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Backyard Mechanic Articles

  • It's that time of year again, when battery problems start to show up more frequently. The first signs may be a starter motor that cranks over a little slower or headlights dimming when you pull up to a stop sign. If you are unlucky, the first indication may be a …

    February 27, 2015

  • Q. I would like your thoughts on the problem I am having with my truck. I have a 2010 Tacoma 4.0L with 106,000 kilometres on it and suspect there is gas in my engine oil. Two years ago at 30,000 km, I drained the oil and pulled out 7.5 litres …

    February 20, 2015

  • Variable camshaft timing boosts efficiency

    Making the automotive engine more efficient is the goal of many automotive aficionados, whether they're building a race car, working as an engineer on a new engine design or an everyday driver hoping to get more power and better fuel economy. While people who build cars can change design to …

    February 6, 2015

  • Question:When I was a youngster, wheel (a.k.a. rim) sizes were 12, 13, 14, and 15 inches. Nowadays, manufacturers have added five inches to each of these. Why?Answer:Part of the reason for bigger wheel and tire sizes is strictly appearance. Look at concept vehicles, and you will notice the wheels and …

    January 30, 2015

  • Driving can be a passion or a necessity - sometimes both. Good traction of the tires on the road contribute greatly to our safety and can also make the vehicle fun to drive, whether it be on a dry mountain curve, a slippery Canadian winter road or in the mud …

    January 23, 2015

  • Question: Last week somebody was asking about studded tires, and you wrote how you feel ice tires are superior. I was wondering if all winter tires are ice tires and if not, how can you tell the difference?Answer: Great question. The Canadian Rubber Association says "tires displaying the mountain snowflake …

    January 16, 2015

  • Porsche plug-in hybrid sends message

    Owning a Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid sedan isn't about saving money on fuel. Nobody buys a $110,000 car just to cut fuel costs. Rather, driving this plug-in hybrid car is about making a statement -- the future is about driving with alternative power sources, and it can provide performance, economy …

    January 9, 2015

  • Lightweight materials more common

    Vehicle weight is a "hefty" subject. Current vehicles include more features and equipment than ever before, which adds weight. The downside of this is a decrease in vehicle performance. It doesn't matter whether you are seeking quick acceleration, the ultimate cornering ability or the best fuel economy, adding weight hinders …

    January 2, 2015

  • Acura takes all-wheel drive to a new level

    Acura introduced super-handling all-wheel drive (SH-AWD) in 2007; it is an innovative approach to combine stability control with vehicle performance. Instead of braking one wheel to control the directional stability of the vehicle, the SH-AWD accelerates one of the rear wheels to provide steering torque for vehicle stability, without braking …

    December 12, 2014

  • Hub-centric rims better bet for winter tires

    Q. I'm shopping for winter tires and steel rims for my 2010 Toyota Matrix XR AWD. I currently have 17-inch alloys with 215-44-17 all-season tires and TPMS. I'm looking at 16-inch rims with 205-55-16 winter tires. Would you recommend hub-centric rims? Would TPMS be recommended for the winter tires?A. When …

    November 21, 2014

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