Here are the top car related questions for the past year

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Over the course of a given year, Alberta and Canadian motorists encounter a wide range of car issues, many of them related to vehicle maintenance. Frequently, they're correlated with the time of year and what weather or environmental conditions bring, such as cold weather causing tires to lose their air pressure or the reduced daylight bringing headlight concerns.

What car questions will develop among Canadians in 2014 are yet to be known, but those from 2013 have been published by The Globe and Mail.

Empty Road

  • Why do I have to switch to winter tires? As described by The Globe and Mail's Richard Russell, winter tires are installed simply because they perform better in the cold weather than all-season. When the temperature falls below 7 degree Celsius, all-season tires lose their traction capacity considerably. But winter tires were manufactured with cold temps in mind, which make them a standard feature on most motorists' vehicles when conditions are frigid.

  • Which recommended service schedule should be followed: the dealer's, manufacturer's or instrument panel's? Russell said that when the dashboard signals an alert by illuminating with one or several symbols, this should always take priority, as it's an indication that there's an immediate problem. The manufacturer's suggestions should come in second, followed by the dealer.


  • Should I use the same oil every time a change or refill is needed? Changing up oils shouldn't be a problem, Russell noted, including using oils that are synthetic rather than conventional. The only exception to this rule is if the car has always used conventional, meaning more than a few years. Otherwise, follow the grade that's suggested by the manufacturer in the user manual.

  • Why are my brakes making crazy noises? Brakes shouldn't make a noise unless there's a problem. Russell said that because they rotate whenever the pedal is pushed, they're bound to make a noise should something get in between the pads. Additionally, if they get out of alignment, the brakes may cause the car to vibrate. Whether felt or heard, the issue should be addressed with a trained professional mechanic.

  • Does the timing belt need to be changed when the manufacturer recommends it? Because the consequences of timing belts braking can be significant - costing a substantial amount of money to get fixed - Russell said that motorists may be able to get away with not replacing them exactly when suggested, but pretty soon afterward.

  • What steps need to be taken before storing my car for the winter? Ideally, a vehicle should be used throughout the year, but if it's a vehicle that for summer use only, Russell said that an oil change should be done, the tires should be inflated and desiccant used to absorb moisture that may form. Also, instead of disconnecting the battery, use a battery tender, which will provide the car's power source with the appropriate charge so it doesn't lose its strength.

The rest of 2013's top maintenance questions can be found in the "Drive" section at The Globe and Mail's website under "Car Tips."

If motorists plan on taking their car off the road and into storage for an extended period of time, they may want to consider getting in touch with their Alberta car insurance provider.

Coverage is taken out on vehicles that are registered and actively being used. However, if going away on an extended business trip for several months, it may be worthwhile to freeze the plan in order to lengthen the period in which it's covered.