Aftermarket blind spot sensor systems are expensive

Blind Spot Monitoring system warning light icon in side view mirror of a modern vehicle. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Q: Do you recommend the installation of an aftermarket blind spot sensor? It would go on a 2012 Camry. If so, what are recommended brands and who installs them?

D.A., Le Sueur, Minn.

A: If you have an older car, or one that was not equipped with a blind spot camera or sensors, aftermarket kits may be the answer. But they are expensive. Low priced units cost about $300 while the better ones are about $500. Experts say that none are as good as the factory-installed units, but the pricier ones come close. Most general repair shops could handle installation. If you have not yet won the lottery, you may want to rely on blind spot mirrors.

Q: Your response was good. The average driver probably would not benefit (from a trouble code reader). But I’m the owner of three cars, two of them going on 10 years and 100K miles. I’ve used my Amazon-bought diagnostic reader a lot. If for nothing else than to avoid being handed load of BS by mechanics. I think it’s a good investment and part of being a responsible old car owner.

M.W., Wheaton Ill.

A: I was not saying that automobile code readers are useless, only that may not be worth to cost to many motorists. As I said, many locations will read the trouble codes at no cost, particularly parts stores, in hopes of selling the replacement for a defective part.

Q: I park my car outside and have to clean the frost from the windows in the morning. Do products like Rain-X provide any benefit to cleaning the windows in the morning? How about freezing rain, ice and snow after accumulation overnight?

D.D., Chicago

A: Glass treatments make it easier to remove all that stuff. There are fewer nooks and crannies to which the precipitation can get a bite. You may want to consider a one-use product such as Prestone Ice & Frost Shield that gets sprayed on at night. You need to reapply whenever bad weather threatens. Alternatively, you may choose to use a de-icer product that helps soften the ice or frost in the morning. It takes a couple minutes to work.

You can even make your own by mixing two parts rubbing alcohol with one part water in a spray bottle, but it may take longer to work.

Q: I have a 2019 Ford Escape with a 1.5-liter engine and 6-speed automatic and manual shift. Driving around our small town, I like to manually shift up to third gear and control RPM range for faster warm-up and eliminate shifting through all the gears. The boys at coffee say it doesn’t matter.

What are your thoughts?

Z.Z., Montgomery, Minn.

A: A higher revving engine does warm up faster. The powertrain engineers program vehicles to shift a bit later when cold to achieve this. Their goal is to light off the catalytic converter to control emissions, but your tootsies may also benefit. You and the boys are both right.

Q: Have you had any experience with the Leixio oil pump? I contacted the company and they told me I can use it to pump transmission fluid out. The transmission fluid is probably the most neglected.

B.H., Arlington Heights., Ill.

A: Pumping (siphoning) the oil or transmission fluid is tidy and easy. I think it is fine in a pinch. Draining the oil by removing the plug allows any sediment to also drain though. That is a plus. Ditto for removing the transmission pan and changing its filter if possible.

Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber’s work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send questions along with name and town to

Tribune Wire

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