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Archive for April, 2015

Just because a used car is MOT-approved doesn’t mean it’s going to be problem-free by Brian Turner.

Mon, 13th April, 2015 - Posted by - Comments Off on Just because a used car is MOT-approved doesn’t mean it’s going to be problem-free by Brian Turner.

Brian Turner

By Brian Turner

Originally published: January 5, 2015

Almost every used vehicle sold in this country (either privately or through a licensed retailer) comes with a provincial/territorial safety standards certificate. And an equally large majority of consumers believe this document is a guarantee of the “roadworthiness” of the auto it’s issued to. Nothing could be further from the truth and relying on these standards to value the purchase of a pre-owned vehicle can be a costly mistake.

It’s no wonder we put too much stock into the value of a Ministry/Dept of Transportation (MOT) safety standards certificate. Sellers promote and advertise them as a solid-gold seal of approval and lead their customers to believe that these certificates and the inspections that create them will mean trouble-free motoring for years to come. A closer look at these standards and their specifications and the number of grey areas in their regulations can bring a new light on shopping successfully for a used vehicle.

Read more: How often should you change your car’s oil?

Drive-trains need not apply. Almost every component of a vehicle’s power-train (engine, transmission, axles, and differentials) is exempt from MOT safety inspections. That’s right, a car doesn’t even have to run to earn a MOT certificate (I suppose a vehicle that can’t move is one of the safest on the roads). If you’re considering an older used vehicle (more than five years/120,000 km) that isn’t covered by a factory or good comprehensive warranty, having a power-train inspection is a must. A bare minimum check should include a visual check over for fluid leaks and worn parts, a road-test by a qualified tech for an operations’ verification, and a computer scan to check for any active or stored trouble codes. A better option involves having spark plugs removed for inspection, fluids checked for condition, and having a compression test performed.

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2010 file photo, master diagnostic technician Kurt Juergens, of Foxborough, Mass., uses a laptop computer to diagnose and repair the brake system on a 2010 Toyota Prius in the repair shop of a Toyota dealership, in Norwood, Mass. A pair of hackers maneuvered their way into the computer systems of a 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Ford Escape through a port used by mechanics. The hackers showed that they could slam on the brakes at freeway speeds, jerk the steering wheel or even

A diagnostic technician uses a laptop computer to diagnose and repair the brake system on a 2010 Toyota Prius in the repair shop of a Toyota dealership.
Steven Senne, AP Photo

Get steered straight. While most individual steering components on a car are required to be in good working order without excessive play/looseness in order to earn a MOT certificate, the overall accuracy of the steering geometry or wheel alignment does not have to be to factory specs. This can mean accelerated tire wear, a constant pull to one side when driving (a very tiresome affair) and additional stress on the entire steering and suspension systems. A vehicle doesn’t have to have been in a collision or abused to have a misaligned steering system. The natural aging process of the components can cause the settings to be lost. The cost of a wheel alignment inspection and adjustment is minimal compared to the price of ignoring this critical service. If you’re buying from a full service retailer, and the vehicle repair/maintenance history doesn’t reveal a recent wheel alignment, insist on one as a condition of the sale.

Don’t go broke with brakes. Because provincial/territorial standards in this area are so minimal, it’s often the biggest sore point with used-car deals. Brake linings can be worn to the point of 1/16” remaining in most jurisdictions and still earn a MOT certificate. That level of wear will barely get you a month’s worth of driving on average before new linings are needed. Most good retailers will demand that their service departments replace brake linings that are 50% worn. But to be certain you don’t get stuck with worn brakes, ask for the mechanic’s inspection report and if it doesn’t list the percentage of brake lining remaining and the vehicle has more than 25,000 km, you should request new linings.

Many cash strapped drivers are putting off repairs and refusing when service reps present maintenance and reconditioning estimates. But what can you really put off without risking higher expenses down the road or breaking down on a crowded morning commute to work?

Many cash strapped drivers are putting off repairs and refusing when service reps present maintenance and reconditioning estimates. But what can you really put off without risking higher expenses down the road or breaking down on a crowded morning commute to work?,

Don’t get soft on suspension. It’s surprising, but one of the most crucial components of any vehicle’s suspension system, the shock absorber or strut, is not required to be in good working order to meet provincial safety standards. They simply have to be attached at both ends. If the hydraulic charge that supports them and controls suspension rebound is depleted the ride and handling will be severely compromised, but vehicles in this condition will still meet most provincial standards. The good news is that struts/shock design and manufacturing processes have come a long way and for the most part these units will deliver years of safe support. Testing them is easy. Simply push down on all 4 corners of a vehicle (1 corner at a time) and count the number of suspension bounces after releasing your weight. Any more than 2 and you’ve probably been compressing a weak shock/strut. If you’re a lightweight (your past New Year’s resolutions paid off) you may need the help of a companion.

Grey areas can hurt your grey matter. Consumers would be shocked at the lack of detail that most provincial technician and shop guides provide when it comes to verifying the safety systems on a modern vehicle. Airbag systems get little or no mention as do electronic stability controls, and newer collision mitigation systems. Often only the line “must work as intended” is there to guide the technician during his or her check over. If any instrument panel warning light is on, make sure you either know what the cost of repairing it is, or include its resolution in your purchase agreement. If you’re purchasing from a licensed and reputable dealer/retailer, you may have recourse other than the court system to rectify any serious problems.

Also read: Rust never sleeps: Here’s how you can protect your car

Safety is more than sheet metal deep. Body defects will usually only fail a vehicle if there are severe problems such as rust holes that could allow exhaust gases to enter the passenger cabin, or missing mirrors, or inoperative door latches. But rust slowly takes its toll on our rides and often sheet metal can appear intact while still being rusted thin to the point of compromising structural collision integrity. Ask to inspect the underside of the vehicle while it’s on a shop hoist, lift cargo mats and check spare tire wells for water or moisture. Check floor carpeting for dampness.

A second opinion can save money. An independent inspection can be a real source of lemon repellent and good dealers/retailers will accommodate such a request with little fuss.


Category : Uncategorized

Statement by Ontario Brokers on Misleading Ontario Trial Lawyers Association Study.

Mon, 13th April, 2015 - Posted by - Comments Off on Statement by Ontario Brokers on Misleading Ontario Trial Lawyers Association Study.

(Toronto, Ontario) Insurance brokers across Ontario, although not involved with the setting of automobile rates, are working hard to advocate for affordable automobile insurance, balanced with the benefits and protection consumers need.

On Friday, April 10, a study was released by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) on insurance companies and auto insurance rates. The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) is concerned about this misleading report as it deceives Ontario consumers.

The IBAO wants lower rates for our customers.  Unfortunately, this report does not get at the true reasons for high auto insurance rates – fraud and abuse in the auto insurance system.

The report, paid for by the OTLA, uses questionable methodology to come to its false conclusion.

In 2014,
a comprehensive, independent report conducted by KPMG stated that insurers had not been overcharging.

The results of this OTLA report are misleading because the OTLA removed the 1/3 of insurance companies that were losing money from consideration. For this reason alone, this report cannot be taken seriously and in fact completely misleads Ontario consumers.

The report completely ignores that excessive legal fees and overzealous litigation are helping to drive up the cost of auto insurance. Currently, contingency fees are costing the system $500 million dollars per year. Many OTLA members currently benefit from a 40% contingency fee. The IBAO believes that contingency fees should be capped at 25% as they are in New Brunswick. This would assist in rates being lowered for Ontario consumers.

The IBAO applauded the Ontario government’s passing of Bill 15, the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, in late 2014, which when fully implemented should help reduce the cost of auto insurance rates for consumers and improve access to justice with a more effective dispute resolution process. The OTLA consistently fought many of the fraud fighting reforms contained in Bill 15.

Bill 15 promises to tackle the issue of auto insurance fraud, which remains the number one cause for rising insurance rates, The faster fraud can be tackled, the faster premiums can be lowered for Ontario drivers in a responsible and effective way.

Michael Brattman
President, IBAO

Category : Uncategorized

Intact Climate Change Adaptation Project with University of Waterloo.

Fri, 10th April, 2015 - Posted by - Comments Off on Intact Climate Change Adaptation Project with University of Waterloo.


Research in the area of climate change adaptation is currently in its early stages. Most of the effort and funding has been focused on climate change mitigation (i.e. reducing carbon outputs). While mitigation efforts are important in terms of slowing down the effects of climate change, more research is needed on how Canadians can adapt to the climate change realities that are already here.

To demonstrate our commitment to finding solutions, the Intact Foundation and the University of Waterloo have joined forces in support of the Climate Change Adaptation Project: Canada. The project’s first phase produced climate projections for Canada that look 10 and 40 years into the future, identifying the challenges for which Canada needs to be ready. The primary goal of the project is to identify and direct more detailed research into key areas and establish courses of action to help Canadians best adapt to changing climate conditions.

This important Canadian sustainability project presents a unique opportunity to be part of leading-edge research that will have a long-lasting impact at the local and national levels.

Category : Uncategorized

Water Damage Check List from Intact Insurance.

Fri, 10th April, 2015 - Posted by - Comments Off on Water Damage Check List from Intact Insurance.


Water damage has now surpassed fire as Canada’s leading cause of personal property claims. Examples of water damage include flooding, sewer backup, broken pipes, leaky plumbing, and more. To help avoid water damage in your home, take a few simple precautions to decrease the chances of it happening to you.


  • Buy or increase your sewer backup coverage as needed
  • Install a sewer backup prevention valve on the main line of your home
  • Install  water monitors that alert you if a leak occurs and shut off the main water supply if moisture is detected
  • Inspect all plumbing for signs of cracks or leaks, and replace older plumbing
  • Inspect older appliances, particularly washing machine and dishwasher hoses, and replace them with steel braided hoses.
  • On appliances and/or plumbing fixtures, replace old and worn rubber hoses with flexible steel-braided hoses
  • Avoid pouring fats, oils and grease down household drains
  • Check water supply lines regularly for leaks and loose connections
  • Check caulk and grout around bathtubs and showers and retouch as necessary
  • Reduce home water use during heavy rainfall and rapid thaw to reduce pressure on sewage systems and potential for water back-up.

Talk to your insurance broker to review your policy and learn what coverage exists in regards to water damage


  • Before the winter, drain all pipes and garden hoses
  • Keep storm sewer grates clear of leaves and debris
  • Disconnect downspouts draining directly into the sewer system and redirect them at least 6 feet away from your home’s foundation; test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof
  • Ensure your lot is graded to aid drainage away from your home
  • Make considerations for reverse-sloped driveways
  • Ensure there is at least 200 mm (8 in) clearance between finished ground level and the bottom of the downspout; otherwise consider installing window wells
  • Ensure waste water lines are not blocked by tree roots
  • Ensure you roof doesn’t have loose or curled shingles
  • If you have a septic system, have it pumped and serviced regularly


Your home’s foundation and basement are areas where significant, and often expensive, damage can occur. The origin of leaks is often traced to the foundation. Minor cracks in the foundation are not normally cause for concern; however, major cracks can represent substantial movement and can allow water to seep into your basement. Filling in foundation cracks and stopping them from spreading helps to prevent water damage and serious structural issues. To diminish risks of water damage in your basement:

  • Find and seal any cracks in foundation walls and basement floor
  • Avoid storing items directly on the basement floor (store items in plastic storage containers on raised shelving)
  • Be sure to keep floor drains unobstructed
  • Always check your basement for leaks after heavy rainfall or a rapid thaw


A sump pump is a common and effective basement water collection system. Sump pumps collect water from the weeping tiles around basements and send it outside, away from your home. The sump pump is activated by a float switch that turns on when the water in the sump rises past a certain level.

To ensure your sump pump is in good working order, check the float to ensure it’s clean and moving freely by slowly pouring water into the sump tank. Watch for the float to rise and start the pump. Once the pump starts, the water level will quickly lower and the float will shut off the pump.

Backwater valves installed on the main water line of a home are an effective way of preventing sewer back-up. Many municipalities amended their building codes to ensure that backwater valves are installed in all newly constructed homes.

Category : Uncategorized

Easter Holiday Hours 2015.

Wed, 1st April, 2015 - Posted by - Comments Off on Easter Holiday Hours 2015.

Please Note our Office will be  Closed on:

Friday April 03 and Monday April 6th for the Easter Holiday’s.

Our Very Best wishes to You and Your Family over the Easter Season.

Thomas Taborowski

Category : Uncategorized

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