The One Important Thing You're Not Doing Before Road Trips

Why you must keep this integral part of your car in perfect working condition

The One Important Thing You're Not Doing Before Road Trips

The One Important Thing You're Not Doing Before Road Trips

Do you know if your spare tire is in good working condition and ready to be used in case of emergency? When was the last time you checked it?

A recent Kal Tire survey found that more than one-third of Canadian drivers experienced a flat tire last year. The survey also noted that 92% of drivers claimed their spare tire is in good enough or excellent condition, but only 60% of drivers said they checked the condition of their spare tire in the last year! Not safe. Imagine the surprise of getting a flat tire on the highway, hours away from your destination, only to find that your spare tire is not in working condition? Not a scenario anyone wants to be in.

It's important to always travel with a properly inflated spare tire but even more so during the upcoming road trip season.

My experience falls in line with the Kal Tire survey results. Most clients don’t check their spare tire, so we educate them on the importance of their spare, especially if they’re headed out on a road trip soon. We offer customers pointers on how to prepare for a road trip and one of the big tips we always give is to bring their car in for a vehicle check-up at least 2 weeks prior to the trip.

  Road Trip Preparation Tip: The next time your vehicle goes in for service, ask your technician to inspect the spare tire to make sure it’s properly inflated and in perfect working condition.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to your spare tire:

  • Similar to regular tires, the rubber compound of your spare will degrade over time, even if it has never been used. This is a natural result from how the tire is stored and fluctuating temperatures.
  • Manufacturers recommend replacing the spare tire every 10 years, even if it’s never been used.
  • Pay attention to when the tire was made, rather than when it was purchased. This applies to regular tires too. Did you know that tires have a manufacturing date code?
  • If you’ve used your spare tire, keep an eye on the available tread life left for the next emergency.
  • Always make sure your spare tire is properly inflated. You don’t want to be stranded trying to change a flat tire with an under inflated spare tire!
  • Always carry a car emergency kit.

But what if your car doesn’t come with a spare tire? Some manufacturers have eliminated the spare tire to reduce weight and bulk in vehicles and instead are using "run-flat" tires. Something important you need to know about run-flat tires is that they are designed to allow you to continue to drive at a maximum speed of 80kms/hr to reach a service centre, up to 80kms away, if you have a puncture. But the downside to having these "run-flat" tires is that in many cases, they are NOT repairable, and they do cost more than a traditional tire.

There are some things you can do to minimize the likelihood of getting a flat tire in the first place, such as:

  • Avoiding bumps and/or obstacles on the road.
  • Not driving or parking too close to the curb.
  • Being aware of construction zones. Construction zones present more debris that may cause a flat tire. A tire that is low in tread life and showing signs of cracking due to age will also have its integrity compromised.

Safe travels!


Will This Eye-Opening Video Change the Way You Drive?

Other people make mistakes. Slow down.

Will This Eye-Opening Video Change the Way You Drive?

NZ Mistakes ad

I came across a commercial from New Zealand’s Transport Agency recently. They released early 2014, with the intention of it running for the next couple of years.

Watch it:

In this anti-speeding video, there are two drivers – one speeding and another making a turn into the speeding car’s path. The video is then in slow motion for a bit as the drivers get out of the car and speak with each other. Time stands still though it’s inevitable that a crash is going to happen.

Mistakes ad intersection

“I’m so sorry, I thought there was time.”

“You just pulled out, I didn’t have time to stop.”

“I know, if I was going a bit slower…”

“Please, I’ve got my boy in the back.”

At the end of the video, time resumes and the one vehicle smashes into the side of the other. It’s quite the shocking scene and a sober realization that this is probably how a lot of accidents happen.

‘If only I slowed down…”

“If only I waited another second…”

“If only I yielded to them…”

“If only I wasn’t so insistent…”

The video is fittingly titled “Mistakes” and ends with the words: Other people make mistakes. Slow down.

Mistakes ad child

Sometimes it’s not anything that you did wrong to cause an accident. But maybe if you slowed down, paused that extra second, yielded to the other driver – things might have turned out differently. Sure, we don’t have to yield especially if we’re in the right. You might agree with me though – life isn’t always about being right.

There’s a Chinese saying that my mom sometimes said whenever a car sped past us. It translates to the driver is “rushing to their death.” And I think most of us would agree that it’s not worth getting into an accident if it means that we may save a few minutes here and there. Sadly, I think just as many of us would admit that the thought of slowing down doesn’t actively cross our minds as much as we’d like.

Mistakes ad crash

There are many public service commercials out there – and I have got to say that this is one of the better ones.

What about you? What do you think about this ad? The next time you get in your car, will you do anything different – knowing that you only have control over your own driving and not anyone else’s?

As an auto service technician, I’ve seen it all and there’s really no excuse for an unsafe vehicle.

Read this and find out 5 steps to take after a collision


OnStar Wi-Fi Keeps You Calm, Cool, & Connected

OnStar Wi-fi service is the drive of the future, NOW

OnStar Wi-Fi Keeps You Calm, Cool, & Connected

OnStar Wifi 4G LTE

I’m not shy about being a fan of GM’s OnStar system. When they launched their 4G LTE connectivity, I was really interested in learning more about how this service would benefit users. Essentially, the connectivity turns your vehicle into a mobile hotspot, allowing you to stay connected wherever you go. This technology also earned GM the “Best of What’s New” Award from Popular Science in 2014.

My first question was, how would this be better than using my cellphone’s data plan? After all, I feel pretty connected as it is… sometimes too much! Here’s how my family took advantage of the OnStar Wi-fi service:

For Travel

Say good-bye to roaming charges! This is one of my favourite benefits. OnStar has agreements with local network carriers throughout Canada and the US. When you use the OnStar Wi-fi connection, there are no roaming charges.


onstar wifi no roaming charges

OnStar Wi-fi also provides a reliable signal up to 50 feet. So if you're driving with another vehicle in your entourage, they could access the Wi-fi connection as well!

For Personal

Stay connected and up-to-date on your favourite online sites. While we were travelling with the 2015 Cadillac XTS, our kids streamed movies and accessed their games/apps. Here's something cool we did: we streamed YouTube music through my smartphone via OnStar Wi-fi, then streamed that through Bluetooth to the car's radio! 

onstar wifi bluetooth

For Work

It was convenient to have the OnStar Wi-fi connection while I was travelling out east. I could oversee my auto repair shop business and get emails answered promptly through my laptop.

Onstar wifi laptop connection

With the antenna mounted on the vehicle's roof, the signal of the connection is much stronger when compared to a cell phone that is inside the vehicle. It also uses multiple input/output antennas so that it can maintain a connection with one tower while using another antenna to connect to the next tower. This way, the connection doesn't fade or drop. That proved handy when I drove out of town and hit certain areas where my cell signal was limited or not available. Even though my Rogers network wasn't available at the time, the vehicle connected to the strongest and fastest network available in the service area.

onstar wifi no network


The OnStar Wi-fi is easy to use, it’s just like hopping onto any other hotspot. Turn your device’s Wi-fi connection on and it will detect your vehicle, in the OnStar screen you are given a dedicated ID and password.


onstar wifi password

If you're accustomed to having another device tether to your smartphone, you know that your phone's battery will drain quicker. Another benefit to using the OnStar Wi-fi connection is that it's powered by the vehicle battery. When I spoke with Natalie Nankil, Media Relations Manager with GM Canada, she confirmed that “...battery life on a mobile device tends to drain quickly, especially when it is being used to tether to another device. With the vehicle Wi-fi, you don’t have to worry about draining your mobile device battery since you can connect directly to the car instead of your mobile device.” Also, the devices aren't sharing your data plan!

onstar wifi settings

The OnStar Wi-fi service is available in many GM vehicles ranging from the 2015 Chevrolet Spark to the 2015 GMC Canyon. Specific vehicles are listed on the OnStar website. The first 3 months/3GB of data are included with the purchase of new Wi-fi-equipped vehicles.

Whether you subscribe to OnStar or not, data plans are available in select GM vehicles. Monthly plans start at $10-$15 per month for 200MB to $60 for 5GB. You may also purchase one-time data packages, perfect for road trips or vacations where you aren't planning on using data throughout the year. These packages start at $5 for 250MB/day.

Find out how car technology keeps us safe, and how technology is maximized before a collision!