Category: Articles

Quick Tips to Keep Your Car Clean During COVID

Originally posted by Dan Heyman – via

As kids and parents prepare to plan for schools reopening – if they reopen, that is, as the jury is still out on whether or not COVID-related closures should continue into the school year – and prepare to formulate plans on how to best ensure that the kids are travelling to and from school in as clean an environment as possible (and that everyone else is once your kids step out), keeping your vehicle clean is more important than ever before.

Of course, the need to clean one’s vehicle regularly is not such a simple ask. We all lead busy lives and after household duties, work and any leisure activities we and our children are able to enjoy, car cleaning tends to fall pretty far down the list. Now, however, while we’ve all become adept and cleaning our childrens’ hands when they return home from any activity, we need to do the same for our cars if we’re going to be using them for school runs.

If your busy schedules don’t allow for entire interior detailing appointments every time your kids step out of the car – and if your lives are anything like ours, we doubt they do – here are a few helpful tips on from us and an expert in the field of auto detailing on how to keep your car clean “on-the-fly”, as it were.

Ed Marchese is the general manager of J.S. Auto Detail and Media Fleet Services in Vancouver, B.C. His company provides services from basic cleaning and detailing all the way up to professional cut and polish services, and while many of his clients are bringing in their own personal cars, he also services various fleets from the film and TV industry, the public sector and importantly for journalists, the fleet vehicles that we are provided for car testing.

While wiping a car down is important, Marchese says it’s not as simple as one may think: “Do not use Clorox, Lysol wipes or bleach for interior cleaning. Those will ruin the leather and plastics over time. For at-home use, (warm water) and dish soap is the best choice.”

Having said that, he does say that there are various companies that develop Lysol wipe-style systems specific for automobiles. Turtle Wax, Armor All and Meguiar’s all make wipes that are vehicle-interior specific. Canadian Tire has these and others available online.

When it comes to press fleet distribution, Mondays tend to be the busiest as that’s typically when journalists swap cars. Before COVID, Marchese would be able to clean and turn around a car in an hour. Now, however, manufacturers are requiring more precise cleanup jobs, roughly doubling the time it takes Marchese and his team to prep the interior of a car; according to him, what used to take 20 minutes now takes 40 minutes. Of course, not everyone has 40 minutes to spare whenever they get the kids back home from school, so there are certain areas that Marchese says one needs to focus on:

If you’re not using a child’s seat, this is probably #1 on your punch list when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting. Seatbelts and their buckles get manhandled every which way and since they sit so low in the car and can get buried in seat cushions, they aren’t as susceptible to the UV exposure that we’ve learned tends to kill COVID. Clean these. Clean them well, and clean them often. While working over a whole interior may take time, wiping down seatbelts does not.

And while we’re on the subject of “must-clean”, make sure you get on these, and quick. The storage bin cover between the front seats, the armrests mounted to the doors and of course those on either side of second-row captain’s chairs in SUVs and minivans should all be taken care of. Since they’re usually pretty broad surfaces, this should take even less time than the seatbelts. A helpful reminder: don’t just clean the armrests on your doors – you’ll want to clean the area on the door card mounted behind them as well.

Once you’ve done the armrests it makes sense to move to the door pulls and releases, as they tend to be part of the same assembly as the armrest. Like the armrests, these are the one area that will get lots of traffic.

Also in this general vicinity are the window and door lock controls – be sure to give them a scrub as they are fun for kids to play with even if they have absolutely no intention of actually rolling down the windows. Although, while summer is waning, there’s still plenty of hot weather to come and those window controls are going to get used.

Cleaning all the buttons and knobs up front is important – and can be somewhat time-consuming – but don’t let that have you forget to clean the rear seat climate control buttons, usually mounted to the rear of the centre console. These can be reached by kids sat in the back, and will be as we continue to deal with warmer temperatures. Again, an easy job that shouldn’t take too long.

So that takes care of the kids. What if you happen to share your car with someone else? Perhaps your teenager has just got their learner’s permit, and wants to go out with some friends…

Obvious, yeah? Well, not so fast. While one might quickly scrub the wheel rim down, there’s a lot more to it than that. The steering wheel hub – often the landing spot for airborne spittle – should not be forgotten, nor should the spokes. Also: wheels these days contain ever more complex button sets; each button should be paid close attention to. And don’t forget the steering column adjust lever or button, either.

The gear lever is probably the next most-obvious arear to make sure you cover during wipe-down. Forget these at your peril.

One should remember that seat controls should be carefully cleaned, as they are oh-so-appealing to toy with. I know, as my daughter loves them. Be sure to give them a scrub, as well as the fore/aft levers below the seat cushions. If you have older kids that can safely sit in the front passenger seat, then chances are that glovebox lever is either going to get played with or brushed against once or twice. And don’t forget about that neat little fold-out sunglasses door at the top of your windscreen because before you know it, you’ll instinctively reach for it and realize that it didn’t receive the once-over.

These are easy to forget since they’re so neatly tucked away and barely used…until they are. Worth a once-over, considering how quickly it can be done.

While it is suggested that UV exposure can take care of surface-level COVID in about five minutes, it would still pay to make sure that your door handles are good to go. Stay ahead of the game on these, as you’ll likely not be quick enough once you park to get a wipe on those handles before the kiddies are ripping them open, eager to get back home for a quick spot of Fortnite before dinner. The exterior trunk release, meanwhile, is important because, as Marchese says, “it’s an (often) forgotten touch point”. So don’t forget it. Maybe give your backup camera lens a wipe while you’re at it? They usually tend to reside in similar environs.

We’ve seen dividers between front and back seats for years in taxi cabs and so on, but the onset of COVID has more regular folks installing these in their cars as well. They’re more the domain of Lyft drivers and so on, but if you want to be extra-super-safe, there are companies throughout Canada that are fabricating these for public sale. Check out Scene Ideas in Vancouver and Vision Glass in Toronto to see how to cab-ify your car.

How to Take a Quarantine Getaway Road Trip

Originally posted by MEDEA GIORDANO – via

You might have had to cancel your trip to Hawaii, but you can still go on an end-of-summer expedition.

Summer is synonymous with vacations. Whether you prefer all-out island trips or you’re more like me and take weekend trips away at a friend’s house, quarantine has probably (at best) interrupted your plans. Some states have started opening up in phases, but it’s still not a good idea to get on a plane or head to a busy tourist destination anytime soon. Most other countries have travel restrictions anyway.

But that doesn’t mean cabin fever hasn’t been creeping in. Thankfully, there are things you can do to get out of the space you’ve been occupying nearly 24/7 for the past five months. This is not the time to take a cross-country road trip in search of yourself like Britney Spears in Crossroads, but you can still drive to unique places nearby. Here’s how to safely take a road trip and some suggestions on what to bring.

If you can’t get away, we have recommendations on ways to stay entertained at home. Check out our guides to phone games to survive social distancing, gear for making beer, wine, cider, and mead, how to stay sane in quarantine, and how to stay productive through it all.

Find a Spot in Your State (and Be Smart About It)

The Destination

Right now, we need to be more mindful of where we’re going and who we’re seeing. You probably shouldn’t be traveling out of state, but if you do, many states now require visitors to quarantine for 14 days. (You need to do the same when you return to your home state.) Skip public pools and tourist attractions. And if there’s any chance you could be infected with Covid-19, or you’re just not feeling well, call your doctor and do not leave your house.

If you’ve been quarantining and need to get out, think about the places close by that you have overlooked. Do you live near a weird roadside attraction that probably won’t be overrun with people? A historic landmark? Or maybe you’re near a lake or a national park that’s reopened? You’ll need to do some Googling to find results in your home state (this seems like a handy website to check). Find somewhere nearby, pack a lunch, and make a day trip out of it, or find a socially distanced campground and stay the night (or three).

If you’re near one of the 12 cabin sites offered by Getaway, they’re open at limited capacity to maintain distance. Check-in and check-out are contact-free, the cabins are between 50 and 150 feet apart (depending on the outpost), and there are no communal spaces for strangers to interact.

Take Extra Precautions

How to Stay Safe

If you find yourself around others at any point on your trip, make sure you wear a face mask. You can buy nice masks or make your own. You’ll need to wash them relatively frequently, so bring a few extras. Washing your hands is just as important if not more. It won’t be easy on a road trip, so you can either bring a lot of water in reusable bottles or pack enough hand sanitizer for everyone. (We have a guide on how to make some yourself.)

A gas can will minimize social interactions on your trip too. But if you don’t want to do that, put on disposable gloves before you touch a gas pump; take the gloves off immediately after—don’t touch your door, your phone, and your face—and sanitize your hands. And please, do not throw dirty gloves on the ground.

Not every public bathroom is closed, but many are. If you’re going to a campground, ask beforehand whether the public bathrooms are open, and check the status of any rest stops along the way. You may need to prepare for going in the woods.

If You Need to Rent a Car


If you don’t own a car, you can still get away by renting one. Prices will vary depending on the type of car you need, the length of your trip, and how far you’re taking it. WIRED writer Matt Jancer recommends Enterprise, but he says Hertz and Avis are solid alternatives if the price is right. Discount rental car services, like Thrifty and Dollar, can be hit or miss. All the top services are thoroughly cleaning cars between customers. (You can find statements on their websites for Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis), but we recommend going through the car with disinfectant wipes just to be safe.

If you don’t want to rent a car (or don’t have a driver’s license), we suggest waiting this one out. Public transportation might be running, but there are a lot of unknowns when you’re getting on a bus or train.

Don’t Overpack

The Basics

Depending on how far you’re going and how long you plan to stay, consider the following basics:

  • Comfortable sneakers or hiking boots. And if you’re so inclined, Birkenstock EVAs for relaxing.
  • Extra socks and underwear.
  • Face masks. You’ll likely have to stop for gas or interact with people at some point.
  • Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. You may need to search the depths of your local grocery store for either.
  • Disposable gloves. These are handy for when you need to touch things like bathroom door handles and gas pumps.
  • A bag. You probably have one already, but if you need a good weekender, we really like this one from Baboon to the Moon ($149). It comes in fun colors and styles. You can also check out the company’s 22L Backpack ($89), which should be able to fit everything you need.

Here are some extras you might be into, depending on your plans:

  • Layers. Depending on where you are, temperatures can dip at night.
  • A Kindle. These ebook readers are affordable, and you don’t need to charge them for several weeks. Bring one so everyone can choose a scary story to read around the campfire.
  • An instant camera. Phone cameras are superb, but taking pictures on an actual camera is an unbeatable feeling.
  • A Nintendo Switch Lite. If you have one, don’t forget to pack it! Nintendo’s little console is a great way to pass the time in the car if you’re not driving or navigating.

The Case for a GPS

Garmin Drive 52 GPS

Yes, Google Maps on your smartphone is likely all you need, but if you’re going to an area where your phone may lose service (or you want to limit your data usage) get a dedicated GPS device. You can download maps to use offline on your phone, but if you get lost or have a last-minute change of plans, you’ll need internet to figure out where you are. Having a GPS as a backup is important. This Garmin I bought in 2014 is still my most coveted piece of tech. You don’t need the latest and greatest—though they’re quite nice. Any Garmin GPS still in production will do.

Bring Your Food and Drinks

Pelican Elite 20QT

It doesn’t matter if your trip is going to last a day or a full weekend, you should pack lunch, dinner, and extra snacks and drinks. At a time where it’s up in the air whether restaurants or food halls are open, and you’re trying to limit contact with other people as much as possible, it makes sense to have it all with you. You’ll need to keep it all fresh and cool, so a cooler will come in handy.

We have a guide filled with coolers we like for all situations and budgets, but the Pelican Elite 20QT is our choice for road trips because it’s tall and narrow. It fits into most trunks or back seats. In our testing, ice stayed frozen for two days, even after being driven around and stored outside in 80-degree weather. It has four cupholders with drains, so it can be used as a small drink table too.

A Comfortable Shelter

Coleman 4-Person Cabin Tent

You probably don’t need a tent that’s super luxurious or ultra-lightweight for a casual road trip, so you have ample affordable options. WIRED senior writer Adrienne So loves all things Coleman, and its $190 4-Person Cabin Tent—with a screened “porch,” nonetheless!—should give most people enough headroom, and it fits a queen-sized air mattress.

We haven’t tried the Ozark Trail 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent, but it’s a popular brand among campers and costs just $125, with enough room for two queen-sized air mattresses. If you aren’t concerned about budget, we like the MSR Habitude 4. It packs down small, is easy to set up, and has a built-in vestibule for your dirty shoes, but it costs $500.

Even the most seasoned camper probably doesn’t love sleeping on the ground. A sleeping mat, like the Alps Mountaineering Lightweight Series Air Pad, will give your back a bit of relief. It’s not as good as an air mattress, but it takes up less room.

If You Need to Power Up

Nimble 10-Day Portable Charger

Road trips are a great opportunity to step away from endless scrolling, but there will be times when you need to plug in. To keep everything running, we like Nimble’s Portable Charger. It has one USB-C port and three USB-As. The name 10-Day refers to the ability to charge a phone fully for 10 days. There’s also a three-port 8-Day version for around $100.

If you’re going to be on the road for a while, Goal Zero’s power station packs a powerful punch—with a 187-WH capacity. It has enough power to charge your laptop, phone, or tablet, but it’s quite pricey at $300.

If You’re on the Road Long-Term (and Need Cell Signal)

weBoost Drive Reach Cell Phone Signal Booster

A cell signal booster isn’t necessary for most people, but if you’re planning to be on the road awhile in relatively untraversed parts of the country, you might want to invest in one. WIRED writer Scott Gilbertson spent three years living on the road in an RV and constantly struggled with reception until he started testing the weBoost. He recommends the Drive Reach. At $500, it’s not cheap, but if you need reliable cell service far from a home base, it’s a must-have.

Use Caution: Handling Winter Driving Conditions in Alberta

Originally by Mark Richardson via AMA Insider –

There are many ways that winter roads can be hazardous in Alberta. Here are some of them, and what you should do to make sure you’re safely handling winter driving conditions.

When road markings are obscured, slow down and leave lots of stopping distance. Always clear snow from your vehicle, including the roof. “You have to be able to see and be seen by others,” Wilson says. “Clean off your lights, mirrors and windows. If you leave a couple centimeters of snow on your hood, it’ll blow onto your windshield and snow on your roof or trunk will blow onto the car behind you.”

Ice is often plentiful at intersections, where vehicles brake and accelerate. It’s also likely to form on bridges because the cool air beneath the span freezes the water on its upper surface. Slow down and leave extra room for stopping.

Black ice is just like ice but not so apparent—it’s “black” because the ice is clear and you can see the asphalt below. Watch for a sheen on the road surface and treat it as you would ice.

Freezing rain can make conditions so dicey that it’s sometimes safest to pull off the highway and wait. If you must drive, be sure you have good winter tires and wiper blades, plus plenty of wiper fluid.

If you find yourself behind a snowplow, be grateful the road is being cleared and be patient. Don’t try to overtake it! “Every winter, there are crashes involving people trying to pass the plow,” Wilson says.

If you see emergency vehicles, including tow trucks, slow down to 60 kilometers per hour or the posted speed, whichever is lower. If possible, give them extra space by moving into the adjacent lane.

As with falling snow or freezing rain, if you run into fog, use your headlights’ low beams. “If you use high beams, it’s going to magnify the snow and fog and you’re not going to see very well,” Wilson says. “Or if you have fog lights, use them.”

Animals will often wander near winter roadways, drawn by the salt and other detritus thrown up by cars. Keep an eye out for signs warning of wildlife.

Eight tips for handling your vehicle in slippery winter conditions:

  1. Always hold the steering wheel with both hands. “Use 9-and-3 positioning, so you can easily straighten out without oversteering,” says Ron Wilson of AMA Driver Education.
  2. Don’t use cruise control on slippery roads. Your tires can lose traction trying to maintain a set speed.
  3. Apply your brakes well before entering a turn, so the vehicle slows down in a straight line. Leave plenty of extra room for braking.
  4. Don’t pump the brakes—especially if your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS). “If you pump, you’re saying to the system, ‘I want to stop, I don’t want to stop, I want to stop, and so on,” Wilson notes. “With ABS, as soon as you apply the brakes full-on, it brings the vehicle to a stop.”
  5.  If your car was built before 2011, it may not have ABS. In which case, push your brake pedal until it’s at the threshold of locking. Then ease up from there.
  6. If you’re driving around a curve and your car starts to slide, keep a light grip on the wheel and steer gently in the direction you want the vehicle to go. Just don’t turn the wheel too much: When the tires catch their grip again, you don’t want to overcorrect.
  7. Don’t touch the brakes if your car is skidding out. If possible, shift into neutral and let the car slow on its own.
  8. Look ahead down the road where you want to go and that’s where you’ll steer to. When the tires have found their grip again, resume an appropriate speed.

Originally by Mark Richardson via AMA Insider –

Recommended Winter Driving Tips

Source: By Ron Wilson via, April 6, 2018

Heading out on the road after the first snowfall requires most of us to quickly think back to last winter and remember what we’re supposed to do (or not do) when driving on good winter roads and sometimes on less than ideal road conditions and more so when severe weather hits.

We’ve got you covered. Here are some tips so you know what to do:

  • Look well ahead and watch for black ice at temperatures between +4°C and -4°C, where the road surface ahead looks black and shiny. Most times, a driver can’t see black ice. As a general rule, if the pavement looks shiny and black instead of grey-white, slow down.
  • Watch for ice build-up at intersections, bridge decks and ramps and always slow down before the icy area.
  • Drive for the conditions. Winter road conditions can change very quickly, so drive proactively, reduce your speed, leave more space between you and the vehicle in front.
  • Use gentle braking, steering and acceleration when driving on snow covered roads.
  • Never use cruise control on wet or icy roads. Using cruise control when there is a build-up of water and ice can cause your vehicle to hydroplane (a loss of control due to a layer of water between your tires and the road). Remember, cruise control is designed for ideal road conditions.
  • Snowplows are equipped with flashing amber and red lights to make them more visible, so be aware flashing amber and red means snowplow ahead.
  • Give emergency road crews room to work. Drivers should allow extra room on the road for snowplow and tow truck operators, as well as for paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement. Also remember that drivers must reduce speed to 60 km/h or the posted speed, whichever is lower, when passing emergency vehicles or tow trucks that are stopped with their lights flashing.
  • Check your highway route before you leave the house. Visit our AMA Road Reports® interactive map from your computer, smartphone, or tablet before you head out on your travels, or follow us on Twitter to get updates on road & weather condition information.

Quick Question: In a 90km/h zone, are you speeding if you’re driving at 80km/h?
Answer: Yes – if you’re driving through blowing snow. Speed limits posted on highway signs, indicate the maximum speed you should travel at based on ideal road, weather or traffic conditions. The reality is speeding can also refer to travelling too fast for those conditions.

Source: By Ron Wilson via, April 6, 2018

How to Inspect a Tire

By Michelin | via

Once a month, or before embarking on a long road trip, check your tires for wear and damage problems. An easy way to check for wear is by using the quarter test. Just grab a Canadian quarter and follow these 3 easy steps:

  • Hold the quarter between your thumb and forefinger with the quarter head facing down.
  • Select a point on your tire where tread appears the lowest and insert the figurehead first into one of the grooves.
  • If the top of the figurehead is covered by tread, you’re driving with the legal and safe amount of tread. If your tread gets below that, your car’s ability to grip the road in adverse conditions is greatly reduced.

For more serious problems, try our easy-to-use online tire inspection tool below to help you identify issues and learn how to fix them. (Need new tires? Use our practical Michelin Tire Selector Tool)

To make sure your car’s tread is road-ready, do the Quarter Test below.


Summer Driving Safety Tips

By Ron Wilson on June 18, 2018 | via

Did you know that 86 percent of collisions in Alberta involve at least one driver committing an avoidable error? Before hitting the road in the summer months, protect yourself – and fellow drivers – by brushing up on your driver safety tips.


Tires are often the most neglected part of a vehicle. They should be checked visually prior to each trip, and at least once a month with a tire gauge. Not only will improperly inflated tires affect handling and performance, they can have a negative impact on safety devices such as antilock braking systems, traction control systems, and stability control systems.

Did you know, for instance, that many tire blowouts are caused by improperly inflated tires? The low air pressure causes tire heating and ultimately rubber failure. And if the pressure is really low, the rim will dig into the tire’s liner, compromising the structure.

Other good tire tips include:

  • Check the condition and placement of the spare tire.
  • Measure tire pressure when the tires are cold. “Cold” means that a vehicle has been stationary for at least three hours or has not been driven more than 2 km.

Checking tires will benefit drivers by improving handling and braking performance. Other benefits to proper tire inflation include increased driver safety, longer tire service life, better fuel economy, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.


Do you know what to do if you have a tire blowout? Having put hundreds of drivers through our Roadbot driving simulator’s “tire blowout” module, I can tell you that most people respond incorrectly to such a situation. This bears out in NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) data, which shows that tire-related crashes are linked to 700 deaths in North America every year.

No matter which tire blows out – the front or the rear – the steps for safely maintaining control of your vehicle are the same; the only difference is in how you feel it. In a front tire blowout, you will feel the force more in the vehicle’s steering in the direction of the tire that has blown; in a rear blowout, you will feel it more in the seat or body of the vehicle.

Remember, the goal in any blowout scenario is to keep the vehicle balanced and under control. Keep calm, as any overreaction – including oversteering, slamming on the brakes or abruptly removing your foot from the accelerator – can result in a loss of vehicle control.

Should you ever have a tire blowout, AMA recommends the following steps:

  • Hold the steering wheel with both hands (preferably in the 9 & 3 steering position).
  • Gradually release the accelerator.
  • Look well ahead, steering where you want to go to stabilize your vehicle and regain control. Correct the steering as necessary.
  • Once your vehicle has stabilized, apply gentle pressure to the brake pedal. Continue to slow down and pull off the road.
  • Park in a safe place and put your hazard lights on.

Vehicle Checks

Prior to hitting the road, always do a walk-around inspection to check for obstacles behind or near your vehicle. You should also check your lights, windows, and visual condition of the tires. The latter includes:

  • Check the inside of the wheels for brake fluid or mud build-up
  • Check the tire pressure.
    • Many drivers look at the sidewall of the tire to see the maximum amount of air that can go in the tire. But the maximum is not the optimum. The recommended pressures are printed on the vehicle’s tire information label/tire placard, which is usually attached to the edge of the driver’s door, the door post, the glove box or the fuel door.
    • If you can’t find the label, check your owner’s manual.
  • Check the tire tread.
    • The minimum allowable tread depth is 1.6mm (2/32”) on all four tires for cars, light trucks and multi-purpose passenger vehicles/SUVs.
    • If you don’t have a tread-depth gauge, a quick way to measure your tires is with a Canadian toonie. Just put the outside edge of the toonie in your tire’s tread and if your tire tread reaches only about halfway into the letters, your tires are not safe and need to be replaced.
  • Check the condition of the lug nuts and valve cap.

Emergency Vehicles

If you’re travelling west on a two-way urban roadway and an emergency vehicle is approaching from the east with lights and sirens activated, do you have to yield to it? If you’re not sure, you’re not alone; in fact, most drivers are uncertain of the rules. To clear things up, when an ambulance, firetruck or police emergency vehicle is approaching from any direction with lights and sirens activated, you must yield the right-of-way.

These are the proper steps:

  • Safely move your vehicle to allow the emergency vehicle passage.
  • Drive as close as safely possible to the right curb or edge of a two-way roadway.
  • If on a one-way street, drive right or left to the nearest curb.
  • If you’re in the middle of an intersection when an emergency vehicle approaches with lights and sirens activated, safely clear the intersection.
  • Come to a complete stop until the emergency vehicle has passed. Check that no other emergency vehicles are approaching.

To be more aware of emergency vehicles, look at least 15 to 20 seconds ahead and check the mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds. If you see that you’re driving in the lane next to an emergency vehicle (or tow truck) that is stopped at the side of the road with their lights flashing, slow down to 60 km/h (or less, if the speed limit is lower) and drive with increased caution. Even better, to give them room to work safely, move over one lane if possible. If there’s a full lane buffer between you and the emergency vehicle or tow truck, you may continue at the posted speed limit. Lastly, if following behind an emergency vehicle with sirens or lights operating, maintain a safe following distance of at least 150 metres.


Spring Tire-Care Tips to Help You Stay Safe on the Road

Source: By Jeff S. Bartlett via, March 20, 2019

Winter is tough on tires: Road conditions can be brutal, and temperature swings can often mean your tires have become badly deflated. As spring emerges, potholes often blossom and create their own risks to your tires. That makes this a great time to spend a few minutes checking your tires and making pressure corrections as needed.

“Being proactive with tire maintenance can improve safety and save money in the long run,” says Gene Petersen, Consumer Reports’ tire program manager. “Just a little time spent inspecting can make a big difference.”

If You Have All-Season Tires

Check the air pressure level on your tires and adjust it as needed to the amount specified on the tire information placard found on the driver’s doorjamb. Improper inflation pressure can affect tire longevity and fuel efficiency.

Don’t forget to check the pressure on your car’s spare tire, too.

Inspect your tires for signs of damage, such as cuts, cracks, and sidewall blisters that could result from striking potholes. Some tire manufacturers and retailers provide road-hazard warranties that can save you money if you have to replace a tire.

If there’s irregular treadwear, that can indicate a problem with how well a tire is balanced on its wheel. Coming out of winter, that treadwear can signal that the tires are out of alignment or that the car’s suspension has been damaged. You might experience symptoms of this while you’re driving, such as a shimmy in the steering wheel or the car pulling to either side. Have such issues evaluated by your mechanic, Petersen says.

This is also a good time to check on how worn your tires have become.

Check the tread depth by placing a quarter upside down in a tire groove. The distance from the coin’s rim to George Washington’s hairline is about 4⁄32 of an inch. If you see all of Washington’s head in any one groove where a treadwear indicator appears, you might want to start shopping for new tires while you have some seasonal grip left. They should definitely be replaced by the time they reach 2⁄32 of an inch. Worn tires tend to stop longer on wet pavement and hydroplane on water more frequently—a concern when spring showers may be in the forecast. (Learn more about how tire wear affects performance.)

It may also be time to rotate your tires. This typically needs to happen every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Consult your owner’s manual for guidance on the rotation pattern (front-to-rear, side-to-side) and frequency. Some retailers may provide free rotations to customers. This service not only saves money but also is good encouragement to remain on schedule. Regular rotations keep the tires wearing evenly and can help maximize their longevity.

See Consumer Reports’ complete all-season tire ratings.

If You Have Winter/Snow Tires

As the risk of snow and ice melts away, it’s time to replace your winter/snow tires with all-season tires. Don’t delay: The tread on winter/snow tires wears quickly, and you’ll want to preserve them for future use. On top of that, all-season tires provide better grip on dry and wet roads.

Inspect the tires for potential damage: Check the bead area—the inner lip of the tire that seals against the wheel—if the tires have already been dismounted from the wheel. Sometimes the bead can be damaged in the removal process, creating rips or tears in the rubber.

Like with the all-season tires, check the tread depth with a quarter, placing George Washington’s head down into each major groove. If the top of Washington’s head is visible, there is only about 4⁄32 of an inch or less of tread and the tire might not have enough useful life for another season.

Finally, clean the tires with soap and water to remove salt and/or road de-icer. Store in a cool, dry place—out of the sun. 

See Consumer Reports’ complete winter/snow tire ratings.

Source: By Jeff S. Bartlett via, March 20, 2019

The Best All-Season and Summer Tires for Cars in Canada for 2019

Source: By Éric Descarries via, March 28, 2019.

Spring is just around the corner; in fact in your corner of the country it might already be here. And just about anywhere in Canada, whoever has winter tires on their car is looking forward to putting their summer tires back on, in many cases because these tires are mounted on their original wheels that certainly look a lot better than those sorry-looking winter wheels (sometimes, half-rusted steel wheels). For others, it might also be because their original tires are beginning to show too much wear.

When is it time to buy new summer tires?

Today’s cars and light trucks require much less maintenance than before. Even checking air pressure in the tires can be handled by the vehicle’s computer that will warn the driver in case of low pressure. Nonetheless, nothing will tell you about tire wear other than a visual inspection. You might not be a tire expert, but you still can tell if a tire is wearing out.

If in doubt, there’s no better adviser than your local tire dealer. In this case, it’s probably wise to consult a professional tire dealer, though a technician at one of those megastores might be able to handle your call for help.

So you say you’re still seeing treads on your tires? That does not necessarily mean they’re still safe. In many areas, the law requires that you change your tires if there’s only 1/16th (2/32nd) of an inch of depth left of the grooves. But don’t take that to mean you can keep riding on yours! Some tires with about 5/32nd of an inch could still look good, but they’ll be dangerous in heavy rain, as many motorists have discovered when their vehicle started aquaplaning in such circumstances. In short, if a technician tells you your tires have to be changed, best pay heed and do it!

Before you change tires

No matter how old your vehicle is, before mounting new tires on your car or light truck, it’s a good idea to have the front end inspected and repaired or corrected if need be. Depending where in Canada you live, you might have put your ride through a rough winter; deep potholes (especially in cities) can easily have screwed up your wheel alignment. Irregularly worn tires are tell-tale signs of this issue!

Which is the best tire for your car?

Obviously, in most cases, you should go for the same tire the car came with – but that depends what it came with. Sometimes a superior tire is preferable, and this is where the real work begins.

To make sure we got all our facts straight, we went to a well-known tire dealer in the Montreal area to find out which tires could be considered the best available on the market. Obviously this is one question that cannot be answered simply. Simply because, nowadays, there are too many applications. Imagine the more-than-1,000 sizes found in manufacturers’ catalogs (which can be read only by computer since there are so many!).

Before making a choice, consult an expert. Of course, you’ll be looking for the least expensive tire possible. But there’s a nuance to that: you should be looking for the best quality for the price! A cheaper tire is always possible but if that’s your sole criteria, you’re likely to lose in terms of comfort, road-handling and durability.

It’s important to understand that most cars require a specific type of tire that might not always correspond to the price you expected/hoped to pay! For example, so many cars come from the manufacturer with so-called “performance’ tires with the Z speed index.

Speed Index

The speed index refers to the maximum speed a tire is rated to sustain for a pre-set amount of time. The letter identifying it can be found on the sidewall of a tire, after the size of a tire.

For example, a tire size of 205/55 R16 means the tire has a tread surface that’s 205 mm wide, while the sidewall measures 55% of that width. The R indicates it’s a radial tire while the 16 is in inches to identify the circumference of the wheel on which it’s to be mounted. Then follow digits like 94Z. What’s most important is the letter. In this case, the Z means the tire can sustain a speed of 149 mph (240 km/h).

Nowadays, standard tires will come with S, T, H or Z ratings meaning sustained top speeds of 112 mph (180 km/h), 118 mph (190 km/h), 130 mph (210 km/h) and 149 mph (240 km/h). It’s always best not to go for lower indexes, though many dealers will offer H-rated tires that are more comfortable and ensure a smoother ride than Z-rated tires can deliver.

The last remark also applies to “Run-Flat” tires found on many new cars. Often criticized for their hard ride, they tend to be overlooked by motorists in favour of smoother tires. They are a viable option but be aware that your vehicle then probably doesn’t carry a spare tire.

All-season and Green Tires

It’s far less common these days to talk about “summer” tires. These are tires with little tread and aimed mostly at very high-performance automobiles. Today, most vehicles are sold with “all season” tires and that’s what most people should be looking for when buying tires. This type of tire has treads designed to evacuate as much water as possible on wet pavement. They’re also designed for light snowfalls (except in Quebec from December 1 to March 15, when they’re not permitted).

What’s more, many popular-size tires are available in a “Green” design. Green tires are made of different (and sometimes harder) rubbers that reduce road friction, hence improving fuel economy. They are considered to be more eco-friendly, but keep in mind that what they gain in fuel economy, they might lose in road grip, especially on wet pavement.

By the way, it’s possible to order most car tire tires online. That said, if your knowledge of tires is limited, we do recommend that you visit a professional tire centre and speak with a qualified expert.

So, what now?

Depending on where you live in Canada, what follows are recommendations for the best all-season and summer tires available on the market in 2019. Note that this is only a sample since there are so many makes and models out there. But as mentioned, keep in mind that you should choose a tire based on its quality first, and its price second!

1. Michelin Premier A/S

This most recent product from French tiremaker Michelin is slightly more expensive than most competing products but it is available for cars, minivans and even smaller SUVs and CUVs (crossovers). Its main characteristics are grooves that expand as the tire wears out. This helps the Premier A/S remain a great tire on wet pavement even as it begins wears, yielding better braking capabilities than any other tire on the market. The Premier also lasts much longer.

2. Pirelli Cinturato P7 AS+

This tire from Italian manufacturer Pirelli can be fitted on many sedans and coupes like the Camry and Fusion, as well as on minivans and small SUVs and CUVs. It is of the “green” category, with low rolling resistance. And it’s also available in more affordable H-speed index or higher-performance V-speed index for faster cars like mid-sized BMWs. Pirelli P4s can also be considered for similar applications.

3. Goodyear Assurance All Season

The All Season is an evolution of the Assurance family of tires. This type of tire is for regular sedans and coupes, minivans and some SUVs and CUVs. Providing good fuel economy, it’s also very capable on wet pavement and light snow. What’s more, it’s quite affordable and is available in H- and V-speed index.

If you own a performance vehicle, you might consider the Eagle line of Goodyear tires available for Grand Touring to ultra-high-performance vehicle, made in many formats and mainly for all seasons.

4. Bridgestone Turanza

It’s almost impossible to describe all the tires offered by Bridgestone (including its Firestone brand of affordable products). But if you’re looking for a comfort-focused tire, the Turanza line of products is worth checking out. It’s available in H-and V-speed index. On the other hand, if you drive a performance sedan or coupe, you might be interested by the Potenza line of tires though there are too many models to be enumerated here.

Bridgestone has a complete line or Ecopia low-resistance summer tires specially designed for vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to maximize fuel economy. These tires are mostly available with T-speed rating (118 mph or 190 km/h).

5. Toyo Extensa A/S

If you really want another made-in-Japan quality tire, why not have a look at Toyo’s products, particularly the Extensa A/S or else the more-expensive but more-durable Versado Noir; both are available in the most popular sizes.

6. Nokian zLine A/S

Here’s a nice one for you. Suppose you really like your Nokian winter tires. Did you know the Finnish tiremaker also makes a line of quality summer products?  For instance there’s the zLine A/S available in the 2.0 version that’s rated “green”.

7. GT Radial Champiro

Surprisingly, many Chinese brands of tires are showing up on the market and earning a reputation as being increasingly reliable and efficient. However, there’s an Indonesian brand available that really stands out for its low price and high quality, and that is GT Radials. Its Champiro A/S for cars and minivans or Savero SUV products are beginning to show up as quality tires that are more and more appreciated by motorists.

8. Nexen and Kumho

Nexen is a South Korean tire brand that comes in an H-rated Aria series, much sought-after by owners of smaller cars. Note that there are other Korean tires that offer similar quality at a reasonable price, for example Kumho with its Solus line of tires.

9. Cooper Evolution

Let’s not forget Cooper, an American tiremaker that’s been producing a wide range of different types of tires for more than 100 years. Many of its products are sold under different name brands, but its Evolution Tour and Evolution H/T could very well be the answer to many of your needs for your car or SUV, and they come at a very reasonable price.

10. Continental ProContact

You’ve possibly noticed that many European cars, especially German-made ones, are delivered out of the factory with Continental tires.  No surprise there, since Continental is itself a German brand. This manufacturer offers a big array of tires for all applications but for the majority of motorists, its ProContact line of tires fills most needs.

By the way, Continental even produces a tire model featuring the ContiSeal technology that can plug any small holes in the tire, which could be reassuring for drivers fearing flats or slow leaks!

As you can see there’s a huge range of products to choose from, but whatever you do try to get a quality product, one that should last three to four summers. Remember that your life and that of your passengers relies upon four small contact patches on the pavement, patches that are not much bigger than the size of your palm. And that, at speeds of more than 100 km/h! So always keep an eye on your tire pressure even if you have a monitor in your dashboard.

(The author would like to thank Stéphane Parenteau of Pneus Premier Choix in Laval for his technical help)

Source: By Éric Descarries via, March 28, 2019.

Winter Tires: To buy or not to buy?

Originally Posted by the Calgary Journal: Warkentin, Alec. "Winter Tires: To Buy or Not to Buy?" The Calgary Journal. N.p., 04 Dec. 2017. Web. 7 Dec. 2017.

Watch Tom Harper de-bunk some common tire myths below:

Any discussion around winter tires is awash with myth and misconception. Are they really needed? If so, how many? Can one skate by with a decent set of all-seasons? If you have all-wheel drive, you don’t need winters.

Tom Harper knows these kinds of conversations better than most. As co-owner of Harper’s Tire, which opened in Calgary in 1931, he’s part of the third generation of Harpers to sit at the helm of one of the city’s oldest tire companies.

Bald tires endanger everyone

As one of the patriarchs of the Calgary tire service industry, Harper encounters such winter tire fallacies on a regular basis. For him, one of the most irritating things to witness in the winter are drivers operating vehicles with bald or nearly-bald tires.

“I’ve been on roads where guys in front of you have been spinning around, like on Deerfoot,” says Harper. “It’s not good…. that’s one thing for me, the danger. I’ve got a child, too. I don’t want to have them risked because somebody isn’t driving appropriately.”

But those aren’t the only problems associated with winter wheels, and Harper hopes to clarify some misconceptions and answer some common questions.

A quick primer

“Everybody has their different myths about whether winter tires are worthwhile or not, and the best thing to say is that once you drive on one you’ll never not drive on one again,” says Harper.

There are a few major differences between tires specifically designed for handling winter conditions and those that are designed for year-round use. The first is the softer rubber compound that remains more flexible as temperature drops. This leads to better traction on ice and snow.

They also have different tread compounds, blocks, and sipes, which also increase traction and water removal.

Harper says the cost of a tire is roughly $200, but the difference between driving with them and without them is “night and day.”

There are many types of tires that range from entry-level to high-performance. They include snow tires, all-season tires, and all-weather tires, which are designed to operate better in snowy conditions than all-seasons but don’t work as well in warmer temperatures.

Can I just buy two tires, not four?

Some people believe that only two out of four are needed depending on if a vehicle is front-wheel or rear-wheel drive.

“If you had the two new snow tires on the front, and two all-seasons that are worn, you’re going have that amazing grip on the front,” says Harper. “But as soon as [you] drive out here, you’re going to spin around. It’s safer for [you] to run on the worn all-seasons than doing that.”

If I buy winter tires, should I use my summer rims?

Harper also recommends buying tires on their own rims, which is most cost-effective in the long run.

When not in use, generally over the summer months, winter tires should be stored away from light — which can cause the rubber to dry out and crack — and away from the elements outside, preferably in tire bags.“It costs less to put on a wheel and tire package then it does to change them over,” says Harper. “A misconception is that it’s harder on the tire if you don’t have it. But if you have it at a reputable tire store and they install them properly, you’re not going to have an issue — it just costs more.”

How can I measure my treads?

Another important consideration is tread percentage, deduced by calculating the wear on a tire when compared to new. A simple way to calculate tread can be done by taking a quarter and placing it in between the ridges of a tire. On a new tire, one-half to two-thirds of a quarter should be visible. If almost the entire quarter is still visible, it’s probably time to buy new tires.

What should I watch out for?

According to Harper, the biggest limitation is that at the end of the day, it’s still a tire. Depending on weather and road conditions, tires are going to behave differently, and each are designed to work best in specific situations.

“You can’t change the composition of a tire, right?” says Harper. “It’s hard to make it do everything.”

Originally Posted by the Calgary Journal: Warkentin, Alec. "Winter Tires: To Buy or Not to Buy?" The Calgary Journal. N.p., 04 Dec. 2017. Web. 7 Dec. 2017.