Auto Doc: Faulty Camry sideview mirrors can be fixed

2012 Toyota Camrys are parked at a car 2012 Toyota Camrys are parked at a car dealership in San Jose, Calif. (Aug. 30, 2011)

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Dear Doctor: My 2012 Toyota Camry has a blind-side mirror that quits every now and then. I took the car to Toyota and they found an old fault code showing a problem with the right-side mirror. But they claimed I had an accident on the right side and they wanted to replace the right-side mirror, which would not be covered under my extended warranty. I declined. Do you have any suggestions? -- John

Dear John: I had the same intermittent mirror failure on the driver's side power mirror on one of our used 2012 Camrys that had 36,600 miles and was out of the warranty. I removed the switch and door panel and cleaned the connections -- and the mirror has not since failed in over a year. The warranty is very specific and written by professionals in the interest of the car manufacturer. Overall, the Camry is a good vehicle. -- Doctor

Dear Doctor: My wife and I both have new Hyundais. We want to get remote start-ups put in our cars by a family member who owns an alarm/stereo shop. Friends have told us that unless we have it installed by the dealer, it may void our warranties. Can you please advise me? -- Charlie

Dear Charlie: Remote car starters are a great product. You need to ask the dealer, not a friend, whether the remote starter installation by an outside vendor would void the warranty. I have remote starters in our vehicles and there have never been any problems. You can also ask the dealer about a factory plug and play remote starter that simply connects to the factory wire harness. Some manufacturers make this available as an add-on option. If available, it may cost a bit more and will work with your factory remote. -- Doctor

Dear Doctor: I have a 2010 Chevy Silverado. I'm planning on buying a trailer and looked into how big a load I could tow, which turns out to be 9,500 pounds because I bought the tow package for $1,780. When I was checking my paperwork, I noticed part of that package was a six-speed transmission; I have a four-speed transmission. I double-checked my paperwork and also called my service manager who pulled up the VIN on the computer and it also stated six-speed. Do I have recourse and if so, what? -- George

Dear George: I own both a 2004 Chevy 2500 Silverado 6.0-liter four-speed automatic and a 2010 Chevy 2500 Silverado with a six-speed automatic. I personally like the four-speed transmission better than the six-speed. I have towed my 9,000-pound performance boat with both trucks and like the feel of the 2004 truck. As for your transmission concern, it could be a type error when the trailer tow package was written up. The older four-speed automatic is as heavy-duty as you can get and seems to offer (at least to me) a better way to tow. As for any legal recourse, you need to talk with an attorney. -- Doctor

Dear Doctor: I find that my 2014 Kia Sorento's low-beam headlights are really inadequate. I don't know if it is because the headlight bulbs are only 35 watts. What is the max wattage of the bulb that I can place on this vehicle? I've seen 55- and 80-watt replacements. I don't want "blue" lights. A true white color would be nice. Is any one manufacturer better than any other? -- Lewis

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Dear Lewis: I have been replacing headlight bulbs for many years with higher wattage bulbs -- mostly the 55-watt bulbs. I have used several different brands successfully. The life of the good quality lights are about half the life of the regular standard bulbs. The outside color tint of the higher powered lights in some cases is blue. When turned on, the actual light will be a bright white, not blue, even though they have a blue tint color on the outside. You also have to make sure the outside plastic lens is clear and not foggy. There are companies that sell complete new lens assemblies, even some with LED lights. -- Doctor

Dear Doctor: I just bought my wife a 2014 Ford Escape and wanted to know if I should switch to full-synthetic oil after the first scheduled oil change. -- Ben

Dear Ben: Many vehicles come from the factory with full synthetic. For those that do not, it is a good idea to replace the oil at the first oil change with regular oil to continue the engine parts to wear in. From then on, full-synthetic in my opinion is the way to go. As for mileage intervals, even with full synthetic it should be 6,000 miles on average or three times a year. Car manufacturers send bids out to oil companies with their requirements and whoever gives them the best price gets the contract. Car owners who buy vehicles and see the oil brand name under the hood are likely to use that brand, which also provided value for the oil company. -- Doctor

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