New Year’s Road Resolutions: Practice Safe Driving in 2018

Resolutions

I know, I know. This is yet another New Year’s resolution post. But it’s not my fault. If you don’t write hack New Year’s, Valentine’s day, and Christmas posts, you lose your membership to the International Bloggers Union (no, we don’t get health benefits). Plus, this is important. Making a resolution to practice safe driving makes the road a better place for everyone.

Following Distance

How many accidents would be avoided if everyone kept a safe driving distance between themselves and the cars in front of them? Thousands! And yet, if you drive anywhere, you can watch the traffic queue up bumper-to-bumper or watch the headlights of some kid in a Subaru WRX disappear beneath your rear view mirror because you aren’t exceeding the speed limit as significantly as he would like.

In ideal conditions you should leave two to three seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you. In suboptimal conditions (75% of the time in Saskatchewan) you should increase that number to five or six. To help you adhere to your new resolution consider adding the Following Distance Indicator technology available on most new GM vehicles. It will let you know when you’re going too close for safety. Then again, if you can’t tell you’re too close to a car’s bumper with your naked eyes, then you probably shouldn’t be driving.

Put the Phone Away

Guess what? Using your phone while driving significantly and needlessly imperils you, pedestrians, and other drivers. Per CAA, drivers who text are 23 times more likely to crash, 27% of fatal crashes in BC are the result of distraction, and 26% of crashes involve phone use. Further, distracted driving is a factor in four million motor crashes in North America per year.

Nothing happening on your phone is important enough to justify endangering lives – especially not choosing the right Snapchat filter to convey your ennui. So, spare yourself the $280 ticket and four license demerits and put down your phone.

Turn Signals

A turn signal is a useful device. It indicates your intent to others so they can accommodate you on the road. If you signal for a lane change, it gives cars in your blind spot a chance to let you know they’re there, avoiding a potential collision. If you signal for a turn, vehicles travelling straight can move into a different lane or prepare to stop. In a utopia, the turn signal would be used early and astutely. Suburban Regina, if you hadn’t noticed through other means. Is not a utopia.

Around here (I expect the same is true everywhere), people do not use their turn signals early or astutely. They either use them after they’ve gotten into a turn lane (thanks for the heads up!) or while they’re in the middle of changing lanes. This behaviour is obviously dangerous and arises from simple laziness. More importantly, it is an insult to the memory of Oscar J. Simler, who invented the turn signal in 1929!

What are your New Year’s driving resolutions? Let us know in the comments below!

Best Car Features on the Christmas List

Best Car Features on the Christmas List

Christmas is almost here. It’s the time of year when tired copywriters slap together hackneyed seasonal frames for their blog posts. So, without further ado, here are the top five new car features you need to put on your Christmas list.

OnStar 4G LTE WiFi

While you white knuckle down an icy Highway 1 on the way to Gam Gam’s house for Christmas, your kids want to recline and stream Paw Patrol, or trade bitcoin on their iPads. Well, that’s easy thanks to OnStar 4G LTE WiFi. Standard on many new GM vehicles (often with a temporary, free subscription), WiFi lets you connect as many as ten devices to surf the web and stream music, movies, and audiobooks.

While you try to tell the difference between black ice and black pavement in the black night, at least your kids won’t be yelling at you.

Need For Low-Speed Automatic Forward Braking

What is low-speed automatic braking? If your vehicle detects an imminent forward collision while driving at a low speed, your vehicle will automatically brake. This will reduce the severity of a collision and can even avoid certain collisions entirely. If you’ve ever had someone suddenly pull out in front of you (that is to say, if you’ve ever driven, anywhere), you’ll understand why this feature is on the Christmas list.

Hitting people is bad; low-speed automatic forward braking is good. And it’s already available on many new GM vehicles including the 2018 GMC Terrain.

Best car features wishlist

IntelliBeam Headlamps

Listen, I love being blinded by strangers on the highway as much as the next guy. Wait, I don’t love that, and neither does the next guy. Fortunately, IntelliBeam Headlamps can sense traffic and will turn your high beams off the avoid blinding people on the road! They’re not just the future; they’re an available feature in most new GM vehicles.

It makes your life easier because you don’t have to keep switching your high beams on and off manually. More importantly, when other drivers have intelligent high beams, they won’t obnoxiously blind you (unless they have lazily installed HID headlights, but that’s a different subject)! I guess I would actually prefer if this feature was on everyone else’s Christmas list instead of my own…

Heated Steering Wheel

I don’t really need to explain this one, do I? A heated steering wheel is a steering wheel that heats up. It feels good on your hands when it’s cold. I don’t know what else to tell you.

Surround Vision

This is Saskatchewan, a province in which 93% of people drive full-size pickup trucks. I made that statistic up, (69% of vehicle purchases in Canada are light trucks!) but you get the point. We have a lot of large vehicles, and our parking lots, alleys, and downtown centres often leave us with little space. Maybe you’re the Da Vinci of parking, but for the rest of us less-Vitruvian men, a little bit of parking assistance is a good thing. Enter Surround Vision – one of the coolest car features currently available.

 

Surround Vision uses cameras to help eliminate blind spots when driving. If that sounds like a regular backup camera, you’re right. But I haven’t got to the black magic part yet. Surround Vision uses multiple cameras located all around the vehicle and stitches the images together. It’s sort of like the “panorama” feature on your smartphone. Except Surround Vision builds the image in real time, meaning that you can see a bird’s-eye view of your vehicle and the surrounding area. That makes parking and trailer guiding a snap (“a snap” is old people language for easy.

What vehicle features are at the top of your Christmas list? Oil slicks and an ejector seat?

 

The Worst Luxury Features

Worst luxury features

The differences between an economy car and a luxury car are fairly obvious. A luxury car has improved performance (larger engine, improved suspension, et c…), a refined interior (premium materials, high-end electronics, et c…), and a high price tag. But distinguishing luxury cars from ultra luxury cars isn’t always so easy. It’s tough to convince buyers to pay $30,000 more for extra horsepower they can’t (legally) get the most out of and marginally softer leather. Consequently, upscale brands end up including some pretty innovative (weird) features to help justify the price difference. But, they don’t always hit the mark, so we’ve made a list of some the worst luxury features available.

BMW: Gentleman Function

Yes, BMW has something called the “Gentleman Function.” It’s a name that’s unsettling for several reasons, the least serious of which being the fact that some women drive BMWs. The feature simply allows the driver to adjust the passenger seat. But it’s hard to think of situations in which that would necessary or welcome. Each official BMW Gentleman receives his own 7-Series monogrammed fedora.

Bentley/Mercedes-Benz: Don’t take luxury for granite

Recently, Bentley found an ingenious use for the great quantity of rocks lying around on this planet: they decided to stick them in the interior. Per Bentley’s marketing team, “This innovative interior finish utilises state-of-the-art stone veneer technology to make a luxurious, contemporary feature of a natural product formed over 200 million years.” If you can ignore the fact that Bentley is taking credit for the formation of the Earth, and that you could use the same argument to sell crusher dust, you won’t hesitate to drop a few hundred thousand dollars for a stone dashboard. But Bentley wasn’t the first automaker to see if people who pay more for some stone.

In 2005, Mercedes-Benz offered a Designo interior package with granite trim. Yeah, granite: like the countertop. Not only is granite notoriously heavy (a property reviled in automotive design), it also provokes a desire to chop carrots. Quite simply, there are a hundred materials I could list off the top of my head that convey a greater sense of sophistication, style, and class than granite.

Rolls Royce: For the Sake of Painstaking Paints

And, coincidentally, most of the materials on that list have been mixed into Rolls Royce’s exterior paints at one time or another. Consider the custom commissioned Phantom built for property investor Stephen Hung. The paint featured a gratuitous layer of 24k gold. Strangely, the rest of the paint was bright red, so it mostly looks… red. It probably goes without saying, you shouldn’t take one of these to your local body shop.

Rolls Royce has also mixed ground-up diamonds into paint used on a Ghost. Obviously, diamond is particularly strange choice considering it’s one of the hardest materials on the earth and that dust particles can leave significant scrapes in a vehicle’s paint. But what do I know? I’m not a paint scientist.

BMW: Gesture Controls

Watch this BMW commercial without rolling your eyes. Yes, it depicts a man removing his hand from the steering wheel audio controls to adjust his stereo volume with a touchless gesture. Smugly, he holds his finger in front of the stereo and made small circles in the air and the volume increases. Sure, it’s kind of cool. Does it solve a problem? No.

Steering wheel-mounted volume controls work perfectly and don’t require a driver to look down. That is crucial during a time in which distracted driving has become as dangerous as impaired driving. Adding weird air gestures also increase the likelihood of software malfunctions and the price of replacement parts. It also makes you look like you’re conducting the A/C Symphony.

Mercedes-Benz: Unnecessary Accessory

The $300 Mercedes-Benz “coolbox”

Mercedes-Benz is notorious for weird features to help justify their larger cars’ ridiculous price tags. Can I interest you in a $91 coat hanger or a $300 “coolbox” (cooler) for you S-Class Sedan? What about an $8,500 package that includes a refrigerated compartment, folding tables, and champagne flutes? I don’t think your average glass repair shop covers crystal decanter repairs, so be careful back there.

But perhaps the greatest offence perpetrated by Mercedes is the cabin fragrance atomizer with six distinctive scents. Because you can’t hang a pine tree from a thousand dollar rearview mirror, the system uses some sort of dark art to protect your cabin from the odour of the commonalty.You can choose from several scents (which need to be replaced at your local dealership) including Agarwood Mood, Pacific Mood, Nightlight Mood, Freeside Mood, Downtown Mood, and Sports Mood, which sounds like a behavioural disorder made up by a Montessori parent.

Bentley: What’s Your Time Worth?

For Bentley’s new Bentayga SUV, the luxury automaker partnered with watchmaker Breitling to create a custom piece. Instead of a wristwatch accessory, Bentley has placed the design in the dashboard as an analog clock. Traditionally, an analog clock adds a touch of class to a luxury vehicle. But, traditionally, that touch of class doesn’t cost an additional $150,000, the price of Breitling’s creation. Ignoring the fact that it doesn’t look very good, I wonder what depreciation will do to it. When you sell your Bentley, you may have to strip the clock out and set it on your nightstand.

How To Use IntelliLink Voice Commands

GMC IntelliLink in the new 2017 Yukon Denali

The infotainment systems available in modern vehicles have become drastically more sophisticated over the past few years. But they’ve also become much more complicated. Which means they’re more dangerous to drivers. Yes, I concede that’s kind of a slippery slope argument. But the fact is this: you’re more likely to get distracted from the road swiping on a touch screen for the correct Bruno Mars song than you would by switching between radio presets. Admittedly, touch screens have been getting a little more responsive. That means drivers will spend less time concentrating on them. But the most important improvement to these systems, by far, is the introduction of voice commands. Being able to adjust the route of your navigation system without taking your eyes off the road is invaluable. But figuring out the right commands for your onboard assistant can be difficult. That’s why we’re going to run through some of the most important commands for your GM IntelliLink software.

IntelliLink Voice Commands

The first step is simple. To prepare your IntelliLink system for a voice command, press the voice command button on the steering wheel. Now you’re ready to use one of the command key

Audio

Say “audio” to bring up the audio controls menu. From there, you can cycle through options with manual controls, or continue with voice commands. The “play” command is very important. Saying “play” followed by an artist name, album name, song name, genre name, playlist name, audiobook name, or podcast name will launch the appropriate media from a USB or Bluetooth device compatible with IntelliLink. Of course, you can also use voice commands to control the radio. Say “Tune to (station frequency number) FM” to change the station.

Phone

The IntelliLink system can also control a Bluetooth-connected smartphone. To connect your phone, first say “Pair phone.” To change the connected phone, say “Change phone.” Once your phone is connected, you can use IntelliLink to make a phone call. Use commands “Call” or “Dial” followed by a contact name or the phone number in single digits: eg., “three, zero, six, five, five, five, one, two, three, four.”

Navigation

One of the most important applications of the IntelliLink system’s voice command is navigation. Fumbling with Google Maps or tapping at your touchscreen while trying to navigate is extremely dangerous. Touch the voice command button then say “Navigation” or “Destination” to begin. From there, you can say “Address,” followed by the complete address of your destination; “Contact,” for directions to a person’s address; or “Point of Interest,” to bring up options about interesting locations. Finally, you can say “Cancel Route” to… cancel the route.

Highlights

  • “Audio” – bring up the Audio menu
  • “Play” – followed by artist, album, song, genre, playlist, podcast, or audiobook
  • “Tune to” – followed by station number + “FM” or “AM”
  • “Call” or “Dial” – followed by contact name or phone digits
  • “Pair phone” – connect your phone via Bluetooth
  • “Change phone” – select a different phone to pair with Bluetooth
  • “Navigation” or “Destination” – followed address, contact name, or point of interest
  • “Cancel route” – stop navigating

Many new GM vehicles are equipped with IntelliLink functionality. However, many drivers don’t use it to its full potential. Mastering voice commands will help you stay focused on the road. That’s vitally important in a time when distracted driving is one our roadways’ greatest dangers. And, as a bonus, you get to feel a bit like Knight Rider.

Capital GMC’s 9 Road Trip Tips

Summer: Road Trip Season!

Summer road trip season is upon us. That means it’s time to reignite your passionate contempt for your closest friends and family while anaesthetizing your thighs on the rear bench of a Plymouth Grand Voyager. But before you take off on that grand voyage, consider these road trip tips.

Capital GMC's top nine road trip tips.

#1 Safety First

Before you take off for Wawota, you should make sure that your vehicle is in good shape. A mechanic inspection can be a good safety measure. Short of that, you should personally inspect:

  • Fluid levels – don’t run out of washer fluid during mosquito season
  • Air filter – unless you enjoy breathing in desiccated grasshopper essence
  • Air conditioner – because sitting still for six hours shouldn’t provoke heavy sweats
  • Tire pressure – properly inflated tires prevent flats and deliver better fuel economy

#2 Are You Not Entertained?

Don’t throw yourself upon the mercy of small-town radio. That can put a strain on your marriage and make a two-hour journey feel like eight. Instead, make a road trip playlist with universally adored jams, like Franz Schubert’s “Erlkönig”. If you drive a relic, put it on a cassette or CD. If you’re using your smartphone, make sure you download the playlist. Music streaming can quickly turn into costly data overages.

If you’re likely to get bored of music, download some podcasts or a good audiobook. Nothing captures the spirit of sunshine and the unity of mankind like Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

#3 Plan For Construction

There’s nothing worse being stuck at an alternating, single-lane construction site on a hot highway. And, it’s Saskatchewan; if it’s above freezing, construction is happening somewhere. But, with the internet being readily available, there’s no excuse not to plan alternate routes around construction.

You can check out major roadway construction projects in Saskatchewan here.

#4 Don’t Get Stranded

Believe it or not, there are people in the age of smartphones that cannot change a flat tire. Before you begin any sort of road trip (or start driving anywhere!) learn how to change a tire. Provided you have the right equipment, it’s easy and quick. Of course, a spare tire can only get you so far. If you’re travelling a great distance, or in a remote area, you might want to invest in some form of roadside assistance. CAA and manufacturer services are both good options to help you avoid being stranded in the middle of nowhere.

#5 Bring Your Road Trip Documents

Having appropriate documentation is important when you’re driving near your home, so it’s doubly important when you’re far from it. Obviously, you should have your license with you. However, you should also make sure your registration and insurance information are on hand. If the unexpected happens, this will make your life significantly easier, and help you get back on the road more quickly.

#6 Have Kids?

If possible, leave them at home. Children are expensive and troublesome. Just kidding. Make sure you pack some unique entertainment options and let them get some exercise whenever you stop. Snacks help, too – as a distraction as well as an antidote to hunger. Also, it’s a myth that sugar causes hyperactivity, so don’t punish your children with Wheat Thins.

#7 Get Some Sleep

Fatigue accounts for hundreds of thousands of yearly traffic collisions. A good night’s sleep will help you remain alert and focused on the road. If you’re leaving early in the morning, or you had a late night, you should take some extra precautions for alertness. You can jury rig your neurons and synapses with caffeine and fast food. But the health and safety benefits of this method are debatable. Alternating between driving and napping with your passenger, or just pulling over are much safer solutions for tired drivers.

#8 Protect Your Stuff

A car full of road trip possessions is like a sunken treasure chest for thieves. Except that it’s not even sunken – it’s just parked at the Swift Current Mr. Sub. So, if you’re leaving your vehicle, take valuables, and essentials like I.D. with you, or lock them in the trunk. On the small chance you encounter highway bandits, you’ll have a little extra peace of mind.

#9 Save Some Gas Money

If you’re taking off for a long weekend, make sure you fuel up a day or two early. Gas stations will raise prices in anticipation of the urban exodus. Also, make sure you use cruise control. Cruise maintains your speed much more smoothly than you can. Each time you accelerate to resume your ideal speed, you lose fuel efficiency. That also means you should coast toward red lights (rather than jamming on the brakes) and accelerate more slowly. But the most important element for road trip fuel saving is reducing overall speed.

Most vehicles hit their peak fuel efficiency between 55 and 95km/hr. But some people assume that there is linear decrease in fuel efficiency with increased speed. That would mean the rate of increase in fuel consumption between 55 and 65km/hr is the same as the increase between 95 and 105km/hr, but that is not the case. The drop in fuel efficiency is exponential, meaning there is a speed at which your fuel economy will drastically worsen. That point is somewhere between 95 and 100km/hr. Experts have shown that every 10km/hr over 90km/hr will result in roughly 10% more fuel consumption. That’s no small number. If you make a habit of driving 120, you better get the most out of that time you’ve saved.

Have fun and be safe this summer! If you have any road trip tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below. 

Winter Maintenance Tips: Frozen Fluids

Winter maintenance tips: frozen fluids

Winter Maintenance

When it’s extremely cold outside, a cup of warm coffee can freeze in the air. I’ll admit that antifreeze is designed for slightly higher performance than a cup of Tim Hortons. But, at the same time, most vehicle fluids aren’t designed for Saskatchewan winters. Here are a few things you should know about fluids as you perform your winter maintenance:

Antifreeze

Its name can be a bit misleading because pure antifreeze only has a freezing point of about -8C°. The freezing point is only lowered by the addition of water. Most of the antifreeze you can purchase comes pre-mixed with water at a 50/50 ratio. That balance will be sufficient for most temperatures, except the extremes. During the coldest months, increasing the ratio of antifreeze to water (approximately 65/35) will lower the freezing point of your antifreeze dramatically while keeping the boiling point from dropping too low. Take note, however, that modern vehicles are calibrated to read their internal temperatures with a 50/50 blend.  

Winter-Blend Gasoline

You may not know it, but the gasoline you pump in June is different from the blend you pump in December. The difference hinges upon the Reid Vapor Pressure rating (RVP). The higher the RVP, the more easily the fuel evaporates. Summer blend gasoline has a lower RVP to prevent evaporation and decrease excessive pollution. Winter-blend fuel has a higher RVP so that enough gasoline can evaporate even in freezing temperatures. Fortunately, refineries take uncertainty out of the equation for consumers and supply winter-blend gasoline only during the appropriate months. So, this technically isn’t a winter maintenance tip, but it’s still good to know.

Oil Viscosity

For most drivers, remembering to have their oil changed regularly concludes their thoughts on the subject. They rarely consider the type of oil they’re using. Engine oils have a number of distinguishing features, but only viscosity is relevant to cold temperatures. Viscosity is the oil’s thickness, and different oils retain optimal viscosity at different temperatures. That’s why it’s important to pick the right oil for your climate. In the rating 5W-30, 5W is the winter rating (30 is the high-temperature rating), tested at 0°F. The lower the number before the W, the quicker oil will flow in your engine when it is cold.   

Bottom Line

Regular maintenance is essential to keeping your vehicle on the road and avoiding costly repairs down the road. No matter what time of year you need it, our service specialists are here not only to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape but to help you learn best practices when it comes to maintaining a healthy vehicle. Call us today at 1-866-789-3032 or better yet, come in and see us!

Why Your Car Hates Winter as Much as You

Capital Used Cars

 

Winter can be as hard on your vehicle as it is on you, even if the signs are a little less obvious (your truck can’t cry in front of the fireplace, clinging to a coffee mug). Here are a few reasons winter is tough on vehicles, and ways that you can help.

Summer Tire Wear

Living in Saskatchewan, the primary reason for switching to winter tires is obvious: it’s better to stay on the road than slide off of it like a shuffleboard. But, even for experienced drivers who choose to leave their summer tires on, cold weather can be costly. When the temperature falls, even 7o can do it, accelerated tire-wear will begin to show on your summer set. Unlike more flexible winter tires, summer tires are built to withstand heat, not salt, sand, and ice. In the long run, using one set of tires will not save you money because you’ll be replacing them more often.

Frozen Fuel Lines

The sound of an engine failing to turn over might be the seasonal anthem of Saskatchewan winters. To make sure their vehicles start every day, most drivers know to plug in their block heater overnight and to keep their battery fully charged by avoiding short trips. One problem drivers might not be aware of is a frozen fuel line. In sub-zero temperatures, moisture-rich air in the gas tank, mixed with fuel, can freeze. When the freezing occurs along the fuel line, it becomes impossible to start the vehicle. Keeping the gas tank full helps prevent this problem by limiting the amount of moisture in the gas tank. Plus, having plenty of fuel ensures you never get stranded in the cold!

Hold the Salt

Although we’re grateful when city crews spread salt and sand around major roadways, the material can be as hard on your car as it is on the ice. In particular, as it’s sprayed up by your tires, salt will damage the exterior of your vehicle. The salt used on the road lowers the freezing point of water to prevent the formation of ice. But this property also means that salt can extremely corrosive, and promote rust with prolonged exposure. Underneath your vehicle, rust damage can lead to costly fluid leaks. On the exterior, rust damage is unsightly and will hurt the resale value of your vehicle. In order to combat rust-damage, all you need to do is wash your vehicle monthly in winter – just make sure you don’t freeze your doors shut!

Winter Driving

Capital GMC Buick Cadillac

1. Winter tires

We know how crazy Saskatchewan winters can be. That means slippery roads, snow storms and lots of vehicles in the ditch. This is the perfect time to save you and your vehicle by getting winter tires. You may be like me and think your all-season tires are just fine, but that is not the case. All-season tires are actually meant for 3-seasons, excluding winter. You need a tire that is going to gain grip the colder it gets and winter tires do just that!

2. Lift your wipers

Here’s a super simple tip that can actually go a super long way. Lifting your wipers when you leave your vehicle will make it easier when it comes time wiping your windshield. Why else is this a good idea? Well this can actually help prevent your blades motor from burning out. Trying to turn your wipers on when they are frozen to your windshield can actually wreak the rubber on the blade and cause damage to it. If you lift your wipers they wont be able to get stuck to your windshield.

3. Turn off the cruise control

We all know that roads are icy in winter and sometimes we can’t even see it. Driving on cruise control can become very dangerous because your foot is off the gas and brake. Trying to slow down on ice and snow takes loner then clear hot conditions so if you need to make a sure you have full control of your vehicle at all times.

4. Getting Stuck

Last but not least, make sure you’re always ready for an emergency. Store blankets, snacks, extra clothing, gloves, shovel, and anything else you think you might need if you get stuck and might have to stay put for awhile. When leaving the house in winter remind yourself to bundle up.