Where Is Santa?

NORAD and OnStar can tell you

Where Is Santa?

Santa's journey through NORAD and OnStar

It's the happiest time of the year! Beginning 5am Christmas Eve through 5am Christmas morning, you and your little ones can track Santa's journey with the help of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command). You can call 877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723) or visit NORAD Santa Tracker to see where the jolly man and his entourage are.

If you have a GM product with an active OnStar subscription, simply push the blue OnStar button and request a 'Santa Update.' The OnStar advisor will provide information based on NORAD's report. We're road-testing the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel over the holidays — you can bet that my kids will be asking to call OnStar. This is very important information at their age, you know.

My previous experience with OnStar was in the Chevrolet Malibu when I road-tested it in remote Nova Scotia. There was absolutely no cell reception, no wifi — nothing. I used OnStar to call home... it was so good to be connected and I didn't appreciate the OnStar system until then. Being in the city all the time, I just never thought about not being able to call home by my own means. And now it can track Santa? That just brings OnStar to a fun and magical level. 

The Santa Tracker tradition started in 1955, when a little girl called a number listed on a local store advertisement. That number was misprinted and she ended up calling NORAD's predecessor CONAD (Continental Air Defence Command). Colonel Harry Shoup had his operators find Santa's location and relayed the information to many kids who called that night. Since then, every year NORAD faithfully keeps kids up-to-date with Santa's progress. What gets me is how awesome it was that the colonel didn't just say “wrong number” and hang up the phone, but that he gave the night that magical touch. I can just imagine how joyful those kids were!

Today, NORAD uses infrared satellite systems, high-powered radars, SantaCams and jet fighters to locate Santa. NORAD is a joint US-Canada organization that is charged with the tasks of aerospace warning and control, as well as maritime warning. Visit NORAD Santa Tracker for the official countdown clock and to find out more about the program, Santa's village, his 'secret files,' and NORAD.

Isn't it amazing that 9 reindeer can outdo any amount of horsepower we can imagine? Talk about efficiency and achievement! Here's to you and yours — have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year! Thank you for reading my blog throughout 2013.

In gratitude, Emily.


Why You Should Use A/C In The Winter

Using your air conditioner year-round is better for your car

Why You Should Use A/C In The Winter

Use air conditioner in winter

Do you only use your car's air conditioning in the summer? Many drivers think that they will prolong its life if they don't use it that often. However, the opposite may be true.

One of the purposes of air conditioning is to provide dry air. Fog happens when water condenses on the window. In the winter, keep your car's temperature setting to hot and turn on the air conditioning. You'll see that defrosting your front windshield is that much faster. The reason is because the air coming out of the vents is dry, so the A/C system is like a dehumidifier.

Another thing to consider is this: your car's air conditioning system is filled with parts that were meant to move. With our bodies, if we stop moving for a while muscles start aching, we lose circulation, etc. It's not healthy. The same is true for your car. If you don't use your air conditioner for a few months, some components (such as the A/C compressor clutch) may become seized.

Your car's air conditioning system is filled with refrigerant and a small amount of oil. It's a good idea to get that liquid flowing every now and again, rather than having it sit for long periods as the oil helps keep important air conditioning components lubricated.

Lastly, bacteria and mould tend to build up in a system that is not regularly used. Ever turn on your A/C after not using it for a while and notice a bad odour? Ya, you can guess what you're smelling. There are in-car air quality services that your repair shop can do to address the smell, but why not just run your A/C every now and again?

This winter, as part of maintenance, use your car's air conditioning regularly (keep the temperature setting to hot). If not, you may end up with higher repair costs for your air conditioning system.  


Know the Signals: Your Dashlights are Telling You Something

Do you stop driving when a red light comes on?

Know the Signals: Your Dashlights are Telling You Something

car dash lights

It seems like there's more and more information that manufacturers want to display for you while you're driving. Not too long ago, instrument panels were plain—no lights on—just displaying your speed and RPM.

Old Car Instrument Panel

Nowadays some cars display a headlamp image (to indicate your daytime running lights are on), navigation and audio information, system information (if your oil change is due soon), tire pressure warning, etc. If you have blind spot monitoring, lane departure, or forward collision warning features on your car you'll get an occasional flash from them, too.

New Car Instrument Panel

The standard colours are red, amber, green, and occasionally blue. There have been a number of times when clients call us and ask what they should do when these warning lights come on.

Your Parking Brake: Did You Know If You Don't Use It, You'll Lose It?

Do you remember playing the traffic light game on the skating rink? The instructor says green light and you skate as fast as you can, she says red light and you have to stop. First one over the line wins. Question: When a red warning light comes on, no matter where you are, do you pull over to the side of the road and stop driving?

Green/blue light: These are for your information and are generally used to indicate to you that things are fine and/or normal.

Amber light—CAUTION: These lights include check engine, ABS, tire pressure warning, traction control, etc. Typically, if these lights remain lit, it means that the car is still driveable, but you should head to the repair shop as soon as possible. Note that in some vehicles, when the check engine light is on AND flashing, you should definitely get the vehicle diagnosed right away. More information can be found in your car's owners manual.

The Toy You Want To Take When You Drive With A Baby

Red light: Safely pull over to the side of the road and STOP. Common indicator lights indicate parking brake left on, battery charge low, oil pressure low, engine temperature too high, etc. Continued driving will lead to further damage to your vehicle. It's very important that you do not continue to drive the car if you have a red warning light. In some cases, by the time the car flags a warning light on the dash for you, the problem has already been occuring for a while.

We all have places to be and things to do. If a warning light comes on, it will seem like the worst timing. How willing are you to stop driving immediately?