Category Archives: Professional Advice

Maintenance Repair Tire Advice

By | Professional Advice, Uncategorized

Get your vehicle ready for frigid conditions

Winter is coming. It’s an inevitable concern if you live in Canada. From scraping snow off your car to maneuvering through a snowstorm, winter driving can be frustrating for even the most seasoned driver.

Like it or not, winter driving is a Canadian driver’s rite of passage. Although winter conditions vary province by province, and you may not have any control of the weather, knowing what to do and how to get your car winter ready is the best way to ensure you arrive at your destination safely.

Here are top winter tips to get you and your car through the winter safely:

Extend Your Battery Life

Cold temperatures can prove disastrous when it comes to battery life. As the temperature drops, so will your battery expectancy – losing power at a much faster rate. To prevent being stranded in the cold, have your battery checked by an automotive expert to determine if yours will last the winter. As a general rule, batteries should be replaced every five years or so if the vehicle is in a colder climate.

Keep the Gas Tank Full

Think those few kilometers left in your gas tank will get you to your destination? Although they might in warmer weather, fuel economy is worse during colder months due to idling and increased usage of electrical devices (heated seats and window defrosters). To save yourself from getting stranded, refilling your gas tank before the gauge hits below the halfway mark is a good idea and prevent your tank from freezing in frigid temperatures.

Winter Tire 101

Depending on where you live, finding the right tire is essential for getting you through winter safely. Take into consideration: car make, model, weather, and wear before buying winter tires. Also, if considering all weather tires, remember they are not designed for severe cold, rough weather driving conditions, something most Canadian provinces get. However, they can be an option to consider for urban drivers with no storage place. Winter tires offer the best traction, handling and braking, especially in temperatures below 7C.

Pack a Survival Kit

Keeping a winter survival kit in your car will help you stay prepared for any situation. A small shovel and non-clumping kitty litter or salt (for traction) are essentials to have if your car gets stuck in snow. In the event disaster strikes, other items to include in your kit may include: a blanket, extra jacket, hat, gloves, and boots, as well as non-perishable food items, candles and matches, emergency flares, flashlight and booster cables.

Pre-Winter Check-up

If you are at all concerned about your vehicle making it through the next few months, a pre-winter check-up is highly recommended. Visit an automotive expert before temperatures drops and ask them to check antifreeze levels, heating, ventilating and air conditioning, windshield wiper wear, and brake pads.

Regular maintenance is always a good idea, but even more so before the temperatures start to drop to help reduce the risk of car problems that might arise when things get chilly.

Winter Tires

By | Professional Advice

Tires designed to perform on wet, cold, snow covered and icy surfaces. Carring the designation M+S, MS, M/S, M&S on the sidewall, Winter Tires usually have 2-3 times the siping of conventional All Season tires. Specifically, winter tires are designed for low temperatures and will deteriorate at higher temperatures.

In years past, it was permissible to install only two new winter tires as the only differences were in the tread pattern; with all of the new technology going into rubber compounds it is now recommended by Tire Manufacturers and Retailers that consumers install a complete sets of four.

Swapping between winter and summer tires will ensure optimal tread wear as tires are used their ideal conditions. Purchasing winter wheels reduces the costs of tire changeovers, and eliminates wear due to salt, pot holes and other elements.

Winter tires work with your vehicle

Winter tires are the only way to increase actual vehicular traction in cold, icy and snow conditions.Traction Control will ensure that tires are not overpowered, while ABS brakes keep tires from locking up however, neither improve traction.The weight of the vehicle will help a Front-Wheel Drive car start moving; it will not help it stop. Naturally, the ability of an All-Wheel Drive vehicle to balance torque between all for wheels is amplified when traction enacting tires are introduced.

Types of Winter Tires

There are two types of winter tire designs, studable and non-studable.

  • Non-studable: has tighter narrower tread blocks and heavier amounts of sipes. Both designs offer increased ice, snow and water evacuation promoting better overall traction for safer driving
  • Studable: has larger and wider tread blocks with the option of adding metal studs to increase traction
  • Note: adding studs to your tires must be done in accordance with local, provincial and federal laws.

Provincial Winter Tire Requirements

In the Province of Quebec winter tires are mandatory on all vehicles between December 15th and March 15th.

What is a Run Flat Tire?

By | Professional Advice

What is a run-flat tire?

A run flat tire has the ability to run without air pressure while allowing the driver to maintain steering control.

Developed for trains, military and specialized armoured vehicles, these tires were intended to allow drivers to escape even after a puncture. Over the past 50 years run flat tires have moved into the mainstream, and are now provided as Original Equipment on an assortment of luxury and high end vehicles. With car manufacturers opting to reduce the need for spare tires, and their associated weight, run flat tires are becoming increasingly common.

Differences in run-flat options

Self-Supporting Tires

A self-supporting run-flat tire has a stiffer sidewall that allows it to sustain the weight of the vehicle if required. These tires do not need to be mounted onto specialized wheels; however, they do require Tire Pressure Monitoring System to ensure that the driver is aware a puncture has occurred. Over the years self-supporting tires have come a long way from the rigid rides of the past. Using a variety of compounds, manufacturers are able to create the feel of smooth all-season tire with the security of the run-flat technology.

Auxiliary Supported Tires

Tires are mounted to wheels equipped with a special support ring that will carry the vehicle load in the event of a puncture. These wheels require special training and equipment to facilitate changeovers.

*Run Flat tires are not intended for extended use after a puncture.

Tire Balancing & Vibration

By | Professional Advice


Don’t let a vibration ruin your ride. Automotive wheel vibration is an unpleasant condition that can lead to tire wear and or premature mechanical failures of steering and suspension components.When a vibration is present, the vehicle should be brought to a qualified repair facility and diagnose by an automotive technician. First driving the vehicle to determine the source of the vibration and then verifying the balance of the wheels on a wheel balancer.

The cause can be as simple as a wheel weight fell off and now the wheel is out of balance, or more seriously, there is a problem with one of the tires. Look for wheel weight oxidation mark on the wheel.Whichever, have the vehicle checked out.Wheel weights can be ejected from the wheel in winter time for example where accumulation of ice and snow can pullet weight off. Wheels should always be cleaned prior balancing. Remove snow, ice, mud and rocks which can be found in the wheel well or tire tread.

Wheel vibrations can wreak havoc on suspension and steering parts. The constant percussion from the imbalance hammers away at the components and reduces their life expectancy. Inner tie rod end for example have a nylon pad between the ball and socket, vibrations from an imbalanced wheel will compress the nylon pad creating excessive play which in turn will cause tire wear. Shock absorbers or dampers overheat from the constant fore and aft movement of the piston caused by imbalanced wheel.Replacing the tires may not entirely fix the problem.

The bottom line is that an imbalance situation is not good for the driver, passenger, and vehicle components. There are several types of pneumatic wheel balancers are available that provide different levels of diagnosis and troubleshooting capabilities. When selecting a repair facility verify that they have an adequate electronic wheel balancer with diagnostic capabilities.

Mass Balance

Mass balance is the action of correcting a pneumatic wheel’s imbalance by spinning the wheel assembly on a balancer and determining the amount of weight to add to establish equilibrium on the assembly. This practice is the most common and generally accepted in the industry and does provide a method of vibration correction.These types of wheel balancers are limited on what they can provide in terms of diagnostic and vibration resolution. For example, a wheel with excessive runout will not be detected.Weights can be applied to correct the vibration but the runout affects the shape and vibration will still be present.The challenge here is that the technician will not know why a vibration still exist even after balancing the wheel.

Runout | Shape | Uniformity

In some cases, the pneumatic wheel’s shape may contribute significantly to a vibration condition. Lateral runout, the wheel’s side-to-side movement about its spins axis can cause the tire to walk and generate a disturbance which is then amplified to the point where the suspension system enters into a resonance phase which in turn is perceived as a vibration by the driver. Radial runout is a condition where the pneumatic wheel rotates eccentrically about its spin axis. This type of condition stimulates the suspension by increasing the load on the spindle when the high point of the runout passes between the spindle and the ground. At slow speeds the increase in load remains in phase with the suspension and no vibration is perceivable, however at higher speeds, the spindle load enters into an out-of-phase cycle, the suspension is then stimulated and the driver perceives it as an imbalance condition or vibration.Runout can be in the wheel or in the tire or a combination of both.


The tire’s tread surface may have been deformed by wheel lock up or even overnight parking. On some equipment, advanced diagnostic mode can actually tell the difference between a flat spot caused by wheel lock up or by overnight parking flat spot, no other machine in the marketplace can achieve this. In fact some wheel balancing equipment manufacturer recommend driving the vehicle for an extended period of time to remove overnight flat spotting before balancing the wheel. Flat spotting is a serious reason for vehicle owner complaints about “shaking” or “vibrating” especially in the morning. Other deformations such as deflected side wall caused by incorrect tire seating can be the source of vibration. The additional time required to diagnose the assembly is little compared to the time it takes to find this type of problem when a customer comes back. Truly a remarkable piece of equipment that will reduce comebacks and assures a quality work result expected from your customers.

Where Does The Vibration Come From

For a vibration to exist, a disturbance must be present in the pneumatic wheels system. The disturbance must be significant enough and frequent enough to be felt by the driver. A vibration is the result of the amplitude or force generated, and the frequency how often does the disturbance occur. The weak link is situated in the area between the rim and the road. The tire is the number one spring in the suspension system and is responsible for elimination of small variances in the rotation of the wheel and road surface, this is why it is inflatable. The more air one puts in the tire, the harsher the ride. The driver can feel every bump on the road surface. This area consist of the tire’s footprint and volume of compressed air located below the spindle’s axis. Always refer to the vehicle manufacturers tire pressure placard for the correct inflation pressure. Transfer paths direct the energy to other locations in the vehicle.Sympathetic vibration can also be present and occurs when one object vibrates and stimulates another object in the same frequency range to vibrate also. This gives the impression that “the noise is back here” but the cause is up there.

Tire Rotation

Rotating your tires periodically is an essential part of tire maintenance. The main purpose of rotating tires is to achieve more uniform wear for all tires on the vehicle. If no rotation period or pattern is to be found in your owner’s documentation, rotate your tires at least every 6,000 miles and follow one of the patterns suggested below.

However, rotate your tires earlier if irregular or uneven wear develops, and check with a qualified tire dealer or alignment shop to determine the cause of the wear problem. Remember that a road impact such as hitting a pothole can cause misalignment; knock a wheel weight off which then causes uneven tire wear due to wheel alignment or wheel imbalance.

Information and images are courtesy Hofmann/Snap-On Equipment

Off Road Tires

By | Professional Advice

Designed for light trucks and SUVs that require both on and off the road driving,OffRoad Tires provide better traction and handling on unpaved road conditions including dirt and gravel. The aggressive tread patterns make off road tires a visually appealing choice, even for consumers who prefer to keep their vehicles on the pavement.

Consumers looking for an Off Road tire will select either an All-Terrain or Mud-Terrain tire.

All-Terrain (A/T) tires are typically purchased by consumers who use their four-wheeler equally on and off road. To balance the needs of gravel and rock with pavement, the tread pattern of All-Terrain tires will have small tighter tread blocks.The tighter tread blocks result in reduced road noise and a smoother ride when driving on dry pavement compared to a Mud Terrain Tire.

Mud Terrains (M/Ts) are mainly designed for more extreme off the road driving and will have thicker heavier tread blocks and sidewalls. Thick sidewalls support the weight of the vehicle; protect the tire from abuse it will endure while on that terrain such as rock rash.

When purchasing either A/Ts or M/Ts consumers must look past the ruggedness of the design, and consider the application of the tire.Common problems associated with off road tires include tread block chipping, chunking and tearing due to tire spinning on rocks. The best way to minimize risk is to ensure that you start with the right tires. With varying sidewalls and load capacitates, OK Tire staff can help you find the tire that is best for you.

Car Alignment

By | Professional Advice

Is My Car Out of Alignment?

When driving down the road if you were to take your hands off the steering wheel for a few moments the vehicle may have a slight drift to the right or left this is considered normal. However if your vehicle has a significant pull it may be time to have your alignment checked. Incorrect or out of specification Caster or Camber could be the culprit. Having these alignment angles corrected will have your vehicle driving straight down the road and minimize driver fatigue.

Incorrect Camber can cause accelerated tire wear especially if you do a lot of in city driving. This is primarily due to turning left, right, braking and acceleration which create the tire scrub/slippage. Camber becomes less of a tire wear issue if you drive mostly drive highway miles with minimal in city driving. Normal highway driving produces less turning lateral forces therefore decreasing the chance of tire scrub/slippage; however, aggressive highway driving can increase the potential wear.

Incorrect Toe angle is the number one tire wear contributor. It causes tire scrub no matter what type of driving you do. Incorrect toe angle can cause a feathering of the tire tread surface. This is due to pushing the tire tread sideways while driving straight ahead. Just 1/8 inch of toe out is equal to dragging a tire sideway 28 feet in one mile of travel.

Information courtesy Hofmann/Snap-On Equipment

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Fuel and Environment Saving Tips

By | Professional Advice

Tire Pressure

Studies have shown that up to 70% of vehicles on the road today have one or more under inflated tire/s. Under inflated tires can increase your fuel consumption by 4 to 8%.

Wheel Alignment & Balance

Wheels not properly aligned “Drag” along the road instead of rolling smoothly. This can cause accelerated tire wear and an increase in fuel consumption of up to 25%.

Air induction system

A dirty air filter can increase fuel consumption by 2% or more and decrease the air flow available to your engine causing an increase in environmentally harmful emissions. Using quality fuels with cleaning additives also helps, but does not replace a thorough, professional cleaning of the complete air induction system.

Gas Caps

17% of vehicles on the road today have loose, damaged or missing gas caps. This causes 556 million litres of fuel to vaporize into the atmosphere annually in North America. Fuel evaporation is a major cause of hydrocarbon emissions. Topping off your gas tank can also cause unwanted emissions; never fill the tank past where the gas pump automatically shuts off.

Tune-up / Engine Management

Have your vehicles ignition and emission systems checked regularly for faults and always follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended replacement intervals for all of these system components. A properly tuned vehicle can increase fuel economy 6 to 13%.

Fuel and oil leaks

Don’t ignore a fuel or oil leak. Fossil fuel evaporation is a major cause of ozone depleting VOC’s and Hydrocarbons.

Don’t ignore a warning light

Today’s vehicles have very sophisticated engine managements systems capable of making thousands of corrections per second to keep all engine management systems operating in their optimum range. They can also compensate in some cases for a failure in one part of the system; this usually triggers a warning light to the driver even though the vehicle seems to be operating normally. Your vehicle’s on-board computer is telling you there is a problem, and is trying to compensate for it! Have your vehicle inspected as soon as possible in order to identify the problem and correct it.

Cooling systems

Today’s engines run at much higher temperatures than before. Ignoring maintenance of your vehicles cooling system can allow the engine to run too hot, causing the right environment for NO
X emissions. Potentially severe engine damage can also occur from a cooling system failure with little warning, leaving you stranded.

Change your oil regularly!

Engine oil traps and holds acids, sludge and 15 other harmful by-products created by your engine in addition to lubricating and cooling all of its moving parts. Follow your vehicle’s oil change interval; it is its life blood!

Diesel Fuel

By | Professional Advice

Petroleum fuel starts off as crude oil that’s naturally found in the Earth. When crude oil is processed at refineries, it can be separated into several different kinds of fuels, including gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene and, of course, diesel.

If you have ever compared diesel fuel and gasoline, you know that they are different. They certainly smell different. Diesel fuel is heavier and oilier. It evaporates much more slowly than gasoline — its boiling point is actually higher than the boiling point of water. You will often hear diesel fuel referred to as “diesel oil” because it’s so oily.

Diesel fuel evaporates more slowly because it is heavier. It contains more carbon atoms in longer chains than gasoline does (gasoline is typically C9H20, while diesel fuel is typically C14H30). It takes less refining to create diesel fuel, which is why it used to be cheaper than gasoline. Since 2004, however, demand for diesel has risen for several reasons, including increased industrialization and construction in China and the U.S. [source: Energy Information Administration].

Diesel fuel has a higher energy density than gasoline. On average, 1 gallon (3.8 L) of diesel fuel contains approximately 155×106 joules (147,000 BTU), while 1 gallon of gasoline contains 132×106 joules (125,000 BTU). This, combined with the improved efficiency of diesel engines, explains why diesel engines get better mileage than equivalent gasoline engines.

Diesel fuel is used to power a wide variety of vehicles and operations. It of course fuels the diesel trucks you see lumbering down the highway, but it also helps move boats, school buses, city buses, trains, cranes, farming equipment and various emergency response vehicles and power generators. Think about how important diesel is to the economy — without its high efficiency, both the construction industry and farming businesses would suffer immensely from investments in fuels with low power and efficiency. About 94 percent of freight — whether it’s shipped in trucks, trains or boats — relies on diesel.

In terms of the environment, diesel has some pros and cons. The pros — diesel emits very small amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide, emissions that lead to global warming. The cons — high amounts of nitrogen compounds and particulate matter (soot) are released from burning diesel fuel, which lead to acid rain, smog and poor health conditions. On the next page we’ll look at some recent improvements made in these areas.

All Weather Tires

By | Professional Advice

All Weather Tires

Designed to handle both All Season and Winter conditions, All Weather Tires concentrate their compound and tread pattern design on light to moderate rain, ice and snow conditions. All Weather Rubber compounds are softer than an All Season providing traction and performance both above and below 7°C.

All Weather tires are designed to fit in between the All Season and Winter tires, and are aimed at consumers who live in regions of the country that have both mild summers and winters, who do not want to change over Winter Tires to All Seasons Tires every year.

If an All Weather tire is operated in consistently high temperatures it will wear faster effecting performance in severe winter conditions (ie: heavier snow and colder below 0°C temps).

All Weather Tires carry the Mountain Snowflake emblem allowing their use on many Canadian Highways during the winter months, without the use of chains.

Difference between an All Weather and an All Season

Simply stated, an All Season Tire is not intended for extreme winter conditions (cold, ice, snow, slush), and does not carry the Mountain Snowflake designation.

All Weather Tires are intended to bridge the gap between an All Season and a Winter tire; thus providing improved winter handling and options.All Weather tires are allowed on All Canadian Highways that require the mountain snowflake; thus adding convenience for city people who venture up the mountain or into the country on weekends.

An All Weather Tire will wear faster than an All Season if used in warmer environments for long periods of time.

Difference between an All Weather and a Winter Tire

Just as an All Weather tire will wear faster than an All Season in warmer climates, the same holds true between an All Weather and a Winter tire. The All Weather Tire may have similar winter capabilities; however, is not a true winter tire and does not come off at a regular interval as a Winter Tire would.

All Weather Tires are not studdable.

All Season Tires

By | Professional Advice

Designed to adequately handle all temperate weather conditions; all season tires are typically the most popular choice of customers.

Traditionally sold for year round performance, All Season Tires are actually intended for moderate weather where the temperature does not drop below 7°C. In Canada, a typical ‘All Season Tire’ performs at its optimal level during the more temperate months of April-September.At the 7°C point, the rubber compounds in All Season tires harden, reducing traction and braking ability require a Winter Tire for snow, slush and ice functioning.

Within the All Season Category there are a variety of additional factors that consumers can consider:

  • Low Rolling Resistance for Fuel Economy
  • Reduced siping and groves for ride comfort and reduced road noise
  • Long tread life for high mileage use
  • Run-Flat
  • Varying degrees of performance

All Season Tires come standard as Original Equipment on a wide variety of popular compact and full size cars, CUV’s, SUVs, and light trucks.

Note- Many higher end coupes and sedans are being fitted with High Performance (HP) and Ultra High Performance (UHP) tires due to their higher speed ratings and handling abilities.

Difference between All Season and Winter Tires

The primary differences between All Season and winter tires are the rubber compounds used to build the tire, and the biting edges and siping for traction and evacuation in the tread design.

All Season Tires are made from a compound that will function well when faced with varying environmental conditions; however, are not the best option for either extreme.

Many Canadian Highways will not permit vehicles using All Seasons Tires without chains during the winter months.

Difference between All Season and Performance Tires

Unlike High Performance or summer tires, which are built to excel in handling in warmer months; All Season Tires are intended to fit a variety of needs into one tire- excelling in only a few characteristics.

The siping and grooves in All Season Tires are different than those of Performance tires, due to the need for water evacuation over cornering and speed requirements.