Proper wheel alignment is key to safe happy driving. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most overlooked maintenance checks. The signs and symptoms of poor alignment are easy to detect and at the same time, easy to fix. Here are five signs your vehicle is in need of an alignment.
1) Your steering wheel is off centre
When driving straight on a level road, your steering wheel should be – or be very close – to straight and the vehicle emblem in the centre of the steering wheel should appear level. If the wheel is off centre by more than a few degrees in either direction, it’s definitely time to book an alignment.
2) Your vehicle pulls in one direction
To check to see if your vehicle pulls in one direction, DO NOT remove your hands from the steering wheel, it’s just too dangerous. Instead, when driving down a straight flat road, your vehicle should drive straight ahead with very little effort needed on the steering wheel.
3) Abnormal tire wear in certain spots
Tire wear says a lot about how well your vehicle is driving. When getting your vehicle serviced, the technician can provide details on how and where your tires are wearing. Wear on only the inside or outside edges of tires indicates a camber adjustment problem. Uneven wear patterns, or “scalloping” can indicate a problem with the toe adjustment.
4) The vehicle handling feels loose
If the steering in your car feels loose or unstable, one possible cause is poor wheel alignment. If it feels like your car is wandering all over the road or it feels loose or unstable turning corners, it’s the right time to check your alignment.
5) The steering wheel doesn’t return to centre
After turning a corner, the steering wheel should return to centre on its own as you continue to drive. Of course you need to keep your hands on the wheel, but if your steering wheel makes little attempt to move itself back to centre without your help, then it’s a good indication that your alignment is off.
Springtime means warmer temperatures, blooming flowers and time for outdoor fun. It also signals the arrival of tree sap which left untouched can damage your vehicle’s paint job and even lead to rust.
The longer tree sap stays on your car or truck, the harder it can be to remove. “Get the sap off as soon as possible, because it will eventually eat through the paint, especially as the days warm up,” says John Ibbotson, chief mechanic at Consumer Reports Magazine’s Auto Test Center. “Heat accelerates how the sap sticks to the paint.”
Sap can damage your car because of how it bonds with the vehicle’s surface. Industry experts say that the sap drops shrink over time, and as they shrink, they create stress on your car’s finish because of that strong bond with the paint. That tension can end up cracking a car’s finish. Bird droppings can also cling to the finish and damage the paint.
Don’t let tree sap or bird droppings linger for days. You can prevent damage by safely removing those and other elements from your car’s finish as soon as possible.
First, wash your car. Next, dab some rubbing alcohol on a cloth as your first line of attack. That may be all you need to get the job done.
If the rubbing alcohol isn’t working, industry leaders recommend trying a specialized tree-sap or bug-and-tar removal product, available at auto parts and hardware stores. Make sure to test any cleaner on a small spot first to make sure it isn’t damaging the clearcoat and possibly the paint underneath. Proceed to a larger work area if there is no discoloration of the paint or streaking. Also remember, a little bit goes a long way, so don’t over-apply the product.
Once the sap has been removed, clean the area with soap and water and then apply a coat of wax to protect those areas.
Here’s something to think about to avoid the problem in the first place. If you can, don’t park your car near sap-producing trees.
The arrival of spring signals the start of the driving season. Here are five tips to get your vehicle ready for your next road trip.
Change your Tires
It’s time to remove your winter tires and change them to all-season tires. Even though our unpredictable weather could mean another snow storm, changing your tires now will beat the rush.
Take it for an inspection
Winter can be rough on vehicles so now is a good time to have it inspected by a licensed mechanic. Your mechanic will have the knowledge and training to look for and repair and damage caused by a harsh winter.
Road salt makes for better traction during the winter, but can play havoc on your ride. Salt can eat away at your vehicle and make it deteriorate quickly and can cause damage. The salt can find its way inside your vehicle too so don’t forget to clean the interior.
Change your Fluids
This spring do more than just top up your vehicle fluid levels – change them. It helps maintain your vehicle and keep it in top running order. Typically, when you get your vehicle serviced they should provide a complete change of fluids if required, such as windshield washer fluid, oil, oil filter, transmission fluid to name a few. Check with your vehicle maintenance schedule.
Check the Alignment
Potholes and rough winter roads can impair your vehicle’s road handling ability and cause uneven tire wear. When you’re servicing your vehicle, ask the technician for a wheel alignment and tire balance.
According to government statistics, one person in Canada is injured in a distracted driving collision every 30 minutes. Police warn that distracted driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, but it appears many Canadians aren’t getting the message.
February is Distracted Driving Month in Alberta with police and RCMP stepping up their enforcement and education programs. They have their work cut out for them; in 2017, almost 25,000 Albertans were convicted of distracted driving. The penalty carries a $287.00 fine and three demerit points.
The RCMP says distracted driving is a form of impaired driving as a driver’s judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road. Distracted driving includes; talking on a mobile phone, texting, reading (e.g. books, maps, and newspapers), using a GPS, watching videos or movies, eating/drinking, smoking, personal grooming, adjusting the radio/CD and playing extremely loud music. Even talking to passengers and driving while fatigued (mentally and/or physically) can be forms of distracted driving.
As well as creating more hazards are the roads, distracting driving is impacting insurance rates. One insurance company, Aviva, reports that in 2018 claims in Alberta for distracted-driving accidents rose 58 per cent in the past two years, the highest rate in the country.
“Despite increased penalties and awareness on this issue, too many Canadians are still driving distracted behind the wheel. The majority of these accidents are preventable – such as hitting stationary objects, rear ending other vehicles and inattentive lane changes,” says Phil Gibson, Chief Underwriting Officer at Aviva Canada.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada reports that drivers in the 35 to 44 age group had the highest number of distracted driving convictions (6,715 out of 27,417 convictions, or 24.5 per cent). This was the case for both male and female drivers.
Out of the 27,417 total convictions, 17,947 or 65.5% involved male drivers and 34.5% female.
Using a cellphone was and remains, by far, the most common distracted action by motorists in Alberta making up 24,075 (or 87.8 per cent) of total convictions.
Aviva Canada has developed some tips to avoid being a distracted driver:
Prepare your music playlist, podcast, or audio book ahead of time
Keep your phone out of reach
Enable your phone’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature of you have one
Avoid eating while driving
Take the time to learn to use your car’s voice commands
Keep pets safely secured in the back seat or in a crate
It’s January and that means driving on snow and ice covered roads. Driving to meet the road conditions is critical for safety, but even then you can find yourself in a hazardous situation. Here are some tips if you find yourself in an uncontrolled skid on snow or ice.
Take your foot off the accelerator
Keeping your foot on the gas pedal keeps your tires spinning and that’s the last thing you want in a skid.
Don’t slam on the brakes
Vehicles are equipped with anti-lock brakes(ABS) so slamming your foot on the brake pedal won’t necessarily help you stop. Driving experts advise motorists to gently “pump” the brakes and this triggers the ABS to safely lock your brakes.
When in a skid in an all wheel drive or rear wheel drive vehicle, steer into the skid. This means to turn towards where the back of the car is sliding. Your instincts will tell you to steer this way to correct it. For front wheel drive vehicles, keep the steering straight. Go against your instincts and gently accelerate – to regain control.
Over-reacting by wildly turning your vehicles will only make you spin faster. Stay calm and smooth to help regain control of your spinning vehicle.
Remember, equipping your car with good winter tires and reducing your driving speed are among the best ways to avoid a skid in the first place.
The number of vehicle thefts reported in Canada is alarming, and Calgary is no exception. According to statistics from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), auto theft was up six per cent across the country in 2017. New Brunswick tops the lists with a 28 per cent increase, followed by Ontario with a 15 per cent increase, Quebec, up seven per cent, and Alberta, up six per cent — the highest per capita increase in Canada.
On many occasions, vehicle thefts are crimes of opportunity. Thieves find vehicles with the keys left inside and take off. In other circumstances, vehicles are stolen so the perpetrators have transportation to conduct other crimes such as break-ins. In a growing number of cases, theft rings target specific vehicles that are quickly sold to out of country buyers, and these buyers are looking for trucks. In 2017, nine of the top ten stolen vehicles in Canada were Ford Super Duty trucks.
“They’re of real value,” John Tod, national director of the IBC’s Investigative Services told CBC News. “We’re seeing them going over to Africa, over to the Middle East and to some extent down to the Caribbean countries as well,” said Tod.
According to the IBC, New Year’s Day is the most common time for vehicles to be stolen across the country, mostly because cars are filled with gifts.
It only takes a matter of minutes to steal a vehicle so here are some tips to reduce the risk of falling victim to thieves.
Don’t leave your vehicle unattended and running.
Don’t leave your keys or key fobs unattended.
Don’t leave valuables visible on the seats.
Park in a well-lit area, ideally in a garage and make sure the garage door is locked.
Now that the snow has arrived, it can lead to treacherous driving conditions and – potentially – collisions. The Canada Safety Council has these top seven tips for safer winter driving. Take note!
Tip #1 Prepare your vehicle for winter driving
Get snow tires for better traction on snow and ice
Have a good snow brush and ice scrapper
Have an emergency kit that includes a lightweight shovel, battery booster cables, and a flashlight
Clear off the snow and ice off the windshield, windows, mirrors, roof, hood and trunk
Tip # 2 Drive smoothly and drive slowly
Avoid abrupt turns and sudden stops to prevent skidding
Slow down – driving too fast is the number one cause of winter accidents
Tip #3 Leave plenty of room
Don’t tailgate the vehicle in front of you.
Stopping on snow and ice takes longer than on dry pavement
Leave yourself enough room for safe stopping
Tip #4 Brake before you make a turn
Brake slowly to reduce speed before entering turns.
Accelerate after rounding the corner
Tip # 5 Know how to recover from skids
When in a skid in an all wheel drive or rear wheel drive vehicle, steer into the skid. This means to turn towards where the back of the car is sliding. Your instincts will tell you to steer this way to correct it. For front wheel drive vehicles, keep the steering straight. Go against your instincts and accelerate -not brake – to regain control.
Tip #6 Light em’ up!
Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to pedestrians and other motorists
Tip #7 Be alert and pay attention
Manoeuvres are more difficult to make in the snow
Anticipate what your next move is going to be to give yourself lots of room for turns and stopping
Be aware of what the vehicles around you are doing.
Ahhh the joys of winter; skating in the crisp cold air, snowshoeing through an alpine meadow or racing down the hill on your skis or snowboard. How exhilarating! But winter also means icy roads, treacherous driving conditions and unfortunately collisions and fender benders.
Collisions are stressful at any time, so knowing what to do in the event of incident can go a long way in reducing your anxiety.
Here are tips from the Calgary Police Service on what you should do in the event of a collision.
1) Safety First
Collision scenes are dangerous. Drivers need to make sure the scene can be made safe as soon as possible. This can be achieved by removing their vehicles from the roadway. If there are no injuries, when applicable, they should move their vehicles off the road to a safe location to exchange information.
2) File a Police Report
A collision must be reported to police when there are any injuries, the damage exceeds $2,000, or you are the victim of a hit and run.
There are two ways to report a collision:
If there are injuries or one or more of the vehicles is undriveable call 403-266-1234 or 9-1-1.
If there are no injuries and the vehicles are driveable, the collision can be reported at any Calgary police district office.
3) Have your information ready
To complete a collision report at a district office, attend with the vehicle involved and the person who was driving. The following documents are required:
Operator’s License for the person who was driving;
certificate of registration for the motor vehicle involved
Proof of insurance
You should also bring all the information of the other vehicle involved in the collision.
Collisions cannot be reported online. If someone refuses to provide their information, advise them that they are required by law to provide information regardless of fault. If they still refuse contact the Calgary Police Service.
4) Make Notes and Take Photos
Make detailed notes of the person and the vehicle involved. Note or photograph the license plate of the other vehicle involved and the damages incurred.
5) Look for Independent Witnesses
Independent witnesses can add much needed unbiased information. This information is very helpful in determining the sequence of events.
6) Tell Your Insurance Company
In collisions where damage exceeds $2,000 dollars, your insurance company will require police report file number along with a brief description of what occurred. The police officer who took the report will provide you with your case # and a copy of your driver/witness statement.
In a matter of weeks, Canada will become just the second country in the world to fully legalize cannabis for recreational use. While many says it’s high time cannabis was legal, it is creating concerns across the country about the impact of drug impaired driving.
According to government statistics, impaired driving is the leading cause of criminal death and injury in Canada. While a significant portion of that is attributed to alcohol, the number of incidents involving drug impaired driving continues to grow. In 2016, there were more than 70,000 impaired driving incidents reported by the police, including almost 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents.
Cannabis impaired driving can result in injury or death for you, your passengers and others. Cannabis is known to impair judgement and affect your ability to react to road and traffic hazards. Mixing cannabis with alcohol further increases your level of impairment and leads to an even greater risk of an accident. In 2014 in Alberta, 19.1% of all road fatalities involved a driver who tested positive for both alcohol and drugs.
New Laws for Drug Impaired Driving
With the pending legalization of cannabis, parliament passed Bill C-46, the most comprehensive reform to the Criminal Code transportation regime in more than 40 years. The new law is designed to provide law enforcement the resources to better deter and detect drug and alcohol-impaired driving.
Bill C-46 authorizes police to use additional tools, such as roadside oral fluid drug screeners, enacts new driving offences for being over a prohibited blood drug concentration, and allows for blood samples to be collected without first requiring a driver to undergo a drug recognition evaluation.
Alberta has also introduced new drug-impaired driving legislation which align with the new federal regulations.
New Penalties for Drug Impaired Driving
Under the new legislation, all drivers who are reasonably believed to be criminally impaired, who fail or refuse to provide a fluid sample, or are found to be over the legal limits for alcohol, cannabis or cannabis/alcohol combination, will be subject to an immediate 90-day licence suspension, immediate 3-day vehicle seizure, mandatory remedial education and one-year participation in a provincial ignition interlock program. Drivers who do not participate in the ignition interlock program will remain suspended for the year. The penalties do not include other penalties for criminal code convictions that may be imposed by the court.
Only after cannabis becomes legal will we fully understand the impact it will have on traffic safety. The reliability of roadside saliva testing devices is being questioned and criminal lawyers across Canada predict cannabis related driving offences will further tie-up an already overstretched court system. One thing is certain, availability leads to consumption and that means more Canadians will be high behind the wheel.
Just like our bodies, our cars are also susceptible to sun damage. Your car’s exterior, as well as its interior, can be damaged by the sun’s powerful UV rays and if you’re not careful, you’ll start to see indications of this. Thankfully, there’s still hope! In this article, we’ll be taking a look at a few tried and tested methods that can help you protect your car from sun damage.
Parked outside on a hot summer’s day, your car’s metal shell is absorbing heat which heats up the trapped air inside, essentially turning your car into an oven! With temperatures sometimes exceeding 60C, prolonged exposure to such high hat can be detrimental to things like vinyl, plastic and leather which will start to show signs of cracking, fading and even staining. To protect your car’s interior from sun damage; keep the following tips in mind:
Use Sun Shades: Sun shades placed on windows and windshields can help reflect the sun’s heat. This will keep your car’s interior cooler and further protect exposed areas such as your seats, dashboard and trim from sun damage.
Cover those Seats. Seat covers will not only protect your car’s interior from stains and dirt, but can also significantly improve the level of sun protection whilst keeping them cooler.
Use Commercially Available Cleaners & Protectants. Nowadays there are loads of products out on the market that can be used to clean and protect your car’s interior. For example, special leather conditioners can keep your leather seats moisturized and protect them from cracking and fading. In turn, most dash and trim products are able to re-vitalize plastic and vinyl whilst protecting them from sun damage.
As we mentioned earlier, the UV rays produced by the sun can discolor and fade your car’s paint and interior. To keep your car in tip-top condition, we’ve provided a few solutions to protect your car’s exterior from sun damage.
Keep it Clean and Waxed. As with your car’s interior, it’s advisable to keep your car exterior clean throughout the summer. Washing with soap and water often will remove any dirt, dust, bugs, and bird droppings that have settled on your car. Additionally, waxing your car will lock in the paint’s natural oils and add an additional layer of protection from sun damage. Make sure you regularly clean and vacuum the interior too! Food, dust and dirt particles exposed to high temperatures can actually bake themselves into the seat, resulting in permanent stains.
Keep it out of direct sunlight. It’s especially important in the summer to keep your car parked out of direct sunlight whenever possible. Parking in a garage or any other shaded spot will further protect your car’s finish. We also recommend cracking your windows open slightly whenever possible. This will help the heated air we mentioned earlier escape and lower the car’s interior temperature, which helps protect your car’s interior from sun damage.
The above tips are definitely not exhaustive and there are lots more for you to protect your car from the sun. At All Makes Collision, we understand the sun’s damaging effects and are able to repair any sun damage that has already been caused. If your car has been damaged by the sun in any way, contact us today to find out how we can help.