Deciphering the Dashboard Light: What Your Car Is Telling You

Dashboard lights allow your car to speak to you. Some symbols are intuitive, and others are… less intuitive. Responsible drivers pay attention to the lights on their dash and act immediately when their car warns them about potential faults. However, many drivers ignore each dashboard light as if it was a McAfee software update reminder. Here are a few of the most common (and serious) dashboard symbols and what they signify.

As a disclaimer, this is a general guide that applies to most vehicles. However, your vehicle may use a slightly different design, or have a unique way of calling service items to your attention. Always consult your owner’s manual. It details all the symbols that appear on your dashboard and how to interpret them.

Dashboard Light Colour

It may seem obvious, but many people don’t realise that colour is an important part of interpreting dash warning signs. In general, green 

and blue lights are used to indicate that a system is active or working. Yellow symbols indicate that something requires your attention and likely needs to be serviced soon. Finally, red symbols indicate that there is a serious problem and your vehicle is in need of immediate attention.

Oil: Oil pressure dashboard light or 

If you see the oil can symbol on its own, it means your oil pressure is low. You may have an adequate amount of oil, but there could be a problemwith 

your bearings or oil pump. But if you see a wavy line beneath the symbol, it simply means the oil level is low. Wait, why is your oil level low? When is the last time you got an oil change? Or is there an ignored oil slick in the middle of your garage? I’m not mad, but I am disappointed.

Coolant:  or 

This symbol, which looks like a thermometer in water, refers to your engine’s temperature. If the symbol is red, it means your engine is too hot. Obviously, you should pull over and turn off the engine immediately to prevent serious damage. If the same dashboard light is blue it means that the coolant temperature is too low. This is probably less serious than the alternative, but you should still bring your vehicle in for service.

TPMS:  or 

This symbol is part of your tire pressure monitoring system. If you see the symbol, one of your tires is at least 25% below its ideal air pressure. If you see that symbol while you’re driving, pull over and check your air pressure. Your tire may be actively leaking. If not, you’re still at risk of a blowout, and having four tires is kind of important

Although, you should keep in mind that temperature fluctuations change air pressure. So, if you’re moving from the cold outdoors to a heated garage, the system may detect the change in pressure. In this situation it’s a good idea to check your tires, anyway. Their ideal pressure can be found on the sidewall of your tire or in the owner’s manual.

Battery:  or 

If you see the battery warning symbol you either have a depleted battery or a faulty alternator. Either problem will cause your vehicle to stop running in the near future. Fortunately, both are straightforward fixes. If you don’t know how to diagnose the difference between battery and alternator problems on your own, bring your vehicle in for service immediately.

Powertrain: 

Despite looking like a daisy with an exclamation point, this dashboard light is a pretty serious indicator. If you see this symbol, your vehicle’s computer has detected a problem with your powertrain. Of course, the powertrain is a complicated system that contains a number of parts, so it’s difficult to pin down exactly what the symbol is referring to. But, considering the system that moves your vehicle forward is pretty important, any issue should be taken seriously. Bring your vehicle in for service immediately.

Brake Pads:  Brake Fluid: 

These symbols refer to two of the most common brake problems. The first dashboard light, a circle surrounded by some curved dashes, refers to your brake pads. When the system detects that your brake pads have limited remaining life, it will trigger this warning symbol. Your brake pads are the friction material that presses against the brake rotor to bring your vehicle to a stop. Letting your brake pads wear completely will severely affect stopping distance. And, you’ll have metal on metal contact that will destroy your rotors and cost you more money.

The second symbol, a brake with some wavy liquid at the bottom, indicates that you have low brake fluid. Brake fluid transmits your foot pressure to the to the calipers in order to stop your car. If you didn’t have brake fluid your lines, you simply wouldn’t stop. Your system may be using a greater volume of brake fluid if your pads are worn out. Or you may have a leak somewhere in the brake system. Either warrants immediate service.

These are only a few of the many symbols that inevitably will pop up on your vehicle’s dash. It’s not necessary to memorise them all, but it is important to take them all seriously. Timely and preventative maintenance always saves you money down the road.

Is That a Buick? The 2019 Envision

2019 Envision

The 2019 Buick Envision

Finally, the Envision has joined the rest of Buick’s lineup by embracing the new-generation styling. Although the 2019 Envision has only technically received a “model refresh,” the changes are pretty dramatic. The most obvious alteration is the new grille with the split-wing badge. The Envision is the last Buick to receive the signature look, and it couldn’t have come soon enough.

The other major improvement to the front fascia is the inclusion of Bi-LED headlights on all turbocharged models. They cast a brighter, purer light; use less energy, and last longer. Plus, the arrangement is a bit more aggressive and stylish. The new grille and headlights blend quite well into the Envision’s architecture. While the overall shape hasn’t changed, the revised front and rear fascia make it seem a bit more elegant.

Comfort

A vehicle that looks as premium as the 2019 Envision, should feel premium inside. I’m happy to report that the 2019 Envision is spacious and comfortable for all passengers. Of course, the Envision features standard heated seats and OnStar WiFi. Plus, QuietTuning engineering help mute the sound of the road and the engine for a pristinely quiet cabin. There’s even a standard hands-free power liftgate to help you load and retrieve cargo with ease.

When it comes to performance, Buick hasn’t made many alterations for 2019. But that’s not a bad thing. All-wheel drive remains standard on all Canadian models, so expect assured performance in all conditions. The standard engine is a 2.5L naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder with 197 horsepower and 192 lb/ft of torque. It’s a capable and efficient engine, but it’s hard to recommend when the available turbo is so good. That engine delivers 252 horsepower and 260 lb/ft of torque. It’s active and solid powertrain that gives you great acceleration and highway passing speed. And the increase in power actually comes with an increase in fuel efficiency (9L/100km combined vs 9).

Is That a Buick? Seriously – Is It?

Now, the Envision, and the rest of the Buick lineup, is more distinctive than ever. And that’s important because Buick also just announced the removal of its name from the trunks and hatches of its future vehicles. It’s not exactly clear why Buick has made this decision, but some speculate the absence makes space for the Avenir trim level badge. Others have posited that customers are sufficiently familiar with the tri-shield logo to make the lettering redundant.

However, a more cynical interpretation of the move is that Buick wants to divorce its attractive new vehicles from lingering perceptions of the brand’s history. The new vehicles (just look at the redesigned Regal) are sleek and modern, whereas previous design generations have been… overwhelmingly conservative. So, getting rid of the Buick badge could help customers get over their preconceptions and prejudices.

Of course, this is all speculation, and five letters on the trunk won’t make much of a difference to anyone. What we know for sure is that the 2019 Envision is shaping up to be an excellent crossover. It will be available starting this summer, so check back at Capital GMC Buick Cadillac for the latest information.

 

The 2018 CT6: Cadillac’s Flagship Sedan?

Cadillac CT6 V-Sport

Don’t Call It a Flagship

The 2018 CT6 sits at the top of Cadillac’s sedan lineup. At 17 feet, it’s a veritable land yacht, fit to compete with the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S-Class for a fraction of the price. Its seats are made of premium hand-stitched materials and feature 15 massage functions. The 2018 CT6 also offers some of the best technology in the automotive industry. But is it worthy of being Cadillac’s flagship? Let’s find out.

Power

The Cadillac CT6 gives drivers a choice of three powertrains. The first is a 2.0L turbo with 265 horsepower and 295 lb/ft of torque and the second is a 3.6L V6 with 335 horsepower and 284 lb/ft of torque. Both are capable and efficient. But if you’re going to splash for a full-sized luxury sedan, you should really get the right engine to match.

The “right engine,” of course, is the meaty 3.0L twin turbo with 404 horsepower and 400 lb/ft of torque. Paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission, acceleration is smooth and assured, invariably giving you total confidence when powering down the highway. However, while its powertrain is sublime, it’s not the CT6’s greatest feat of engineering.

Innovation

The 2018 Cadillac CT6 features so many great innovations that it’s tedious to go through them all. For example, you may not have heard about Night Vision which uses thermal cameras to help you see in the dark. You get a completely new perspective in your surroundings that even the best headlights can’t provide.

Then, there’s Active Rear Steering. At speed, your rear wheels turn the same direction as the front wheels in order to provide the agile handling of a small car. At low speed, the wheels can turn opposite directions to help maneuver into tight parking spots. The degree to which the rear wheels turn is also affected by the driving mode.

And you can’t forget about the about the 34-speaker Bose Panaray sound system. Quite simply, it’s one of the most engrossing and refined audio systems in the automotive industry. It even uses speakers mounted inside the front headrests. Paired with Bose’s Active Noise Cancellation, you get a pristinely quiet cabin. But none of these are the CT6’s best feature.

Super Cruise

The piece de resistance is SuperCruise, the best commercially available autonomous driving system. It allows you to take your hands off the wheel while your CT6. It maintains speed and distance from other cars and keeps you in your lane. It also tracks your face to make sure you’re paying attention. SuperCruise only works on mapped highways (per its map, Cadillac has even mapped most of the Ring Road in Regina) and it uses sensors to ensure that you remain focused on the road.

Whereas companies like Tesla allow owners to test unfinished systems, Cadillac is taking a more conservative approach: “While it is technically possible for the technology to drive hands-free on other kinds of streets and roads, we feel strongly that this targeted approach is the best to build consumer and regulatory confidence” -Barry Walkup, chief engineer. If that’s the safest approach to implementing autonomous driving, I’m on board – so to speak.

Clearly, the 2018 Cadillac CT6 is an objectively great car. And for now it’s fit to rule an excellent sedan lineup – at least until Cadillac brings the Escala concept car to life in 2021…

What’s That Sound? Common Car Noises and Their Causes

Common car noises

These days, affordable, mass-market cars are coming equipped with hi-fi stereos. Bang & Olufsen, Bose, and B&O Play systems are all available straight from the factory. Combined with advanced noise cancellation technology, you can hear some pretty sweet sounds in your vehicle. But today we’re not talking about listening to The Beatles’ white album while cruising the highway. We’re talking about the sounds you don’t want to hear in your car – screeching, squealing, groaning, and hissing. Here are some common mechanical sounds and what they might mean. 

Screeching

Let’s start with one of the most obvious car noises. When you press the brake pedal, the friction material on your brake pad is pushed down against the brake rotor. The friction slows your wheels and brings your vehicle to a stop. But over time, the friction material on your brakes wears away.

Fortunately, most brake pads have a wear indicator (a spring and metal pad) that creates a squeal or screeching sound when you need to replace them. If you only hear the screech for the first few stops on a cold morning, that’s probably just the rust (it’s normal and can accumulate overnight when damp or cold) being worn away and you shouldn’t worry. But if you hear the screech every time you brake in all conditions, you probably need to replace your pads.

Grinding

If, instead of a screech, you hear a harsh grinding sound when you apply the brakes, chances are you’ve already allowed the brake pads to wear completely. Now, there’s nothing to separate the metal caliper from the the steel rotors. Metal on metal contact is obviously bad for your rotors. If you drive that way for a while, your rotors may require replacement which is far more costly than a simple set of pads. You may also hear brake grinding if your brakes were installed improperly.

Engine Knocking

If you hear a knocking or pinging sound coming from your engine, usually at acceleration, there is one primary culprit. Knocking usually occurs when the fuel/air mixture in your combustion chamber is burning unevenly. This can damage the cylinder wall and the piston. If you hear this sound make sure you’re using fuel with the amount of octane recommended in your owner’s manual. If that doesn’t solve the problem, visit Capital GMC Service to check for:

  • Faulty ignition timing
  • Defective or incorrect spark plugs
  • Carbon deposits

Squealing

Have you noticed a squealing sound coming from your engine bay? Is it more common on cold mornings, and does it subside as your engine warms? Rubber belts are used to connect a number of components in your car. The serpentine or drive belt is connected to a number of systems like the alternator and power steering pump. The timing belt is more important. It synchronizes the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft. In the simplest terms, if the timing belt breaks, your car won’t run.

If any of the belts in your car are poorly connected or simply get old and crack, they may start to squeal. The sound is pretty hard to misconstrue. Bring your vehicle to Capital GMC Service for inspection immediately, and we’ll assess them problem. Belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, and having it done before a belt breaks or slips off can save you from being stranded.

Diagnosis

These are just a few diagnoses to common car noises. However, even the most experienced ear has its limits. Sometimes the subtle difference between a squeal and a squeak can separate very different problems with your car. My point is, if your car is making an unusual or unpleasant sound, you should have it inspected immediately. Just book an appointment at Capital GMC Service, and we’ll get to the bottom of the mechanical issue so you can get back to enjoying your Bose audio system.

The 2019 Sierra: GMC’s Four Best Features

2019 Sierra Best Features

According to Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global GMC, “The heritage of the GMC brand is rooted in full-size trucks, of which the Sierra is our cornerstone. The next generation Sierra caters to these unique customers who demand a premium, innovative truck that supports their professional and personal passions.” If you had to underline one word from Aldred’s statement, it should be innovation.

GMC has loaded the 2019 Sierra, which we discussed in an earlier post, with a ton of exciting new features. The new innovations meaningfully distance the Sierra from the Chevy Silverado (a problem in the past), but also from the rest of the full-sized pickup segment. There’s a lot to like about the next-generation of professional-grade pickup, I’ve picked out some of the best new features, and detailed them below.

MultiPro Tailgate

The MultiPro Tailgate is the most advanced tailgate in human history. It has six unique functions and a G.I. Joe Kung Fu Grip. I’m sorry. It’s hard not to be a little cynical about the new 2019 Sierra’s MultiPro tailgate. But, once you get past the skepticism, you’ll notice some impressive utility.

For example, the upper part of the tailgate can be independently lowered to reveal a standing workstation, a great convenience to those who have ever done detailed tasks or paperwork on a jobsite. The MultiPro tailgate also features a convenient cargo access position and extended load stops at two different heights. There’s even a sturdy, full-width step which can also serve as a seat. Some will dismiss the MultiPro Tailgate as a gimmick, but others will see how it can simplify the use of their truck.

CarbonPro Box

GMC will also be leading the industry by introducing the first carbon fibre box. General Motors has not been diplomatic in its criticism of Ford for using an aluminum alloy in the F-150’s bed. GM reasons that a pickup box is subjected to routine abuse and should be made of tough material. The 2019 Sierra features high-strength steel by default, but CarbonPro is an option on higher trims. It’s the strongest material in any pickup box and it’s also the most resistant to corrosion. Plus, it’s light.

Segment-First Multicolour HUD

A Head-Up Display (HUD) is a transparent display that shows information without requiring the viewer to look away from their usual sightlines. HUD are common in video games, airplanes, and “smart glasses”. In the automotive world, a HUD is information projected onto the base of the windshield. Some vehicles, like the Pontiac Grand Prix, had primitive HUD in the late eighties. But those units hardly compare to the Multicolour Head-Up Display in the new 2019 Sierra.

The 3×7-inch display is crisp and bright. It displays info like remaining fuel and current speed, but you can customise it to suit your needs. And, importantly, it’s not obtrusive or distracting and won’t impair your view of anything on the road.

Segment-First Rear Camera Mirror

On the theme of keeping your head up, the 2019 Sierra also gets the Rear Camera mirror. It performs as a regular rearview mirror, but also as a feed for the reverse camera when backing up. It was previously reserved for the Cadillac lineup where using the infotainment screen to display the backup camera feed is far too gauche. In all seriousness, the Rear Camera Mirror allows you to see what’s behind your truck without lowering your head so that you can still see what’s in front of you. It’s not an essential feature, but it’s a nifty add-on.