10 Maintenance Tips

Maintenance Tips

10 Maintenance Tips

Car maintenance is not about waiting for your dashboard to light up, your brakes to squeal, and your power steering pump to fail. Conscientious car maintenance is about being proactive and preventing those things from happening. But that requires you to practice a number of good habits. Here are some great car maintenance tips that you should try to keep in mind all the time!

Future Cadillac Lineup: XT6 and Escala Rumours

Cadillac Escala

In recent years, Cadillac has become known for delivering aggressively-styled sedans with true sporting performance. Even the base model engines provide robust performance. But the real star of the lineup has been the V-Series track-oriented models. And, of course, the Escalade remains a fixture of the lineup, as well as of the luxury SUV market generally. The lineup has been a little imbalanced, favouring cars. But that will soon change as Cadillac trims its sedans and adds some SUVs, starting with the new XT4.

The New Buick Enspire Concept: Bold EV Crossover

2018 Buick Enspire Electric Crossover

Take one look at the current Buick lineup and you’ll see no resemblance to the stodgy, rounded leisure cruisers of preceding decades. Since the introduction of the new LaCrosse, Buick has begun to consistently deliver attractive, relevant products without alienating loyal followers. The new Buick Enclave and Regal are stunners. But the new Buick Enspire crossover concept is out of this world – well, after being announced at Auto China in Beijing, it’s at least on the other side of the world.

Why China?

Revealing the new Enspire in China makes a ton of sense. First, in 2017, Buick sold 1.2 million vehicles in China. That’s roughly five times as many as they sold in the United States.  Further, China is a better market for EVs in general. The nation has a huge pollution problem and is forcing automakers to increase the number of emissions-free vehicles in their lineups. Meanwhile, North America has lagged behind in EV adoption. So, we shouldn’t feel too jealous that Buick chose China to reveal its most exciting vehicle in years.

The Buick Enspire

Evidently the good people of Buick have run out of words that begin with “EN,” so they’ve started making some up. What about entourage, endeavour, encephalitis? Or, maybe the conspicuous “e” is a tip of the cap to the fact that this is a purely electric vehicle. Yes, the Buick Enspire is a premium all-electric SUV, the holy grail of the battery-powered world. And, despite being a concept, it’s no fantasy.

Per Buick, the Enspire’s motor can generate 550 horsepower. That’s right, 550. And, as long as you’re not constantly taxing them all, it has a driving range of 

600 kilometres. That huge number, if achievable for the real market, would certainly put “range anxiety” to bed. Impressively, the Enspire is also outfitted with GM’s Super Cruise technology that delivers the safest commercially available semi-autonomous driving experience. In fact, it’s the first vehicle outside of Cadillac to be fitted with the new tech. On mapped roads, drivers can take their hands off the wheel and enjoy the ride (as long as cameras detect they’re still paying attention).

As smart and powerful as the Enspire is, the looks are arguably just as impressive. From the recessed blue mesh grille with meter-wide badge and predatoryheadlights to the subtly chamfered sheetmetal, the Enspire looks great. Five years ago, no one would believe you if you told them it’s a Buick. Maybe that’s why the company broke its promise to stop printing its name on the back of vehicles for this special occasion. That could also be the reason the steering wheel features an illuminated tri-shield badge. Still, you may not notice it with the head-up display that spans the entire windshield like something from iRobot.

Just a Concept

For now, the remarkable Buick Enspire is merely a concept vehicle. There’s no word on whether it will even be more than a show piece for the Chinese market. If Buick brought it to market and priced it consistently with the rest of its lineup, it could be a definite threat to prohibitively expensive entries from Tesla, BMW, and Jaguar. But, even if the Enspire crossover is just a statement of intent, it will reassure fans that Buick has not lost the desire to innovate which brought us its current crop of stellar vehicles.

Four Auto Maintenance Myths

Maintenance Myths

Maintenance Myths

To an amateur (like me), auto maintenance sometimes seems like a dark art. If you ask ten different people a question about a cabin air filter, you’ll get eight different answers and two confused stares. A lot of the car-care information bouncing around in the public discourse is outdated and even plain wrong. I would tell you to read your owner’s manual from cover to cover and refer to it faithfully, as it contains the best information for keeping your car in great shape. But you probably won’t do that. So, here are a few common maintenance myths.

Change your oil every 5,000 kilometres

If you asked most people 10, or even five years ago, they would probably tell you to change your oil every 5,000 kilometres. But that’s not really the case anymore. But our engines, and the oil they use, are constantly improving. Most cars use partially synthetic oil and many use full synthetic oil. These products last far longer than conventional oil. The engines using them are more efficient, too. Considering all of these factors, how often should you change your oil?

Well, as with most aspects of vehicle maintenance, it’s best to trust your owner’s manual. It will give you a good recommendation – often around 7,500 kilometres. If you’re using full synthetic oil, it will be closer to 10,000. Although, you must remember that driving habits affect those estimates. If you have a lot of cold starts, accelerate aggressively, drive quickly, or drive through dust and smog, you will need to change your oil more frequently.

You should Idle your car to warm it up

Look outside your front window on a weekday morning in winter and you’re bound to see a few ice-encrusted vehicles idling in a cloud of exhaust. Some of those vehicles will idle for longer than it takes to commute. Old wisdom used to support this kind of behaviour. That’s because old engines needed to warm up before reaching peak efficiency – especially in colder conditions. Modern engines, however, don’t require prolonged idling.

In extreme cold conditions, you should only idle your engine for roughly a minute. Beyond that, idling provides no benefit. Moreover, its detrimental to the environment. As long as your windows and mirrors are clear, you’re fine to begin driving. It’s the best way to warm up your engine. Just don’t accelerate hard or drive too quickly right off the start.

Idling will recharge your battery after it dies

We’ve all suffered from a dead battery once or twice. And, after receiving a boost, we’ve all been told to let the car idle for around 30 minutes to let the alternator recharge the battery. Your engine idles at low RPM. The power generated is insufficient to recharge a dead battery. If you want to recharge your battery, your engine should be running at 2000 RPM. That’s most easily achieved by driving at highway speeds.

However, no amount of driving will restore a dead battery as effectively as a multi-stage battery charger. These inexpensive devices are designed to restore your battery to maximum capacity, they monitor the health of your battery and actively adjust the current to guarantee the best charge. An alternator cannot do this, and will never properly recharge your battery. So, if you’re worried about the health of your battery, invest in a proper charger.

You should fill your tires up to the number on the sidewall

Some people fill their tires to the air pressure listed on the sidewall of their tires. This is wrong. That number is the maximum pressure under which the tire can support your vehicle’s load. Instead, you should heed the tire pressure number listed in your vehicle’s door jamb, your tire manufacturers pamphlet, and (unless you’re not using recommended tires) your owner’s manual. This air pressure has been tested to deliver the best braking, handling, fuel economy, and safety.

The 2019 Sierra AT4: GMC’s Off-Road Warrior

2019 Sierra AT4

In the 2019 Sierra AT4, GMC finally has its own off-road specific variant. Don’t get cynical, this isn’t a base model truck with big tires and some aggressive decals. The Sierra AT4 is built, from the ground up, to deliver excellent performance in adverse conditions. And of course, that capability is combined with what makes GMC unique among pickups, genuine luxury features and first-class comfort.

The 2019 Sierra AT4

According to GMC’s vice president Duncan Aldred, “The 2019 Sierra AT4 is designed for the customer who wants an elevated presence on the road and the capability to venture off life’s beaten path. It’s also the beginning for the AT4 brand, which will be seen on every vehicle in our lineup in the next two years.” Clearly, the AT4 name will become a counterpart to the Denali badge. Instead of elevated luxury, the AT4 badge will guarantee rugged, off-road performance.

Performance

Sierra AT4 performance starts with the standard 5.3L V8 engine and 10-speed gearbox. Other engines are available, but the standard setup is confident and efficient. It times the shifts well and improves acceleration. You also get a factory 2” suspension lift and Rancho monotube shock absorbers for better performance on tough terrain.

For superior handling and style, GMC’s off-roader comes with standard 18” wheels, but 20” wheels are available. Both sets are exclusive to the Sierra AT4 and feature a unique, machined-face, dark tinted appearance. By default, the AT4 comes with 33” all-terrain tires. However, 33” Goodyear Wrangler mud tires are also available. I would personally recommend the 20” wheels if only for the fact they more naturally fill out the new Sierra’s massive wheel cut-outs.

Multi-Pro

GMC also confirmed that the Sierra AT4 would get the new Multi-Pro tailgate as standard equipment. If you don’t know, the Multi-Pro is the most innovative tailgate ever. You can configure it in six different ways, serving as a standing workstation, load stop, extendable step/bench, and more. For an everyday workmanlike truck, it’s hardly an essential feature. But it helps set the Sierra apart in a tightly contested segment.

Other standard equipment includes:

  • Black chrome exterior accents on fog lamps and grille
  • Body-colour accents on grille surround and bumper
  • Exclusive athletic interior trim elements
  • Red vertical recovery hooks
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Traction Select System

Available Features

If you want to take the Sierra AT4 to the next level, you can add a bunch of advanced features. Take Surround Vision for example. It uses a series of cameras to generate a live image of your surroundings. It makes navigating tight spots easy – extra useful if you’re driving around rocks and trees. There’s the segment-first multicolour HUD. It projects critical vehicle information like speed, fuel level, and more. It’s also customisable, so you can see the information you need without taking your eyes off the road.

With the massive success of the Denali brand, GMC knows better than anyone that high-spec pickups are a veritable goldmine. And while there is stiff competition from off-road specific vehicles like the Ford Raptor, the Sierra AT4 is a really aggressive statement of intent. It will be interesting to see how its combination of rugged performance and premium style resonates with buyers.