Moraine Lake Alberta

Tips for an Awesome Alberta Road Trip 

So it looks like we could be mostly restricted to staying within Alberta this summer due to COVID 19. No matter where you’re headed or if you’re a pro or a novice, these travel tips will make your road trip an easy ride

There’s no question about it; road trips are awesome. A successful road trip will stay with you for life. The ability to just get up and go and the absolute thrill of uncertainty; where will you sleep? Where will you eat? When will you get to your next stop?

It’s up to you to choose where to go, when to go and what kind of budget you’ll have. Our travel tips cover some tips that will make your next Alberta (or anywhere for that matter) road trip a success and a story you will retell fondly.

Special thanks to momondo.ca and their article that we used as a guide while adding our own Alberta flair.

We hope these following tips help you explore our great province.

1. Google Maps

A great place to start. Enter your start and final destination, and get an idea of timing. Adjust the route and see where you can go and how long it’ll take you (you can also see if you’re just a few hours shy of somewhere you might not have originally thought of, but would love to visit). Make sure you’ve got your basic route worked out, your A to B, but don’t have every single kilometre written in stone. You’ve got to have room for the unexpected turns, the snap decisions and the ‘I wonder what’s down here?’ moments.

2. What car?

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What kind of car you need depends on your destination, trip type and how many people you will be. Think about how likely you are to need 4-wheel drive, high clearance or a convertible, and book accordingly. Make sure that you book in advance, choose unlimited kilometres (unless you’re absolutely positive about the length of your trip), and insure yourself!

If your trip is going to be a long one, a couple of months or more, you might want to think about buying a used car and selling it on when you’re done. Make sure you get it checked over before signing anything though – the last thing you need is a break down in the middle of nowhere!

3. Music

Few things go together as well as music and the open road. There’s going to be plenty of time for tunes, so make sure you’ve downloaded some playlists to your smartphone (and don’t forget the USB cable). That said, it’s wise to check out local radio as well to hear the kind of music you probably wouldn’t listen to back home, probably won’t think you’ll like, but probably come to love.

4. Roads less travelled

Highways might be fast, but you’ll miss a lot. If possible (given time and terrain), take the road less travelled. You’ll see so much more, meet the locals and venture down paths you’d never even have seen. On a similar note: take that detour!  See a sign for an odd sounding ghost town or weird tourist attraction? Follow it! Now’s your chance. Spontaneity rules on road trips.

5. Eat local and stay local


Chuckwagon Cafe, Turner Valley, Alberta

Give the local grub a go – even if you have no idea what it is. After all, it might be the only chance you get. The same goes for accommodation: it might be tempting to stay at the shiny new resort, but why not stay at the unique B&B/kitsch motel/mom and pop place down the road?

If you can’t decide, check the Near Me Tonight feature on our app (for iPhone and Android), and see the available rooms near you for that night.

6. Cool bag

Who knows when you’ll next be able to grab a bite to eat? Pack a cool bag – or splash out on an electric car cool box – and store drinks and snacks in case you get peckish (or in case you get a little lost …).

7. Camp (even in your car) 

Writing On Stone Provincial Park and Campground

Depending on your budget – and on your wheels – you might consider camping instead of hotels or motels. It’s cheap, easy and a great way to meet people. If you’ve got a large car or van, you can even sleep in your vehicle at some campsites, RV campsites, and in some petrol stations and Walmart stores.

8. Go offline

Yes, Google Maps is great, but there’s something about a paper map– you know, the things you occasionally see gathering dust in the back of taxis or your parents’ car. You’d be surprised at how useful it can be – both for finding out where you are, and for note taking on impromptu stops (and think of the nostalgia value when you’re home).

9. Book ahead

Especially this year with so many closures due to COVID, it will be wise not to try to "wing it" too much as many campgrounds and accommodations may not be booking to full capacity. Best to be cautious this year and have at least you accommodations booked to avoid a frustrating experience of driving around late trying to find a place to stay while the kids are freaking out.

10. Stay safe!

Go down those small roads, get out of your comfort zone and explore – but be sensible. Listen to advice, always let someone know where you are and where you’re going – and don’t be a hero.

On a more practical note, keeping a few litres of water in your car at all times can literally be a lifesaver. If you have the room, a litre of gas is a good idea too.

We hope you have an awesome Alberta (or wherever you are) summer road trip experience. 
Here are a few links to get you started:
10 Best Road Trips in Alberta - Canadian Affair
Road Trips - Travel Alberta

5 Things That Will Save You From a Vehicle Emergency

Driving is a necessity for a lot of people in the world today. Whether it be going to work, school or anywhere in between, you can see plenty of vehicles on the roads getting to where they need to be.

As more people drive to their destination, the more dangerous it can be on the roadways. Here are 5 quick tips that can keep you and your family safe on the roads, no matter where you go!

Checking Your Blind Spots

Checking your blind spot may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many accidents a year are related to drivers not checking their blind spot! The first thing every driver must do is adjust their mirrors. When positioned correctly, side mirrors help eliminate the blind spot in your vehicle. Though most modern vehicles have blind spot monitors, it is always safer to check your blind spot yourself.

Don’t Brake During a Blow Out

If you experience one of your tires blowing out while you are traveling, DO NOT slam on the brakes! Although your first instinct might be to stop your vehicle, doing this may cause your car to fishtail or even flip over. What you should do instead is apply pressure to the gas pedal until the vehicle stabilizes and then guide your car to a safe zone with your foot off the gas and brake pedals. The drag from your tire blowing out will stop the vehicle eventually. Afterward you can change the tire or call for help.

Always Carry a Safety Kit

It is important to always keep a safety kit in your car. Your car safety kit should have some of the following:

  • Collapsable shovel
  • Traction aid (Sand, salt, kitty litter)
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight & extra batteries
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Road flares
  • Blankets
  • First Aid kit
  • Water & non-perishable food
  • Battery powered cell phone charger (Charged, of course!)
  • Portable battery charger

Having a safety kit in your vehicle can help during times of car trouble. Including an old cell phone in your kit can help in emergencies, as phones can still connect to emergency services without being connected to an active phone contract. There are many things you can put in your safety kit, and it is completely customizable for you.

Drift out, Drift in, unless There’s Danger

We all drift out of our lanes from time to time. We drift because we lose focus, or other things need attention (or get attention, like changing songs on an iPod).

If you drift, you don’t need to take a violent sudden action to correct it, unless danger is looming. Assuming no one is near enough to be affected, you can simply drift back into your lane and continue on your way.

There’s no need for drama most of the time.

Regular Maintenance!

We know this last one is obvious, but seriously, when is the last time you actually checked if the following are in good working order and have been kept up on maintenance? How many are you ignoring?

1. The Oil
2. The Tire Pressure
3. The Brakes
4. The Power Steering Fluid
5. Wheel Alignment
6. The Antifreeze or Coolant
7. The Tire Treads
8. The Air Filter
9. The Transmission Fluid
10. The Lights – All of Them

Any of these 10 crucial elements of your vehicle can cause a serious problem in a bad situation. We are all guilty of ignoring maintenance but as your safety is involved, as well as a major investment in your vehicle, we can't emphasize enough how important it is to keep up on these things. You can do much of this yourself, or bring your vehicle in to us at Dale Adams Automotive and we will always give you exceptional quality of service at a fair price.

Here is a link to better explanations of these important items.

BONUS TIP: EXTREME SITUATION
How to Escape from a Sinking Car

This will probably never happen to you. Or to anyone you know.

But knowing the steps to get out of a sinking car may save your own life, as well as those of your passengers. Think it through, while sitting in your car, and remember your plan, and you’ll be in good shape. Here are the steps to take when your car ends up in the water.

  • Keep your cool. Panic will put you in more danger.
  • Hold on to the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 positions (or even 8 and 4) to avoid injury if the airbags inflate.
  • As soon as the car is in the water, undo your seatbelt–and help small children do the same.
  • Do not worry about making the cell phone call.
  • Open the window–or a window–as quickly as possible. Electrical systems should work for a short period after the car lands in the water. Don’t worry yet about the doors–that could cause a quick sink rather than a slow one.
  • If you can’t open the window, use a hammer or window breaking tool you have stowed conveniently to smash the windows.
  • Get air in your lungs and get out of the window.
  • If the car is filling with water, know that you will not be able to open the door until the water pressure is equal inside and out. You will still have an air pocket up near the roof of the car.
  • Help children out first then follow them to the surface.

As with any safety plan, it’s important to have a plan–know what you will do. You will only need to think about it once or twice in your driving career, but you may end up being thankful you did.

Stay Safe

Being a safe driver is paramount to keeping you and everyone around you safe. Always be aware of your surroundings and never make any rash decisions. Plan ahead for the moderate cost of maintaining a vehicle and make time to check your vehicle at least every 3 months. If you have questions or concerns we are only a call or email away.

Dale and the team.

During these uncertain times, Dale Adams Automotive is still committed to make sure that your vehicles remain operational. Your vehicles still need repair and regular maintenance, especially emergency vehicles or vehicles for our healthcare workers fighting to save people. We're in this together and here to support our customers working hard to keep all of Calgary and area moving, and taking care of each other.  Read More

A huge thanks to Champion Auto Parts for creating this great reference.

Spring – a.k.a. allergy season

You love everything about spring…well, almost everything. You love the warmer temperatures, spending time outside and hearing the birds chirp, but can do without the allergy-inducing pollen that invades the air.

If you suffer from allergies, you go through this love-hate relationship with spring every year. While you can’t magically get rid of all the pollen in the air, you can ensure the air inside your car is clean and fresh with a new cabin air filter.

What’s a cabin air filter?

You are probably aware that your vehicle’s engine has an air filter, but did you know that your car’s HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) system may also have one? Commonly called a cabin air filter, it performs the same duties for your HVAC system as the engine air filter does for your car’s engine.

Champion-Cabin-Air-Filter

The cabin air filter is a small pleated filter made of multi-fiber paper cotton or other engineered material. Before entering the passenger compartment, outside air is directed through this filter to trap the contaminants inside the filter and prevent them from entering the inside of your vehicle.

How does a cabin air filter work?

Clean air is essential to your vehicle running properly; your car’s engine air filter ensures that clean air reaches the engine. In the same way, your car’s ventilation system counts on the cabin air filter to keep a steady stream of clean air flowing.

The cabin air filter keeps dust, dirt, pollen, bacteria and exhaust gases from entering the HVAC system of your car. It also prevents bugs, leaves and other debris from clogging up the system. Vital to clean air inside the car, the cabin air filter keeps the air inside the car fresh so you and your passengers can breathe easy – something you’ll appreciate all year long but especially during allergy season.

How do I know if my cabin air filter needs changing?

While there is no warning light that comes on when your cabin air filter needs changing, there are some signs that you may notice:

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Reduced air circulation inside your passenger compartment

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Diminished heating and air conditioning performance

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Musty odor  in the cabin of the vehicle

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Cabin air intake ducting may begin to make an unusual whistling sound

If you observe one or more of these signs, it is likely that the time has come to change it. You can either do the job yourself or have your trusted mechanic switch it out for you.

How often should I change my cabin air filter?

It is recommended that you change your cabin air filter annually or every 12,000 miles. If you find yourself driving in heavily polluted areas or travelling on dirt roads, you should change the cabin air filter every 5,000 miles. Allergy sufferers may want to consider changing it more often to ensure air quality and to reduce their allergy symptoms.

What can happen if I don’t change my cabin air filter?

Dirty-Cabin-Air-Filter

If you don’t change your cabin air filter, the filter will become more clogged with dirt and debris and the efficiency of the filter and your car’s HVAC system will be compromised. The air volume into your passenger compartment will be continually reduced which will lead to the issue of foul odors inside your car. The simple act of changing your cabin air filter will dramatically improve the air quality in your vehicle.

What else can I do to allergy-proof my car?

There are some other steps you can take to ensure that you keep pollen and other allergens out of your vehicle. Here are some easy things you can do:

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Vacuum seats and carpeted floor mats to remove dust mites

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Clean spills quickly to prevent mold from developing

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Wipe down steering wheel, dashboard, console and door panels

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Ensure that windows and doors seal properly – check weather stripping

Learn more about quality cabin air filters, find your car part, or find where to buy your auto part today.

The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with our certified technicians or mechanics here at Dale Adams if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein.

Shelby American is proud to introduce the Carroll Shelby Signature Series Ford Mustang at the National Automobile Dealer Association Show (NADA) in Las Vegas on Friday, February 14. It is the only sports car in the world available in new car dealer showrooms with a choice of convertible or fastback, automatic or manual transmission and 825 street legal horsepower. Only 50 of the refined super cars will be offered through select dealers in North America. Each will be memorialized in the official Shelby Regist Read More

Winter Driving

Extreme Cold & Your Vehicle—Are you Prepared?

If you live in a place like where we live here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, you realize that it can get really cold out here sometimes. We are talking temperatures that can drop to -25 °C (-13°F) or even colder when you add wind-chill. Nobody likes that, and even worse, it takes a toll on your vehicles.

So the questions is, what is the best way to prepare your vehicle and what is the recommendation for warming up your vehicle before you drive?

How Long Should I Warm a Vehicle Before Driving?

You won't like this answer, but it is actually best to minimize the amount of time you need to warm up your vehicle. Environmental benefits aside for a second, it is actually harder on your vehicle to start it and let it warm up for a long time before driving than it is to start it for just as long as it takes to clear the vehicle windows so you can see.

Please note that this advice applies to anyone driving a vehicle that was built post-1980s. If you have an older vehicle you will indeed need to warm it up a bit more.

If you want a very detailed explanation of all of this our friends at Esurance.com have an excellent detailed article all about this.

Vehicle Preparation for Freezing

 To be ready for the freezing temperatures you would be best advised to be sure your vehicle is ready for winter to minimize the chance of not starting or breaking down in a situation where you would not want to have to walk or flag down help in these extreme conditions. Trust me, I once was in a car that broke down in the country in extreme cold and trying to walk to a small local town was not fun, and downright dangerous. Here are 8 tips you should take to heart when you want to be sure that your vehicle is winter and cold ready.

1. Refill your fluids

  • Check your windshield washer fluid and think about replacing it with something formulated expressly for cold weather. Winter blends use a greater ratio of alcohol-to-water and are less likely to freeze.
  • Refill anti-freeze (be careful not to mix colors) or flush it if it hasn’t been changed in a few years.
  • Check your oil and consider changing to a cool-temp formulation with lower viscosity for better winter performance.

2. Get winter wiper blades

Swapping out your standard windshield wipers for winter blades can do wonders for your visibility in harsh driving conditions. These blades have been tested to withstand and perform at extremely low temps and are designed to be more flexible, protecting better against the buildup of snow and ice.

3. Take care of your battery

A bout of cold weather can be the death knell for a worn battery, so assess your battery’s health before the cold weather begins (hot summer days also take a toll on car batteries). Change your battery every 3 years (follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your vehicle) and check for signs of corrosion.

4. Invest in winter tires (chains)

All-season tires are fine most of the time, but if you’re dealing with extremely cold temperatures and slick pavement, it might be worth investing in a good pair of winter tires. With specialized tread patterns and rubber compounds, winter tires will give you the enhanced traction you need on icy roads.

If you are often driving in deeper snow and ice it is also recommended that you carry a set of chains or have something for increased traction control like sand, kitty litter, etc.

5. Check your tire pressure

In cool air, tire pressure can drop. You’ll want your tires properly inflated all winter long in order to maintain optimal traction, so it’s important to do periodic checks to ensure they’re at the right levels. Each car is different, though, so check your car manual for the recommended amount.

6. Grease your locks

Car locks can freeze in the extreme cold. Using a grease agent or lubricant spray can help keep all your car’s moving parts in working order. Inject lubricant spray into lock cylinders to keep things moving all winter long. And if you have a little extra time, try lubricating your door hinges too.

7. Always have a charged cell phone

Most areas are within cell coverage now and this can be a life saver. You should always have a chrging cable connected to your car so you can charge while driving. You never know when you might need help and you can't always be sure others will drive by to help. Having a cell phone by your side can save you. If you are driving in remote areas it is always good to let somebody know when you are expected to arrive so just in case you miss that deadline they can start to look for you.

We hope all of these tips are helpful and that your vehicle is ready for the cold. If you have any questions about your vehicles readiness please contact us and we'd be happy to help. We have winter tire options for all vehicles old and new at reasonable prices. Stay warm and safe on the roads.

8. Have a safety kit & supplies in the trunk

In the event something goes seriously wrong you want to at least have a minimum amount of supplies. We recommend all of these but think about having the following in your vehicle somewhere:

  • A small shovel
  • Traction aides - Chains, kitty litter, sand, salt, etc.
  • A first aid kit
  • A bunch of candles (The light and warmth of just a few candles can keep a vehicle warm.
  • A blanket
  • Some water and some high-protein snacks like granola bars
  • A flare and road signs
  • Extra windshield fluid (Good to at least -30)

Dale and the Dale Adams Automotive Crew

Hilarious Car Jokes - Part II

  • So the guy two ranks below me at work bought a used 3-series. Another guy, about one rank below, bought a newer 3-series. So I go into my boss, explain the details, and believe it justifies a raise. "I've worked here twice as long as them, and rank higher. If they're driving BMWs, I should be driving a Genesis!" My employment record now says "dismissed for poor judgement."
  • What's the difference between a grandfather clock and a BMW E36 after an autocross? The grandfather clock doesn't tell you the taillights are broken.
  • What's the good thing about Fords? They come out of the factory with the problem circled.
  • Did you know CHEVROLET is an acronym? Can Hear Every Valve Rattling On Long Extended Trips
  • What do a 1000hp Supra and a 400hp Supra have in common? They both run a 12sec quarter mile. (Joke about turbo lag, but you already knew that!).

A policeman pulls over an old man in a pickup truck because the bed of his truck is full of ducks. The officer says, “Sir, it is unacceptable to have this flock of ducks downtown, take them to the Zoo this instant!”

The old man confirms that he will and drives off. The next day the officer sees the same man in the same truck still full of ducks. Only this time all the ducks are wearing sunglasses. The officer pulls him over again and yells, “I told you to take these ducks to the Zoo!”

The old man replies, “I did! But now the little buggers want to go to the beach!”

  • A man buys a sports car and is really beginning to enjoy it when he sees flashing lights in the rear view mirror. He guns it and is rapidly up to 160mph when he realizes what he is doing. He slows down, then pulls over and soon the cop pulls up behind him.

    The cop comes up to the window and asks, “What were you thinking, taking off like that?”

    “Well,” the man replies after thinking about it for a bit, “a few years ago a highway patrol officer ran off with my wife.”

    “What does that have to do with anything.”

    “I thought you were bringing her back.”
  • A hip young man goes out and buys a 2001 Ferrari 360 Spider. It is the best convertible sports car, costing about $250,000. He takes it out for a spin and while stopping for a red light, an old man on a moped, wearing an open face crash helmet (looking about 70 years old) pulls up next to him.

    The old man looks over the sleek, shiny red surface of the car and asks, “What kind of car ya’ got there, sonny?” The young man replies, “A 2001 Ferrari 360 Spider. They cost about a quarter of a million dollars!”

    “That’s a lot of money,” says the old man, shocked. “Why does it cost so much?” “Because this car can do over 200 miles an hour!” states the cool dude proudly. The moped driver asks, “Can I take a look inside?” “Sure,” replies the owner.

    So the old man pokes his head in the window and looks around. Leaning back on his moped, the old man says, “That’s a pretty nice car, all right!”

    Just then the light changes so the guy decides to show the old man what his car can do. He floors it, and within 30 seconds the speedometer reads 220 mph. Suddenly, he notices a dot in his rear view mirror. It seems to be getting closer!

    He slows down to see what it could be and suddenly, whhhoooossshhh! Something whips by him, going much faster! “What on earth could be going faster than my Ferrari?!” the young man asks himself.

    Then, ahead of him, he sees a dot coming toward him. Whoooooosh! It goes by again, heading the opposite direction! And it almost looked like the old man on the moped!

    “Couldn’t be,” thinks the guy. “How could a moped outrun a Ferrari?!” Again, he sees a dot in his rear view mirror! Whooooosh Ka-BbblaMMM! The moped plows into the back of his car, demolishing the rear end. The young man jumps out, and it IS the old man!!! Of course, the moped and the old man are hurting for certain. He runs up to the old man and says,

    “You gotta tell me how you got that thing to be faster than my Ferrari !” The old man looks up and replies, “OK..., but first, unhook my suspenders from your side-view mirror, will ya?”

  • I was walking down the street today when tow truck driver pulled up alongside me and said, “Excuse me, I’m looking for the accident site involving a van carrying a load of cutlery.”

    “No problem,” I said. “Go straight down this road for 1 mile, then take the first left, and when you get to the fork in the road you’re there.”

  • A State Police Officer sees a car puttering along at 22 MPH. He thinks to himself “this driver is just as dangerous as a speeder!” So he turns on his lights and pulls the driver over.

    Approaching the car, he notices that there are four old ladies — the three passengers are wide eyed and white as ghosts.

    The driver, obviously confused, says to him, “Officer, I don’t understand, I was doing exactly the speed limit! What seems to be the problem?”

    The officer replies, “Ma’am, you weren’t speeding, but you should know that driving much slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to other drivers.”
    “Slower than the speed limit? No sir, I was doing the speed limit exactly... Twenty-two miles an hour!” The old woman says, pointing to a sign next to the road.
    The State Police officer, trying to contain a chuckle explains to her that the sign was the route number, not the speed limit. A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.

    “But before I let you go, Ma’am, I have to ask... Is everyone in this car OK? Your passengers seem awfully shaken and they haven’t muttered a single peep this whole time,” the officer asks.

    “Oh, they’ll be all right in a minute officer. We just got off Route 119.”

Between 12:00 am on Thursday November 28, 2019 through 11:59 pm Monday December 2, 2019 Whipple is having a very rare sale on their products.

Save 15%* on your order placed between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Read More

Road Trip Hacks That are a Saviour

A huge thanks to Huffington Post for the great tips here. We chose our top 5 but you can find these and 12 more in their article. Enjoy these relationship saving hacks on your next road trip. Read the Huffington Post article here.

1. Hang an iPad off of your car's sun visor for a makeshift TV monitor.

2. Fashion your own DIY seatbelt pillow for the comfiest naps ever.

3. If you're traveling with kids, avoid the inevitable "Are we there yet?" questions with a laminated travel map. Have your kids trace the route and cross off landmarks as you go!

4. Buy a five-port car charger to keep everyone's devices powered up.

5. Lastly, always keep this handout in your glove compartment in case of emergency.

 

Should you get your car serviced at an auto shop or a dealership?

Sometimes we just want you to read what other people are saying about topics like this. Don't let us influence you and always do your own research. We are always here to talk and will give you the best advice we can. We hope you find this useful.

Dale

Original story and post on lowestrates.ca by Dominic Licorish

As far as I’m concerned, cars are magic. I know they have transmissions, drivetrains, horsepower, and all those other things they say in commercials, but as to how they all fit together and work? Don’t know, don’t care, and I’m sure many people who own cars don’t either.

If you don’t know how to fix your car, someone else is gonna have to do it. Generally speaking, that means finding an auto repair shop, and those come in two flavours: independent and dealership.

Which one is best for you?

We got in touch with Mark Whinton from the Carquestions Youtube Channel and asked him for advice to help drivers make a choice on whether they should go to a dealership or mechanic (and summarized the answers in a chart below for you lazy folks).

“In most cases, you’re going to go to the independent mechanic. It’s just more financially viable. Dealers have higher targets, so prices are usually higher. That’s just how it is.” said Whinton. On top of that, he told me that those higher prices don’t necessarily come with higher quality service.

“No matter where you go, you’re likely to get the same quality of service,” he said. Though, he did also acknowledge that dealerships can be a better solution for luxury models like Mercedes-Benz and BMW because, they’re most likely to have training, as well as access to parts and equipment that are specifically meant for your car.

So, here are a few questions Mark Whinton says drivers should ask themselves when deciding where to take their cars for service.

1. Has there been a manufacturer recall for your vehicle’s issue?

2. Is your issue covered under your vehicle’s warranty?

3. Does your vehicle require special parts, repair tools, or techniques?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are you should go to a dealership.

Dealerships cover recall and warranty repairs at no cost to the owner and therefore should be the first solution to consider if your vehicle has an issue. Whinton says he’s seen people spend thousands on repairs they could have had done for free if they’d known. If your vehicle has a problem, verify if the problem falls under your warranty and go to the Transport Canada webpage for a comprehensive guide on checking for vehicle recalls.

Some independent mechanics go out of their way to be able to service luxury and/or rare vehicles, but it’s not very common. So if you answered yes to question #3, you’re most likely going to have to go to a dealership (but there’s no reason not to check the options in your area).

If you answered “no” to all of these questions, chances are you’re better off going to an independent mechanic. Whether it’s general maintenance (brake job, oil changes, tire changes, etc.) or a special issue (leaks, rattling noise in engine, dashboard warning lights), independent mechanics generally offer better prices than dealerships.

  Dealership Independent
There has been a manufacturer recall for your vehicle  
Your vehicle is still under warranty  
Your vehicle needs hard-to-find/proprietary parts  
Your vehicle has a special issue (leaks, rattling noise in engine, dashboard warning lights)  
Your vehicle just needs general maintenance (brake job, oil changes, tire changes, etc.)  

“I don’t think this is a binary question”

That’s the first thing Zain Manji, co-founder and chief operating officer of mobile auto service company Fiix, told me when I asked where drivers are better off getting their car serviced. In his eyes, either one can be good options depending on the professionalism, expertise, and transparency of the person working on your car. The right choice, he says, is to go the shop that can best meet all of those qualities while still fitting your budget.

“Many shops and dealerships don't always have the most qualified individuals working on your car. Many actually utilize apprentices to do the majority of the work, since apprentices need practice, hours, and are a lower cost option for them. At the same time, there are many shops who aren't transparent with their customers and who use fear tactics in order to up-sell their customers.”

Whether you choose a dealership or an independent shop, you can still get bad service. You never really know what’s going to happen to your car when you leave it with someone. A driver in Mississauga recently figured this out after mechanics at a dealership took his Mercedes out to get coffee.

Manji says the key to finding an excellent mechanic is to look for:

  1. A great track record and glowing reviews.
  2. Transparency from the company on who the mechanics are, what their qualifications and expertise are, and why they are great.
  3. A customer base which they've formed great relationships with. Strong word of mouth and loyalty is a great sign.
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