Jumper Cables Safe to Carry? PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

Is it safe to use jumper cables on my car to start another car? My husband says it will damage my car.

Thank you,

Dear Mary,

Your husband is right with his way of thinking.

This is the reason why a lot of the car manufacturers since around 1996 are hiding the battery and or making only the positive battery cable exposed. It is better to carry a jump box instead of a pair of ole jumper cables in your truck.

I am a huge supporter of the jump box and exploit it every time I have possible. You can pick up a jump box at most any auto parts stores for about 45.00, and it makes it possible to jump start your car without having that 2nd vehicle around.

Thanks for writing in and I tell your husband that he may be right about this but not everything!

Dead Power Door/Trunk Locks in 1995 Camaro Z28 PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I have a 1995 Camaro Z28, V8 with 80,000 miles on it. It is fast becoming a much coveted classic, especially in this country. I drive it less than fifteen miles every morning and then let it sit till the next day. But when I start it the next morning, the power door and trunk locks are dead. They only come back to life after I do my daily drive and return home. However, the next morning they are dead again!

And so it has been for months now because no electrician in this country seems able to fix this problem.

Can you help, please!

Dr. A.

Dear A.

I personally think that your culprit is your master switch. All of your problem parts that you are describing to me are integrated together in that one switch. The master switch is located in the driver’s door and should cost about $50.00 US.

If you were here in the states, I would be more than happy to fix this myself for you!

Thanks for writing in,

Lifespan of a Battery PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I am writing to say thanks for the great Q&A in the chronicle. I enjoy reading it each week and I am amazed at all that you seem to be doing.

I do have a car question. What is the average lifespan of a car battery? Do you wait until the battery goes dead or do you replace it around the time a battery reaches its average lifespan?



Dear Pete,

Thanks for reading my Q and A every week in the ‘Houston Chronicle’, I am flattered!

Now to your battery question: I personally have always waited until the point of getting stranded with a dead battery that absolutely does not have enough spark, power, and energy to fry a fly if it had to, before I venture to the auto parts store and buy a new one.

I would recommend getting your car battery replaced before it leaves you stranded; also remember to check the condition of the battery. If the battery requires water, check that about every 3 months and replenish if needed, and also keep those battery posts clear and clean of corrosion for longer battery life.

Note: if your car seems to be cranking over without as much spunk as you are used to, it may be a sign that your car battery is dying its slow death and it‘s time to replace it; the typical lifespan of a battery is 2 to 3 years.

Irregular Behavior of Lights in 2004 Chevrolet Silverado PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I read your column in the Houston Chronicle and thought I might ask you about my problem. My 2004 Chevrolet Silverado, automatic with 5.3 engine, 44,500 miles, has a problem with the two brake lights not working on the rear fenders. The brake light on the cab works. Also, the inside courtesy lights do not work when I open the doors. If I use the remote to unlock the doors, the courtesy lights come on. We have checked the lights, fuses and brake switch on the brake pedal. All are working and all of the other electrical devices work fine. My Chevrolet dealer has "never heard of this" but is willing to check it out on the computer for a hefty price.

Any suggestions beside taking it to the dealer?

Thank you,


Dear Alton,

At the very back of your truck, where all of the wiring plugs are located, is a little module box that has a common problem of burning out. If you have power coming into it but not going out of it, then this is your irritating culprit. I personally have dealt with this same issue on so many occasions that I could now switch one out being blindfolded.

The module is mounted on the frame rail on the driver’s side all the way at the back of the truck. If you follow the wires, you can locate this. Taking this to the dealer to replace will cost you about $100.00.

Thanks for writing in and being a regular reader!

Programming Keyless Entry Remote for 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

So I have spent the last few hours on the Internet and am looking for a way to program my keyless entry remote for my 2003 Chevrolet trailblazer and am coming up empty handed. Do you have any possible idea how to do it or where to get the instruction on how to do it?

Thanks so much,


Dear Sean,

Try this process:

Get into your car; shut all of the doors and insert the ignition key into the ignition lock cylinder, and do not turn it at this time. Press and hold the door unlock switch while cycling the ignition on and off and on and off…“twice”… then release the unlock switch and the doors should lock and unlock to let you know that the program was successful. After this, you will need to press and hold the lock and unlock button simultaneously, “at the same time”, for 15 seconds, and again the doors should lock and unlock to confirm that this process was successful. You can repeat this for up to 4 times for each transmitter and you will need to program them all at the same time. After all of this, you will need to turn your ignition key to the run position and this will get your vehicle out of the transmitter mode. Then grab your key and jump out of your car, and see if this works. If it does, grab a beer and celebrate!

Thanks for writing in with a super question!

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