I love my car – my trusty Saturn Vue, Chloe (named after a character from the series “24”). She’s a 2006 model and one of the reasons that she’s still in such great condition at fourteen years young is that I take her in for regular maintenance. Generally speaking we go in twice a year, Spring and Winter. Usually one of the appointments is just regular stuff – oil check, filter check, tire check, etc. – and the other will be a little more involved – tire rotation, fluid flush – you know, the good stuff.
I really like taking her in for service. The team at the auto shop has been looking after her for ten years now and they always do a great job. Plus I think she appreciates the attention.
Since I don’t have a long daily commute, with my twice-a-year-service, I’m generally ahead of the ten months or 10,000 KM schedule that my vehicle manual suggests – or required, really, at the outset to keep my warranty active. Felling pretty smug, I was surprised to hear about a recent case where Canadian owners are being required to follow the “Severe Usage Maintenance Schedule” (vs the “Normal”) simply because they live in Canada.  My Saturn manual states that I need to follow the “severe” schedule when I regularly drive in temperatures under -29 degrees Celsius. Which for most of the country happens at least once a year.
Out of curiosity I checked a few provincial driver’s handbooks to see what they recommend. When they do have a section on vehicle maintenance (about ½ of them do), it is quite generic. Ontario has one of the most comprehensive sections on vehicle maintenance, but it doesn’t state particular timelines or distance driven markers. Rather, it has tips on what to watch out for that would indicate that your vehicle may need service. And it admonishes drivers to check their individual driver’s manuals.
Do you have a particular maintenance schedule for your vehicle? Do you follow your owner’s manual to the letter or just when something serious occurs? Let us know in the comments.
Pumpkin spice latte season brings out conflicting feelings for me. On the one hand, it’s a pumpkin spice latte, guys! Plus, pumpkin spice muffins! (Yes, I am one of those nerds that love pumpkin spice – though I do draw the line at pumpkin spice lip-gloss). On the other hand, pumpkin spice heralds the arrival of fall, which is followed close by winter. Super close for places like Calgary and Winnipeg! And while I enjoy cruising the highways and byways of British Columbia in the summer, I could do without winter driving.
But, as a Canadian, winter is in my blood and I know I need to do my part to keep the roads safe during the dark and snowy months. This is my “Getting My Car Winter-Ready Essentials Checklist” (I’m working on a snappier title – suggestions welcome in the comments). It’s not exhaustive, but it will start you and your car down the right road.
Tires We know we need to switch to winter tires, but when? Our Ultra 94 tire expert, John Mahler, has the answer:
The weather is shifting, and not for the better … (there’s) less tire grip, so caution on the throttle. When the average temperature for the day gets to be about +7C, it is time to consider some winter rubber for your ride.
That +7C mark is about where your summer high performance tires grip levels have dropped to the point where a winter tire has just as much grip. Then, as the mercury drops, summer tires lose even more grip and the winter rubber gets more stick. Notice I said winter tires, not snow tires. Long gone are the big chunky tires that couldn’t handle bare pavement. Now winter tires are available in speed ratings all the way to W, that’s 270 km/h.
Wipers Wipers are something I do think about a lot, especially in Vancouver. There was a time when my wipers weren’t clearing my windshield in a single sweep. The blades weren’t cracked or torn, but they just weren’t doing the job. I replaced them with a different size and my visibility improved dramatically. Make sure your wipers are up to snuff - clearing your windshield in a single sweep, aren’t cracked and aren’t bumping on your windshield. You can reasonably expect to replace the blades twice a year.
Windshield Washer Fluid While we’re on the subject of windshields .. this is also the time of year where you want to make sure your windshield washer fluid can handle the cold. Some brands are specially formulated for use in winter – they won’t freeze and are tough on winter gunk like rock salt.
Emergency Kit Finally, pull out your car’s emergency kit and give it a once-over, replacing or updating any items as necessary.
And that’s my Winter-Ready Essentials checklist! There are definitely other items to inspect on your car as we get deeper into the snowy season, but this is a good start. Are there any winter-ready maintenance essentials that you do in the fall? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
2003. A particularly frosty day in Toronto. My car: running on fumes. My gloves: forgotten (beside my lunch) on the kitchen table. I had no choice. I had to pull in to my local Petro-Canada and fill up or I wouldn’t make it to work. As I filled my tank, I tried to avoid frostbite by alternating pumping hands and keeping the free one in my pocket. Oh, how I missed the locking clip on the gas nozzle.
Fast forward 16 years. The clips are back! In 2002 Canadian Fuels member companies removed the clips for safety reasons. But since the introduction of Gasoline Flow Rate Regulations (currently set at 38 litres/minute) and Onboard Fuelling Vapour Recovery technology in vehicles, those safety risks have been greatly reduced.
So, for guest convenience (and keeping hands warm!), Petro-Canada is re-introducing the locking clicks on gasoline nozzles across the country, except in Quebec where they are not legal. Stasy Presutto, Manager of Environment, Health & Safety for Petro-Canada, who is leading the implementation of the locking clips, is keen on the implementation:
“The locking clips deliver an overall positive guest experience and greatly reduce the probability of gasoline spills. In the absence of locking clips, we have seen guests insert objects (e.g. gas cap, coffee cup) into the nozzle thereby causing gasoline spills.”
Now, while the clips are very convenient, you can’t just “set it and forget it”. Site Staff will still be monitoring the dispensing of fuel and you can do your part. Stay within 7.5 metres (25 feet) of your vehicle while using the locking clip. This means you can wash your windshield or even get back in your car to stay warm. But please don’t enter the store until you have finished pumping your gas. Otherwise the attendant will, for safety reasons, halt the pump until you return.
If you have any questions about the safe use of gas nozzle locking clips (or any other safety concerns), don’t hesitate to ask the station attendant.
I can’t believe it’s December already - the time of year where I break out in hives, trying to find the perfect gift for everyone. I have a couple of car enthusiasts on my list and, while casting around for some cool gifts for them, I decided to put together a list of my personal top ten gift ideas for people who like to spend a lot of time behind the wheel.
Car gear is always a good choice – these first four gift ideas fall into that category:
1. Spar.saa Inverted Umbrella OK, maybe this is just because I live in Vancouver where it is always raining, but I think this is a great idea – the inverted umbrella. It lets you get in your car and fold up the umbrella with a minimum of getting wet. I would absolutely appreciate this as a gift! Check out this video.
3. Car Aromatherapy Diffuser Road rage affects all of us. So can a stinky dog. If your gift recipient’s car (or mood) needs a little freshening, go one step better than a pine tree deodorizer and get them a car aromatherapy diffuser. Some diffusers plug into the cigarette lighter and others just snap onto your vent. Choose a scent they like – something calming, energizing, spicy or floral. Or, if they want to go old school, there’s always the trusty pine scent. Refreshingly retro!
4. Car Emergency Kit A few years ago, I gave my immediate family members an earthquake safety kit. It was just a starter one, but it helped them all get on the path to preparing a bigger one for their households. Emergency kits aren’t as sexy as a LEGO Bugatti, but they are useful and potentially life saving.
If you’re not comfortable buying something for your car-lover’s beloved ride, you can always choose a gift that will help them show off their love for their car instead. Like:
5. Automotive-Themed Jewelry Help your gearhead accessorize their look with automotive-themed jewelry! A crankshaft necklace, piston and rod earrings or a pair of wheel rim cufflinks may be just the blingy ticket this holiday season. I'm particularly partial to items made from "fordite" - a simulated gemstone made from built up layers of enamel paint from the paint bays at old car factories in Detroit.
Sometimes your favourite car enthusiast can’t take their summer-only car out for a spin. That’s when you need to get them something they can enjoy at home.
6. Car Video Games Occasionally it can be fun to race through Prague from the comfort of your own living room. For the virtual car lover who has an Xbox, check out Forza Motorsport 7. It features over 700 cars – something to keep your gift recipient busy during the winter months. If a Playstation is the platform of choice, try Gran Turismo Sport on for size. It features 18 in-game locations and 54 different layouts – from racing circuits to dirt tracks.
But what if your car enthusiast has everything? What kind of gift do you get them then?
8. Unique Driving Experience Instead of giving a thing, give an experience. There are so many great options for unique driving experiences. Most performance car brands, like Jaguar or Porsche, offer training or track outings – perfect for someone who is loyal to a particular make or model. If your car lover likes to “play the field” as it were, there are several companies that will arrange tours along scenic routes and let drivers change between multiple exotic supercars. Finally, if the car doesn’t matter as much as the environment, perhaps ice circuit training on a frozen skid pond would make the perfect gift.
These are all great, right? But what if it is Christmas Eve and you are on the way to your in-laws and you forgot to get Cousin Joe a present? We’ve got you covered with two perfect last minute gifts. Spoiler alert – you can get both of these last minute gifts at our stations.
9. A Wash & Go Card I actually received one of these last year in the office Secret Santa exchange. I was surprised at how excited I was to get it (even more than the box of Quality Street). I don’t actually wash my car all that often. I find it a bit of a hassle to go in to the station, buy a ticket, get back in my car and then type a code at the entrance! But with the Petro-Canada Wash & Go Card – you just tap it at the entrance and get sudsy. Plus, when I reload online, I get a bonus wash (2 bonus washes if I reload before January 7, 2019). Nice!
10. A Petro-Canada Gift Card First of all, who doesn’t love getting a gift card? I ask for an iTunes gift card every year for my birthday. Every year. It’s the perfect gift. So, for the car lover on your list, a Petro-Canada Gift Card is a great option! They can get a fuel-up or some snacks or a lottery ticket – so many options!
And there we have it! 10 great gift ideas for the car lover on your list! Did we miss one of your great gift ideas? If so, share it in the comments!
Like many of you, I've slowly been adding bits and pieces of my life (and attendant documentation) to my smart phone. Sometimes that is facilitated by apps where I can store important docs or data. And sometimes I just take a picture of something like my passport or my driver's license and put it in a special photo album, so that I have a copy close at hand in case of an emergency.
One of the information sets I've been actively collecting on my phone has to do with my car. I have a photo of my license plate, plus images of my beloved Saturn from several angles; in case of accident or theft, it's good to have the "before" pics. And, of course, I have my insurance broker’s number in my contacts. But all of these car-related pieces of info are stored in different places on my phone and sometimes I can’t remember where I cleverly stashed them.
Fortunately, RBC has just released a new free platform (app and website) called DRIVE, which lets me collect all this car-related info in one handy place. With the DRIVE app, I can:
Store all of my car-related documents in one place, including insurance and warranty info
Receive recall notifications for my vehicle and schedule follow-up appointments
Book services at partner dealerships
And my two favourite features in DRIVE (yes, I'm a bit biased): I can store my Petro-Points card on the platform as well as locate a nearby Petro-Canada gas station.