Your Questions. Answered

My vehicle is still under warranty so I have to go to the dealer for service so I don’t void my manufacturer’s warranty... Don’t I?

As the owner of a new car, or new to you, you certainly want to make all the right decisions about properly maintaining your new wheels in its early years to ensure that it serves you well throughout its life.

You certainly don’t want to do anything to compromise your vehicle’s warranty. What you may not know—most consumers don’t—is that your trusted, local Automotive Service Professional can change those tires for your car without compromising its warranty.

Many new car buyers believe that they have to say goodbye to the convenience and relationship they have built with a trusted local independent garage until the new car warranty expires.

The truth is that there is nothing in a new car warranty to compel you to return only to the dealer for regular maintenance. While the wording in owner’s manuals can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, what you should notice upon reading is that while they may detail a schedule of regular maintenance service items, they will not specify where that service must be performed.

In each province in Canada, there are Automotive Service Professionals who are qualified to service any vehicle make and model. The good news is you still have the right to bring your new car to that qualified Automotive Service Professional you have trusted over the years.

A great first step is to talk to your shop of choice to ensure that the maintenance schedule for your vehicle is followed—this will be outlined in your car’s owner’s manual and warranty/ service book. Particular attention should be made to ensure that manufacturer recommended fluids are used and accurately documented in your record of service. It is important to recognize that your local professional has access to fluids that meet the specifications required by your owner’s manual.

In addition, regular service items, such as replacing wiper blades, brakes, and cabin air filters, do not have an impact on warranty coverage, though you should certainly check to see if any service package you may have purchased with your new car includes these items.
Most independent service professionals can help you manage the service on your vehicle; Automotive Service Professionals have access to a database of service information for your vehicle and also have access to the same service information as the new car dealer. This means that they can help you ensure that any recalls are handled properly, and that any warranty repairs are also handled at the appropriate facility.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide where you bring your car for service, but remember, you can continue to use the same Automotive Service Professional you have relied on without compromising your vehicle warranty.

How often do I need to replace my brakes?

There are many factors that determine how quickly your brakes where out to the point of replacement. Some factors include, hauling heavy loads, pulling a trailer, stop and go traffic versus Highway just to name a few. The ”quality” of brake pad material used once you replace your original equipment brake pads can also play a big factor. “Entry-level” brake pads are very cost-effective on the initial purchase but generally will not last nearly as long as the original equipment equivalent brake pads. While at the opposite end of the spectrum “premium” brake pads for the most part will outperform the entry-level brake pads and generally will last a lot longer but their initial cost is usually twice as much as the entry-level components.

Every time you use your brakes, the friction that causes your car to stop wears your brake pads or shoes. Over time this causes your brakes to lose their effectiveness and increases your stopping distance, though you may not notice the gradual change. If your car pulls to one side while braking, if your brake pedal pulsates or feels “mushy,” or if you hear a noise when you apply your brakes, get them checked out immediately.

When do I need to replace my shocks and struts?

Industry standards suggest most shocks and struts should be trouble free for the first 80,000km. When it comes to maintenance, one of the most ignored vehicle systems is the suspension. Its gradual wear can go unnoticed because you don’t feel a major difference from one day to the next, but a healthy suspension system is critical to your safety and that of your passengers. Your shocks and struts help your car maintain stability and traction on the road whether you are stopping, turning, swerving, or driving over bumps and potholes. When these parts wear, they decrease your control of your vehicle during critical driving maneuvers, increase your stopping distance, prematurely wear or damage your tires, and create a rougher ride.

My air conditioning stopped working. Is this an expensive repair?

Many components make up your air conditioning system. A proper AC inspection must be performed on the vehicle before any refrigerant can be added to the system. By Ontario law only a certified technician with an ozone depletion license can complete the repairs and refill the refrigerant on vehicles in Ontario. Typically the cost of this initial AC inspection is about $100. That will let you know what component has failed or what is required to get you’re A/C system back in operation.
Though a functioning air conditioning system may seem like more of a “nice-to-have” then a “need-to-have” item, in reality, it is important to both your comfort and your health. In addition to blowing cold air into the cabin, your air conditioner also removes hot air from your car and dispels it to the outside, making it a much more effective way to cool your car when traveling at higher speeds. During our hot Canadian summers, our cars can trap and hold heat. Regularly servicing your air conditioning will allow you to maintain a cool temperature inside your vehicle to help prevent heat stroke, especially if you are traveling with small children or pets that cannot easily regulate their own body temperatures.

How important is my cabin filter?

Replacing your cabin air filter is a relatively inexpensive way to ensure the health of your passengers. This often ignored filter is responsible for filtering all the air that enters your car to prevent you from breathing in pollen, mold spores, dust, dirt, smog, and other pollutants. It also helps to keep debris (e.g. leaves and insects) out of your air conditioning and heating system. Your air filter should be replaced at least once per year and more often if you live in a dusty area. Anyone suffering from asthma or allergies should pay particular attention to this maintenance item.

Do tires actually have an expiration date?

Every tire sold in North America has a date of manufacture on its side wall. The industry-standard recommended replacement age is seven years. The reason for this suggested timeframe is that rubber does disintegrate over time. Usually you can see “cracking” of the outer shell on the side wall of the tire and in some cases cracking within the tread area. This is obviously a safety concern especially at highway speeds when you combine the weight of the vehicle including passengers and cargo with the heat of the road and the speed of rotation. All of these issues combined cause an extremely unsafe situation for not only the vehicle that the tires are on but also the vehicles that are travelling around the car with the substandard tires.

Do I really need to follow my manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for my car?

Taking care of your car or truck is integral to ensuring your vehicle is safe and reliable. Scheduling regular maintenance and service checks also reduces both your long-term and short-term costs, helps maintain your vehicle’s value, and can help protect the environment. If you are not familiar with your vehicle, its various parts and systems and what servicing is required, then maintaining your vehicle can seem overwhelming. Manufacturers build and design vehicles was scheduled maintenance requirements that are specifically developed to ensure the make and model of your vehicle operates optimally and remains safe and dependable. Your owner’s manual will have the details for your vehicle as far as the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals and requirements. Most service providers also have access to vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service intervals to ensure that the requirements are met to keep your vehicle within the required specifications so as not to void any potential warranty replacement issues in the future.

Does my transmission fluid really require replacement?

Today’s modern automatic transmissions are extremely technical and complicated components. Most are computer-controlled with electronic solenoid’s and are put under extreme stress with high-torque turbocharged engines and all-wheel-drive drivetrains that far exceed the requirements expected from older versions of the same component. Many manufacturers have vehicle specific transmission fluid that offer a host of requirements to enable their vehicles to operate trouble free and properly for many years provided that the fluid in the units are regularly exchanged. Additives such as friction modifiers as well as detergents and other additives specifically designed for these technological marvels do in fact require replacement. Most manufacturers have this gauged between 60,000 km and 80,000 km. Not all pricing is the same from dealers and service providers for this service which can often cause confusion and concern for most motorists. In most cases a “transmission service” involves draining three or 4 L from the transmission assembly and adding the equivalent fresh fluid to the transaxle. This is completed at most quick lube shops. The more expensive and arguably proper way to complete the service is through a complete “transmission fluid exchange service ” that involves hooking up a fluid exchange machine in line with the transmissions oil cooler assembly to allow the full evacuation and replacement of all of the transmission fluid within the unit. Small vehicles typically have 6 to 8 L of fluid where larger SUVs and trucks can take up to 14 L of fluid. If the vehicle has over 150,000 km and has a serviceable transmission filter assembly, it is always recommended to replace the filter which usually involves the removal of the transmissions oil pan assembly in order to gain access which of course is an additional charge. Your service provider should be able to advise you if your vehicle has one of these serviceable filters or not.

Does my brake fluid really require replacement?

Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means that it has the ability to absorb moisture/water from its surroundings. With our Canadian climate brake fluid within the brake lines and brake system of the vehicles on the road are exposed to extreme temperatures. This is caused from the actual braking of the vehicle as the services of the physical brake components get extremely hot including the hydraulic caliper’s that house the brake fluid. Over time, moisture can build up within the brake system. With today’s complicated modern braking systems that include expensive ABS controller’s, moisture can be the beginning of the end of the components. You may notice that your brakes seem to “fade” meaning that you have to press harder in order to stop the vehicle. This is a good indication that your brake fluid has a high moisture content. Dealers and most thourough service providers have the tools to properly measure the moisture content within your brake fluid. A lot of manufacturers are leaning towards specified replacement intervals such as 24 to 36 months for their vehicles in regards to brake fluid exchanges.

My vehicle is all-wheel-drive. Does it have any required maintenance?

The demand for all-wheel-drive vehicles from consumers in North America is at an all-time high. Most manufacturers have at least one model of vehicle in their offerings that has all-wheel-drive. The benefits to all-wheel-drive are of course better traction and handling which arguably means a safer drive. There is however downside to this expensive option when choosing a vehicle and that simply is the maintenance involved every 50,000 km to 80,000 km for most manufacturers. Some manufacturers have rear differential fluid replacement required at 36,000 km in order to maintain the vehicles warranty protocol. More moving components simply translates into more potential issues if not properly maintained through fluid exchanges, inspections and overall maintenance. Much like the automatic transmission fluid the fluids required in these in some cases highly technical components can be vehicle specific and extremely costly. Component maintenance is always less expensive than component replacement. Your service provider should be able to let you know what fluids are required for your drivetrain and the corresponding service intervals for the components involved.

Why is my new vehicle oil change service so much more money?

Many manufacturers have gone to a vehicle specific oil requirement for their engines. 30 years ago the most common oil was standard 5W-30, 10W-30 and 10W- 40 and these weights of oil went in pretty much every engine on the road be it foreign or domestic vehicles. With the high demand on vehicle manufacturers to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy we now have oil weights that range from 0W16 all the way to 20W50. Any good service provider should have the oil for your vehicle in stock which means they must have on average 14 different types of oil readily available for today’s modern fleet of vehicles.

An unwanted surprise for most new diesel truck owners who are looking to save on fuel and have therefore purchased a diesel powered unit are often shocked at the fact that their new half ton pickup truck takes 10 L of a very specific type of oil that is required to meet the manufacturer’s specifications in order to maintain the vehicles warranty protocol requirements. A lot of manufacturers have turned to the internal cartridge oil filter as opposed to the standard steel canister external filter.

The standard steel canisters 30 years ago maybe had 20 different types where as these filters combined with the cartridge style filters means that the average service provider has to stock closer to 100 different types of filters for the various models of vehicles.

A word of caution for anyone attempting to do their own oil change to save money.

Be sure absolutely that the oil that is required for your vehicle is what you are putting into the crankcase. You absolutely risk engine damage if you do not and if you think that your manufacturer will not know that the incorrect oil was installed you have not watched enough episodes of CSI because they have ways of determining what caused catastrophic internal engine failure.

Does my car really need a timing belt replacement?

A: Your vehicle’s engine regardless of year make or model is a very complicated machine. It needs to draw in air, push in fuel, ignite, expel the exhaust and then do it over, and over, and over again. You may wonder what that gauge on your dashboard is that says RPM and is ranked from 1-10 in most cases. That is your tachometer that tells you how many “revolutions per minute” that your engine is producing and its gauged times 1000. The average vehicle idles at 1500 revolutions per minute. Cruising down the highway at 120 km/h the average four-cylinder engine is revving between 3000 and 4000 revolutions per minute. This is really an amazing feat when you think about it and the big question is how does the engine keep everything… “in time” because obviously all it takes is one component to not be doing what it’s supposed to be doing when it’s supposed to be doing it and you’re looking at catastrophic failure. Not all vehicles have a timing belt, some vehicles have gears while others have chains. Your service provider should be able to tell you if your vehicle has a timing belt or not. If it does in fact have a belt they should be able to tell you the manufacturer’s recommended service interval for that belts replacement. Pricing can vary for timing belt replacement as most dealers will recommend replacing only the belt while aftermarket service providers will often recommend the timing belt component kit which usually involves a replacement water pump and accompanying pulleys and tensioners. The reason for this is the labour involved to replace these additional components is minor compared to installing the belt only and having one of these other components mentioned fail at a later date meaning that the entire job needs to be completed again at full cost to the consumer. The majority of modern engines that are driven by a timing belt are a zero tolerance engine meaning quite simply that should the belt fail the internal workings of the engine are destroyed and it means catastrophic failure and required engine replacement. Timing belt service while not cheap are still far less than the cost of a replacement engine.

How do I find an oil leak on my vehicle’s engine?

A: Modern vehicles have high compression engines that have several components attached to them to monitor their performance. The combination of these facts leads to a much higher risk of oil loss down the road not only through the gaskets on the engine itself but also through the seals of the various sensors modules and control units that are also attached to it. A good service provider will offer you a proper engine shampoo to clean off the affected area and then add a UV Dye to the crankcase and run the engine. They may have you take the vehicle for a few days in order to ensure that the leak is sure to show itself to them once you return the vehicle for its second inspection. Once the vehicle is brought into the shop the technician will use a black light and special glasses in order to determine where the oil loss is coming from.

Why are my back tires on my vehicle wearing funny?

A: The main purpose of shock absorbers is to keep the tires of your vehicle matted to the road. As the average shock has been engaged 8 million times in 80,000 km they do tend to wear. As the shock becomes weak and is not respond to road abrasion as it should it allows the tire to bounce as it goes down the road. This is usually not noticed by the occupants in the vehicle but you may see it as a vehicle driving behind or beside a vehicle with bad shocks. Over time the rear tires of the vehicle become worn to the point that the tire requires replacement. Only replacing the tire and not the shock means that you will be wearing out the new tires in no time. Shocks much like shoes need to be replaced in pairs.

I am self isolating is there something I should do because I’m not driving my car?

A: if at all possible it is always recommended to store your vehicle in a garage out of the elements. If you have no choice but to have the vehicle be outside be prepared to have brake noise once you start driving the vehicle again due to rust build up on the brake rotors. This will sound like a horrible grinding noise on the initial few stops of the vehicle due to the rust build up on the mental rotors. The next major concern is your vehicles battery being drained. Where possible you should start the vehicle at minimum once per week and let it run for at least 10 minutes to recharge the battery. The vehicle does not need to be driven nor does the engine need to be revved. Simply starting in the vehicle and letting it run at idle for a few minutes will recharge a battery that has been depleted. Modern vehicles have several components including modules that are constantly on and draw a very minute amount of power from the battery constantly . This is not an issue when the vehicle is being driven regularly but if you’re leaving it sit for several weeks you are likely to end up with a dead battery when you attempt to start the vehicle. Rodent nesting is another issue that needs to be addressed once the vehicle is ready to be driven on the road after sitting for several weeks. Quite often rodents will nest in a vehicle’s engine compartment as the engine allows for a seemingly safe and secure home for them. Simply open the hood of the engine compartment and check for any grass, foam or materials in and around the vehicles engine compartment. If found these materials need to be removed because they are an obvious fire hazard when the engine is running.

I’m looking to buy a used car what are some tips that I should be looking for?

Buying a used car can be a stressful situation. Once you find the vehicle that you like online and you go to see it in person quite often your adrenaline will take over as you are excited about the vehicle becoming yours. The best advice that can be given to anyone looking to buy a used vehicle is to ensure that the seller of the vehicle is willing to allow you to take the vehicle to an independent repair shop for a prepurchase inspection of the vehicle. A licensed technician will review the condition of the vehicle and give you an honest assessment on its condition which will take away a great deal of your stress. Once you have the assessment you can then negotiate pricing with the seller or if it’s a dealer have them any potential issues that you may have based on the prepurchase inspection. If the seller is not interested in allowing the vehicle to be inspected by an independent repair shop it is always advised to walk away from the deal because it can only be assumed that there is something to hide about the vehicle. Quite often people don’t realize that even with a Carfax claiming that the vehicle has never had an accident, the only accidents that would be listed on that document are ones that were reported to an insurance company or the police. Quite often individuals will have minor “fender bender’s” and avoid involving insurance companies to prevent a claim against them and will pay cash to the individual whose vehicle the damaged. This is where a prepurchase inspection can confirm that all structural components of the vehicle are safe and none of the components of the body have been compromised or replaced with substandard components.

I don’t want to have two sets of tires for my car. What is an “”all weather tire?

A: In recent years tire manufacturers have created a new hybrid tire that essentially is half an all season tire and half a winter tire. There are several makes in the market today that have several different tread designs but all make the same claim that you can have the best of both worlds for your SUV instead of having two separate sets of wheels for our Canadian seasons. These all weather tires are different grades and you can tell by the symbols on the side wall whether or not they are truly effective in winter weather such as snow and ice. If the tire has symbols of a snowflake and a mountain then it is considered a snow tire equivalent. These all weather tires tend to have a softer compound to enable them to remain functional as the temperature drops. If the all weather tires that you are looking at do not have the snowflake and mountain they will not be as effective in the snow. The downside to these tires is they will tend to wear quicker if you do a lot of highway driving during the summer months, again because of the tread compound being softer. Generally the tread design of these all weather tires is very effective for disbursement of light snow and rain and are an excellent choice for anyone who does primarily short distance driving in and around town to avoid having the additional expense of two sets of tires for your vehicle.

I’m looking for aftermarket rims for my vehicle. Is there anything I should be aware of?

A: there are several choices of aftermarket alloy wheels that are available in today’s marketplace. The main phrases you need to be aware of are “hub centric” and “multi-fit”. A multi-fit rim is mass-produced to fit several different types of vehicles. These rims are generally less expensive than other options because dealers and tire shops can stock several units of these wheels as they can fit a multitude of vehicles. The issue with these rims is you will need to purchase a wheel kit with them. This kit will contain plastic “centering rings” that will then make the multi-fit rim “hub centric”, meaning that the weight distribution on the rim itself will be evenly balanced between the wheel bolts and the hub of the vehicle which is what manufacturers want to ensure proper adhesion of the wheel rim to the vehicle. With these kits you will also likely receive “tuner” wheel nuts. Again because of the design of the rim, the wheel nut holes will be much narrower than the original equipment rim. On the opposite side of the spectrum we have the hub centric rims which are usually a direct fit to the vehicle. These avoid the possibility of improper weight distribution due to potentially lost “centering rings”as is the case with the multi-fit rims. The hub centric rims in most cases also use the original equipment wheel nuts so no additional parts are required. Thousands of sets of multi-fit rims are sold every year and overall they can be just as good as hub centric rims. You just need to be prepared to have additional components every season that you will be carrying around in the trunk of the vehicle and you will have to remember to let your service provider know every season when you change the wheels over where the wheel nuts are for the tires that are being installed.

How do I know if my catalytic converter has been stolen?

A: When you start your vehicle you will be startled by the extremely loud noise coming from underneath it. Most catalytic converters are directly underneath the passenger or driver seats. The noise is almost deafening and there is no mistaking it. Unfortunately in some cases the cost of replacement of these catalytic converters that are being stolen can be in the thousands. This is due to the highly sought after materials that are contained within the catalytic converter itself. Platinum especially. There are some aftermarket suppliers that are now selling ad on kits that can be installed to help prevent these steps from happening but are available only on a limited number of vehicle makes and models. Your best bet is to park your vehicles inside if possible as the best deterrent.

Why does my TPM S light constantly come on whenever it gets cold outside?

A: If you have aluminum or alloy wheels on a vehicle that is three years of age or older, chances are you have had issues with your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). With our Canadian winters we use salt and de-icer on our roads and highways. Over time these contaminants creep in between the rim and tire on the vehicle and moisture create oxidation. This is basically the equivalent of rust on metal except it is on the aluminum alloy. As the alloy oxidizes it creates imperfections and unevenness between the rim and the tire. As the temperature decreases the rubber of the tire shrinks albeit very minutely but enough to cause a minor gap between the tire and the imperfections on the oxidizing rim causing what is called a “rim leak”. You can confirm this “rim leak” by spraying soapy water on your tire and rim if you see bubbles forming at the rim and tire connection you now know what the issue is. The resolution to the problem is to dismount the tire off the rim, grind down the oxidation using a wire wheel, reseal the rim using a tire sealant, remount the tire, balance the wheel and reinstall on the vehicle. Typical cost for this type of repair is anywhere between $20 and $40 depending on rim size, type and shop supplies required.

What is a technical service bulletin?

A: A technical service bulletin or TSB as they are more commonly known in the car repair industry are information reports provided by manufacturers to dealers to resolve commonly known issues that may be found within their brand. Some of the information provided in these TSB’s reduce the diagnostic time on potential repairs because they make note of problems that have been documented throughout the dealer network on the resolution to repair various concerns. With the amount of components within every vehicle on the road you can imagine what is involved in trying to diagnose any one particular issue. Any good service provider pays for subscription to one or more diagnostic companies that amalgamate all of the various TSB’s for the different manufacturers to allow the technicians access to what the dealership technicians likely already know. In a dealership repair shop they may see the same issue on six different vehicles in one week whereas in the aftermarket repair shops a technician may see the issue only once with that particular vehicle and may take added time to resolve the issue if the information were not to be available. Some TSB’s also provide information on potential hidden warranties that an aftermarket service provider would normally be totally oblivious of. The ethical aftermarket service provider should then offer the resolution of the warranty repair to the customer.

My vehicle is making a loud humming noise that seems to change pitch when I round corners. Someone told me it could be a wheel bearing?

A: Your wheels and tires on your vehicle connect your vehicle to the road but what actually allows your wheels to spin freely on the vehicle is what’s in behind your rims and is what your wheels are actually attached to and that is the vehicles hub assemblies. Most modern vehicles have their wheel bearings and hub assemblies as one complete unit that is replaceable. These hub assemblies are a common fail part on vehicles because of the road rash that they experience while driving. Keep in mind every pothole that you hit in the road regardless of the speed that you are travelling, while the majority of impact is absorbed by the rubber tires the next component in line is the part that the wheel is bolted to which is of course the hub assembly and bearing. In most cases you will not notice an immediate change in tone or noise level directly after impact with the pothole. Usually the ball bearings or in some cases roller bearings are damaged ever so slightly and will start to break down due to the imperfection caused by the impact. As the miles added onto the damaged unit the noise increases to the point where inside the cabin of the vehicle you are hearing a rotational humming noise or possible buzzing noise. This noise usually increases in frequency with the speed of the vehicle and the tone of the noise changes when moving the steering wheel left to right. For instance if the right front wheel took the impact and your hearing the noise from the front, when you turn the steering wheel towards the right the noise should get louder in tone and as you move the wheel to the left the noise would get quieter in tone indicating wheel bearing replacement is required. Wheel Bearings can also fail with movement. Your service provider can complete a proper road test and hoist inspection to provide you with the proper answer.

Does my vehicle key fob have any special features that I’m unaware of?

A: Your vehicle’s owner manual will make you aware of any special features. Besides the obvious panic button that the majority of vehicle manufacturers have with the key fob as a safety precaution to be pressed in order to draw attention to you and the vehicle should you be in distress some manufacturers have some great options that are not commonly known. An example is some of the General Motors products such as the Cadillac key fobs. Most salespeople will show you the autostart feature on the key fob but they neglect to tell you that when you press and hold down the unlock button after hitting the autostart the vehicle automatically opens all of the windows on the vehicle. This allows the heat inside the vehicle particularly on a hot sunny day to be evacuated prior to entry. At the same time you can unlock and open the rear hatch assembly or trunk and load up your groceries or cargo while the vehicle is running with the air conditioning on cooling the inside. Some European manufacturers also have this feature on their key fobs.

Why does it cost so much to replace a fuel pump on my truck?

A: Full-size trucks and vans have fuel pumps that are self-contained within the fuel tank of the vehicle. If your vehicle lacks power or has suddenly died while driving but can still turn over when you turn the key chances are you have a fuel pump that has failed or is failing. Truck and Van fuel pumps as well as some cars have the fuel level sensor included with the fuel pump and sending unit all as one complete item. In some cases vehicles have an access hole under the rear passenger seat that allows you to access the sending unit from inside the vehicle. Unfortunately in most cases when a fuel pump/sending unit fails, it requires “dropping the fuel tank” (disconnecting it from the vehicle and lowering it to the ground) in order to gain access to the assembly. In some cases labour times can be in excess of three hours as skid plates, exhaust systems and in some cases drive lines need to be removed initially in order to gain access to the hold down straps of the fuel tank to allow removal from the vehicle. Your service provider/dealer needs to perform tests both on the fuel system and electrical system to confirm that power is getting to the fuel pump and fuel pressure is leaving the fuel tank as intended by the manufacturer specifications. The testing of the system combined with the removal of the fuel tank and then the ultimate replacement of the unit and reinstallation can prove to be very time-consuming which converts to a high cost to the vehicle owner.

A rodent has gotten into my vehicle and built a nest in my engine compartment. What can I do?

A: A rodent’s natural instinct is to seek shelter and a vehicle that is parked in the same location every day means easy access for a great new home for the creature. Mice, squirrels, chipmunks all love to get into vehicles engine compartments and build nests. The most common location for these nests are in the air filter systems within the vehicle including the engine air filter and cabin air filter compartments. Most modern vehicles have sound insulation throughout the engine compartment that makes for perfect nesting material. More concerning is that these furry bandits love nothing more than chewing wires as most manufacturers now have gone to eco-friendly wire manufacturing which involves the use of soy-based content. Unfortunately vehicle owners who bring their chewed up wiring to their dealer make it a sympathetic ear but no help when it comes to eating the cost of repairs. Your service provider or dealer needs to ensure that all of the nesting material is removed and it is strongly suggested that the vehicles cabin filter be replaced as a precaution as well as an interior sanitization through use of various cleaning sanitizers that are available to ensure that all excrement and odours are addressed.

I smell a weird odour at the back of my truck and see some kind of fluid on the inside of the tire what could this be?

A: the most likely cause of this issue is differential fluid leaking through the vehicles rear axle seal. The axle seal is located at the end of the rear differential at either wheel. The most common cause on today’s trucks and vans for loss of fluid is the rear axle seal. Most modern trucks are designed with the rear axle shaft going through this seal and eventually through wear and tear the seal will leak over time. When enough differential fluid leaks through the seal it will eventually get on the rear brakes. If this goes unnoticed the brake friction material will become saturated and will require replacement. Most dealers and proactive service providers will have an inspection process when the vehicle comes in for service to look for just such a condition with the intent to proactively resolve a potential issue before it happens.

I cleared snow off my windshield using my wiper blades and now they don’t work what can I do?

A: your windshield wipers are connected to a component referred to as a wiper transmission or in some cases a wiper linkage. This linkage is attached to a high torque electric motor. While this motor is designed to handle some weight quite often the weight of wet snow is far heavier than it seems. When you turn on your wipers the motor will continue to attempt to clear the windshield until one of three things happen. It successfully clears the snow off the windshield, it blows the electrical fuse in the circuit due to overloading of the motor or it damages the wiper transmission assembly. Most wiper transmissions are designed with nylon bushings that are a socket style that click on to the ball style of connector which allows free movement much like your elbow or knee. In some cases the transmission linkage can be popped back in place but in 90% of the cases once the linkage becomes disengaged from the unit it will not stay in place permanently as it was designed to and will likely come apart again at the least popular time in the middle of a downpour while driving on the highway is the most likely case.

What is the importance of having a prepurchase inspection completed on a vehicle that I’m looking to buy?

A: Purchasing a used vehicle can be stressful. Your biggest concern is not ending up with a lemon but how can you be certain that the vehicle of your dreams is a good one to invest your money in. Without question, the number one thing you should do is to obtain a prepurchase inspection from a licensed third party service provider. The service provider can be a vehicle dealer or a trusted repair shop. It is important that you choose a licensed facility because they will have the knowledge of what is required in regards to the provincial safety standards for vehicles. Most ethical facilities will offer a complete inspection report complete with digital pictures and print outs for you to provide to the seller should there be any issues with the vehicle. There is a big difference between a vehicle being sold to you “as is” versus one that is being sold to you “certified” . A vehicle that is being sold to you “as is” means that you are responsible for any and all repairs in order to make the vehicle worthy for the road. Quite often vehicles that are sold below market value and as is condition most certainly have issues that need to be addressed and the seller does not want to invest money in the vehicle to resolve these issues. Vehicles that are being sold “certified” are the better option; however, even though they are being sold certified they can still end up costing you an endless amount of money in repairs and maintenance that you may not be prepared for. As a perfect example brake pads brand-new have a measurement of 12 mm of brake pad material. In order to pass a safety inspection the vehicle requires a minimum of 2 mm worth of material. Depending on your driving style, you would be looking at a brake job within the first year of owning the vehicle of your dreams. The better option is to have the vehicle reviewed by a trusted and licensed technician who can then advise you on what costs you are looking at in the immediate future. Another perfect example is if the vehicle has over 100,000 km on the odometer. Most vehicle manufacturers do not require spark plug replacement until about this mileage range. In some modern V-6 engines spark plug replacement involves removal of the vehicles intake assembly which in essence is the upper portion of the engine. Labour times for this type of maintenance repair is upwards of three hours plus the cost of the spark plugs as well as the various gaskets required to reinstall all of the components that need to be removed in order to gain access to the spark plug assemblies. This equates to a bill of upwards to an additional $1000 of unexpected maintenance repairs. Your service provider can also advise you if the vehicle was involved in any undocumented accidents. With the vehicle on the hoist they can inspect the undercarriage and see if any structural damage or advise if any repairs were completed. Keep in mind just because the vehicle has a Carfax that suggests that no claims were made to indicate that the vehicle was involved in any impact collision, lots of people have been known to not involve their insurance companies to avoid an increase in their premiums. In cases such as this, most people will go with the cheapest repair possible and quite honestly may be the primary reason they are selling the vehicle in the first place. A licensed technician will be able to advise any common problems with the vehicle. They can contact a dealer to provide the vehicle identification number and advise you if the vehicle was maintained at the dealer level and if there is any outstanding recalls on the vehicle. Most prepurchase inspections are under $100 and are definitely worth every dime to provide you with peace of mind that the vehicle that your purchasing is going to be a trouble-free unit or in the case of the vehicle needing maintenance items being addressed you can negotiate those repairs with the purchase price. The most obvious is if the vehicle requires $1500 in maintenance service than the seller should be willing to address the maintenance items and have them completed before you purchase the vehicle or negotiate a better price for the vehicle so that you are better prepared to deal with them once you take ownership. If the dealership or individual that you are looking to purchase a vehicle from refuses to allow you to take the vehicle to have it inspected by a third party you should definitely walk away from the deal regardless of your feelings for the vehicle because there is an extremely high likelihood that there are issues with the vehicle that the seller does not want you to know about.

What is the flex pipe and why does it break?

A: A “flex pipe” is a portion of the exhaust on the vehicle that allows movement between the vehicles engine assembly and the exhaust system. All engines and vehicles are mounted to the vehicle on rubber engine Mounts. These amounts absorb noise as well as prevent vibration from the engine onto the vehicles body shell. The vehicles engine will flex due to torque on takeoff as well as when braking. This flexing or movement back and forth or up or down depending on the style of engine and mounting set up causes strain on the primarily stationary exhaust system that is attached to the under body of the vehicle. The flex pipe is designed to allow some movement between the engine assembly and the exhaust system. As the engine Mounts wear out over time there is greater movements of the engine causing greater stress on the exhaust system primarily in the flex pipe portion. Once the flex pipe cracks the loud exhaust noise will be heard and will only get worse. Flex pipes have been known to completely break away from the exhaust system if left unaddressed. If the engine Mounts are not replaced but you replace the flex pipe you can count on having to redo that job lightly within the first year as the engine Mounts will allow excessive movement that will destroy the new component in short order. On some vehicles such as V-6 and V-8 engines a vehicle may have up to four flex pipes.

Why is it important to have a licensed mechanic look at my vehicle once in a while?

A: of all the maintenance items that are the most important that you can do for your vehicle regular oil changes tops the list. Most people do not realize that quick lube shops are not required to have licensed technicians working on the vehicles. This simply means that you do not have the trained eye of someone who can recognize potential problems or safety concerns with your vehicle and advise you to have them addressed before real problems arise. It is strongly advised that you have your vehicle inspected at least once per year by a licensed service provider who can provide you with a vehicle inspection that let you know the true condition of your vehicle and can also allow you to budget your repairs accordingly and if your vehicle is near its end of life can also advise you as to how much time you have left to have a safe vehicle on the road.

Cheapest place to put on my snow tires?

A: in an effort to cut costs many people will seek the help of a “handy” friend family member or neighbour to complete their seasonal tire change on their vehicle without realizing the dangers involved. If you look hard enough you can find an individual who will “throw on” your winter tires for a ridiculously small amount of money in some cases if it’s a family member they might even do it for free. While upfront this obviously seems like a great opportunity to save money the truth is it could ultimately cost you or someone else in their life. More often than we care to count you hear about wheels coming off of vehicles especially in the mid to late fall and late spring and early summer. You ever wonder why there’s such consistency? Quite frankly it’s because unqualified individuals are installing tires. It should never be a case of “can you throw on my snow tires” you need to understand that the old adage “where the rubber meets the road” applies. The entire weight of your vehicle its occupants and cargo ride on the tires that are on the four corners of it. Each of these wheels is designed to be torqued to a specific tightness to hold the wheel on the vehicle. More often than not the people that are “throwing your tires on” have no idea to check the hub contact area, to check the date code on the tires coming off or going on the vehicle. To check for cracked rims unevenly worn tires let alone be expected to torque the wheel to the appropriate setting outlined by the manufacturer. Believe it or not over tightening wheel bolts can be just as bad as under tightening especially when it comes to vehicles that have wheel locks on expensive aluminum rims. The wheel lock key is not designed to be used with an impact gun to remove the wheel lock nuts. Once that wheel locks brakes the resolution can be an expensive one in order to get those wheel locks off the vehicle. Another concern for over tightening is you can warp your brake rotors especially if there is different levels of torque on your wheel nuts as opposed to an even unified amount. Wheel torque for the average small to medium size commuter vehicle is between 80 foot-pounds and 120 foot-pounds. Any more than that you run the risk of doing damage to the wheel bolts, studs or rims themselves. A licensed service provider will charge between $40 and $120 to change over your seasonal tires. The big difference is they know what to look for, can advise you on any issues they see, will properly balance the wheels on a dynamic balancer before installing them on your vehicle and will properly clean and bag the tires that you are looking to put into storage.

Does that tire puncture sealant really work?

A: The majority of modern vehicle manufacturers have gone away from supplying new vehicles with a spare tire and instead have gone to providing a puncture sealant and compressor in the trunk of the vehicle. The main reason they claim that this is being done is for cost savings and to reduce the weight of the vehicle to improve fuel economy. While this sounds like a great resolution you must understand that the tire puncture sealant is designed to get you to a dealer or service provider and is not intended to be a permanent fix for your punctured tire. The residue caused by the sealant will need to be cleaned and removed from the wheel before the tire can be properly repaired. This will come at an additional cost to you for the time involved. You will also then have to purchase another can of sealant in the event that you end up with another flat tire.

Why does my car need coolant flush?

A: coolant fluid exchanges are important because over time the coolant breaks down and the anticorrosion chemicals deplete and need to be replenished. Coolant over time can also become corrosive and can damage the various seals and gaskets within the engine and cooling system including the hoses. Sure to ask your dealer or service provider if they use a coolant flush additive that is designed to remove calcium deposits within the system to properly clean out key components such as your vehicles heater core assembly that is prone to this type of buildup. Best practice for service providers when it comes to a coolant flush is to utilize a coolant transfer machine that hooks directly into your cooling system to remove all old coolant and contaminants and replace them with the fresh new coolant that has the required lubrication qualities and manufacturer required specifications to perform properly within the engine and cooling system of your vehicle. Many manufacturers have gone to vehicle specific coolant which is why the colour of your engine coolant can range from Amber, green, blue, purple, orange and in some cases even red. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend coolant replacement service interval of about five years or 100,000 km. Typical costs of a coolant fluid exchange with the machine and 12L of pre-mixed coolant will cost between $120 and $300 depending on your vehicle make and model.

My car’s fuel economy and performance is noticeably worse than it used to be. What can I do?

A: Today’s modern fuels with ethanol create carbon deposits within your engine. These deposits can rob your vehicle of power performance and fuel economy. You probably won’t even notice these deposits until your vehicle starts to tell you there is an issue with a check engine light or rough idle or hard starting. The best way to resolve this type of issue is to have your dealer or service provider complete a fuel injection and emission system service. There are several different types of cleaning systems out there but the most notable service that the majority of dealers in North America use is the terra clean fuel system service. This machine hooks up directly to your vehicles fuel system and the vehicle fuel pump is disengaged allowing the vehicle to run solely on the cleaning canisters on the machine. This patented procedure thoroughly cleans the entire fuel and emission system to keep your engine performing as it was intended. Not only does this restore power and improve fuel economy but it also reduces toxic emissions because it is the only cleaner on the market that actually cleans oxygen sensors, intake manifold and valves as well as piston crowns and combustion chambers and catalytic converters of carbon deposits.

My brand-new tires are wearing unevenly is it a defective tire?

A: there is a possibility that your new tires may be defective due to a manufacturing defect but it is highly unlikely. To confirm whether or not that is the case you need to visit your dealer or service provider to have them complete a “ride control inspection”. Failing suspension components such as shocks and struts will cause damage to your tires. If the failed component began its demise three quarters of the way through your last set of tires, if left unaddressed it will cause the demise of your brand-new tires right from day one. A licensed service provider or dealer knows what to look for on your suspension components to ensure that your vehicle is within the manufacturers suggested specifications and that the vehicle is in proper alignment. Many service providers have packaged services that include an oil change with the vehicle inspection which should include reviewing your ride control system.

Does my vehicle actually require me to use premium fuel?

Premium gas is undeniably expensive. Gas stations typically charge significantly more for premium fuel, and filling up with it can take a serious toll on your wallet. With the price of gas on the rise, it’s tempting to only fill up with regular. Some vehicle manufacturers recommended using premium gasoline in their cars, though, and many drivers wonder whether doing so is necessary or if it’s just a way for oil companies to make extra money off the stuff that costs more per gallon.
Does using premium fuel really matter? Could failing to use premium gasoline void your warranty or damage your engine? The answers may surprise you. Keep reading to discover the truth before you next trip to get gas.
When a vehicle manufacturer requires using premium fuel, it is because that particular vehicle’s fuel system is designed to work best with higher octane gas. Using regular gas in an engine that requires premium could void your warranty. That is most likely to happen if using regular causes severe engine knock or pinging (premature ignition of the fuel, also known as detonation) that damages the pistons or other engine parts. Using the wrong gasoline may cause other problems, like decreased fuel economy and engine performance.
For example, here is what GM says about the subject in an owner’s manual for a vehicle that requires premium:
“Use premium unleaded gasoline with a posted octane rating of 91 or higher. If the octane rating is less than 91, you could damage the engine and may void your vehicle warranty. If heavy knocking is heard when using gasoline rated at 91 octane or higher, the engine needs service.”
Note that this applies only to engines that require premium gas. Some manufacturers recommend premium gas but say that regular or mid-grade gas can be used instead. They usually warn that using lower-octane gas could reduce performance and fuel economy. When that happens noticeably, or if engine knock occurs, they advise to start using premium.
Premium gas is similar to regular unleaded fuel. Both are made from crude oil and are highly combustible. One of the most notable differences, though, is that premium has a higher-octane rating. Most premium fuel has a rating of 90 octane or higher.
Octane is important when it comes to powering vehicles while preventing knocking. When gasoline and air ignite before they should, it causes an explosion known as pre-ignition, which causes a knocking sound. Octane refers to how well the fuel can resist pre-ignition. With an octane of 90 or higher, premium gasoline is less prone to pre-ignition or knocking. Premium fuel also contains detergents and additives that help engines run cleaner. The additives and detergents result in less pollution as well.

The computers that manage modern engines are able to adjust the ignition system to accommodate lower-octane gasoline — to a point. With regular gas, fuel economy and acceleration will likely deteriorate at least slightly.
Because regular has lower octane, it is more prone to detonation. Burning regular in an engine designed for premium on a long-term basis or under heavy loads can cause engine knock, and that in turn can damage the pistons, valves or spark plugs. Due to the presence of knock sensors and the car’s ability to retard the spark timing, you might not hear knocking, but that doesn’t mean premium is unnecessary.
Regular can be used at least occasionally without repercussions in most vehicles designed for premium, but it’s a bad idea to make a habit of it. Bottom line: Check the owner’s manual. If the vehicle manufacturer says the engine requires premium, believe it. Don’t try to save a few cents per gallon by buying regular gasoline. Doing so could lead to much larger expenses in the future.

When should I replace my shocks?

A: Clinical testing has proved that the average shock has functioned 88 million times in 80,000 km. Once the shock starts to wear it allows the premature demise of your vehicles tires as well as other key suspension components. Modern-day shocks are not rebuildable as they once were. They are designed for replacement only. Once the vehicle has reached the 100,000 km mark a regular ride control inspection should be completed on the vehicle. Weak shocks can also cause the early demise of front brake pads and rotors. This happened simply because of the weight transfer from the rear of the vehicle to the front because the rear shocks of the vehicle are no longer able to hold the rear of the vehicle. Quite often owners of vehicles with over 150,000 km find that they are having to replace the front brakes due to brake pulsation caused by overheated front rotors that warp. Shocks and struts affect the steering stopping as well as the stability of your vehicle and are one of the most overlooked items that require regular attention.

I want to change my own wipers on my car to save money. Can I do damage?

Changing the wiper blades on your windshield in most cases is not complicated but it can be very costly. A common mistake that can cost a lot of money is leaving your wiper arm extended off the windshield while replacing the blade allowing it to possibly come smashing down on the windshield inevitably causing damage that could cost a few hundred dollars. In the case of the BMW in the video link below... more than a thousand dollars.

Everyone loves modern vehicles that have ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist System) Lane departure warning... Adaptive cruise control... Park assist... that were once available only on premium models such as Mercedes Cadillac and BMW but are now available throughout pretty much all manufacturers including Hyundai and Kia. What people don't understand is that in many cases the cameras that are required to be able to operate these features are attached to the vehicles front windshield assembly.
When your windshield breaks the system in most cases needs to be calibrated with the windshield replacement. In the video Andrew covers how to safely replace a typical wiper blade. Again, for the most part this is not a difficult or lengthy repair; however, if you mistakenly make this common error mentioned in the video be prepared to pay for a replacement windshield.

How hard is it to replace brake lines on a vehicle?

Have you ever wondered what is involved with replacing brake lines on a vehicle? Our Southwestern Ontario Canadian winters mean snow and to combat that issue salt and deicer are applied to all major roads and highways. This inevitably means one thing for the undercarriage components of all vehicles that travel our roads... They will rust. Brake lines are usually exposed to the elements at some point in the undercarriage of the vehicle.
Some modern vehicle manufacturers have gone to a coated brake lines to try to prevent this issue from happening, but over time exposure will still cause corrosion and eventual failure of the component. There are many components in the hydraulic system of your vehicle's brakes. The brake master cylinder and brake lines are what hold the hydraulic fluid and allow transfer to the brake calipers or in the case of drum brakes, the rear wheel cylinders.
Typical cost of brake line replacement is 2 to 5 hours labour depending how complicated the system is and how much of the brake lines are being replaced. In the case of some vehicles a scanner is required to operate the ABS controller to properly "bleed" the brake system of air. some manufacturers offer premade brake lines through the dealer that save time (in most cases) on installation. The trade-off of course is the cost of the lines themselves tend to be much higher in price than the shop manufacturing the lines from scratch.
Other vehicles may require a reset of the brake system again with a programming scanner depending on what components of the hydraulic brake system are being addressed with the brake line replacement.
error mentioned in the video be prepared to pay for a replacement windshield.

I hit a pothole while driving on the highway at highway speed. How do I know if it damaged my vehicle?

So you hit a pothole on the highway doing about 110 km/h. it felt like a massive hit because it almost knocked the filings out of your teeth. You continue driving but you're just not sure if the vehicle has been damaged.

The first thing you need to pay attention to is how does the car "feel".

Is there a different sensation in the steering wheel? Perhaps the vehicle now has a shake? is there a noise that wasn't there before that may or may not be rotational in nature while the car is driving. Is your steering wheel off-center? Do you notice anything when applying the brakes? A clunking noise? A pulsation from the brake pedal by your foot?

These are just some indications of a potential issue with your vehicle after hitting a pothole at a high speed. Tire damage, rim damage suspension damage can all come from an unexpected impact at high speed and is not something that should be overlooked.

If you have any suspicions that there may be damage you should have the vehicle inspected by a licensed shop or dealership. They will likely perform a hoist inspection that includes running the vehicle on the hoist to complete a proper inspection.

What is a door lock actuator?

In today's modern vehicles almost all of them have "power door locks"... Yes... There was a time that you had to manually lock and unlock your vehicle using a key and your thumb and forefinger.

Today, the majority of vehicle manufacturers only have "key fobs" for their vehicles. Of course these gadgets lock and unlock the vehicle and set your alarm system in your vehicle. By pressing the lock and unlock on your key fob you activate the door lock actuator that does the job of locking and unlocking your doors.

The driver's door is the actuator that is used the most and can be separate from the vehicles door latch or can be part of the complete door latch assembly. These door lock actuators range in price depending on how complicated the vehicle system is and whether or not it is integrated with the vehicles door latch assembly.

Some vehicles will require reprogramming or "coding" of the door lock actuator to make it work with the alarm system on the vehicle.

What happens if I let my vehicles tire pressures get too low?

Many drivers don't give a great deal of thought to tire pressure, let alone worry about low tire pressure—but they should. Inadequate tire inflation can shorten the life of your car's tires, negatively affect your vehicle's performance, and maybe even cause a tire to fail. You absolutely want to avoid letting your tire pressure get too low.

Low tire pressure can cause a blowout. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of suffering a tire blowout knows how traumatic it can be. When air pressure gets too low, the tire's sidewalls flex more, and heat builds up within the tire. If the overheating gets severe, a section of the tire's rubber can separate from its carcass—the mix of fabric and steel that the tire is built on. If this happens suddenly, a blowout can result. A blowout is sudden and unexpected and can cause a loss of control that leads to an accident.

The biggest chance of this happening is when you're on the interstate at higher speeds; there's less of a chance in stop-and-go driving because the tire is turning slowly and not building up as much heat. Still, even at lower speeds, there are dangers. A tire with less air in it is softer, deflects more readily, and is more easily punctured by the sharp edge of a pothole.

Low tire pressure worsens fuel economy. That's because an underinflated tire has a great resistance to rolling. Think of riding a bicycle: When the tires are properly filled, the bike is easy to pedal. But if the tires are low on air, the effort increases dramatically. It's the same with your car. It takes more energy to move it when the tires are low, and that extra grunt comes from the engine working harder, which uses more fuel.

Low tire pressure hurts your car's handling as well. When a tire is underinflated, its sidewalls flex more than they were designed to during cornering and braking. The tread, the contact point with the road, squirms. The tire is less stable and has less traction. Response to your steering inputs gets slower and sloppy, and braking distances lengthen.

Low tire pressure can be especially harmful during an emergency situation, when you're trying to avoid an accident and you need every ounce of your car's responsiveness and cornering or braking traction. Low tire pressure robs your tires of the grip and responsiveness they need to help you avoid accidents.

There's a quick and easy way to tell if your car has low tire pressure:
• Locate the tire-pressure recommendations provided by your car's manufacturer. You can find these on the car's driver's-side doorjamb or in the owner's manual.
• Check the air pressure in your car's tires. You can use a handheld tire-pressure gauge; these are available for less than $10 at an auto-parts store.
• Compare the tire-pressure readings with the automaker's recommendations. The tires need to be "cold" for you to get an accurate reading, so take your measurement either first thing in the morning or at least three hours after driving.

Do I really need to replace all four tires on my vehicle at the same time?

The answer to this question really depends on your car. Most of the cars on the road today are front-wheel-drive, and a few are rear-wheel drive. These don't necessarily need to have all four tires replaced at once. Usually two at a time is sufficient. But all-wheel-drive systems are becoming more popular, and they do require all four tires to be replaced at one time. So for AWD vehicles, the short answer is yes, but let's find out why.

In vehicles with all-wheel-drive systems, including Subarus, Audis and Cadillac’s, the differential and the computer work together to send the right amount of torque to each wheel to minimize slippage and maximize control. If one of the tires is a different size than the others -- because three tires are worn and one is brand new -- the computer will take an incorrect reading and the differential will work too hard. Drive this way long enough and you'll burn out the drivetrain. Instead of needing a set of tires you will be looking at the cost of replacing your vehicle drivetrain likely at a cost of 10 times the cost of the tires.

There are exceptions, even for AWD vehicles. If the tires only have a couple thousand kilometres on them and one needs to be replaced, that's okay because it will be within the manufacturers recommended variance.

Also, if you need to use the small spare to limp to the nearest repair shop, that's probably not far enough to do any serious damage.

Remember to rotate your tires because it extends their life on any vehicle; but for AWD vehicles, rotating the tires also makes sure that the tread wears evenly and doesn't place a strain on the drivetrain.

Why is the price so different for seasonal tire changes from shop to shop?

The short answer to this question is it’s all about the details. Although the job seems the same for the task at hand which is to simply change over your winter tires and rims to your summer tires and rims or vice versa.

Some shops are more thorough in the process and can offer better value for your dollar based on some of the following important criteria that should be addressed with seasonal tire changes.

  • The condition of the tires coming off the vehicle as well as the condition of the tires that are going onto the vehicle. Are you made aware as the owner of any concerns with premature wear?
  • Is the date code on the tire being addressed?
  • Have you been informed of the tread depth of the tires coming both off and being put on your vehicle and any concerns in regards to how much life is left?
  • Have the rims of your vehicle been inspected for cracks or potential damage?
  • Have the hubs of your rims been cleaned of any corrosion that may cause improper torquing of your vehicles wheel nuts?
  • Have the condition of your vehicles wheel nuts been addressed?
  • Can your installer confirm that your vehicle’s wheels have been properly torqued to the manufacturer’s specifications?
  • Have the tires that you are taking home being put in tire bags after the wheels have been cleaned?

Not all shops or even dealerships are as thorough as some when it comes to seasonal tire changeovers.

My vehicle's dual climate control is not working on the passenger side. What could be the problem?

You want the vehicle you drive to blow warm or cool air depending on the season. The blend door actuators, also called HVAC actuators, control the position of the vents that control the flow of air into your vehicle's passenger area. When the blend door actuators are not working properly, this can result in the heating or the air conditioning failing to enter the passenger area.

When the actuator is not working, you will get either hot air but no cold air, or cold air but no hot air. The actuators are small electric motors that move the vent doors, mixing hot air with cold air to achieve the temperature that you desire. Most vehicles have two blend door actuators, one on the driver side and one on the passenger side.

You will know which blend door actuator is not working by running your vehicle's heater and air conditioning. One side will respond properly, while the other side does not. For example, cool air from the air conditioner might flow properly to the driver side, while the passenger side gets hot air. In this example, the passenger side blend door actuator is not working.

What's the point of having automatic transmission and power steering oil coolers?

An automatic transmission also generates heat from friction between gears and clutch packs and shear loads in the torque converter. The heavier the load, the more friction and heat is generated.

Transmission fluid (oil) handles that cooling task as it circulates to the transmission cooler, which in most instances sits in front of the radiator. That cooler positioning is because transmission fluid temperatures are the most critical of all the fluids.

Although much smaller, many modern vehicles come with a small power steering fluid cooler, often just one or two tubes across the front of the radiator.

Power steering uses fluid similar to ATF and when you’re cranking the wheel a lot as you would backing a trailer into an unfamiliar campground or picking your way along a difficult off-road trail, the steering fluid will heat up.

Oil, of any type, has a heat point at which it begins to break down. When that happens, mechanical problems manifest themselves at an alarming rate. That is why auxiliary coolers have good benefits.

Vehicle manufacturers and oil companies say the ideal operating range for non-synthetic engine oil is between 82°C – 94°C.

Oil coolers, whether engine or transmission, work on one simple principle: hot lubricant is circulated through a series of copper, brass, aluminum, or other good heat-conducting tubes that radiate the heat out to fins that are directly in the path of ambient (generally cooler) air flow.

As the hot oil passes through the maze of cooling tubes, its temperature drops. In fact, some coolers can drop oil temperatures as much as 20-degrees depending on mounting location, application, and vehicle speed. The cooled oil then flows back to whence it came and the cycle repeats.

The factory-installed coolers that come as part of a pickup or SUV’s “tow package” option do that quite well handling the heat

What do I do if my car becomes stuck and has traction control?

What is involved with the evaporator core replacement on my vehicle?

One of the most frustrating situations any car owner can experience is a broken AC, especially during those hot summer days. The modern AC system is comprised of multiple independent components that must work together seamlessly in order to convert warm air to cool. Of these parts, the AC evaporator is crucial to an automotive air conditioner. While this component can hold up against constant use for several years, problems can and often will pop up without warning.

An air conditioning system is designed to remove heat from the air. The job of the evaporator is to harness the cold refrigerant in its liquid state. As warm air passes along the evaporator coils, it collects the heat from the air and makes it cool. The cold air is then circulated through time cabin.

Two specific components that make up the evaporator: the core and the coils. When issues occur, in most cases it’s due to leaks created in between these two parts. Since the AC evaporator requires constant pressure to effectively remove heat, a leak is typically the leading cause of a malfunction. As such, when a major AC Evaporator leak is detected, replacement is the best course of action.

In most cases on today’s modern vehicles the AC evaporator is located on the interior of the vehicle up in behind the physical dashboard that resides between the windshield and the front occupant seats. In order to gain access to this component the majority if not all of the front dashboard of the vehicle requires removal.

What does an intake manifold do?

On modern engines, an intake manifold, sometimes known as an inlet manifold, distributes air to the engine’s cylinders, and on many cars, also holds the fuel injectors, just above the intake port. On older cars without fuel injection or with throttle body injection, the manifold takes in the fuel-air mixture from the carburetor/throttle body, to the cylinder heads.

The air is admitted to the combustion chamber on the intake stroke and is mixed with fuel from the injector, after which the combustion cycle continues.

Air is supplied to the manifold from the air cleaner assembly, which contains an air filter.

Intake manifold’s on today’s modern vehicles are complicated with multiple components that need to work in sequence and are computer-controlled through the vehicles onboard diagnostic system.

Fuel induction service... Does my car really need it?

The fuel induction service is a way to clean some of the soft deposits inside the intake system of an engine without taking it apart. It involves spraying a cleaner spray through the intake system. The fuel induction service is not a part of manufacturer-recommended maintenance, but it might be helpful to a degree in some high-mileage engines. Of course, it is not a universal solution for all cars.

This service is often recommended to clean the intake valves and ports in engines with Gasoline Direct Injection (DI or GDI). Repair shops and dealers may call it GDI Induction Service. In gasoline direct injection, the fuel injectors spray fuel directly into the combustion chambers under very high pressure.

Thanks to this design, an engine with a direct injection is 10-20% more efficient than a similar engine with a conventional port fuel injection. However, there is one drawback. In a port fuel injection, injectors spray right on the back of the intake valves, "cleaning" them.

In direct fuel injection, fuel is sprayed under the intake valves. As a result, in some GDI engines, carbon deposits accumulate on the backside of the intake valves. Deposits can accumulate on the tips of the injectors too.

This problem is more likely to affect vehicles that are used for frequent short trips, especially in cold weather. The process is gradual, which means it only happens at higher mileage. Bad gasoline, lack of oil changes and poor oil quality also make this problem worse.

Symptoms of excessive deposits on the intake valves and ports include running rough, misfiring when the engine is started cold, unstable idle and a lack of power at higher speeds. Of course, these symptoms can be caused by other things and need to be properly diagnosed.

Do all cars have direct injection? No, almost all modern cars sold before 2010 had port fuel injection. In 2019, more than half of all gasoline-powered new cars sold in North America have direct injection; others have port fuel injection. Car makers switched to direct fuel injection to comply with tougher fuel economy standards and emissions regulations.

How do I know if my vehicle requires a four wheel alignment?

Along with “wheel alignment” you may have also heard of the term “front-end alignment”. Do these two things mean basically the same thing? For all intents and purposes, yes. Wheel alignment may refer to the alignment of all four wheels, especially in four-wheel drive vehicles. Front end alignment only references the front two wheels. But no matter what you call it, getting your wheels aligned is something every vehicle owner should invest in from time to time.

When your car is first manufactured, the wheels are aligned, tested, adjusted and ultimately verified at the factory. In a brand new vehicle, there shouldn’t be any problem with a wheel alignment. But over time, most drivers will find that their wheels fall out of alignment.

There are various reasons for wheels or tires to fall out of alignment, most of which have to do with driving conditions. Driving down a poorly maintained road can cause wheels to become misaligned. Driving badly down these roads can make things worse. Hitting potholes and running into curbs can also affect your car alignment.

Wheel alignment issues may not be noticeable at first, but damage can still be occurring. When tires are even slightly out of alignment, it can accelerate uneven wear and tear on your tires. This means your tires won’t be performing as well as they should be, and you might have to spend money to have those tires replaced sooner than expected.

There are no warning lights or indicators for vehicle alignment issues, so the best ways to prevent premature tear, regular checkups are the best solution. What you might be able to notice, though, is a change in your car’s handling, such as the vehicle pulling to the left or right.

Other symptoms may include a vibrating steering wheel, or noticing that it is off center even though you’re driving straight. Any of these indicators should send you straight to a technician for an alignment check.

A tire alignment helps your vehicle in many ways, but ultimately it ensures optimal drivability. Not only does it extend the life of your tires, but it also helps your car drive smoother, and consume less energy, which usually translates into fuel savings.

Check out below the several benefits of having your wheels aligned regularly:

  • Your tires will last longer;
  • Your vehicle will drive smoother;
  • Your wheels will point in the right direction, which means you can cruise without constantly correcting course;
  • Your car will take less energy to keep going, which can save you money at the pump;
  • Your car will handle better, which means it will be safer

Unfortunately, there is no definite way to tell when your tires are out of alignment until you take your vehicle to an auto care professional. If too much time passes and the misalignment becomes so bad that the car no longer drives in a straight line, considerable tire damage has already been done.

This is why it is best to have your vehicle inspected regularly. Make sure alignments are a part of your routine maintenance efforts. To learn more, take your vehicle to a service professional and inquire about how often you need to have an alignment.

My engine is leaking oil. Do I need to be concerned?

While it might seem easy to ignore a few drops of oil on your driveway, it’s always a bad idea. Left unaddressed, a small oil leak can grow into a larger, much more expensive repair. Plus, if the leak worsens while a vehicle is in operation, it can cause the engine to seize. This can create a dangerous and hazardous situation for passengers in your vehicle and other motorists on the road. By getting regular oil change services, you can get ahead of oil leak issues before they worsen.

Common causes of oil leaks include degraded engine gaskets, leaks from the oil pan, or improper or worn out seals. An oil leak also can be caused by a loose or missing oil pan drain plug or deteriorated valve cover gaskets.

One of the easiest ways to determine if you have an oil leak is by using a dipstick to measure the oil level in your engine’s vehicle. Levels outside the minimum mark on the dipstick, indicated by an L, MIN, crosshatching or the lower pin hole, indicate that your oil level is low. Low oil levels can be a sign of an oil leak. Blue smoke coming from your vehicle’s hood or exhaust or a strong burning smell while the engine is running are other common signs of an oil leak.

Oil stains on a driveway or garage floor are unsightly – and an environmental hazard. Used motor oil contains a cocktail of toxic substances, and sometimes even pieces of lead, zinc and arsenic that have flaked or been shaved off metal engine components. If used engine oil is washed away by rain or irrigation water, these substances can seep into water or sewage systems. These contaminants eventually make their way into other waterways in the form of runoff, and can be toxic to plants and animals.

In addition to their environmental impacts, oil leaks can lead to major damage to your vehicle’s engine, as well as to its radiator and HVAC system. Accumulated oil can degrade the rubber hoses and seals used in these components and cause them to wear out prematurely.

Oil leaks are also a fire and safety hazard. If oil from a leak catches fire, or the engine seizes and fails while you’re driving, you or others could be injured. At best, a seized engine results in repairable damage. In other cases, the damage is so severe that the engine must be replaced.

Why are there different types of oil for vehicles today?

There are two main components of motor oil: base oil and additives. Additives perform functions like reducing wear and oxidation, cleaning up dirt/combustion by-products, and protecting against high and low temperatures.

Rather than adhering to the accepted 5,000km standard between oil changes, Valvoline recommends drivers consult their owner manual regarding both frequency of oil changes and what kind of oil to use.

“If you’re going longer (between oil changes), the contaminants stay in the oil, and that can lead to causing wear and other things that can be very damaging.”

For those of you who push the envelope – intentionally or not – by going longer periods of time between oil changes, you may think you’re saving money because of how specialized or high-tech oil has become, or simply that your oil is still clean enough. In reality, you could be damaging your engine.

You will shorten engine life over time by using the wrong viscosity of oil in your engine. It can also affect the variable valve timing in your engine.

Modern oil is multi viscosity. It means that it can be used during all 4 seasons of the year. Outside temperature does not affect engine temperature by any significant amount. The thermostat, radiator, fan and coolant in your car will maintain the proper engine temperature, whether it is cold or hot outside.

What is involved with a"smoke test" when it comes to diagnosing a vehicle?

Diagnostic leak detection technology, referred to in the field as “smoke testing” or “using a smoke machine” is used by technicians as a solution to time-consuming problems.

Here are some diagnosing jobs that can be sourced by a dealer or repair shop using a smoke machine:

  1. High pressure diagnostic leak detection is the only way to simulate the boost of a running engine. Most carmakers are using boosted systems to improve fuel economy without sacrificing performance so technicians must know how to diagnose turbo, diesel, supercharged, boosted engines. Most boost faults are invisible, only opening up under the pressure of a running engine. The only way to pinpoint those failed components – and avoid replacing expensive known good parts or causing comeback work – is to use a high pressure smoke machine. The high pressure smoke test simulates the boost of a running engine so you can test it with the engine safely off. The smoke machine diagnosis can usually determine a faulty component in under 15 minutes with 100 percent certainty.
  2. Use leak detection during preventive maintenance to cut fuel costs
    A leak in a boosted or naturally aspirated engine will cause performance problems and lower fuel economy. By using diagnostic leak detection in regular preventive maintenance, those leaks can be quickly found and repaired, reliably improving MPG. Using a smoke machine on your vehicles will not only improve fuel economy, it will lower maintenance costs by eliminating parts darts, and help technicians to fix it right the first time, giving customers better service.
  3. Use smoke and a diffuser to pinpoint wind, water and headlamp leaks
    Take the guesswork out of finding whistles and water leaks. Turn the vehicle climate control on high, fresh air, to create a positive cabin pressure. Use a smoke machine and the diffuser accessory to lay down a layer of fluffy, long hanging smoke along the outside of widows, sunroofs, gaskets, door seals. It’s easy to see the disturbance in the smoke, which pinpoints the leak.
  4. Run a smoke test after DPF re-installation
    Diesel particulate filter systems can be troublesome to maintain and a bear to repair. As air quality standards tighten, technicians need to know how to maintain and repair these widely used systems. Faults around DPF systems are caused by road wear but can also be accidentally caused when technicians re-install diesel particulate filters after routine maintenance and cleaning. Running a 10 minute smoke test after the filter re-installation is the only way to insure that there are no little leaks that are going to cause big problems.
  5. Use a low pressure smoke machine to find EVAP leaks
    Using a low pressure smoke machine, .5 PSI or less, to find EVAP leaks is a big time saver. EVAP leaks can cause the engine management system to throw on additional fuel, hurting MPG, without always triggering a check engine light. Searching for those leaks can take hours and be a guessing game. Using a smoke machine makes quick work with 100 percent certainty that the problem is fixed right the first time.

What is the importance of headlamp restoration?

Replacement of your headlamp assemblies is one option that would provide you with brand-new headlamps that in most cases have a replacement cost range between $400 to $2,500. The other option is to restore your headlights to their original factory condition but at a much less expensive cost than actually replacing them. With headlight restoration, you can save on average 85% off the cost of replacement headlights.

The covers on your headlights tend to age rapidly. There is nothing more notable than headlights that make a car look older & in bad condition than a pair of fuzzy, yellow headlights. Restoring your Headlights…there’s no one other factor that can and will have a bigger influence on the Physical appearance and safety of your vehicle. This is certainly much more than just a simple headlight cleaning; it’s a complete as well as long lasting headlight restoration.
There are hundreds of videos on You Tube of "Headlamp Cleaning" from toothpaste to insect repellent. Yes these backyard fixes may clean your headlamps but the results do not last and continued abuse of your headlamp assemblies by performing these processes on them over time will in fact destroy them.
“Headlamp Restoration” on the other hand completely resurfaces the lenses; mechanically wet-sand stripping them of all oxidation, professionally polishing them, and coating them with extremely protective and long lasting sealant…restoring them to their original factory like condition for years to come.
Original Clarity is the outcome of headlight restoration. This process will most definitely improve your car’s overall appearance. Most importantly, headlight restoration provides safety for the passengers in your car by improving their ability to project light properly.

With Headlamp Restoration, your vehicle’s headlights will once again let all of the light through, allowing your headlights to work correctly and efficiently.

Is brake service necessary and what should it include?

As long as their brakes work in stopping their car, many drivers think little about them. If you’re experiencing stopping issues, it’s time to think about what does brake service include and when should it be done.

There are actually no hard and fast rules on when brake service should be done. Brake repair should be taken care of as soon as you start to notice stopping problems. There are several things you should consider when deciding on brake service so that you know that you are receiving the best service possible and that the job will get done right.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the kind of brake repair you are getting for your money, such as: What’s included and what does it cost? Replacing just brake pads is a minimal expense, but if there are other problems, the cost goes up. Good brake service should include flushing the old brake fluid, adding new, replacing the pads, resurfacing rotors, and adjusting braking mechanisms. How long will it take? How far out do you have to schedule a brake job or does the shop offer same-day service? What is the quality of the parts used?

Ask what kind of parts does the shop use and make sure they are as high quality as your budget allows. Don’t skimp on brake components. How thorough is the brake repair? To fully inspect all the parts of the braking system (such as boots, seals, and bushings), the brakes need to be fully disassembled. There are other components besides the rotors and pads that may need attention, such as the pistons. However, taking everything apart is not only time-consuming, but it also increases the number of things that can go wrong in reassembly. Are there any warranties?

Understand the warranty before the work is done. Does it cover only parts, or does it include the labor, and how many miles or time period is it good for? How about free brake inspections to follow up on the work is done? How is your trust? You should feel that the auto shop and the mechanic are trustworthy. If you ask, they should be able to show you what’s being done and also to save the parts removed for you to see.

My vehicle is losing coolant... How complicated is a water pump replacement?

The water pump is a crucial part in your vehicle’s cooling system. It draws coolant out of the radiator and pumps it through the engine. As the coolant circulates through your car, truck, or SUV’s engine, it draws heat away from engine parts to keep them cool. Once it returns to the radiator, the radiator fan and outside air help reduce the coolant’s temperature before it’s pushed through the engine again. The average lifespan of a water pump is 100,000 to 200,000km. Here are signs your water pump is failing.

A dead or dying water pump cannot circulate coolant through your vehicle’s engine and, as such, the engine will overheat. The hotter the engine gets the greater the chance of serious damage, including a cracked engine block and damage to the cylinders, pistons, and head gasket. Don’t drive your vehicle if it’s running too hot and/or if you see steam coming out from underneath the hood.

Coolant Leaks
Coolant leaks from the water pump are common and a clear sign that it’s time to replace the pump. The coolant is stored inside the water pump using a series of gaskets and seals. Once these parts wear out, loosen, or crack, you’ll end up with radiator fluid leaking out of the front of your car toward the center. Coolant is usually green, orange, or red. Orange coolant could have rust in it.

Corroded Water Pump
Air seeping through a defective pressure cap, non-compatible or dirty engine coolant, mineral buildup, and even age can corrode your vehicle’s water pump. If you pop the hood of your car, you might be able to see rust or tiny holes on the exterior of the pump. If you do, it’s definitely time to replace your vehicle’s water pump, as a corroded or damaged one cannot operate effectively.

Whining Noises
Finally, if you hear a high-pitched whining noise that comes from the front of your vehicle’s engine, it could be a sign that the water pump is dying. The water pump uses a pulley or belt in its operation, and if this pulley is too loose, it will make a whining sound that some describe as harmonic buzzing. This noise is also caused by worn bearings inside the water pump’s motor.

My AWD vehicle vibrates under acceleration what could it be?

Bad carrier bearings, also known as "Hanger bearings" or center support bearings, can be felt and heard. If you feel a vibration under the vehicle when accelerating or hear the noise of a bad carrier bearing or u-joint like a spinning or grinding, we recommend inspecting the driveshaft and its carrier bearing and u-joints. If the center bearing is loose or worn, we recommend also looking at the rest of the driveshaft, like the u-joints, as there is usually another cause beyond the carrier bearings.

Symptoms of a bad hangar bearing:

-Vibration under acceleration

If the carrier bearing loosens, it can separate from the bracket and clunk as the driveshaft spins. Since the driveshaft will spin faster with the accelerating pedal depressed, you might feel a vibration as the engine works harder.

- Spinning or grinding noise under the vehicle

If you hear a spinning or grinding noise underneath the cabin of the vehicle, it could be a bad carrier bearing if the internal bearings are worn or if the carrier bearing or u-joints are binding and resisting as they turn.

-loose carrier bearing

The driveshaft sits between the transmission/transfer case and the differential, and on many vehicles it has two u-joints. On extended vehicles or vehicles with extended wheelbases, the driveshaft is longer and has at least three u-joints and a carrier bearing. The carrier bearing adds support to the center of the driveshaft, mitigating balance issues and creating less opportunity for flexing or vibrating under acceleration.

If the carrier bearing loosens, this can affect the rotation and balance of the driveshaft, creating vibration.

-Rusty, Worn, dry or binding carrier bearings or U- joints

If there is a problem with the carrier bearing, there is likely another issue with the driveshaft that is causing it. The internal bearings on the carrier bearings can dry out or wear, and this can be heard as a grinding or spinning noise if the carrier bearings are bad.

U-joints can also bind or freeze up over time from use and corrosion. The bearings on the u-Joints can also dry out, causing them to bind or create resistance from a lack of grease. If a u-joint is binding, it can create a shake that can damage the rubber on the carrier bearing and loosen it over time.

The rubber on the carrier bearings can break down and loosen over time from normal wear and tear but usually from bad u-joints. If the rubber is protruding from the seal in the bracket and is not secured as tightly, it’s time to replace the carrier bearing.

What is a DEF heater circuit and what's involved with its replacement?

All Diesel Emission Fluid or “DEF” systems require heating elements to prevent DEF fluid from freezing at temperatures less than 0 Degrees Celcius.

What is DEF made from? DEF is a mixture of (typically) 2/3 deionized water and 1/3 urea. ... Technically, urea is derived from one of the byproducts of urine. But it's synthetically made, so no cats are ever harmed in the production of the fluid.

DEF Heating Pots are designed to quickly return DEF to liquid form, ensuring proper flow through the lines and pump unit. If your diesel vehicle is operating in limp mode, or is not operating at full power, a common culprit is a failed DEF heating element.

What are the pros and cons of air ride suspension on vehicles?

If you’re searching for a new or used luxury car, it’s likely you’ve seen air suspension on the standard or optional features list. It’s also likely you’ve heard negative remarks about the feature — especially concerning its long-term reliability.

“Air ride” suspension, as it’s sometimes called, offers several important benefits that may be useful to drivers interested in luxury cars. The primary benefit is ride quality: Vehicles with air suspension are often said to “glide” over bumps, while traditional steel spring suspension can cause a harsher ride. Also, air suspension is often adjustable. That means drivers can select a cushy ride if they’re on a rough road or a harsh ride if they want to improve handling.

Another big benefit is that SUVs or trucks with the feature boast improved towing capabilities. In most of these SUVs or trucks, drivers can increase firmness when towing to account for heavier loads. That’s not true of SUVs or trucks with spring suspension, where large loads can weigh down the vehicle.

While air suspension may be tempting, there are two downsides, both relating to cost. One is the cost of buying it in the first place. In most vehicles — even luxury models — it comes at an extra cost. Only very high-end cars and SUVs such as the Mercedes and the Range Rover include it as standard. In other cars, it can be an expensive option.

For shoppers interested in a used car, the bigger drawback of the feature is maintenance costs. While air suspension is great when it works, it can be expensive to fix. And it’s not a feature you can simply forget about: If it breaks, the car can tilt to one side while moving.

I am considering purchasing a European luxury vehicle. What is the cost of maintenance?

So, you are considering purchasing that beautiful, luxury European vehicle, maybe a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, or VW – are you prepared for the associated costs of ownership, including maintenance and repair? Owning a European vehicle will be more expensive to own than a North American (Domestic) or Asian car or truck. What makes them more expensive (and is it worth it?)?

First, consider these costs of ownership when deciding whether to purchase a European vs. a Domestic or Asian-produced vehicle:

  • Purchase Price (plus interest costs, if financing)
  • Taxes and Licensing Fees
  • Insurance Premiums
  • Gas
  • Maintenance
  • Repairs

First, the cost of engineering, technology, manufacturing, and shipping will contribute to the initial purchase price of a European vehicle, which can be substantial. Although some European cars are built in the United States, most are still actually produced in Europe. The exchange rates, labor costs, and tariffs, which can be variable and unpredictable, are built into the price of the vehicle. Advanced engineering is what makes these vehicles fun to drive, as well as feeling very sturdy and solid. High-end interior and exterior finishes also contribute to that luxury feel and add to the price. Even the brand name of the vehicle adds to the cost – you will pay simply for the name of Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, or Audi etc. on your vehicle!

Be aware of published “Costs of Maintenance” for individual makes and models of vehicles. These are an average of what routine maintenance services will cost over time, and are based upon individual Manufacturer’s Maintenance Schedules. Be aware that manufacturers may extend the recommended time between oil changes to decrease these costs of ownership, to improve sales of their cars. For example, the “normal” driving conditions maintenance schedule on some European turbo vehicles calls for oil changes every 20,000km. Our North American temperature take a toll on engines, and the best insurance against having problems and expensive repairs is to do regular oil and fluid changes.

Given that the purchase price on luxury European cars is typically higher than our North American or Asian vehicles, it follows that taxes, licensing, and insurance will also increase. Check into these prices before you buy that car you have been dreaming about. Nothing takes away from the enjoyment of owning that really nice car than the surprise of unexpectedly high costs to just get it on the road!

Be aware that most European vehicles have specific high standards called out on oil and fluids that can be used in the car. These grades of oils come with a higher price tag, as they cost the automotive shops more to purchase and typically cannot be purchased in bulk. Belts, hoses, brake pads and rotors, as well as many other parts that are considered wear items and require periodic replacement, are more expensive for each specific European vehicle when compared to a comparable American or Asian vehicle. Even aftermarket parts (not Original Equipment Manufacturer -OEM- parts) run higher than a comparable part for American/Asian vehicle.

Diagnostic software that is specific to each European manufacturer is more expensive than American/Asian software. This software accesses the “brains”, or computers in the car that will give a technician information (diagnostic codes and pin-point testing, which tell him/her where to start looking for the problem. All of these tools add to the costs of maintenance and repairs.

Driving a luxury European model of car can be a great experience, and the superior performance and handling can make them a pleasure to drive. However, they are much more fun and enjoyable when you are prepared for the associated costs that come with that ownership.

How difficult is it really to complete electrical diagnosis and repairs on vehicles?

In order for service providers to be able to diagnose electrical repair issues with your vehicle they need to be signed up with more than one information provider. This comes at a cost usually paid monthly for subscriptions to allow them to gain access to the information that dealerships already have.

General repair shops work on more than one brand of vehicle and therefore need to have access to various subscriptions as well as have access to the scan tools and programming tools in order to complete the repair. Quite often what is seemingly a simple repair such as a power glovebox that isn’t working as an example can take a good portion of time to source the issue and then additional time to properly diagnose the fault.

Once that diagnosis is complete the repair itself is another story. Quite often on luxury vehicles the fit and finish is very pleasing to the eye to look at from the perspective of an owner or passenger but when it comes time to completing a repair on it the intermingling of components can be time-consuming to disassemble in order to gain access to the defective part.

Modern day vehicles are using more and more electronic modules, switches and motors which again from a consumer perspective are very user-friendly and convenient. Unfortunately; once they break the repair comes at a cost that is above average for most

How does the blower motor work in my car and how does it fail?

The blower motor is the fan that pushes heated or cooled air through dashboard vents based on the climate system settings and the fan speed selected. Adjusting the fan speed sends a signal through a resistor to the blower motor to either pick up the pace or slow it down.

The most common issue to cause blower motor failure is a blocked cabin air filter. When you have a cabin air filter that is not allowing air to properly flow through due to sediment and debris the blower motor has to work much harder in order to pull the outside air through the blocked filter. This is similar to trying to drink a milkshake through a straw. The harder the motor has to work the hotter the motor gets which inevitably causes failure of the bearings inside the motor. Another issue is removing the cabin filter for replacement. in most applications the cabin filter sits on top of the blower motor assembly. If the cabin air filter is full of debris it is very easy to allow the debris to fall into the blower motor wheel cage. Then once the blower motor is turned on the cage of the blower motor acts like a blender and the physical cage can become damaged.

The blower motor resistor adjusts the amount of current going to the blower motor based on the selected fan speed. When a blower motor fails, only a small amount of air will come through the interior vents based on the amount of outside air entering the climate system.

If the fan doesn’t work, before pointing the finger at the blower motor, check fuses for the motor to make sure they’re still good. Many vehicles have two fuses for the blower motor, one in the interior fuse block and the other under the hood. The blower motor is usually under the dashboard on the passenger side.

Blower motors that make loud squeaks or rattling noises may be worn out and on the verge of packing it in, but sometimes those noises are caused by leaves or other debris that can be cleaned out after the motor is removed from the vehicle.

When should I replace my vehicles tires?

Your tires look fine but, then again, they’ve been on your car a long time. So you might have the nagging thought: When should I change my tires?

In addition to a blowout or a flat, there are two factors that will help you determine when you should replace your tires: tread depth and manufacture date.

When the tread is worn down, tires lose traction during braking and won’t grip the road well when driving in the rain, ice and snow. But even if there’s plenty of tread left, tires should be replaced if they’re too old, at least every six years. That's because over time, the rubber will dry and crack, possibly leading to a blowout or flat tire.

You can measure tread depth by inserting ¼ into theTread in the centre of the tire with the Queen’s head pointing toward the tire. If the top of her head is even with the tread the tires are still safe to drive on but it’s time to start shopping for new ones. This will give you enough time to choose the best tires for your car and shop for a good price.

How often you should replace your tires depends on your driving — the more you drive, the faster you’ll wear down the tread — and other factors, such as weather and road conditions. But even if your tires have plenty of tread left, experts recommend that you replace tires that are 6 years old or older. To see how old your tires are, check the four-digit Department of Transportation code on your tire wall to find out when the tire was manufactured. The first two numbers stand for the week in the year it was made, and the other two are for the year. For example, if your tire has “1109” printed on it, then it was manufactured in the 11th week of 2009.

Finding the date code can be a little tricky. It’s usually preceded by the initials DOT. There are other numbers and letters after DOT; look for a set of four digits ending with two numbers that are recognizable as a year in the past.

Don’t put off getting new tires. A set of new tires can be pricey. But don’t put off replacing your tires, because they’re the most important safety feature on your car. New tires also can give your car a more comfortable ride, and some modern brands will even improve your car’s fuel economy. Check your tread depth and manufacture date, and you’ll know when it’s time to replace your tires.

How do I know if my heater core is going bad?

You don’t want your car’s heater core to die before winter. The core is what warms the air when you turn up the temperature. It also keeps the defroster’s air warm so it can keep your windshield and your visibility clear; well, as clear as possible depending on the weather conditions outside. Some signs that your heater core may be going bad:

Fog inside your car

Two things could be going on if you have fog inside your car. First, the heater core could be malfunctioning and, as such, the defrosters aren’t working. Second, the core could be blowing fog/smoke into your vehicle’s cabin. Both are bad signs and need to be checked into right away.

Sweet smells in the car

The sweet smell in your car might not be your perfume or the donuts you’re taking to work. It could be the heater core. If the heater core is leaking, it will blow the odor of engine coolant through the vents. Coolant smells sweet, almost musty. Many people say it smells like cotton candy, fruit, or maple syrup.

Constant Engine Coolant Loss

Speaking of coolant, another sign your core is going bad is coolant loss. This usually happens because there is a coolant leak in the heater core. You may top off your coolant only to find it low again the next day. Low coolant can overheat and damage the engine, so it’s important to fix the leak ASAP.

Heat on only one side of the dual climate control

A lot of today’s modern vehicles have what is called dual climate controls. That means that the passenger and driver can have different temperatures for their side of the cabin. If either side is not heating up or cooling off as it should one of the many possibilities is a partially blocked heater core. Most service providers can complete a coolant exchange using a flush machine and chemicals to clean out any build up in the heater core in itself. If both heater hoses are not hot going into and coming out of the heater core assembly that’s a good indication of a partial or complete blockage. There are other factors that can cause this issue to happen and proper diagnosis should be completed by your service provider before condemning the heater core.

Cold Air in the Cabin

The heater core has tubes that circulate hot engine coolant through them before the coolant is returned to the radiator. Air blows over the hot coolant to warm it before it’s blown through your vehicle’s vents. If the air is cold instead of hot, your core might be leaking all of the hot coolant out of the tubes.

Cold cabin/Hot engine

Finally, the last sign your heater core is going bad is a combination of the previous two signs. If you’ve got cold air blowing through the vents but your engine is overheating, you’ve got a coolant problem that can likely be traced back to the core. It’s probably leaking and starving the engine or coolant.

Is it worth getting a prepurchase inspection on a used vehicle that I'm looking to buy?

Finding the used car that’s right for you takes time, and when you finally find ‘the one,’ it can be tempting to rush through the buying process to get into the driver’s seat as soon as possible. Before you fully commit, there’s one more important step to take – and that’s a pre-purchase inspection (PPI)

A PPI is a vehicle inspection performed by a licensed mechanic or auto technician who will give the vehicle a thorough inspection to determine its cosmetic, mechanical and safety condition. The mechanic will pinpoint any existing conditions and highlight potential issues that could arise in the future, and will investigate to make sure any previous damage has been properly repaired. By learning more about what’s happening under the hood, you could end up more confident that you’re making a great purchase, decide that it’s not the right ride for you, or uncover some details to leverage in your price negotiations.

Basic inspections are largely visual, but if you’re looking for a detailed inspection (which is highly recommended) it should include an engine and mechanical system check, putting the car up on a lift and checking for broken/rusted components, leaks and more. It’s also helpful for the mechanic to take the vehicle for a test drive so they can assess its steering, braking and listen for any strange sounds.

epending on what you learn from the vehicle inspection and the vehicle history report, it’s now time to decide whether to buy the car. If you feel like it’s the right vehicle for you, go back to the seller to negotiate price. If you’re buying from a dealer they’ll take care of the rest for you, and if you’re buying privately you’ll have to check into the rules and regulations around finalizing a used car sale in your province.

A pre-purchase safety inspection is the final step in determining if the car you’re considering is the right one for you. By arming yourself with information from a PPI and a CARFAX Canada report, you can be confident about the vehicle’s history, its current state and potentially gain some leverage for your price negotiations.

If a squirrel or a rodent choose my cars wiring harness am I covered by my insurance?

When you think of animals that can damage your car, squirrels might not be the first critters you think of. But, squirrels and other rodents have been known to chew on car wiring, causing damage to a vehicle's electrical systems.

Squirrels—and other rodents—sometimes take shelter by climbing up inside a car, under the hood. Because squirrels teeth never stop growing, they constantly gnaw on things to help keep them from getting too long. Sometimes, when they're hiding out in a car, they choose to chew on the wires—which can cause electrical problems in your car.

How can you know when a squirrel has decided to camp out under your hood and chew on your car wiring? It isn't always easy to tell, but if check engine light is on, or your car doesn't start, those are possible symptoms. Your mechanic will need to examine the car to determine whether squirrels were the culprits.

If a squirrel does mistake your car wiring for a chew toy, is the damage covered by your auto insurance? The answer depends on the coverages you purchased as part of your car insurance policy.

A key step toward knowing whether damage from squirrels or other rodents might be covered under your auto insurance policy is to double-check whether you have comprehensive coverage. This type of coverage helps protect you against damage that's not caused by a collision—and that often includes damage from animals, such as squirrels.

Comprehensive coverage is an optional coverage on an auto insurance policy, although if you lease your car or are still paying toward your auto loan, your lease holder or lender may require it. If it's not required in your case, you may choose to add comprehensive coverage to your auto insurance policy, to help protect your car in case of damage or losses not related to a collision, such as animal damage, theft, fire and other causes. If you're not sure whether you have comprehensive coverage, read your policy or check with your insurance agent.

I am self isolating and/or will not bedriving my vehicle for a few weeks. What can I expect or what should I do?

As we all do our part to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 in our communities, social distancing has become the new norm. Many of us are working from home or, at the very least, not travelling or going out and about like we used to. This will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

An unintended consequence of this new normal is that many of us aren’t driving our cars as often, if at all. But given the unusual circumstances we’re living under right now, you might find that you need your vehicle at a moment’s notice.

Depending on your vehicle and storage conditions, your parking brake could become seized, brake pads could rust to the rotors or brake shoes could distort the drums. This is why we don’t recommend that you use the parking brake when storing your vehicle. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, simply place it in park. If the car has a manual transmission, place it in first or reverse gear and use wheel chocks to help hold the vehicle in place.

If you’re not going to be driving your vehicle for more than 30 days…

  • Wash your vehicle to remove road salt, bird droppings (very acidic) tire sap and dirt to help fight against corrosion and paint damage. The longer these things sit on the paint, the more time sunlight and heat have to accelerate the damage. Giving your vehicle a wax helps protect paint against the sun’s harmful UV rays. This is something you should do often, not just when your car is off the road.
  • Store your car indoors in a cool, dark and dry location. If this is not possible, consider a portable parking structure or “car bag.” Bags are great at protecting your vehicle from the elements and general dirt and debris. You could also try a high-quality car cover that keeps moisture out but still lets the airflow through, allowing your car to “breathe”.
  • If your car will be exposed to significant moisture, use desiccant packs inside the car to help keep everything dry.
  • Prop up the wiper arms so the blades are off the windshield and won’t get stuck to the glass. If there are strong winds the arms may fall back down but they shouldn't damage the windshield.
  • If there is a likelihood of mice or other critters where you are storing the car, you’ll want to seal off the tailpipe, engine air filter inlet and any other readily accessible openings with steel or copper wool (rodents dislike its taste). Just make sure to remove these items before you start driving again!

What is Walnut shell blasting for cars?

The process of Walnut shell blasting, which entails cleaning the intake manifold and valves of a car’s engine with a high pressure air blast of finely crushed walnut shells (a biodegradable abrasive), is meant to help clear out carbon buildup on older gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, thus helping the car run better.

GDI engines are designed to improve fuel economy by injecting fuel directly into the combustion chamber. But this configuration can cause the intake valves to get dirtier with built-up carbon deposits formed when trace amounts of engine oil seep past valve seals as a part of normal engine operation and then bake onto the valves.

Over time, these deposits can cause hesitation, poor drivability, or a check engine light. The walnut method of intake valve cleaning may be best known to owners of BMWs. That manufacturer offered it as a solution for certain models with GDI engines between 2006 and 2016, though GDI engines from other brands made around the same time period, such as Audi and Volkswagen, may benefit as well.

The process can be pricey because the intake manifold must be removed. 60% of the vehicles on the road today that have the new technology of gas direct-injected engines and the problems of Carbon buildup is causing real concern with vehicles that are not following their manufacturer's recommended service interval.

Common symptoms of carbon deposits include:

-hard engine starts

-rough cold idle

-decreased acceleration

-mechanical engine misfires

-Black exhaust clouds under hard acceleration

-check engine light on or flashing

A Canadian company called Kleen-flow has come up with some products that resolve these issues in most cases and absolutely help prevent these issues from happening. Ask your service provider if they offer the full GDI cleaning service which is a four step chemical process designed to resolve the carbon buildup issues within these types of engines. This process in clinical testing has prevented carbon buildup if the service is performed on a regular interval.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever found as a mechanic while working on a car?

We have hundreds of stories from over 100 years combined service history at our shop and of all the weirdest/strangest/funniest things ever found while working on a vehicle is in this video. Car repair Funniest Thing Ever Found | Oakville @ Urban Automotive

What is and engine and cooling system fluid exchange or a coolant flush?

The fluid exchange or fluid flush is one of the cornerstones of scheduled maintenance. The biggest reason your vehicle breaks down is certain parts in your engine get very hot, which can lead them to overheat and break. It’s the cooling system’s job to keep your engine at a manageable temperature so the parts in your engine don’t overheat.

Your engine can heat up to over 200 degrees on any given day. To keep this heat under control, there is coolant fluid in your engine that moves within your engine to keep it cool.

This system is quite complex. The cooling system includes your radiator, reservoirs, fans, hoses and the all-important coolant. When this all works together it keeps your engine at a reasonable temperature.

Depending on the vehicle, you need to exchange your fluid every 100,000-150,000km. or every 5 years.

Here are a few of the symptoms other than mileage that you’re due for a fluid flush.

Your engine overheating
You can see your temperature gauge jump.
Your car feels sluggish
Check Engine Light or Low Coolant Light may turn on

Another thing you should watch out for is fluid underneath your vehicle. As you car gets older so do the hoses that carry the coolant throughout your engine. If there’s a leak you will have a low coolant level, this can also cause the same symptoms.

When your coolant needs to be exchanged the old coolant is most likely dirty. If we only add new coolant, we don’t eliminate the problem just create more contaminated fluid.

Most service providers and dealers that do a “coolant flush” simply remove the lower radiator hose and drain the system of coolant. Some may or may not add a chemical cleaner prior to emptying out the system. If they do not add pressurized water through the cooling system and radiator and are simply adding fresh coolant to the radiator not all of the potential deposits within the system are being removed.

This is why a coolant fluid exchange process using a machine is the better option to take out all the fluid in your cooling system and replace it with new fluid. Be sure to ask your service provider or dealer if they are performing the service with the coolant fluid exchange machine to ensure the job is done right.

What is an exhaust flex pipe?

The exhaust flex pipe is a flexible tube usually made of stainless steel, which is giving the exhaust line enough flexibility during the movement of the vehicle. This helps to limit the cracks that could appear in the exhaust system if the pipe was rigid, or avoid damaging other parts to which it is attached.

The exhaust flexi pipe absorbs vibrations produced by the engine, preventing the other components to be affected.

The exhaust flex pipe is made in braided steel, which allows it to give this flexibility. The braiding can be double or triple depending on the type of vehicle: In general, a gas powered car will be fitted with a double braided flex pipe, while a diesel car will have a triple braided flex pipe.

After a certain time, the movements exerted on the flexible exhaust pipe by the vehicle will deform it or even crack it. The exhaust flex pipe could also get attacked by rust or could tear due to excessive pressure in the catalytic converter if it gets blocked.

What is an oil bypass valve?

The purpose of the oil bypass valve is to keep unfiltered oil flowing to vital engine parts even when the oil filter gets clogged

If you have the 3.6L Pentastar engine, found in Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles, at some point you will have this issue. When you or your mechanic are changing the oil filter, you may look in the top of the housing and find a broken piece of plastic with a spring. Or you will hear the part pop out after the filter cap is removed. This part is called the oil filter bypass valve.

You should know that at some point your oil cooler housing will need replacing, because over time it will start to leak oil. The housing is plastic and loses shape over time from heat. But if the valve is all you need right now, you can just replace the broken oil bypass valve with a repair kit that your service provider or dealer should be able to source for you.

What are wheel locks and do I need a wheel lock key and what happens if I lose it?

After buying a new car, you might want to go the extra mile to keep it protected. One of the solutions that drivers often turn to is wheel locks. Unfortunately, wheel locks often do more harm than good for drivers. So what are wheel locks? Do you need a wheel lock key?

Wheel locks are redesigned lug nuts for tires that contain theft-deterring sockets. They function just like standard lug nuts except they can only be removed with a wheel lock key.

Wheel lock keys are special sockets that match the unique pattern on your wheel lock. Without your wheel lock key, the tire, rim, and wheel cannot be easily removed.

Wheel locks only protect against the theft of tires, wheels, and rims. They do not protect against car theft. They are commonly confused with wheel chock locks and wheel lock clamps, which act as a tire “boot” to prevent vehicle theft.

Can you replace a lost wheel lock key? If you have the code to your key, a dealer or manufacturer can replace the key. Additionally, if you know the brand, make, or model of your wheel lock, you can often order a replacement key online. Otherwise, you will have to pay to have your wheel lock removed by a professional.

How do mechanics remove a wheel lock without a key? Occasionally, your auto mechanics will have a key that matches your wheel lock. However, it is impossible to maintain all of the possible key combinations in any given shop. As such, they often use special sockets that dig into the metal to grip the outside of the wheel lock to twist it off.

When removing a wheel lock without a key, it is easy for inexperienced professionals to damage the wheel. As such, it is important to bring your vehicle to a car mechanic you trust.

For most drivers, wheel locks are unnecessary and will likely cause you more harm than good. However, you might benefit from wheel locks in a small variety of situations, including:

  • If you live in an area where tire, rim, or wheel theft is common.
  • If you are worried about custom, expensive, or specialty rims being stolen.
  • If you plan to leave your car sitting outdoors and unprotected in areas with low foot traffic for extended periods of time.

While most drivers are safe without wheel locks—if you choose to install them on your vehicle, make sure you keep the key with you at all times. Otherwise, you might find yourself stranded on the side of the road without any way to change your flat.

What happens if you wait too long to change brake pads?

Generally, brake pads should be serviced or replaced every 50,000km, though your driving habits will ultimately determine exactly how long the parts last. For one reason or another, though, some people ignore the signs that their brake pads are failing and continue driving with them. In addition to risking brake failure, you can do some expensive damage to your vehicle that way.

Most people don't have the first idea about how their vehicles work, so it's not surprising that they may not know that the purpose of brake pads is to protect the rotor. When you apply the brakes, the brake pads press against the rotor to generate friction that slows the car down to a stop. These pads help to distribute the heat produced by this friction.

If brake pads are allowed to wear down to less than 5mm, a couple of things will happen to the rotor.

First, the brake pads are attached to what are essentially metal clamps -- which will begin grinding against the rotor. This can cause the rotor to warp or break.

Second, the lack of brake pads means the heat from the friction won't disperse correctly, which could cause the whole braking system to overheat and fail.

If things get really bad, you can also damage the brake calipers. These are the metal plates that hold the brake pads and press them against the rotor. When the brake pads deteriorate to the point where the calipers are grinding against the rotor, the calipers can be destroyed right along with the rotor. Additionally, the pistons that push the calipers into position may pop out of place.

The cost of replacing the calipers varies depending on the type of vehicle you drive.

It's not worth risking your safety by waiting to replace your brake pads, and you may end up doing more damage and paying more due to your delay. Most professional service centres or dealers offer a brake inspection/oil change package that can advise you as to the state and condition of your brake pads and braking system in general.

This type of brake inspection cannot be completed without the removal of your wheels and therefore cannot be done at quick lube/ lube Centre/ fast oil change locations.

My vehicle is all-wheel-drive how important is it to do a transfer case service?

If you own a four-wheel-drive or an all-wheel drive vehicle, you probably know that the power transfers between the axles when needed for optimum maneuvering in difficult driving conditions. This transfer of power is accomplished by the transfer case.

A transfer case is a gearbox component of the drivetrain in four-wheel-drive and AWD vehicles. In four-wheel drive vehicles it transfers power from the transmission to the front and rear axles, and in AWD vehicles the transfer case moves power between the axles, according to which wheels are receiving the most traction.

Fluid in the transfer case keeps the gears cool and allows them to run smoothly. The additives in the fluid eventually break down, and fluid may even leak from a seal in the case. If it is time to change the fluid, or you notice signs of possible problems with the transfer case have your service provider complete a transfer case service for you.

Many manufacturers use vehicle specific fluid in the transfer case assembly. Some use gear oil, others automatic transmission fluid and others even more specific fluid designed specifically for their vehicles it’s important that if a transfer case service is required or suggested that your service provider confirm that they are able to provide you with the proper fluid for your particular year make and model of vehicle.

My rear tires are worn down very irregularly what is the cause?

When your vehicle’s shocks and struts are worn out, the car can bounce, causing a reduction in road holding force. This bouncing can also cause accelerated tire wear including cupping or scalloping of the tires (when pieces of rubber are gouged out of the tire).

Like most safety-critical chassis components, shocks and struts wear out so gradually over the course of normal operation that the negative effects - reduced steering precision, stopping performance and/or vehicle stability - might not be easily recognized in normal driving conditions. The rate of wear depends on a wide range of variables, such as road and environmental conditions, your driving style and vehicle load.

While shocks and struts wear out gradually, your vehicle may give you some signs that there is something wrong with its ride control components. Worn shocks and struts can have a detrimental effect on steering, stopping and the stability of your vehicle. If your vehicle is displaying any of these symptoms, it’s time to make an appointment with your service provider for a Safety Triangle Inspection of your suspension system.

Can oil leaks from my engine damage other components on my vehicle?

While it might seem easy to ignore a few drops of oil on your driveway, it’s always a bad idea. Left unaddressed, a small oil leak can grow into a larger, much more expensive repair. Plus, if the leak worsens while a vehicle is in operation, it can cause the engine to seize. This can create a dangerous and hazardous situation for passengers in your vehicle and other motorists on the road. By getting regular oil change services, you can get ahead of oil leak issues before they worsen.

Common causes of oil leaks include degraded engine gaskets, leaks from the oil pan, or improper or worn out seals. An oil leak also can be caused by a loose or missing oil pan drain plug or deteriorated valve cover gaskets.

One of the easiest ways to determine if you have an oil leak is by using a dipstick to measure the oil level in your engine’s vehicle. Levels outside the minimum mark on the dipstick, indicated by an L, MIN, crosshatching or the lower pin hole, indicate that your oil level is low. Low oil levels can be a sign of an oil leak. Blue smoke coming from your vehicle’s hood or exhaust or a strong burning smell while the engine is running are other common signs of an oil leak.

Oil stains on a driveway or garage floor are unsightly – and an environmental hazard. Used motor oil contains a cocktail of toxic substances, and sometimes even pieces of lead, zinc and arsenic that have flaked or been shaved off metal engine components. If used engine oil is washed away by rain or irrigation water, these substances can seep into water or sewage systems. These contaminants eventually make their way into other waterways in the form of runoff, and can be toxic to plants and animals.

In addition to their environmental impacts, oil leaks can lead to major damage to your vehicle’s engine, as well as to its radiator and HVAC system. Accumulated oil can degrade the rubber hoses and seals used in these components and cause them to wear out prematurely.

Oil leaks are also a fire and safety hazard.

If oil from a leak catches fire, or the engine seizes and fails while you’re driving, you or others could be injured. At best, a seized engine results in repairable damage. In other cases, the damage is so severe that the engine must be replaced.

Why should you change your timing belt and water pump together on your diesel engine vehicle.

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, most understand the basics. Change the oil, check the brakes , regular washes etc. But not every vehicle on the road works the same way. A diesel engine doesn’t work like a gasoline engine, for instance. Also, somewhere items, like the clutch are hidden from easy sight. Or, they have such long service intervals that owners can forget about them. That is until something goes wrong. One of these is the timing belt. And, oftentimes, when you go to replace it, it’s recommended you replace the water pump, too. the timing belt sometimes pulls double-duty. Not only does it keep the crankshaft and camshaft(s) synced, it sometimes also drives the water pump.

Technically, replacing the water pump with the timing belt isn’t strictly necessary, if your coolant isn’t leaking and your engine isn’t overheating, the water pump is still fine. However, there are some reasons why replacing the water pump and timing belt together is a good idea.

For one, the water pump’s lifespan is typically 100,000-160,000km and if the timing belt fails, whether due to simple age, or the failure of a tension pulley or bearing, the water pump will likely fail along with it. The water pump isn’t easy to get at. In fact in the case of timing belt driven water pumps, you can’t get at the water pump without first exposing the timing belt. So, if you’re already changing the belt, it’s very little added work to replace the pump at the same time.

What is the difference between Dex-Cool and regular coolant?

Are you looking to top off your car with antifreeze before the winter? This is always a good idea, but if you are doing it yourself you may be wondering which antifreeze is right for your car and what’s the difference between Dex-Cool and regular antifreeze? We will answer all these questions and more!

Pouring Dex-Cool coolant into a GM vehicle Do Chevy and GM vehicles use a particular type of coolant?
For a couple decades now, GM has used a type of coolant known as Dex-Cool. Despite not being called antifreeze, it still accomplishes the same task, so you don’t have to worry about replacing Dex-Cool for the winter months or anything like that. The main way to tell the difference between Dex-Cool and regular antifreeze is that Dex-Cool is typically orange, whereas antifreeze is usually green.

Are there advantages to Dex-Cool?
Why did Chevy and GM make the change over to Dex-Cool? The idea was simple really Dex-Cool lasts longer than traditional antifreeze. In fact, most owner’s manuals put the change interval at 5 years or 100,000 miles or even longer for Dex-Cool.

Can you mix other coolants with Dex-Cool?
Technically, you can mix coolant types, but before you go ahead and do it, let’s cover some things. Firstly, Dex-Cool and traditional anti-freeze don’t mix well. Though they can work together in a pinch, after extended use, they can react and create a gel, which can be very damaging to multiple components of your cooling system.

For that reason, the best thing for your Chevy or GM vehicle is to stick with Dex-Cool. There are a few alternatives out there though. Currently, many coolant producers make solutions that aren’t Dex-Cool but are safe to mix with Dex-Cool. Make sure to read your manual and the label on the coolant that you would like to add thoroughly.

Why is your coolant low?
Before we send you on your way, let’s look into the heart of the issue. Why is your coolant low in the first place? This question could require a mechanic to answer.

It may be something as simple as a leak, but it could also be the first symptom of a much more major problem. If your coolant level seems to drop over the course of a week or even a month, you should take it to a trusted mechanic.

What are the benefits of regularly changing my car's cabin filter?

The cabin air filter is an often-overlooked vehicle component. It’s typically checked when you bring in your car for an oil change. Most customers decline to get it replaced, whether it’s because they don’t know how important it is, or because the oil service center is overcharging for the filter. However, changing your cabin air filter can make a huge difference in your vehicle’s performance. Read on to find four of the top reasons you should consider regularly changing out your car’s cabin air filter.


Pollution is the most commonly cited reason to regularly change out your cabin air filter, because the filter is basically all that stands between the exterior air of the road and interior air of your car. The filter blocks a lot of the smog and dirty exhaust let out by other vehicles on the road. Regularly changing out your air filter helps ensure these undesirable pollutants don’t find their way into your car’s cabin.


It seems unlikely to find twigs and leaves inside your cabin air filter — these are larger objects that many assume wouldn’t get sucked into the filter. However, many drivers find their air filters clogged with leaves, twigs, acorns, and other natural debris, especially if they park in areas with lots of trees or bushes. These can have a huge effect on the efficacy of your air system, and need to be removed.


Besides just pollutants and debris, cabin air filters also help drastically reduce the amount of allergens that can get into your vehicle. Pollen could easily get into your vehicle without the air filter, and the less often you change your filter, the more pollen will build up, which could cause more of it to get into your vehicle.

Allergens building up in your cabin air filter is more common in states that have massive pollen seasons, particularly areas with a large amount of oak trees. Regardless of where you live, however, it’s important to change your air filter so that you don’t have to deal with any allergens getting into your vehicle.

Reduced Efficacy

When your cabin air filter is dirty, your air conditioner has to work harder to push cool air through the filter. This can result in a noisy or ineffective air conditioning system. This can be a huge pain during those hot summer months — if your air filter is full of debris and dirt, it’ll take way longer for your cabin to cool down.

Engine Strain

Because your air conditioner or heater has to work harder to cool or heat your car’s cabin, your engine has to work harder to power these systems. Surprisingly, having a clogged filter can actually impact your fuel efficiency because your engine is having to put out more energy than it should.

Ideally you should get your cabin air filter changed every 20,000 km, but it’s a good idea to consult your manual. Many vehicles have difficult-to-access filters, so its best to bring your car into the shop to get the filter changed out!

Why are my luxury/performance vehicles rims constantly covered in black soot?

Have you noticed black flecks or “Soot” on your wheels? You might have brake dust. While brake dust can make your wheels a little unsightly, your brakes are probably just fine.

If you see brake dust on your wheels and you and you aren’t familiar with it, you might worry your brakes are wearing, or, worse, not working. If you’ve just invested in shiny new wheels, you might not like how brake dust can make your wheels look grimy.

Fortunately, brake dust is not a sign your brakes are failing. It’s simply the result of different materials being used on today’s brake pads and rotors.

What causes brake dust?

Over the years, as vehicles get lighter and environmental concerns grow, the formulation of brake pads has changed. Getting the right formula to maximize brake pad life and brake performance as well as reduce brake noise is a challenge.

Unfortunately, brake pad wear is unavoidable, and brake dust is a by-product of brake wear.

When your brake pads heat up, their metallic particles get a static charge as they wear off the surface of the pad. That’s how the dark, metallic dust sticks to the wheels, both steel and alloy, as well as other parts of your vehicle. Plus, those petroleum adhesives can turn into a film that hangs on to your wheels.

Brake dust is also caused by brake rotors containing cast iron. When your rotors wear down, the iron particles also get a static charge as they wear off the rotors and cling to surfaces like your wheels.

What can break dust due to your vehicle?

For the most part, brake dust is an unattractive annoyance we can clean and learn to live with.

However, there is the possibility that brake dust can become corrosive. It’ll depend on which chemicals went into the make-up of your brake pads, but if the dust has a chance to corrode the aluminium in your wheels, the damage can be permanent.

What can you do about brake dust?

The best thing to do is clean your wheels regularly. Fortunately, brake dust can be wiped away.

What is a Cadillac CUE System?

Cadillac CUE, a comprehensive in-vehicle experience that merges intuitive design with auto industry-first controls and commands for information and entertainment data.

CUE, which stands for Cadillac User Experience, pairs entertainment and information data from up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices, USBs, SD cards and MP3 players with a vehicle infotainment system that reduces complexity through customized information, natural voice commands and fewer buttons and larger icons

For example, most of today’s luxury cars have around 20 buttons controlling the radio and entertainment functions. CUE reduces that to just four buttons.

CUE doesn’t replace your smartphone or your iPod, Rather it allows consumers to securely store those mobile devices while channeling the information on those devices, along with your navigation tools, weather maps with Doppler radar, AM/FM and XM radio, instant messages and emails, through a central portal in your Cadillac, keeping hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

The heart of CUE is the 8-inch LCD touch screen, seamlessly integrated into the top of the central instrument panel and a motorized fully capacitive faceplate at the bottom concealing a 1.8L storage area. The vibrant LCD screen displays CUE’s home page, which resembles a smart phone’s screen by using large, easy-to-target icons to ex ecute commands. Capacitive refers to using electrodes to sense the conductive properties of objects, such as a finger.

CUE is a very elegant in-vehicle hub of all the information and entertainment in your life. All of CUE’s controls use the same design vernac­ular to create a harmony unique to Cadillac, with vibrant colors, a piano black face plate, precision-milled buttons, intuitive touch screen placement and sculpted front console provide a spacious, fashion-forward cabin.

When CUE first came out in 2012 it featured several auto industry firsts.

  • Proximity Sensing: As the user’s hand approaches the LCD screen, command icons appear. Icons can be customized and arranged by consumers to improve ease of use.
  • Haptic Feedback: Buttons on the fully capacitive faceplate pulse when pressed to acknowledge the driver’s commands and helps keep the driver’s eyes on the road.
  • Multi-Touch Hand Gestures: interactive motions (tap, flick, swipe and spread) popularized by smartphones and tablets allow tasks on the LCD screen, such as scrolling lists, zooming maps and searching favorites to be easily accomplished.
  • 12.3 in. LCD reconfigurable gauge cluster (on select models) offers four selectable displays – Simple, Enhanced, Balanced and Performance – that can mix traditional vehicle data such as a speedometer and fuel gauge with navigation, entertainment and 3D vehicle image.
  • Natural Speech Recognition lets consumers speak logically with fewer specific commands to recall stored media or input navigation destinations. CUE’s text-to-speech feature will also allow consumers to receive text messages by system voice and to send recorded text messages in return.
  • Linux operating system, “open” software platform and ARM 11 3-core processor, each operating at 400 million of instructions (mips) per second. This hardware setup offers 3.5 times more processing power than current infotainment systems, and allow developers to write applications to CUE that be downloaded by consumers.

How do I know if I need a brake line replacement?

Have you spotted a puddle of brake fluid under your car? Or is your brake light glowing, and you’ve noticed an unusual level of unresponsiveness in your brakes?

You know that something’s wrong with your brakes, but what could it be?

The braking system is an incredibly vital component of your car. If there are issues with the brakes, it’s best to get them checked ASAP.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, chances are you’re facing a brake line issue, and you’re going to need a brake line replacement.

The brake line is a steel line that plays a crucial role in the functioning of the entire braking system.

Here’s a breakdown of how your brake system works:

When you press down on the brake pedal, it transmits pressure to the master cylinder, which then forces brake fluid along the brake line (also known as a brake pipe or brake tubing).

The fluid then travels to the cylinders located at each wheel, engaging the braking mechanism.

The caliper and brake pads will then squeeze the brake rotor to a stop.

If your car uses drum brakes (that don’t use brake rotors), the wheel cylinder activates your brake shoes to slow the wheel.

What about the brake hose? Is it the same thing as your metal brake line?


The steel brake line is a rigid pipe – a lot like fuel lines and connected to your fuel tank.

On the other hand, the brake hose is typically a rubber hose that connects the hard brake line to your brake’s moving parts like the brake caliper.

Rubber brake lines are flexible as they move with the wheel suspension. Sometimes, instead of rubber lines, you’ll even find a flexible stainless steel braided hose instead. These supple stainless steel lines are more durable than the rubber hose – helping you avoid replacing them too often.

Brake failure can occur due to various reasons — with a broken brake line being one of the potential causes.

When your brake line is damaged, the hydraulics won’t function as the brake fluid can’t reach the tire’s braking mechanism.

To prevent complete brake failure from happening, most brake systems have two separate circuits – creating a split braking system.

The circuits can be either:

  • Front/rear: One set of brake lines controls the front brakes, and the second set controls rear brakes.
  • Diagonal: One set of brake lines controls the right-front and left-rear brakes, and the second set controls the left-front and right-rear brakes.

This way, if one brake line blows, you’ll still have another functioning line.

Let’s say your rear brake line fails in a front – rear configuration — the back of your car will jump when you brake because the rear brake isn’t working, and you’ll start to skid. Fortunately, as your front brakes still work, you should still be able to bring the car to a halt.

Why is it important to have my vehicle inspected by a licensed mechanic once in a while?

A lot of individuals are under the impression that taking their vehicle to a quick lube shop means that they are taking the vehicle to a licensed mechanic. What they don’t realize is that you do not need a license to change oil and most quick lube shops do not have licensed technicians.

In today’s busy world it is far more convenient for people to take their vehicles to a quick lube shop to have their oil changed versus their dealer or a service provider with licensed technicians. The reality is you do not need an appointment with a quick lube shop where as a professional service centre or dealership it is simply expected.

The other perception that some individuals have is that a licensed service provider or dealership “is looking for problems to make money off me” in most cases that statement is not entirely true. Licensed technicians demand a higher rate of pay rightfully so due to their schooling and knowledge. Quick lube shops generally employ individuals looking to get into the trade and are a starting point for most. Dealerships do have overhead costs as well so their door rate is more than the average shop.

Any reputable independent service provider or dealership has access to manufacturers suggested maintenance schedules as well as access to technical service bulletins and potential recalls on most makes and models of vehicles. They also have the technology to turn out most modern vehicles service messages that not all quick lube shops have access to.

Most importantly a licensed technician is looking for problems. That’s a simple fact. If they are ethical they are looking for issues with your vehicle that could put you your family and those on the road with you in danger. Things like undercarriage structural components that are rotted, tires that are expired balding or damaged.

By lifting your vehicle and removing the wheels a licensed technician has access to review potential Suspension issues, brake issues, structural issues as well as steering, wheel bearing and electrical issues that will go unnoticed by an untrained inexperienced individual.

It is therefore strongly recommended to have your vehicle checked out at least once a year by a licensed service provider to ensure the safety of you and your family.

Is there more than shocks that make up my vehicles suspension?

Late-model passenger vehicles are very sophisticated machines. Mechanically speaking, there are countless different systems that work together as your car, truck, SUV or crossover drives down the road. Tasked with delivering a stable and comfortable ride-while maintaining controllable handling and braking-is the vehicle's suspension system. Like most other components on a vehicle, manufacturers have taken many different approaches when it comes to suspension design. Luxury cars are engineered for a comfortable ride, while sports cars need to corner at high speed. Trucks, on the other hand, need to carry heavy loads and may travel off the pavement.

Rigid axle (also referred to as "solid axle" or "live axle") suspension was the first mass-produced design. Just as the name infers, the rigid axle suspension uses a solid beam to connect opposing wheels. When a wheel on one side hits a bump or moves, the wheel on the other side is negatively affected, decreasing ride quality. While this is an obvious drawback, rigid axle suspension is inexpensive to manufacture, offers lots of wheel travel (which benefits off-road travel), and it can be designed to carry very heavy loads, making it popular for trucks.

Independent suspension is much more prevalent today. As the name implies, each wheel moves independently over the road surface, isolating the remaining wheels from the impact. Independent suspension is more complex, but offers a much improved ride compared to rigid axles. The drawbacks include complexity, increased cost, reduced wheel travel, and reduced load capacity. The two most common types of independent suspension are MacPherson struts and double-wishbone suspension. Independent suspension is found on most sedans and sports cars today.

Shock absorbers work in conjunction with the springs by damping, or reducing, harshness as they absorb the energy from road impacts and sudden vehicle movements (a "strut" is a type of shock absorber that integrates the shock with suspension components). The most common shock design utilizes a metal tube filled with air or oil-or a combination of the two. More recently, automakers have developed sophisticated shock absorbers filled with a special liquid that instantly reacts to an electrical current-using magnetic properties and called magnetorheological shocks-controlled by a computer that is able to alter suspension settings within milliseconds based on driving and road conditions.

What are symptoms of a bad or failing variable valve timing (VVT) solenoid?

Common signs of a faulty VVT solenoid include the check engine light coming on, dirty engine oil, rough engine idle and decreased fuel economy.

Each automotive manufacturer has their own unique VVT system, but most of them rely on a fully functional variable valve timing solenoid to control the flow of oil to the VVT system as it is engaged. This system typically activates when there is a significant load against the engine. Some examples of this include while a vehicle is carrying additional weight, traveling up hills, or when acceleration is expedited through throttle control. When the VVT solenoid activates, oil is sent to lubricate the variable valve timing chain and gear assembly. If the VVT solenoid brakes or is blocked, the lack of proper lubrication can cause the timing chain and gear to prematurely wear or break entirely.

There are several other problems that may occur when a VVT solenoid is wearing out or has broken that may extend to complete engine failure. In order to reduce the potential of these serious situations occurring, listed below are a few warning signs to be aware of that might indicate a problem with the VVT solenoid. Here are a few symptoms of a worn out or broken VVT solenoid.

Your check engine light will become illuminated. Since today's modern cars are controlled by an Engine Control Unit (ECU), virtually all individual components are monitored by the ECU. When one part is beginning to fail, the ECU will store a specific trouble code that will let a mechanic using a scan tool know that a problem exists. Once the code has been generated, it will signal the driver by illuminating a specific zone warning. The most common light to illuminate when a VVT solenoid is failing is the check engine light.

Due to the fact that every automotive manufacturer has different codes they utilize, it's critical for a car owner to contact a local ASE Certified mechanic to inspect the car, download the code through the correct diagnostic scan tool and determine the precise source of the problem. In fact, there are literally dozens of individual codes for VVT solenoid issues for every automotive manufacturer. Once the mechanic has this initial information, they can begin to resolve the specific issue.

Dirty engine oil is more of a cause as opposed to a symptom. The VVT solenoid works best when the engine oil is clean, free of debris, or has lost some of its lubricity or viscosity. When the engine oil becomes clogged with dirt, debris or foreign particles, it tends to clog up the passageway from the solenoid to the VVT chain and gear. If your engine oil has not been changed out on schedule, it could damage the VVT solenoid, the VVT chain, and the gear drive.

To avoid this situation, make sure to have your engine oil changed as recommended by the vehicle manufacture. Low oil levels can also cause problems with the VVT solenoid and other timing system components.

You may experience rough engine idle .Typically the VVT system does not activate until the engine is at higher RPM or is introduced to load bearing situations like driving uphill. However, if the VVT solenoid is malfunctioning, it is possible that it will introduce additional engine oil to the VVT gears. This can cause the engine to idle rough, specifically the engine RPM to fluctuate as the system is activated. If not checked quickly, it can cause additional engine components to wear prematurely. If your engine idle is rough, make sure to have a certified mechanic inspect this as soon as possible.

You may experience reduced fuel economy. The purpose of variable valve timing is to ensure that the valves open and close at the right time to maximize engine performance and reduce fuel consumption. When the VVT solenoid is malfunctioning, the entire system can be compromised, which may result in intake and exhaust valves opening and closing at the wrong time. This typically causes the fuel economy to drastically reduce.

If you recognize any of the above warning signs of a bad or failing variable valve timing solenoid, contact a local licensed service provider or dealer.

What's involved with a proper vehicle AC inspection?

While the air conditioning is not a vital function of the vehicle, it can be vital for the comfort of the driver and passengers. So of course people want their AC working at peak efficiency, especially during the hot summer weather that we experience in southwestern Ontario.

If you hopping your vehicle on a hot day and your air conditioning does not seem as cool as it used to be you need to bring it to a service provider to diagnose why.

The first thing that the shop will do is verify what the temperature is coming out of your vehicles fresh air vents. Once they determine that the system requires further inspection they will begin by using a scanner tool to determine that if there is any refrigerant in your vehicles AC system they will confirm the type of refrigerant and confirm that it is not contaminated with hydrocarbons or propane from the $40 AC fix at your local auto parts store.

That $40 fix can be very costly to the shop attempting to repair your AC system if it is not caught because it will contaminate their equipment. Once they determine it is safe to hook up their equipment to your system they will evacuate the system of refrigerant. This process involves using their AC machine to put a vacuum on the system and draw whatever refrigerant is left in the system into the machine to process exactly how much pressure is in the system.

If there is no pressure in the system this usually indicates a major leak or component failure. If the system is fully charged with the proper level of refrigerant this confirms that the issue is likely on the electrical side of the AC system through the AC switch, compressor or wiring that is not engaging the system.

Assuming there is refrigerant in the system but is to low to engage the compressor, a leak down test will be performed on the system. This involves applying vacuum and holding it for a minimum of 30 minutes. If the needle on the pressure gauge does not drop and therefore holds pressure the system will be filled with a dye and the proper amount of refrigerant as outlined by the manufacturer.

Once the system is recharged with the correct amount of refrigerant the system will be engaged and once again the technician will check for leaks using the tools and equipment at their disposal. This equipment is costly and can determine extremely minute amounts of refrigerant should any seals or components be leaking in the system.

Most reputable service providers and dealers will add a sealant with refrigerant and the dye as a preventative measure should there be any extremely small leaks within the system. If the system does not hold the pressure the technician needs to determine where the fault is to complete the repair.

The AC system is complicated and has many components and modern-day SUVs and minivans complicate the diagnostic repair because they have lines that run to the rear of the vehicle and in some cases separate HVAC controls for the rear passengers. Not all repair shops can perform repairs on air conditioning as the laws in Ontario require technicians to obtain an ozone depletion license that allows them to perform repairs on air conditioning systems.