Know Someone Who Really Stands Out In Your Community?

Nominate Someone Special For CARSTAR's Random Acts of Shineness Award

Know Someone Who Really Stands Out In Your Community?

Recognize Someone Who Makes A Difference In Their Community

There’s a big perception out there that most mechanics can’t be trusted. In every industry, you’re going to have the bad apples and it’s no different in auto repair. The reason why I went to trade school was because I didn’t feel comfortable taking my car in for service, so now I’m a licensed auto repair technician at my own shop, AutoNiche.

When I started my business, I knew I didn’t want to open a place that was like the vast majority of independent shops. I knew that my shop had to make an effort to build better relationships with clients, and a big part of our business was letting customers know that we are here to benefit our community. There are many ways to run an auto repair shop but the good shops value relationships and know that there is much more than just getting the sale.

I’m proud to know that there are others in the automotive industry who genuinely share the same values when it comes to client relationships and community. CARSTAR Collision and Glass is Canada’s leading collision repair franchise and they are stepping up to shine the spotlight on the good that is happening in our industry.

Throughout the summer, CARSTAR is running their Random Acts of Shineness 50-city cross-country tour where they are encouraging Canadians to submit nominations for any deserving person who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to give back to their communities or support families and friends.

I firmly believe that we are all here to make the best use of our time and talents.

Canadians who are interested in nominating themselves or a "Shining Star" they know can do so by visiting www.actsofshineness.com or the CARSTAR Facebook page to complete the nomination form. Tell CARSTAR what  your nominee does to make a difference in someone else’s lives or their community and why you think they are deserving of the award.

Nominees have a chance to win one of five prizes of $2,500 for their favourite charity AND a $2,500 personalized prize from CARSTAR! The personalized prizing portion will be determined with each recipient, depending on his/her wishes, and may include cash, gifts or experiences valued at a total of $2,500.

Tour Ambassadors for the program will also be raising money for Cystic Fibrosis Canada (CARSTAR’s national charity for more than 15 years!) while performing random acts of kindness across Canada. I have a personal connection to Cycstic Fibrosis Canada which makes me even more happy share the Random Acts of Shineness program with you. Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui, the doctor who discovered the cystic fibrosis gene and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2012, is a family friend. I have great memories of playing with his kids during my childhood — I'd never guess that 20 years later I'd be writing an automotive blog post that ties into his work!

If you know someone who deserves praise for serving others, then nominate that special person today and encourage him or her to keep bringing "shineness" into everyone's lives — be sure that their generosity doesn’t go unnoticed!


Parking Brake: If You Don't Use It, You Lose It

Why you need to use it every time

Parking Brake: If You Don't Use It, You Lose It

Parking Brake

As recently as 2008 and 2010 in Toronto, several cars had their brake lines cut. Your car has the emergency brake (also known as parking brake) feature specifically for situations like these. Brake fluid can also be lost when a brake line bursts, usually due to rust or an improper repair.

Whether you drive a manual or automatic transmission, you should always use your parking brake. Whenever you park the car, apply the parking brake. That’s the only way to make sure that the cables don’t seize up.

If you haven’t used the parking brakes in a while, don’t try using it without having it inspected! If you apply it for the first time in a while, there’s a chance that the cables won’t release because they may be binding. It’s important to know that just because you released the parking brake lever, the cables may not have actually retracted fully. The opposite can happen toojust because you applied the parking brake lever doesn’t mean they’re actually engaged. Take your car into a repair shop and have them verify that the parking brake system works.

If you’ve never experienced the need to use the parking brake, here’s what you need to know. If you have a parking brake lever (as opposed to an electrical switch), you can vary how sudden the brakes are appliedbut keep in mind, in an emergency, chances are you’ll be yanking on the lever very quickly. If you’re really curious, drive the car in a closed area at a very slow speed, put it in neutral and slowly apply the parking brake. You’ll get a feel for how the system works.

Parking brake lever

If you have an electric parking brake, don’t be surprised if it’s applied forcefully, because it wants to stop the vehicle in an emergency situation. All of this will make the situation that much more frenzied, but stay calm! You need to remain in control of the vehicle.

Electric parking brake

Don’t forget to release the parking brake. It should go without saying that if you do drive with the parking brake on, you could damage the system. Have an auto repair technician double check the system if you’re unsure!

I can’t stress how important it is for you to regularly use your parking brake. If you’re not in the habit of using it all the time, start nowyou just never know when you’ll need it!

Did you get new brakes? Read this post to find out how to properly wear brakes in. If you’re heading out on a road trip this summer, here’s some tips on how to prepare your car!


Dear Front Seat Passenger: Don't Sit Back Like This

Keep your feet on the floor

Dear Front Seat Passenger: Don't Sit Back Like This

Feet on dash

Summertime is here and many people sitting in the front passenger seat want to put their feet up on the dash or out the window while they're cruising. To be honest, as a driver I can't stand staring at other people's feet.

But if you need a better reason why you shouldn't put your feet up on the dash, ask any experienced Paramedic what people look like when they do this and the airbag deploys in a collision. Remember that most new cars have airbags along the pillar too (see circles in image below) so depending on the collision, you may have airbags deploying underneath and/or next to your feet. Not fun.

Airbag location

Generally-speaking the purpose of an airbag is to slow your movement evenly and quickly in the case of a collision. Your car uses information from various sensors to determine which airbag to deploy. Some vehicles also have weight sensors in the seat to ensure that the proper rate of inflation occurs when the airbag goes off (if at all). So yes, your car knows how much you weigh... there's no hiding those extra servings of cheesecake! Your car's airbag can deploy at a speed of 320 km per hour in approximately 0.04 seconds. Way too fast for you to put your feet back on the floor.

The next time your passengers want to put up their feet, remind them that the airbag is right there and they may not want to be trapped in that position if you get into a collision!

Be prepared in case you're in a collision. Read these to find out 5 steps to take after a car accident and what you information you need to get at the scene of a collision.