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 sensor, an aftermarket kit might be the answer. But they are expensive. The lowest-priced units cost more than $200, while the better ones are in the $500 range. Experts say that none are as good as the factory-installed ones, but the pricier ones come close. If you have not yet won the lottery, there are inexpensive, stick-on blind spot mirrors.
Tire sealer, part 1
Q: I want to respond to the tire sealant issues you’ve been writing about recently. About a year ago, I was coming back from Cape Cod, and in the trunk of my car I had a large explosion. I discovered that a full can of tire sealant had exploded. What a mess: sticky, gooey foam everywhere on our luggage, clothing and gifts.
Do you have any ideas on how to prevent this in the future? I love to carry that stuff because it’s a lifesaver, but I don’t want to go through anything like that again. There is a warning on the can that says do not store above 120 degrees. I guess my trunk was hotter than that.
A: Some tire sealant products are under pressure to help inflate the tire while sealing. Other products are not under pressure but need an auxiliary pump to finish the job. To save space and weight, many carmakers are eliminating the spare tire and substituting a kit containing a sealant and a pump that plugs into the car’s 12-volt auxiliary (cigarette lighter) port. I’m sorry to hear about your messy experience. One suggestion: Check with your insurance carrier to see if your situation is covered.
Q: I read your column about tire sealer for vehicles with no spare tire. A few years ago, I recall seeing signs in tire repair shops saying that they would not repair a tire if tire sealer had been used as a temporary repair. Have the sealing products been improved?
A: The issue then — and now — was having to clean up the goo inside the tire. Both the tire and the rim must be cleaned before the tire can be professionally, and permanently, patched. This is when the owner of the shop turns to the rookie employee and says, “Hey, Timmy, I’ve got a job for you.”
Q: Regarding your column on swollen lug nuts, I’ve had to replace the lug bolts on my 2014 Subaru Forester twice. It’s expensive, but what else can a person do?
A: There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of Subaru lug stud (not called a bolt) breakage. My suggestion is to avoid replacing the damaged studs with factory (Subaru) studs. I have confidence in Dorman brand products.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.