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?
A: If you have a car 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 might want to rely on blind-spot mirrors.
Q: For the most part, I agree with your response two weeks ago advising a reader that diagnostic equipment is usually not worth the money. But I'm the owner of three cars, two of them going on 10 years and 100K miles. I've used my trouble-code reader a lot, if for nothing else than to avoid being duped by mechanics. I think it's a good investment and part of being a responsible old-car owner.
A: I was not saying that automobile code readers are useless, only that they may not be worth the cost to many motorists. Many locations will read the trouble codes at no cost, particularly parts stores, in hopes of selling the replacement for a defective part.
A hot suggestion
Q: I have a 2019 Ford Escape with a 1.5-liter engine and six-speed automatic with manual shift mode. Driving around our small town, I like to manually shift up to third gear and control RPM range for faster warm-up. The boys at coffee say it doesn't matter. What are your thoughts?
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 reduce emissions by getting the catalytic converter to heat up right away, but your tootsies may also benefit.
Q: As a follow-up to earlier comments about Rain-X, I have a winter-related question that I'd like to ask before I forget. I park outside and have to clean the frost from the windows in the morning. Do products like Rain-X provide any benefit to scraping off frost? How about freezing rain, ice and snow after accumulation overnight?
A: Glass treatments make it easier to remove all that stuff. You also might want to consider a 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 of 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.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician. His writing has appeared in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send automotive questions along with name and town to email@example.com.