Ok, so I’m not talking about the kind of dry rub for chicken or ribs. Dry rub (commonly known as dry steer) is when you turn the steering wheel with the vehicle stationary. Not a good idea unless you’re doing a really tight turn à la Austin Powers:
In order to turn the wheels when your car is stationary, you have to exert some force to overcome the resistance between the tires and the road. You can already imagine that dry steer will cause premature tire wear (from the tires rubbing on the road surface), and it will also put unnecessary stress primarily on your steering system. Parts that take the most hit include the rack and pinion as well as your power steering pump.
If you don’t have power steering helping you (for example, when your car isn’t running) then the amount of effort you use to turn the wheel can be exceptionally high. Anyone remember the days of manual steering?
So what to do? The solution is easy. We advise our clients to let off the brake slightly and turn the steering wheel. The car will begin to roll and the resistance on the tires will be significantly less.
I commonly see dry steer happen when drivers are parking or turning at slow speeds. If you dry steer as a one-off, chances are you won’t cause any damage to your car. However, if you’re in the habit of dry steering every time you begin to back out of a parking spot or while you wait for your chance to turn at a traffic light, then over the long haul you will be prematurely wearing tires and/or steering components.
Next time you’re driving take note: are you a ‘dry rubber’?
When our clients bring in their Dodge Grand Caravan, I usually only have it for a 2km test drive.
When I got my hands on the new 2013 Grand Caravan to test drive, I put on almost 1,000kms in just under one week.
This minivan is full of family-friendly features and proudly claims to be the industry’s most versatile passenger and cargo vehicle. From our experience at the shop, Dodge Caravan clients range from young families and retirees to contractors and executives. But the big question is: would the minivan be versatile enough for me and my lifestyle?
I'm interested in how easy a car will be for our clients to do some basic maintenance. I'm also curious about the mechanical aspect of the vehicle.
The Caravan drove as I expected, given the award-winning engine: the 3.6L Pentastar VVT V6 was chosen by Ward’s Automotive one of the ’10 Best Engines.’ The minivan shifted smoothly and its pickup was responsive whenever I had to merge quickly with traffic. When you activate the fuel economizer button, the computer will manage your vehicle’s systems to anticipate what you need and provide you with the best fuel economy. The van takes regular unleaded gas and we got over 640kms per fill up.
I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get used to the size of this minivan, but thankfully, its windows are large and the blindspot areas are minimal. The 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan offers a 5-year/100,000-kilometre powertrain limited warranty.
When it comes to driver customization, this van delivers. I personally like to sit as far back as possible from the dash and steering wheel as I can. I don’t want any chance of having the air bag deploy so close to me. I specifically look for the ability to tilt and telescope the steering column in every car I road test. This minivan has both features and — wait for it — pedal adjustment! This is fantastic! Since I’m shorter than my husband, I like the pedals up higher than he does. Traditionally, that would mean I’d be sitting closer to the steering wheel so my legs can reach. Not any more with the Grand Caravan.
Under the hood, the basic maintenance items were clearly laid out. The battery is up top and the Caravan has clear reservoirs, making it easier for you to check fluid levels.
A great bonus is that the owner’s manual is in full colour with lots of pictures and diagrams to explain the features and how-to's of the minivan.
Just a note: if you’re used to the spare tire being in the trunk, surprise! In order to accommodate the Caravan's sunken trunk area, they relocated the spare tire underneath the vehicle at the centre console between the driver and passenger.
Did you know that approximately 80% of child car seats are improperly installed? I look for ease of installation and child-car-seat-friendliness in all cars I road test, as well as key features to keep our kids safe.
Installing a child car seat in the minivan was easy. There’s so much room that installing a rear-facing car seat behind the front passenger seat won’t compromise the seating position of the front passenger. The anchors are clearly visible, though you may need to use a pool noodle to get the correct angle for a rear-facing child car seat. In the case of forward-facing child seats, there are three rear tether anchors in the Grand Caravan, which is great for carpooling kids...or if you want to have triplets!
The conversation mirror in the top centre overhead panel is a bonus because you can see your passengers in the back. It was much easier to talk to my kids and make eye contact with them using the mirror. We’ve had some cars come into our repair shop with mirror adapters on visors and suction-cupped to the windshield which is not safe as they become flying objects in a collision.
My husband and I have two boys, ages 5 and 7. Between taking care of my marriage, remembering which day is our kids' library, gym and/or pizza day, sorting light and dark clothes for laundry, finding time to pray daily, and managing my auto repair business, things can get busy!
I was immediately impressed by the cargo room and the Stow 'n Go system. The second row seats quickly fold down with one hand and the third row seats fold into the sunken trunk so that the entire rear of the minivan transformed into pure cargo room.
I’m thinking: no wonder parents love these when it’s time to move their kids to the dorm!
The minivan had a lot of storage compartments, both in the centre console and on the inside door panel. It even had a ‘slot’ that I used for my umbrella—no more leaving that in the trunk and climbing through to get it when it rains! Yes, I do silly things like that.
The rear liftgate was powered...OK, that is becoming more common on vehicles today. BUT, the Grand Caravan's liftgate ‘close’ button is in a considerate place — on the side of the rear pillar so that it’s at my chest level. In other vehicles, the liftgate ‘close’ button is commonly located on the bottom of the liftgate itself and I'd have to stand on my toes to access the button since the liftgate is up in the air. Good job, Dodge!
In addition to vented windows in the rear, the sliding doors feature power windows that move up and down just like the driver and front passenger windows. We got lots of fresh air in the minivan!
I’m guilty of overloading my trunk and I’ve had to push the door down to get it to close properly. Correction: I’ve had to slam, release and slam the door again to get it shut. The van has a ‘load to this line’ guide at the trunk so there’s no guessing. Load to that line and the liftgate won’t have a problem closing shut.
You can only imagine how excited my kids were to watch their favourite cartoon on the built-in Dual Blu-Ray players. Also, there are power outlets galore in the Caravan. Aside from the usual ports for charging cell phones and other accessories, there is an HDMI input for video game systems.
Overall this minivan held up to its reputation — versatile, family-friendly, and safe. The 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan starts at $27,995 CAD.
When I first began speaking with Hyundai about road testing their cars, I mentioned that my husband and I are always looking out for our next car in case his reliable 2004 Toyota Corolla needs to be replaced. It has almost 400,000kms on it so we’ve gotten some good use out of it. We need a smaller car and my husband commutes a lot so he wants something fun to drive. I typically have the kids in my car so they’d only be with him every now and then.
That’s when the 2013 Hyundai Veloster was suggested to me as an option. It’s definitely a design that commands a second look, but I wasn’t sure if I could handle a coupe. With two kids, I wasn’t fond of the idea that they’d have to crawl in behind the passenger seat to sit at the back. THEN I found out that the Veloster has a third door, hidden behind the passenger door!
Ok, I agreed to take the Veloster for a week.
Overall we really liked this 4-seater car. It’s a fun drive and our manual transmission definitely added to that. In my opinion, the Veloster isn’t quite an all-out sports car — that would be the Hyundai Genesis — but the turbocharged engine had a lot of pep and the design is funky, with its very own dual centre exhaust (in case you’re wondering, still only one exhaust pipe coming off the 4-cylinder). Our boys loved it!
I’m going to just put it out there that if you have an infant, most likely you aren’t using this car as your main vehicle. Given that the vehicle’s rear seat bottoms are inclined, you’ll definitely need to use pool noodles or towels to get the recline angle correct for a rear-facing child car seat. Also, you won't be able to have a front passenger since that seat would need to move up close to the dashboard to accommodate the rear-facing child seat.
Any child car seat you choose will need to be a narrower one since the vehicle seat bottoms also have side cushioning. Note that to install a forward-facing child seat, you will likely need to remove the headrest because it has a lip that comes in front of the vehicle’s seatback. Removing the headrest will allow you to install the forward-facing seat flush with the seatback.
Our kids’ booster seats went in no problem. Instead of a centre rear seat, there is a storage compartment and cup holders—perfect for our boys’ toys and drinks.
My absolute favourite feature of the Hyundai Veloster is the third door. This makes loading up passengers in the rear so much easier. Very practical! It also came in handy when I wanted to be lazy and throw my bag in quickly on the seat. What’s great about the third door is that the design makes it look seamless. In fact, many of our clients that saw the car at our shop thought this was a 2-door coupe!
I was told that the design of the Veloster resembles a motorcycle helmet — even the front pillars are black to mimic the one-piece visor on a helmet. The centre dash’s rounded ‘V’ definitely reminded me of a motorbike’s fuel tank. All the necessary controls were right there — temperature, fan, radio and navigation panel. The only thing I didn’t like was that the engine start button was also located in the middle. There’s something that I don't like about the ignition start button being within easy reach of the passenger. I mean, they couldn’t start the car from the passenger seat because the brake pedal (and clutch in my case) had to be depressed. But still, I like to have my own controls with me in my cockpit. Mine, mine, mine!
Lastly, I found ample storage compartments for my phone, lip balm, hand cream, transponder, coffee… you know, the essentials! We were spoiled with the Hyundai Santa Fe’s panoramic sunroof a few weeks prior to this test drive and I was super happy to see it again on the Veloster. I love getting sunlight in the car!
As an auto service technician and shop owner, I expect in the very least that our clients be able to do basic maintenance on their car. Things like checking and topping up fluids, jump starting the battery, changing light bulbs and wiper blades, changing the spare tire, etc. And I expect that the vehicle manufacturers will write owner’s manuals in a way that helps our clients. Despite the fact that the Hyundai Veloster’s engine compartment looked jam-packed, it was well laid out with the battery up top and fluid reservoirs clearly marked. The owner’s manual (yes, I read these things all the time!) was very detailed and written well too.
I was impressed that the Veloster had so much cargo space. The trunk was deep and could easily fit our groceries and bulky items; the rear hatch was lightweight and easy to open. When you fold the rear seats down, you can fit a bicycle in without removing the bike wheels!
We’ll definitely keep the Veloster in mind when it’s our turn to go car shopping. I wouldn’t recommend this car if you plan to use it as the primary way to transport really young kids. Since our kids were out of child seats (and into booster seats) it worked well with our family. Oh yeah, and my husband had fun commuting in it!
Starting price for the 2013 Hyundai Veloster is $19,699 CAD.