Cold weather has a way of revealing mechanical problems when they’re least welcome. So while there’s still some time before really cold weather arrives, take the opportunity now to avert car repairs before they become troublesome with vehicle maintenance. With our winter temperatures having a functioning block heater is paramount. Starting a warm engine is preferable to cold since the oil will also be warm and lubricate the motor faster instead of metal rubbing metal. Less wear translates into prolonged engine life. Checking to ensure a block heater is straightforward using an inline tester. If an outdoor electrical outlet is used and the cord is joined to an extension cord there’s no guarantee current is reaching the block heater. There could be an unseen break in the wire interrupting the current or perhaps even the block heater which is basically a heating element, may have given up its life. They are easy to use since an inline tester will light up if there’s a connection.

Pay particular attention to oil so it’s the right grade. For winter driving it’s preferable to use 5W-30 which signifies it’s designed for a temperature of five degrees to minus 30. In summer, the norm is 10W30. Seriously consider synthetic oil. It’s expensive, no doubt about it. But, oh, the payoff is worth it: easier winter starts, better gas mileage, less wear and tear on an engine, and not as frequent oil changes. Synthetic need only be changed every 10,000 kilometers compared to conventional that requires changing at 5,000 kilometers. Some synthetic oils are approaching 12,000 before an oil change is needed. Bear in mind that almost every engine today generates thousands of revolutions per minute, not hundreds as was the case with older engines. Spending a few extra dollars can save hundreds.


In these trying economic times it’s tempting when grinding or squeaking brakes are heard to economize by buying less expensive parts or using a backyard mechanic. The advice from mechanics is: don’t because you’ll get what you pay for. Six months on and inferior parts can fail because more abrasive material is used and overheating can cause failure. Braking systems now are very sophisticated with electronics and mechanics working in tandem. Automatic braking systems no longer work solo, they are part of the larger system. And that larger system can only be fully diagnosed by scanning it electronically. It’s no longer a “back in the day” scenario. Mechanics recommend changing brake fluid every 50,000 miles since as a hydraulic system the fluid becomes very hot and can break down, in addition to capturing moisture that hampers compression of the fluid. Be safe, don’t take shortcuts. Your wallet will thank you.

What Are The Right Steps When Buying A Vehicle?

If you want to purchase a vehicle privately instead of going to a licensed sales business, then you should take precautions.

  1. Ask to see the most recent registration and insurance for the vehicle, and to see receipts for any service done on the vehicle.  This will be a good indication if they are being truthful.  If they cannot provide them, then shop somewhere else.
  2. Don’t be rushed into buying the vehicle through any coercion, such as the seller making a statement that they have another interested buyer coming to look at the vehicle and it won’t last long.  
  3. If the seller won’t allow you to come to their residence, and instead wants to meet at some place neutral, it is a good indication that they are hiding something.  Don’t bother meeting with them.
  4. If you do want the vehicle, get it inspected by a licensed  mechanic.
  5. Check the vehicle’s history by getting a vehicle history report.  CarFax and CarProof are two popular reports that will give you important information from a third party.  You can get these at Registry Agents or via internet web sites.
  6. Check for liens on the vehicle to make sure that the person selling it to you actually owns it.
  7. Never be in a rush to buy a vehicle.
  8. Don’t buy a vehicle at night.
  9. If you are uncomfortable  walk away.

You should do all of this before you give the seller any money at all. If they are legitimate, they won’t mind you being cautious. If the seller balks, then no matter how good the deal may seem, go shop somewhere else. Ultimately, if a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

AMVIC has encountered organized curbers that have purchased written off vehicles in the United States, imported them into Canada, repaired them and then sold them across Canada.  They somehow get the vehicles with Active status in the government computer system hiding that the vehicle was a write off.  They advertise them and then lie about the history of the vehicle.  Many unsuspecting Albertans were deceived by these sophisticated “curbers/crooks”.