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FAQs from Dilawri Group of Companies

  • How do I properly maintain my windshield wipers?
  • Windshield wipers are possibly the unsung hero of any car. Consider what they have to deal with: weather-induced grit and grime, residual dirt from the road or passers-by, or the occasional bird. They remain exposed day or night, winter or summer. The labour, depending on the circumstances, can occur for hours. There's the consistent switching between hot and cold, dry and wet. And they're made of only rubber: the same kind you might find on something as small as, say, an eyelash curler.

    This kind of unrelenting effort obviously points to our windshield wipers' inevitable breakdown. Routine replacement is definitely necessary, but how often? And which parts? Factors like what the wipers are made of, what sort of weather they're contending with, and how often they're used must be considered. Plain rubber blades, for example, usually last the shortest; with silicone blades being the best investment on a long-term basis.

    Though it seems like only a small part of your car, it's of utmost importance to keep them maintained. After all, they're the biggest contributors to your driving visibility and consequently, road safety.

    Experts' rule of thumb is to replace them every six months to a year, though if you notice the following, it's high time to get them changed no matter how recently you've done so:
    Streaking. This most commonly happens in colder temperatures. Freezing the rubber makes it hard and brittle. As a result, the material lacks the flexibility to make contact with the windshield and properly remove the dirt, leaving streaks.
    Chattering noises. This occurs when the wipers are left exposed to very hot temperatures, which results in a similar hardening of the rubber through essentially 'baking' it.
    Reduced effectiveness. For obvious reasons, wipers need to be replaced once they stop working as well. If extreme temperatures aren't an issue, simple dirt build-up can be the culprit. Dust and dirt that cling to the edge of the blades reduces the precision in which it removes debris. Water can also get under the blade, rendering the 'wiping' mechanism moot. You can't clean up with a dirty rag, so to speak.

    It's also important to consider other factors that could also be contributing to the wipers' effectiveness:
    Springs in the wiper arm, for example, are what adds pressure to the blade, giving the blade a firmer grip on the windshield. In that case, try pulling the arm away from the windshield. If it's easily done, it's time to replace them.
    Incompatible blades. Check with your automaker to ensure you get the proper replacements for your car's model. Add-ons such as anti-wind lift or the extra claws result in a different design. If the wrong ones are chosen, your blade holders wouldn't be able to fit them in, resulting in ineffective wiping.

    In tune with the upcoming winter, consider replacements that are specially designed for sub-zero temperatures! They contain an enclosed holder, making weather-induced damage less probable-and making them last longer for the season.

  • When should I do my car alignment and what do I need to know?
  • To call the act of 'car alignment' is slightly misleading. Also known as breaking, tracking, or wheel alignment, the act essentially entails adjusting the angles of the wheels for even driving. Despite the wheels being the ones adjusted, however, what's truly being tinkered with is the suspension itself. Even the smallest bump-a pothole, curb, or the pesky garbage can at the end of the driveway-can alter the elements within the suspension, consequently affecting the angles of the wheels.

    How can you tell when you car's wheels need to be aligned? There are a few ways-ones that are less obvious than you think:
    Uneven tire wear. If one wheel seems more scruffed than the others, chances are that the weight isn't distributed evenly.
    A vibrating steering wheel, indicating the wheel's tendency to drift towards a certain side.
    Driving straight with a tilted steering wheel. Chances are, if your car and steering wheel aren't agreeing in direction, something's wrong.

    There are different types of alignment, depending on which areas need to be adjusted and your car's suspension:
    Four-wheel alignment is used primarily for all-wheel or front-wheel drives with adjustable or independent suspensions. Because of that, both the front and rear must be addressed in order to align all four wheels accordingly.

    If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, then either the front-end alignment (for the front) or a thrust-angle alignment(for the rear) would be suited. In such cases, the wheels are adjusted depending on the alignment of either end, ensuring perpendicularity.

    Because different car makes have different methods of handling, adjusting the wheels according to your specific model is of utmost importance. After all, no car drives the same; fine-tuning the positions of the wheels for the automaker's intended driving experience and handling characteristics will make for the safest and most enjoyable ride possible. This is particularly true for high-performance or sports vehicles, which market themselves on a more volatile experience than most! As a result, it should be something that's done every time you bring in your car for regular maintenance. This'll keep your tires in better shape for a longer period of time, not to mention better gas mileage due to less resistance.

  • What are some things I need to know in case of an emergency during winter driving?
  • So we've addressed first thing for winter driving safety: tires. But getting the right wheels for the weather means nothing if you don't implement a few changes into your driving habits and routine. Here are some additional things to keep in mind before venturing out into less-than-optimal conditions.

    Check everything else. When bringing your car into your service provider (preferably one that's automaker-appropriate) for winter tire changes, make sure to address other parts of your vehicle: battery, belts, hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, tires, exhaust system, heater/defroster, wipers and ignition system. Ensuring that all those parts are working will increase your chances of a safer driving experience-and in case of something catastrophic, your chances of getting through it.

    Washer fluid! Visibility is the number-one danger of driving in bad weather. Make sure you have one rated at a minimum of -40C. An extra bottle in the trunk would be handy, too.

    Stock up on the tools. After all, the snow, ice and grit build-up isn't going to take care of itself. Trying times might even have you manually plowing through the roads for your car rather than the other way around. There should always be a snowbrush or ice-scraper, gas line antifreeze and a shovel in the trunk.

    Have a survival kit. 'Survival' is a lofty word-though a completely probable concern when you're driving up to Chicoutimi for the holidays under frosty circumstances. In addition to the necessary tools above, having things like booster cables, a tow rope, first-aid kit, blankets, matches, and extra food and water could be an absolute lifesaver.

    Handle with care. Having steady control of your vehicle in the wintertime takes more than just keeping your eyes on the road. In case of skidding, make sure to steer in the direction of the skid. If you are skidding in a straight line, step on the clutch or shift to neutral. Do not use cruise control when roads are wet; the automated acceleration will decrease your reaction time in cases of loss of control. And make sure you're aware of what the stopping distance is for your tires! If you're utilizing studded ones, for example, your stopping distance will be slightly shorter. Consult your chosen tire brand and type for more details.

  • How do I clean and maintain my car's interior leather?
  • No one's exempt to judging a car by its exteriors, but far too often we forget just how important its insides are, too. After all, there's a reason why the word luxury often applies to the description of a car's leather interiors: an optimal driving experience, cushioned by a well-maintained hide, derives only from what's within the vehicle. A car can look great, but how it feels to be cooped up in there is what ultimately matters most.

    There's definitely regular routine, tools, and methods as to how to keep your car's leather interiors looking good.

    Firstly, moisturize. Leather, after all, is just cow skin; what keeps it looking so lovely are the oils from the cow. Once removed from the animal, it's up to you to keep it soft. And because it is skin, leather does have pores - thus trapping dirt, preventing moisture from being properly absorbed. That's why cleaning should precede any usage of lotion and cream, which leads us to…

    Second, be gentle. Chemicals, in their harshness, are a no-no. Cleaners should be non-acidic. A spot test in a hidden area should be done prior to any usage. (If you're really careful, try using an old wallet or jacket-after all, leather is leather anywhere.) Make sure the cleaning agent has fully dried out prior to moisturizing, though. You don't rub in the cleaner.

    Third, be quick. Unlike other types of cleaning, where marinating the dirt in the cleaning agent is advised, cleaning leather should be done as quickly as possible. Dab the cleaner on, then wipe it off quickly with either a cloth or soft brush, carefully working your way throughout the area. It's time-consuming, but you don't want to risk the cleaning agent remaining on the fabric for too long in case of staining.

    And finally, get in the habit. Unfortunately, once leather cracks as a result of overt dryness, there's nothing to be done. That's why regular maintenance and moisturizing is so important. You want to prevent the cracks in times of temperature fluctuations, especially in the winter, and from spreading if they're already there. Four times a year is recommended.

  • Automatic vs. manual car washes: What are some of the pros and cons?
  • Be yours and your car's environment the city or suburbs, getting dirty is an inherent part of the driving experience-and naturally, as is getting it clean again.

    With the myriad of options now available, gone are the days of paying a reluctant teenager to scrub the mud off your wheels. There are exterior rollovers, self-service spots, full-service systems. There's waxing, rinsing, and a thousand types of soaps and chemicals. And with the suspicious convenience of automated systems, how would a car with a less durable exterior fare?

    Different types of cars and grit require different methods of dealing with them; here's Drivers Recess' crash course on car-washing.

    Automatic Wash 101
    To begin, there are three primary cons of the automated car wash:
    Harshness. Machines, though ever convenient, could cause swirl marks, particularly on darker coloured vehicles. The air blasts or towel-based systems used in drying the car after could also cause water spots.
    Contaminants. The brushes and cloths in automated car washes are utilized by thousands of cars; thus the dirt from those thousands of cars can accumulate and scratch your vehicle's surface.
    Size accommodation. The drive-in systems may be unable to properly suit the width of wider cars, increasing the chances of damaging problem spots.

    Luckily, these are issues that can be skirted, baring in mind the different variations of the automatic car wash. Drive-in systems typically come in two types: the touchless system, which only uses high-powered water jets and soaps in order to clean the car, making swirl marks less probable. The cloth friction system, in contrast, does use soft cloths and scrubbers in order to eliminate truly stubborn spots. In both cases, chemicals in the pre-soak-to loosen particles-does carry the risk of surface damage.

    With that said, the primary pros of the automated system are obvious. There's the convenience, dialing down an hour-long (or more!) manual session into ten minutes machined washing, drying and waxing in which your car re-emerges good as new. Hard-to-reach spots or extremely embedded particles are also defenseless against the thorough soaking of the entire car in a drive-in system.

    Manual Wash 101
    If you do choose to err on the side of caution and go for the manual wash instead, you'll certainly need:
    A wash mitt made of microfiber or sheepskin, which would clean more gently and thoroughly than sponges or towels due to their ability to pick up dirt.
    A drying cloth. Make sure it's absorbent with a waffle-weave; that type of fabric retains water best.
    Buckets!
    Soap, of course-designed specifically for washing cars. Other types of soap, such as dish detergent, can wear on a car's wax finish, leaving it dull. The anti-spotting chemicals in special car wash soaps can also help avoid staining.

    Other things to keep in mind are:
    Location, location, location. Direct sunlight can cause uneven drying, leaving the exposed areas spotty.
    Wheels first. A proper wheel cleaner will be harsh enough, as this is likely the dirtiest part of your vehicle. An older, dirty mitt or sponge here will suffice. Also ensure that the wheels are cooled down before beginning, as heat can evaporate the cleaner, leaving the chemicals to spot or stain your wheels.
    Soak the stains. Target and soak pesky areas caused by stickier substances before washing the rest of your car. Caustic rubbing can embed the dirt even further into the car's surface, making them harder to remove.
    Clean your mitts in the process. Use two buckets-one for rinsing off the dirty mitts, the other for the soapy mixture made according to the product's instructions (don't forget to dilute!).
    Dry fast. Immediate drying after the final rinse will avoid water spots. Make sure to open the car doors, hood and trunk to dry those edges to avoid water spots that can occur due to the excess water dripping and accumulating around those areas.

GUIDE TO TIRES

  • What do I need to know about Winter tires?
  • Winter brings forth many driving unpleasantries: clouded visibility, slippery roads, and rapid temperature fluctuations that affect vehicle parts.

    These conditions affect everyone: no matter how little it snows where you are, how mild in comparison to the rest of the country, or how robust the promise of your 'all season' tires is. Winter tires are indeed essential, and to properly equip your vehicle for the below-zero drop is of utmost importance for a safe driving experience. Unfortunately, only 52% of Canadians choose to install winter tires. Be it a matter of finances, ignorance or inconvenience, compromise is no excuse when it comes to road safety.

    With the plethora of choices, circumstances and prices out there, here's a comprehensive guide to purchasing the right winter tires for your car-and how to maintain them.

    Differentiating Different Tire Types

    The majority of road tires can be classified into three groups: summer / high-performance tires, all-season tires, and winter tires.

    Summer / high-performance tires
    High temperatures call for a tire made of more malleable materials, allowing for better grip and handling in sweltering times. A softer rubber compound with shallow grooves and larger tread lugs or blocks is the answer to those conditions. However, because of its softer make-up, durability isn't very high; a hazard for the harsh conditions of icy winter roads. Summer tires also have poor water dispersion, making them unable to deal with the rapidly melting or freezing snow consequent of fluctuating temperatures.

    All-season tires
    Embodying the 'best qualities' of the more-pliable summer tire and the water dispersion and grip-improving groove and tread design of winter tires, the all-season tire seems to be able to do it all-at least, until temperatures drop below 7C, which is when all-season tires begin to lose grip. Though generally able to handle most driving situations and are longer-lasting than the typical summer / high-performance tire, all-season tires fail at handling real Canadian winters.

    Winter tires
    Winter tires are designed to function at lower temperatures, as noted by their many specific design variations from the summer / high-performance and all-season tires.

    First, the rubber compound. The make-up of the winter tire itself is made of a complicated combination of rubber and other substances, including silica, wires, even crushed walnut shells for improved grip and suppleness even at subzero temperatures.

    The tread pattern is also a major component of the winter tire's utility. Designed to rid itself of snow from the tread as the tire rotates, the tire thus is able to maintain grip on the road despite the water and ice. This mechanism also prevents the car from using too much energy in accelerating and control in light of otherwise obstructing conditions.

    Lastly, siping-a method referring to the lateral cuts made in each tread lug-enhances the tread's flexibility. The increase of edges on the tire's surface also provides better handling while accelerating or braking.

    Commonly Made Mistakes

    Installing winter tires on only either the front or rear end of vehicle This will only result in an imbalanced driving experience, courtesy of the vastly different design functions and capabilities of each different tire (as illustrated above). One end of the car having more grip than the other is a recipe for disaster.

    Forgoing winter tires for all-wheel drives with traction / stability control
    While all-wheel drives with traction and stability control can certainly help with the effect winter conditions have on handling and acceleration, braking is not a considered factor here-whereas winter tires can reduce the post-brake distance by up to 30%.

    The financial cost of winter tires
    A set of winter tires paired with a set of all-season tires will, in a long run, last much longer than two sets of all-season tires; thus providing value for your dollar. Understanding exactly what it is that you need depending on the typical weather conditions of your location (e.g. heavy amounts of snow, city slush, hail) could also prevent the need to purchase pricier winter tires with unnecessary functions.

  • What is the benefit of summer/high performance tires?
  • High temperatures call for a tire made of more malleable materials, allowing for better grip and handling in sweltering times. A softer rubber compound with shallow grooves and larger tread lugs or blocks is the answer to those conditions. However, because of its softer make-up, durability isn't very high; a hazard for the harsh conditions of icy winter roads. Summer tires also have poor water dispersion, making them unable to deal with the rapidly melting or freezing snow consequent of fluctuating temperatures.

  • How about all-season tires?
  • Embodying the 'best qualities' of the more-pliable summer tire and the water dispersion and grip-improving groove and tread design of winter tires, the all-season tire seems to be able to do it all-at least, until temperatures drop below 7C, which is when all-season tires begin to lose grip. Though generally able to handle most driving situations and are longer-lasting than the typical summer / high-performance tire, all-season tires fail at handling real Canadian winters.

  • Why do winter tires provide an advantage during the colder months?
  • Winter tires are designed to function at lower temperatures, as noted by their many specific design variations from the summer / high-performance and all-season tires.

    First, the rubber compound. The make-up of the winter tire itself is made of a complicated combination of rubber and other substances, including silica, wires, even crushed walnut shells for improved grip and suppleness even at subzero temperatures.

    The tread pattern is also a major component of the winter tire's utility. Designed to rid itself of snow from the tread as the tire rotates, the tire thus is able to maintain grip on the road despite the water and ice. This mechanism also prevents the car from using too much energy in accelerating and control in light of otherwise obstructing conditions.

    Lastly, siping-a method referring to the lateral cuts made in each tread lug-enhances the tread's flexibility. The increase of edges on the tire's surface also provides better handling while accelerating or braking.

  • Can I install winter tires on only the rear or front of my car?
  • This will only result in an imbalanced driving experience, courtesy of the vastly different design functions and capabilities of each different tire. One end of the car having more grip than the other is a recipe for disaster.

  • Should I forgo switching to winter tires if I have all-season tires?
  • While all-wheel drives with traction and stability control can certainly help with the effect winter conditions have on handling and acceleration, braking is not a considered factor here-whereas winter tires can reduce the post-brake distance by up to 30%.

  • How much will winter tires cost me?
  • A set of winter tires paired with a set of all-season tires will, in a long run, last much longer than two sets of all-season tires; thus providing value for your dollar. Understanding exactly what it is that you need depending on the typical weather conditions of your location (e.g. heavy amounts of snow, city slush, hail) could also prevent the need to purchase pricier winter tires with unnecessary functions.

TIRE CHANGES: THE WHENS AND HOWS

  • When, where, and how do I change a spare tire? I'd like to put a short guide to these questions in the glovebox of my car.
  • Nowadays if we do happen to puncture a tire and need to install a spare we can call many types of road side assistances. But what if your phone is died your stranded in the middle of nowhere (let's hope it's warm) and you have a flat tire? You're stuck and you'll need to depend on yourself to get back on the road. Don't let yourself be intimated by changing a tire- it's simple enough and we've put together some simple instructions below. Remember when in doubt always turn to your owner's manual, there are many useful tips in there.

    1. Find a flat, stable and safe place to change your tire. You need a solid, level surface that will restrict the car from rolling- Try to avoid hills; you don't want your vehicle rolling away on you.

    2. Apply the parking brake and make sure your car is in the "Park" position.

    3. Take out the spare tire and the jack, you should always make sure you have one in your vehicle at all times.

    4. Place the jack under the frame near the tire that you are going to change. Make sure the jack is in contact with the metal portion of your car's frame. Some cars have plastic molding along the bottom. If you don't place the jack in the right place, it may crack the plastic when you start lifting. If you're not sure about the right place to put the jack, read your owner's manual, you can never go wrong there.

    5. Raise the jack until it is supporting (but not lifting) the car. The jack should be firmly in place against the underside of the vehicle. Check to make sure that the jack is perpendicular to the ground.

    6. Remove the hub cap and loosen the nuts by turning counterclockwise. Don't take them all the way off; just break the resistance. By keeping the wheel on the ground when you first loosen the nuts, you'll make that you're turning the nuts instead of the wheel.

    7. Pump or crank the jack to lift the tire off the ground. You need to lift it high enough to remove the flat tire and replace it with a spare. As you lift, make sure that the car is stable. If you notice any instability, lower the jack and fix the problem before fully lifting the car.

    8. Remove the nuts the rest of the way. Turn them counter clockwise until they are loose. Repeat with all lug nuts, and then remove them completely.

    9. Remove the tire. Place the flat tire under the vehicle so in the event of a jack failure the vehicle will fall on the old wheel, hopefully preventing injury. If the jack is placed on a flat, solid base, you shouldn't have any problems.

    10. Place the spare tire on the hub. Take care to align the rim of the spare tire with the wheel bolts, and then put on the lug nuts.

    11. Tighten the nuts by hand until they are all snug. They should turn easily at first.
    Try to avoid using so much force that you risk upsetting the jack. You will tighten the lug nuts again once the car is down and there is no risk of it falling.

    12. Lower the car without applying full weight on the tire. Tighten the nuts as much as possible.

    13. Lower the car to the ground fully and remove the jack. Finish tightening the nuts and replace the hubcap.

    14. Put the old tire in your trunk and take it to a mechanic.

THE MOST ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT GASOLINE

  • Other than price, what is the difference between regular, midgrade, and premium gasoline?
  • Gasolines are all rated based on octane. If you check your vehicles owner's manual, you will find the recommended level for your engine. To ensure you are getting the best performance out of your vehicle, you should use the octane recommended in your owner's manual and on some vehicles refueling latch. Most vehicles do not benefit from a higher octane level than what is recommended, but using a lower octane can cause your vehicle some very noticeable issues.

    Using lower octane gas (Regular or Midgrade) than the car is recommended to take can result in fewer miles per tankful than you may expect. So even though you may be paying less for gas you will not be getting great value for the money spent.

    On the technical side higher octane content are more stable, and resist premature detonation of fuel when it first enters the combustion chamber. If fuel octane measurement isn't high enough for your vehicle's engine pressure, that premature detonation causes harmful "knocking" of pistons, connecting rods, and intake/exhaust valve parts. No to mention more fuel is left unburned at the end of the combustion stroke which causes a number of ill effects. The end effect is sluggish performance and noticeably lowers fuel economy.

    Things can possibly progress for the worse, if your check engine lights stays on it can at times be due to multiple misfires (often too slight to notice) resulting from carbon and sludge building up on fuel injectors, intake manifolds, pistons, and cylinder walls. The fix for this is labor, which can be intensive - a technician could possibly have to disassemble the top part of the engine and literally scrub the carbon off engine parts for the car to run right again. Unless resulting from another specific problem, this can be caused by unburned/low quality fuel.

    So long story short, if your vehicle recommends a higher grade gas, go for it because the savings at the pump aren't worth the long term issues that can occur by pumping lower grade.

  • Does gas have an expiration date?
  • In general, gasoline should be used within a month of purchase. When the engine will not be used for an extended period of time, it's best to drain the fuel tank and then run the engine until it stalls. If you choose to store gasoline, keep it in a very nearly full, tightly sealed metal container in a cool environment. Be sure to leave some room in the container to allow for some expansion. Under these conditions, the gasoline can be expected to remain of good quality for at least six months.

  • Is there a situation where the octane my vehicle needs would differ from the level recommended in my owner's manual?
  • In general, the octane a vehicle needs aligns with the manufacturer's recommendation. However, each vehicle is different, owing to factors such as manufacturing variability, mileage, type of operation and general condition. As a result, some vehicles may require a higher octane, particularly after an initial period of operation. If knocking or pinging suddenly occurs, using a higher octane grade may resolve the problem.

  • What kind of gas should I use in my lawnmower/garden equipment?
  • Consult your owner's manual for a recommendation. Generally, Regular gasoline will be fine. If the engine is 2-cycle the oil may also be required in the fuel. This will be explained in the owner's manual.

  • Who decides how much gas is going to cost?
  • In most countries with free markets, service station operators - many of whom are independent business people - set retail pump prices. The supplier typically sells the station owner gasoline at a wholesale price reflecting prevailing market conditions. The station operator then decides what price he will charge the public.

    When supply exceeds demand, service stations will lower prices to compete with each other for business. When demand exceeds supply, service stations raise prices to prevent run-outs. Higher prices encourage station owners and suppliers to seek additional supplies. This competition generally rebalances supply and demand quickly with minimal disruption to consumers.

  • What should I do if the gas gets on my car or myself? / How do I get the smell of fuel off my hands?
  • Gasoline on your vehicle can be wiped away with a rag or paper towel. Washing with soap and water will typically remove any odor from your hands, but if the scent lingers, try mixing vanilla extract with water and rubbing it on your hands until the mixture reduces or removes the smell. You can also use rubbing alcohol or lemon juice. Once gasoline smell is gone, wash your hands with soap and water once more to avoid any stickiness.

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