“Essentially an all-weather tire is a winter tire that can be driven right though the summer months…”
Motoring TV’s Bill Gardiner is probably the best-known and most popular auto mechanic in Canada.
I met up with the likeable and down-to-earth celebrity wrench-puller for the first time at a Kal Tire store in Vancouver, a while ago, to talk about all-weather tires.
If you’re shopping for tires in January it’s probably because you’ve just realized how ineffective the current set on your car has become in winter driving conditions. Now you’re faced with a tire buying dilemma. All-season tires (a misleading name) generally don’t perform well when the thermometer dips below 7-degrees Celsius and winter (snow) tires also perform far better on the white stuff. Then again, the worst of winter will be over in another month or two… or three.
Many car owners are still not aware that there is another option and it’s called the all-weather tire.
Essentially, an all-weather tire is a winter tire that can be driven right though the summer months, so you don’t have the added expense, hassle and storage issues of swapping tires seasonally. You could say, the all-weather tire fulfils the original promise of the all-season tire.
Roughly 50 per cent of Canadian car owners run the same tires all-year-round and don’t do the summer/winter tire switchover, according to Gardiner. Economic and logistical reasons, especially if you live in an urban area, are forcing more and more consumers to drive on the same set of tires in both summer and winter.
“I get that feedback from a lot of motorists,” said Gardiner. “They don’t like manhandling – tires are dirty and you have to put them in the car and then store them. Some families have two or three cars, so that becomes a lot of tires to stack up.
“Many people also buy a second set of steel rims for their winter tires,” added Gardiner. “Now your car doesn’t look too attractive for five months of the year. And with TPMS (tire pressure monitoring systems) if you don’t replicate that sensor on each wheel you lose an important safety feature. The other thing too, most tire shops have a huge spike in business in November and April, so you have to line-up with a gazillion other people.”
The all-weather tire is also a perfect tire for snowbirds, according to Gardiner. “A lot of them like to get home for Christmas. An all-weather tire performs well on hot-dry roads in those southern states and also on ice and snow when they come back to the frozen north.” An all-weather will also come with the Rubber Association’s snow tire symbol (snowflake inside a mountain) designation on the tire’s sidewall, which is a winter driving requirement in Quebec and all-season tire does not have it.
An all-season tire is designed to provide optimal ride and wear characteristics, according to Gardiner. Some all-season tires that will provide over 140,000 km of tread wear, however, tires also have a “best before” life expectancy.
“In my garage, we typically try to match our customers with a tire that will give them four or five years of good service, based on how much they drive,” said Gardiner.
The Nokian passenger tires that Gardiner highly recommends come with 80,000 km or 100,000 km tread wear guarantees. They also come with a clever DSI (driving safety indicator) feature moulded into the tread that’s patented by Nokian. The largest number that’s still visible (see photo) is the tread depth remaining in millimetres. When the snowflake disappears it’s no longer recommended for use as a winter tire.
There’s also a unique noise reduction feature on every Nokian passenger tire. The outboard tread grove has a dimpled “golf ball” finish. On a golf ball, dimples control airflow over its surface so it can travel a longer distance. They also, however, offer a noise reduction side benefit that’s exploited by Nokian.
Nokian is a Finnish tire company that specializes in winter tires and operates the only permanent winter tire testing facility in the world. It was the first tire maker to offer an all-weather tire in Canada and Kal Tire has an exclusive importation agreement with Nokian.
“Like Driveway, we are not producing a show for gearheads but for normal people, who just want to know what’s available, for how much, what the safety features are and how fuel efficient a car is.” – Zack Spencer
Driving Television is a slickly produced, fast-paced car show, designed to help regular folks make a sound decision when making the second biggest purchase of their lives – buying a car.
When Driveway’s lead test driver Zack Spencer is not writing for you here, he’s in front of the camera co-hosting the top-rated, independently produced, Canadian show with Lacey Elliott.
You won’t find me in front of the lens, having looks suited only for print, but recently I spent a day behind the DTV camera, observing Zack and videographer Brian Chow. The action took place in Whistler for the launch of the 2015 Lexus NX.
First up was a presentation about the product, and specifically the technology featured in the compact crossover vehicle. While some journos present yawned occasionally and jotted a few notes, Zack wrote feverishly, asking many questions.
“They sometimes last an hour or longer but these presentations are extremely important to my day’s work,” advises Zack. “The print guys can take the thumb drive with all the info on it and check it at their leisure later. But I need to leave the room with all the facts and have my questions ready to go.”
Minutes later, he’s conducting an interview with Lexus Canada Director Cyril Dimitris, about the importance of this new entry to the fastest growing market segment. The print and online writers have already left for a day on the scenic back roads and a jaunt along the Sea to Sky Highway.
We’re striking out on our own.
“We do up to 30 launches a year and some manufacturers want people to drive up to 400 kilometres. I always say we are either driving or shooting but we’re not doing both so most manufacturers are happy to let us do our own thing.”
Just 15 minutes later, Zack is up Whistler Mountain, doing a standup shot talking knowledgeably to the camera about the NX. Yes, he really was taking notes while many of the rest of us were nodding or slurping the coffee at the Four Seasons Resort.
A steep mountain road outside Pemberton was the perfect spot to show off the car in a beautiful location. Well, it was in the breaks between heavy logging trucks passing by.
The next couple of hours were spent driving up and down the road to capture in car commentary from Zack.
“When we first started (12 years ago) we had to shoot with large TV cameras from the roadside for externals or stuff a camera into the dash to get my remarks while driving,” explains Zack.
But new technology has changed all that. Brian shoots with what looks like a regular digital still camera.
“The old TV cameras would cost about $100,000 but you can now get great DSLR cameras, designed for video, for around $10,000.”
Then there are the tiny $500-plus GoPro video cameras that attach anywhere inside or outside, which Brian controls from an app on his iPhone from the passenger seat! Gone are the days of $1,000 an hour helicopter shoots when a $150 remote controlled drone can achieve the same dramatic aerial video.
Now it’s back to Vancouver to edit a three- to seven-minute segment for the show. Zack explains the program’s mandate: “Like the Driveway section in print, we are not producing a show for gearheads but for normal people, who just want to know what’s available, for how much, what the safety features are and how fuel efficient a car is.”
The show featuring the NX goes to air this Saturday on Global TV across Canada. Check your local listings for times.
Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca
What Zack says about the 2015 Lexus NX
Where has the modern station wagon gone?
Nowhere, it’s just called something else – crossover or small SUV.
The edgy design of the NX will turns heads and garner attention but I have come to realize two things about the car business. When a design is rather edgy, it can date quickly. The second is that the initial “bam, look at me” wears off.
The exterior might be an acquired taste but the inside is a refined and practical place to spend time.
Powering around the mountain resort I got my first shot at the all-new 2.0L direct inject turbocharged 4-cylinder that Lexus will use in a number of its vehicles.
With 235hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque this new power plant does a good job once the NX 200t is in motion, it is getting away from a stop that could use a bit more snap. AWD is standard across the lineup but the system is designed to run in front wheel drive as much as possible to help save fuel.
As the small SUV market continues to grow and this new NX certainly is one of the most eye-catching to come along in a while.
NX 200t from $40,950, fuel economy – 10.6/8.4 L/100 km (city/hwy)
NX 220h (hybrid) from $58,850, fuel economy – 7.1/7.7 L/100 km (city/hwy)
The Crown Vic was the most widely used police car and taxi in the U.S. and Canada, and although they’re starting to give way to the Dodge Charger, they still show up in the rearview mirrors of speeders everywhere…
The cop show genre goes back to the pre-TV days of radio (where you had to imagine what black and white your favorite cop was driving).
Here are some favorite full-size, rear-wheel-drive American cop cars from 60 years of the best cop shows:
“Adam 12” (1972 AMC Matador)
Although it was shot in the 1970s, in many ways, “Adam 12” was a throwback to 1950s cop shows in which gangs, heroin dealers and street snitches didn’t exist and officers Reed and Malloy played by Kent McCord and Martin Milner rarely drew their guns, let alone actually capped anyone. In seasons five through seven, they drove an AMC Matador. In actuality, the LAPD was always a strong supporter of underdog American Motors; they owned more than 500 Matador black and whites at one time.
“TJ Hooker” (1979 Dodge St. Regis)
The post-“‘Star Trek’ the TV series” and pre-“‘Star Trek’ the Motion Picture” years saw William Shatner in a relatively forgettable cop show that starred perhaps the least believable cop of all time, Heather Locklear. For much of the show’s run, Shatner drove an equally forgettable Malaise-Era Mopar full-size sedan, the Dodge St. Regis. It’s fascinating to see them on the show because few people can remember the last time they saw one on the road — they’re nearly extinct.
“Hill Street Blues” (1976 Dodge Monaco)
The opening title sequence of “Hill Street Blues” with a memorable Mike Post theme song and a gritty look featured several fishtailing Dodge Monacos hightailing it out of the precinct. The Monaco in police surplus trim also served as The Bluesmobile in the film “The Blues Brothers.”
“Southland” (1999 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor)
No list of great cop cars would be complete without the classic Ford Crown Vic. The last full-size rear-wheel-drive Ford was produced from 1992-2011. The Crown Vic was the most widely used police car and taxi in the U.S. and Canada, and although they’re starting to give way to the Dodge Charger, they still show up in the rearview mirrors of speeders everywhere.
“The Andy Griffith Show” (1963 Ford Galaxie)
The Mayberry Police Department was fond of Fords. I’m partial to the ’63 300 Galaxie with the classic gumball-machine light on the roof. Over the years, fans of the show have built hundreds of loving replicas of Sheriff Andy’s cruiser.
“Highway Patrol” (1956 Buick Special)
Perhaps the granddaddy of all TV cop shows, rough-hewn Broderick Crawford drove a huge assortment of Oldsmobiles, Buicks and Dodges through the 1955-59 run of the show. I particularly like the ’56 Buick Special.
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca and you can email rsass [at] hagerty [dot] com
The much-loved CBS comedy “Green Acres” featured a then-new red 1967 Ford Bronco as the official vehicle of scatter-brained county agent Hank Kimball…
Vintage pickups and SUVs are among the hottest things in the collector car world.
Not surprisingly, they are also popular on the big and small screen. Here are five fine examples.
1. 1973 Ford F-250 (The Blues Brothers) (Photo above)
After stiffing the proprietor of Bob’s Country Bunker on a huge bar tab, Jake and Elwood Blues take off in the Bluesmobile with “The Good Ole Boys” — the country and western act that they’d impersonated at said bar — in hot pursuit. Love the shot of two of the angry musicians in costume glaring out of the front windows of the camper shell, just before the truck winds up on its side.
2. 1967 Ford Bronco (Green Acres)
The much-loved CBS comedy featured a then-new red 1967 Ford Bronco as the official vehicle of scatter-brained county agent Hank Kimball, usually seen driven around Hooterville and the Douglas farm (minus doors and top). For most of its run, “Green Acres” was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, so the Bronco’s frequent appearances were no surprise.
3. 1972 Chevrolet C-10 (Dazed and Confused)
The 1993 Richard Linklater high school cult classic that was set in the mid-1970s featured what appeared to be a 1972 Chevy C-10 pickup in Cheyenne trim. It was driven by paddle-wielding upper-classman Benny O’Donnell (played by Cole Hauser), who freshmen encountered at their peril.
4. 1999 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning (The Fast and the Furious)
Lead actor Paul Walker drove this very special Ford pickup. Produced by Ford’s Special Vehicles Team, the 1999 Lightning featured a supercharged 5.4-litre V-8 that produced 360 hp. It was used as a parts getter in the first of the Fast and Furious movies.
5. 1973 Ford F-100 (The Dukes of Hazzard)
Yeah, it’s a shock, there were pickup trucks featured in the “Dukes of Hazzard.” Uncle Jesse always seemed to have a semi-ratty white Ford pickup. Most of the time it was a ’73 F-100 but in early episodes, he could be seen with a 1968 Ford stepside pickup and in later ones, a late 1970s F-250.
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca
It was the dawn of the product-placement era, and cars were by far the choicest products to embed in shows like Green Acres and Bewitched… (more…)
The Ferris Bueller Ferrari is probably the best-known big screen fake…
Hollywood loves to incorporate hot classic cars into movies and television shows. Producers and insurers are also notoriously risk-averse, preferring to use replicas rather than the hyper-valuable real deal whenever possible.
Here are some of our favourite big- and small-screen fakes:
Nash Bridges – 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda
The San Francisco cop show revived Don Johnson’s career, pairing him with Cheech Marin (half of the stoner comedy team of Cheech and Chong).
The yellow car that appeared to be an ultra-rare Hemi ‘Cuda convertible was actually what is known as a “clone” or a car that started out as a lesser model but was restored to appear as a top shelf ‘Cuda.
The difference in price is staggering — around $50 grand for the fake, more than $1 million for the real deal.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – 1960 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder
The Ferris Bueller Ferrari is probably the best-known big screen fake.
From a distance, it appears reasonably accurate, but Ferrari aficionados can spot the differences in their sleep, from the Triumph-sourced gauges to the MGB taillights. And don’t get them talking about the bogus Italian Borrani wire wheels.
A real California Spyder is a $12 million car today.
Miami Vice – 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona
Don Johnson appears to be a bit of a magnet for fake cars.
His black Daytona Spyder was actually a fake built on a Corvette chassis, and few Ferrari fans shed tears when the car was blown up in sight of Johnson’s character, Sonny Crockett, and his pet alligator, Elvis.
Afterward, Crockett took to driving a white Ferrari Testarossa – a real one this time.
Top Gun – 1958 Porsche Speedster
Kelly McGillis’s character drove this one around San Diego in the classic ’80s movie.
Porsche Speedsters are among the most replicated cars ever — most are convincing fiberglass bodies slapped on top of a VW Beetle platform. The replica featured in Top Gun appears to have been one of the good ones, built by longtime Speedster replica-maker Intermeccanica.
They’re still in business in British Columbia, turning out extremely high-quality vintage Porsche replicas.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – 1935 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster
Indy’s sidekick Short Round still holds the record for the best automotive chase involving a pre-teen driver.
With blocks tied to the pedals, Short Round takes Jones and a lounge singer on a wild ride through pre-war Shanghai.
The car was, of course, a complete fake, and not a particularly convincing one at that.
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at Hagerty.ca.