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Ask the Auto Doctor: Loss of speed on highway; search memory for code

Dear Doctor: I drove a 2012 Nissan Altima with 55,000 miles from Florida to New York, and it ran great for the first 50 miles then it started losing power and would go no faster than 58 mph. When I stopped for gas and turned the motor off and then restarted it would run fine, but after about 50 miles it would lose power again and go no faster than 58 mph. In local driving the car runs perfectly. I took it to the Nissan dealer and they could not find anything wrong with the car. Do you have any suggestions?

Dear Dennis: There a couple of possibilities. First, it would be optimal it there were a fault code or pending fault code in memory. There could be pending codes stored in the computer without setting the "check engine" light on. The mass airflow meter has been known to cause problems such as yours, and as well as the CVT transmission could be at issue here.

Dear Doctor: I recently had the front and back brake pads replaced on a 2010 Toyota Camry with 60,000 miles. Occasionally, when pressing the brakes I hear a squeal. I'm told this issue is not unusual. Is this something I should be concerned about?

Dear Stan: Occasional brake pad squeal is not uncommon on some vehicles. The squealing sound can be caused from poor quality inexpensive brake pads, poor installation, or poor preparation of the brake pads and caliper brackets and caliper slide pins. There's a lot more to brake pad replacement that just replacing the pads. A high quality brake pad with shims and hardware is a must. An anti-squeal agent on the non-friction pad side is mandatory. The pads must also fit securely in the bracket they attach to. The caliper slide pins should be cleaned and lubricated. The brake rotors, if not resurfaced or replaced, should be de-glazed with a small rough pad.

Dear Doctor: Over the last three years, I've had my 2012 Volvo S60 T5 in for service a number of times for the same problem. When I shut the car off and keep the radio on and not immediately exit the car, a message comes across the info screen within 30 seconds: "the system will shut down in 2 minutes." Then a message appears on the dash "low battery" along with a battery and service alert icon. In my many service visits to Volvo I've been told: Software updates were needed (two were done); I don't put enough miles on the car to charge the battery; Volvo may have to replace the radiator. I have a brand new interstate battery installed and a new battery in the key fob, so when the "Low Battery" message appeared again, I had the local service center test it. The battery is fully charged. Do you have an answer for this problem?

Dear Ed: Your Volvo, like all late model vehicles, has a lot of electronics and multiple computers and body control modules. Software upgrades are vital to vehicles to get the latest versions from the manufacturer. You have to make sure the replacement battery has the correct amperage for the car. It is also important that battery is charged at all times. The battery voltage can be below the recommended level in as little a two weeks if the car just sits without being used.

Dear Doctor: How do I eliminate the hazy headlights on a vehicle?

Dear Dale: There are many products on the market that advertise spray and wipe to eliminate haze. I have used a couple of different headlight cleaner brands. Any brand that has multiple steps like Mothers or Meguiars will work. The first step is to start with 1,000 or 1,200 grit sandpaper and use plenty of water in a bucket and to keep soaking the sandpaper. The next step is 2,000 sandpaper then 3,000. You must use plenty of water, never sanding the headlight with dry sandpaper. Some kits supply a buffing ball and cleaning compound after the sanding. Make sure not to overheat the plastic headlight lens when using a drill on the buffer wheel. The last step is to polish and seal the headlight lens. You should also polish the headlight lens monthly to keep the oxidation from reoccurring. You can also replace the headlight bulbs with Sylvania ZXE super white bulbs for increased vision at night. If you do not feel comfortable cleaning the headlights yourself, then the are many shops that will do it for the average cost of $40 to $50.

Dear Doctor: Have you ever used a product called "Heal A Seal"? If so, is it safe to use?

Dear John: There are many companies that sell products that are supposed to seal engine coolant leaks -- most are a temporary repair. In some cases if instructions are not followed the entire cooling system could be blocked up, including the radiator. If you choose to try any head gasket or block sealant repair, then you must make certain that you follow the directions completely. If your car or truck has a blown head gasket the cost of a sealant is an inexpensive investment.

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