tells me that it burns a little oil, too little to be noticeable by smoke coming out the back. It seems to use about a quart every 1,500 miles.
The oil gauge also seems to be malfunctioning, as it rarely registers a full quart but actually shows down ¼ quart even when my mechanic changes the oil. I do not doubt that he is putting in the full amount required. The car does not appear to be leaking oil.
Six months ago, the engine was repaired by the local BMW dealership, where they replaced the oil filter housing gasket, the oil pan gasket and the cylinder head gasket.
Given this information, can you give me some ideas of what is causing the oil problem?
A: There is likely nothing more than a bit of wear and tear on the engine. BMW considers one liter of oil use in 1,500 miles as “normal.”
If this were my 14-year-old car, I would continue to monitor the oil consumption and add oil as needed.
John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automobile industry and is an ASE-Certified Master Technician. Write to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Car Doctor” in the subject field. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Can I add a kill switch to prevent auto theft?