Driving.ca: Here are the top 5 ways your car could let you down this winter

By Brian Turner | driving.ca

No question, winter is hard – it’s hard on our bodies, our minds and pretty much anything exposed to the elements, including our vehicles. But just as the change in seasons is predictable, so are the top breakdown reasons for our cars. Prepping for them doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it can save a wealth of trouble and inconvenience.

Dead battery: Nothing ruins a day, evening or planned holiday trip quicker than a dead battery. That ominous click-click-click sound when you turn on the ignition can raise ire and lower hopes, and it’s pretty much avoidable.

First, no matter how advanced, expensive or “hot” your ride is, it still has a lead acid battery under the hood, and in Canada its lifespan is between four and five years on average. If your vehicle’s battery has made it through three winters, getting it tested is a smart idea, and it’s cheap to do. Most shops will complete a load test on your battery at no extra charge (forgive the pun) when completing a seasonal service or oil change.

Nothing ruins a day, evening or planned holiday trip quicker than a dead battery. That ominous click-click-click sound when you turn the ignition can raise ire and lower hopes, and it’s pretty much avoidable.

It’s also easy to discharge a good battery in normal winter driving; if you’re stuck in slow traffic during a short run on a cold day, you can run a battery down with excessive use of electrical accessories combined with lower engine speeds. The battery’s charging system is the belt-driven alternator, and the lower the engine speed, the lower the alternator’s output will be. To avoid this, reduce the system’s electrical load by lowering the fan speed on the HVAC system and turn off glass grid defrosters as soon as their job is done. You can also select a lower transmission gear in slow traffic to boost the engine speed and the charging output. If your daily commute doesn’t see any highway speed, you can also give your battery a better fighting chance by turning off all accessories for the last few kilometres of your drive before parking for the day.

Flooded engine: While newer engines with independent ignition coils on each spark plug aren’t as prone to cold weather failures, there are still a lot of vehicles on the road that experience this problem every winter. When spark plugs are worn and their electrical supply cables become deteriorated, it’s easy to flood an injected engine on a cold start. You should have this system inspected every 50,000 km and maintained as required. Partially opening the engine throttle with a slight depression of the pedal while cranking the engine can ensure enough air gets in to offset the fuel spray from the injectors.

If you’ve turned an engine over with the starter for more than 30 seconds without getting it running (on a wet, cold winter day), you may have flooded it. Pop the hood and check for a gasoline odour. Pull the engine oil dipstick and give its tip a whiff for the smell of gas.

If you’ve turned an engine over with the starter for more than 30 seconds without getting it running (on a wet, cold winter day), you may have flooded it. Pop the hood and check for a gasoline odour. Pull the engine oil dipstick and give its tip a whiff. Gasoline can accumulate in the engine’s oil during a no-start flood event and it can dilute the oil to the point of risking engine damage. If the dipstick has a strong gas odour and the oil level is higher than normal, don’t attempt to run the engine until the oil has been replaced.

To assist with starting, you can often limp a worn set of spark plug cables/wires into action with a spray coating of silicone lubricating compound (sold in aerosol cans in all auto parts stores). A treatment of the plug wires (about the same amount you’d use to coat a frying pan with) can help keep moisture from interrupting the electrical supply. But you have to apply it before the wires get damp and on a warm but not hot engine (turned off).

Frozen doors/locks/windows: If you bought a can of silicone spray for your tired ignition system, don’t put away that miracle product just yet. This time of the year is a perfect opportunity to treat all the door weather-seals, windows and locks before they freeze you out.

This time of the year is a perfect opportunity to treat all the door weather-seals, windows and locks before they freeze you out.

On a dry day, spray the weather-seals with silicone lube and, as most cans come with a directed-spray cap straw, use it to get to the interior of door lock cylinders and the felt-like channels that the door windows travel up and down in. If you think your remote entry power locks preclude the use of a key to get in, consider how that system doesn’t work when the car battery is dead. Don’t forget lift-gate or trunk lid seals, the hood and gas-cap door releases. Don’t try to substitute just any lubricating spray for these jobs. If there are any oil compounds in the spray they will deteriorate rubber weather-seals and certain plastics faster than you can say “Jack Frost.”

Flat tires: If your ride is older than five or six years of age, it can be riding on leaky wheel rims. Alloys and steel rims alike can develop slow leaks due to corrosion at the area where the tire’s rubber bead seals. Minor slow leaks in warmer weather can turn into much faster losses during cold weather. An easy way to test your wheels is to wipe a sudsy wet wash-mitt on the rim’s edge (where the rubber meets the metal) and look for bubbles caused by escaping air. Rectifying a corroded bead area of a rim isn’t a DIY job because the tire has to be deflated and broken away from the rim in order to sand down the corrosion; applying a good coating of bead-sealer keeps the leaks away.

 If your ride is older than five or six years of age, it can be riding on leaky wheel rims.

No-wipe wipers: It’s amazing the number of drivers who think that those two black moving arms at the bottom of their windshields are snow plows. Mangled or loose wiper arms or broken wiper drive linkages can quickly sideline any winter travel plans.

Many wiper arms can become loose due to a protective design. The type that uses threaded nuts to hold the wiper arm to the pivot will see the nuts loosen off if someone turns on the wipers when they’re frozen to the glass. This prevents the motor from burning out or the linkages from snapping. If your ride has this type, try to sweep both wiper arms with the wipers turned off by grabbing the arm and trying to move it. If it moves with little effort, place it back in its “park” position and access the nut by prying off the cap at the end of the arm (opposite to the blade tip). Snug it up with a wrench and you’re good to go.

Mangled or loose wiper arms or broken wiper drive linkages can quickly sideline any winter travel plans.

If your vehicle is left outside and exposed to a good bout of freezing rain, make sure the wiper linkage hasn’t been encased in ice. A few litres of cool room-temp water poured through the wiper linkage grille at the bottom of the windshield can take care of this and ensures the drains that take rain water out of this area are clear. Also, during winter, make certain when you park your vehicle at night, you turn off the wipers before the ignition switch.

For more great auto tips and news visit: driving.ca

GM recalls 1.4M older cars to fix oil leaks that can cause engine fires

By Tom Krisher


DETROIT _ For the third time in seven years, General Motors is recalling cars that can leak oil and catch fire, in some instances damaging garages and homes.

The recall, which covers 1.4 million vehicles, including 125,783 in Canada, dating to the 1997 model year.

It is needed because repairs from the first two recalls didn’t work. More than 1,300 cars caught fire after they were fixed by dealers, the company said.

In the previous recalls, in 2008 and 2009, GM told owners to park the cars outside until repairs can be made since most of the fires happened shortly after drivers turned off the engines. A spokesman was checking to see if the same recommendation applies this time.

In addition, GM will notify owners of 500,000 more cars that were not repaired in the previous recalls, spokesman Alan Adler said.

U.S. safety regulators became aware of the fires in early 2007 and GM has since reported 19 minor related injuries. In 2008, a GM spokeswoman said the cars were responsible for 267 fires, including at least 17 that burned structures.

The latest recall, mainly in North America, includes:

  • 1997-2004 Pontiac Grand Prix and Buick Regal
  • 2000-2004 Chevrolet Impala
  • 1998 and 1999 Chevrolet Lumina and Oldsmobile Intrigue
  • 1998-2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Over time, a valve cover gasket can degrade, allowing oil to seep out. Under hard braking, oil drops can fall onto the exhaust manifold and catch fire. Flames can spread to a plastic spark plug wire channel and the rest of the engine.

The problem first surfaced in 2007, when 21 consumer complaints about engine fires in some of the cars prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate. That probe found three injuries. Most of the blazes happened five to 15 minutes after the engines were turned off, according to agency documents.

The investigation led to the recall in March 2008 of more than 200,000 U.S. cars with supercharged engines. A year later GM recalled almost 1.5 million more cars that weren’t supercharged. Dealers replaced the spark plug wire channels, but documents filed with the government don’t mention any repair of the oil leaks.

GM hasn’t come up with a final fix in the most recent recall, spokesman Alan Adler said. The company will use state registration databases in an effort to track down the owners, he said. The 1,300 fires were discovered when GM began investigating whether to recall some 2004 models, Adler said.

The recall is so large that it could have an impact on GM’s fourth-quarter earnings, although Adler said that hasn’t been determined.

“Since we have not decided on the remedy, we do not know whether the cost will result in a material charge to earnings,” he said.


Ontario: What you need to know about the winter tire insurance break

Ontario: What you need to know about the winter tire insurance break

By: Adam Mayers Personal Finance Editor

A very small piece of Ontario’s efforts to drive down the cost of car insurance is a new requirement that insurers offer a discount for snow tires by this coming Jan. 1.

When I say small, I mean it. If you buy new tires, the payoff is seven to 10 years away, and by then the car may be long gone.

So should you bother? I’d say so. This is really about safety, not insurance, despite how the Ontario Liberals have cast the move.

For anyone commuting in and out of Toronto and its freeze-thaw weather, winter tires are a must. I’ve had them for a decade and wouldn’t go back. The road grip and handling are far better than on our second car, which has all-season radials.

The discount is likely to be about 5 per cent of the cost of a policy. Since the average GTA car costs $1,600 to insure, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, you may save $80 per car per a year with winter tires.

The cheapest winter tire sold by my garage is $135 plus tax, or $610 for four. You can, of course, get cheaper or more expensive ones depending on where you shop. But in this example, the break-even point is 7.6 years.

What the Ontario initiative illustrates very clearly is the importance of shopping around. There are more than 50 companies offering car insurance in this province, and their discounts vary based on their claims experience. Some already offer the winter-tire discount. Some won’t tell you it’s available unless you ask. Going online to compare prices is easy.

So here’s what you need to know:

When can I get the discount?

All Ontario insurers must offer something by Jan. 1, 2016. But provincial finance minister Charles Sousa’s office says 45 per cent of them already do so.

I’m renewing before Jan. 1. Can I still get the discount?

Not unless your company already offers one.

My policy with TD Insurance Meloche Monnex (Security National) renews in two weeks. An agent told me over the phone last week the discount is not available until January, but did not know how much it will be.

He advised me to call back then and ask for a policy adjustment. Crystal Jongeward, a spokesperson for TD Insurance, says the discount could be up to 5 per cent.

How much is the discount?

It will vary, but will come in at between 3 and 5 per cent. The province only requires something be done by each province, but doesn’t set a number. Compliance will be monitored by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, the provincial regulator.

As always, pay attention to the fine print. The discounts will likely not apply to the entire policy, just part of it. For example, Aviva Insurance has offered winter tire discounts since March, 2014, says spokesman Glenn Cooper. For Aviva, safer driving means fewer accidents, fewer claims, higher profits and lower prices for its customers.

Aviva’s discount is 5 per cent of the collision portion of the policy, which is about 90 per cent of the total cost. So 4.5 per cent is the overall reduction. TD Insurance is calculating its reduction the same way.

The discount is also made per car. So if one of yours has snow tires and the other doesn’t, cut the discount in half.



Failing to Overtake Traffic “As Quickly and as Reasonably As Possible” Found Negligent

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Interesting reasons for judgement were released October 22, 2015 by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding that it is negligent for a motorist to not drive ‘as quickly and as reasonably as possible‘ when overtaking another vehicle on a highway.

In the case (Borgiford v. Thue) the Plaintiff vehicle was in the left hand lane of a highway overtaking tractor-trailers who were travelling at a low rate of speed as they ascended a steep hill.  The Plaintiff vehicle’s motorist was a ‘timid’ driver and was overtaking the slow moving vehicles at a speed of 85 kmph despite a speed limit of 110 kmph.  At the same time a Suburban approached the vehicles at a high rate of speed, clipped one of the slow moving tractor-trailers and lost control resulting in apparent profound injuries to his passengers.

The Court found the speeding motorist clearly negligent but went on to find the slow passing plaintiff vehicle was also negligent for not passing the tractor trailers as quickly as possible.  In reaching this finding Mr. Justice Rogers provided the following reasons:

[99]         In my view, the standard of care owed by a reasonable and prudent driver in Mrs. Boizard’s situation required that hypothetical driver to overtake Mr. Einarson’s unit as quickly as reasonably possible. I find that is the standard because the speed limit on the highway was 110 kph and any reasonable operator on that road would have known that motorists often go faster, sometimes much faster, than the speed limit. A reasonable driver in Mrs. Boizard’s situation would have known that for so long as he was in the left-most lane the entire width of the highway was occupied by relatively slow moving traffic. A motorist approaching from the rear and traveling at 110 kph would find his way blocked by the slower vehicle in the left-most lane.

[100]     I must therefore ask myself: was Mrs. Boizard overtaking Mr. Einarson as quickly as reasonably possible? Here Mr. Fiorin’s opinion does not really help Mrs. Boizard. That is because the key element of Mr. Foirin’s opinion is that operators of large vehicles are entitled to take steps to keep up the momentum of their units as they ascend a hill. That may be true, but it does not apply to Mrs. Boizard. That is because on Mrs. Boizard’s own evidence the pickup truck she was driving was capable of going up Larson Hill faster than 85 kph. This was not a case of the Boizard truck struggling to keep up its speed of 80 to 85 kph. This was a case of Mrs. Boizard making a conscious and deliberate decision to not go faster than 85 kph.

[101]     I do not doubt Mrs. Boizard’s sincerity when she testifies that she felt that it was safer to go 85 kph while passing Mr. Einarson. However, her subjective opinion cannot carry the day. The real question is whether a reasonable and prudent motorist in her situation could have and would have overtaken Mr. Einarson more quickly. The evidence does not satisfy me that a higher speed for the camper while passing would, in fact, have created an unsafe circumstance for either the Boizards or Mr. Einarson. I am thoroughly satisfied, however, that clearing the left-most lane would have created a safer circumstance for other motorists approaching from the rear. Put another way, the less time that Mrs. Boizard stayed in the left-most lane, the safer it would be for other, faster traveling, motorists who also wished to overtake Mr. Einarson’s unit.

[102]     In short, I find that Mrs. Boizard was a timid driver – she could have driven her camper faster and could have overtaken Mr. Einarson’s tractor-trailer more quickly. Instead, Mrs. Boizard chose to drive at a relatively leisurely pace and in so doing, she blocked the left-most lane for a longer period of time than was reasonably necessary. I find that Mrs. Boizard’s decision to drive as slowly as she did and to occupy the overtaking lane for as long as she did fell below the standard of care that she owed to other users of the highway. I find that she was negligent in that regard.

[103]     The question now arises whether either of Mrs. Boizard’s negligent acts was a cause of the accident. As we know from Athey it is not necessary that Mrs. Boizard’s negligence be the sole cause of the accident. The law is also clear that causation is not determined by which of the defendants had the last clear chance to avoid the mishap. All that is necessary is for Mrs. Boizard’s negligence to be a cause; that is to say, but for her negligence, the accident would not have happened.

[104]     In my view, the link between Mrs. Boizard’s negligence in changing lanes as she did is too weak to support a finding that that particular act caused the accident. I have come to that conclusion because the Thue Suburban was not in sight when Mrs. Boizard changed lanes. The Suburban came around the first curve on Larson Hill after Mrs. Boizard was in the left-most lane. The lane change itself did not put Mr. Thue and his passengers in jeopardy.

[105]     However, had Mrs. Boizard accelerated her camper to a reasonable overtaking speed, she would have blocked the overtaking lane for a shorter period of time. Given that when the accident happened the camper was at the junction between Mr. Einarson’s tractor and trailer, it would not have taken much more speed on Mrs. Boizard’s part to have gotten past Mr. Einarson ahead of Mr. Thue’s arrival. In my opinion, there is a sufficient causal link between Mrs. Boizard’s decision to overtake at a leisurely pace and the accident to support a finding that but for that decision, the accident may not have happened. Put another way, in order for the accident to have happened the way it did, it was necessary for Mrs. Boizard to have blocked the overtaking lane.

Volkswagen’s Emission Retrofit May be Costliest Recall in Automotive History

Source: Alan Katz: propertycasualty360.com

Volkswagen AG’s worldwide repair of 11 million diesel vehicles to bring their emissions systems into compliance with pollution regulations is shaping up to be one of the most complex and costly fixes in automotive history.

The German carmaker will need to install parts for vehicles already on the road that weren’t designed to accommodate the equipment. The work may may need to be done in special shops set up for the purpose. And it will have to pass muster with dozens of countries with their own regulations. VW said Thursday that it was examining whether other diesel engines also have the cheating software.

“I can’t think of any other recall that would be as comprehensive,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports magazine. “It’s really an expensive rework.”

The repair costs are only part of what Volkswagen is going to have to spend to get through a corporate crisis sparked by revelations it rigged its diesel cars for years to fool emissions tests. The company is also compensating dealers for storing cars they can’t sell. It faces more than 325 consumer lawsuits in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and has hired U.S. law firm Jones Day to conduct an internal investigation into the company’s actions.

Adding in likely fines, settlements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state authorities, the Justice Department and dozens of countries in Europe, and the cost could exceed 30 billion euros ($34 billion), according to the Center of Automotive Management in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany.

Vehicle Impounded for Speed, but No Ticket Issued

Source: drivesmartbc.ca

Posted by Anonymous: I was pulled over on the night of October 18 for speeding . The office pulled me over after I had stopped to make a left turn onto my street . He approached me and asked me why I was driving like a maniac? I told him I shouldn’t have passed on the double solid line but the vehicle ahead of me was going dangerously slow. I then asked how fast I was going and he said he didn’t save it on his radar but another officer said he’d seen me on the freeway exit at a road in which I was not driving on that evening. I waited for the next officer to arrive and asked him the same question, “How fast was I going sir?” He replied with “Sir, the other officer clocked you doing a high rate of speed.” No actual speed was recorded. So, after all the back and forth, I admitted to crossing a double solid and asked if the fine could be lessened. I was handed an impoundment notice and told I was going to get a speeding ticket, which I was never issued.  My truck was towed to the local towing yard for 7 days with no speeding violation ticket attached. I am confused as to what is going on and if the officer is going to mail me a ticket or make me sign one in person.


Here is the law that applies to your situation:

Impoundment of motor vehicle

251  (1) If a peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person

(d) has committed an offence under section 148,

(e) has driven or operated a motor vehicle on a highway in a race or in a stunt and the peace officer intends to charge the person with a motor vehicle related Criminal Code offence or an offence under section 144 (1), 146 or 148 of this Act, orthe peace officer or another peace officer must

(g) cause the motor vehicle to be taken to and impounded at a place directed by the peace officer…

Section 148 is the section for excessive speed that you are speaking of.

There is nothing in this law requiring that you receive a violation ticket for speeding before it can be invoked. The officer may choose to apply discretion about serving the ticket, but has no discretion at all when it comes to the impoundment. As soon as he has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that you are driving at excessive speed, the impoundment must take place.

Perhaps you will be lucky and not receive an excessive speeding ticket for this. Should you have been (or still could be) served with a ticket, having it dismissed in court will not automatically nullify the impoundment. You will have to do that by having the impoundment reviewed. Unfortunately this only applies to impoundments of more than 7 days, which this is not.

From your story, it appears that radar was used to measure your speed, just that the measurement was not shown to you, or the reading mentioned. Of course, your own speedometer should have been a good indication to you about how fast you were driving.

If you take the time to read the other speed related threads here in the forum, you will see that police may make estimations that are accepted by the court, that the officer is not obliged to show the radar to the violator, and that a clock or pace is a valid method of measuring speed.

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