Talking Cars: A hands-off solution

Junior Damato

QUESTION: I recently acquired a 1990 Toyota Corolla with only 53,000 miles that has been sitting for the last three years. I installed a new battery and the car started up. What do I need to do to the engine for service?

ANSWER: The engine should be checked over for the normal maintenance, including the timing belt. Automatic transmission fluid should be changed as well.  

QUESTION:  I am the owner of a 1991 Dodge Daytona with only 35,000 miles. The directional signals work intermittently. Some times I have to push up or down on the dash to get them to work. No one has been able to find the problem.

ANSWER: The first step is a look at the ground connections, flasher and connections at the steering column. I have replaced a lot of directional switches on these cars over the years. The technician will need to check the switch, and it could be as simple as cleaning the contacts on the switch.

QUESTION: We own a 2005 Toyota Camry six-cylinder automatic that has 17,000 miles. On six different occasions, I have had trouble removing the key from the ignition after parking the car in a parking lot. I have to bang and move the steering wheel to remove the key.

ANSWER: Sometimes when there is pressure from the power steering rack unit and the engine is shut off, the pressure goes up the steering shaft and to the ignition safety lock assembly. The pressure can sometimes be so much that some people cannot move the ignition switch or steering wheel to turn the key. The best solution is before you shut the engine, take your hands off the steering wheel so it can be in an at-ease position.  

QUESTION: In July my wife and I are driving from New York to California in a 2007 Ford Taurus. I want to replace the four tires with a good quality that will give up a smooth safe ride at highway speeds. What do you suggest?

ANSWER: There are many tire brands on the market as well as profiles, styles and tread design. I would suggest a non-aggressive tread tire design. The Conti Pro Contact is a good choice and not overpriced. I have sold many with great results. You can also look on the Tire Rack website for owner responses on tires.

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