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0 5 3 K L S s e 2009 Merced

restyled roadster has subtle upgrades

Driving the dream in sunny Spain a Charger ‘Bo Duke actor still drives

Distractions can be dangerous


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2009 Mercedes SLK 350

restyled roadster has subtle upgrades

S T N E T N O C Driver News & Features

6 Hand-held cell phone ban will soon be in effect 7 Blowing .05 can result in three-day licence suspension 8 New licences can be used like passports at border 9 Save racing for the track, says champion Paul Tracy 10 Retire your old ride and earn up to $300 in the process 10 New rules aimed at making roads safer

Driver Reviews 14 Driving the dream - traveling the coast of sunny Spain 17 BMW’s little bike is like an urban street fighter

Driver Garage

18 Maintenance is a must for cooling system health 19 Wipers should be changed at least once a year 20 Keeping your car on the straight and narrow: the importance of wheel alignments 21 Total car care for the summer months

Driver Lifestyle 22 Travel tips for summer road trips 23 Eco-friendly items for the summertime driver – don’t leave home without them 24 St. Marys has gracious charm and timeless flavour 26 Driver stress: How to stay calm behind the wheel PG.4

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Driver Games 27 Wheelman fails to inspire, lacks good content

Driver Education 29 Damages come in many different forms 30 Buying a used car – before the deal is final 31 Stay alert – driver distractions can be dangerous 32 Recognize the early signs of fatigue – before it’s too late 33 Gasoline will ultimately be phased out: expert 34 The HEMI V8 – creating more power with less fuel 35 A colourful interview with Ford paint expert Jon Hall 36 Finding a safe and secure ride for the family

Product Reviews 37 The Snitch – even James Bond would be impressed 38

‘Bo Duke’ is still driving a Dodge Charger – along with other makes


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By Grant Cameron Editor-in-Chief

Creative Director Geoff Mack Writers Justin Pritchard Glen Konorowski Anya Wassenberg Anette Mueller Laura Ashdown Mohammad Shahzad Scott Marshall Megan Pasche Lawrence H. Mandel David Francisco Michael O’Gorman Dianne Park Sales & Marketing Corporate Client Relations: Barb Newby Photos Roy Virtue Sam Adewale Justin Pritchard Circulation Manager Oluremi Adewale

Subscriptions: Subscriptions are $23.70 plus applicable taxes per year in Canada, $37.97 per year in the U.S., and $45.97 per year for other international orders (prices in Canadian funds). Single copy price is $3.95. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Paypal accepted. Money orders accepted, shipment is held until payments clear. Call toll-free in Canada 1-800-728-5771, or send name, address and payment to:

The Driver Magazine 1315 Finch Avenue West Suite 408 Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M3J 2G6 Office: 1.800.728.5771 or 1.416.398.2700 Fax: 1.416.398.3272

www.thedrivermagazine.com subscription@thedrivermagazine.com Canadian Postmaster: The Driver is mailed under Publication Agreement Number 41813066. Postage paid in Toronto. Advertising: To advertise in The Driver Magazine, visit www.driverincorporated.com or call 1-416-398-2700. Moving: To ensure uninterrupted delivery, send your change of address six weeks prior to moving. Email: subscription@thedrivermagazine.com. Editorial Contributions: We welcome contributions, but can assume no responsibility for unsolicited material. All materials and inquiries should be sent to: editor@thedrivermagazine.com. This issue of The Driver was partially powered by Flickr users under Creative Commons 2.0 attribution licence. The Driver is published six times a year by The Driver Inc. in Toronto, Canada. The contents of this magazine are the exclusive property of The Driver Inc. and /or used with permission and /or licence, and may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of the publisher. The publisher does not assume any liability for any advertisement or the representation and/or warranties made in said advertising.

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Editor-in-Chief Grant Cameron

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Founder | Publisher Sam Adewale

A special seven-member panel that was formed to review Ontario’s Personalized Licence Plate (PLP) program deserves accolades for successfully tackling a number of thorny issues. The panel tiptoed through a minefield of difficult matters and, in the end, came up with some very sensible recommendations on how the program can be improved and modernized. The review was prompted by an incident in 2007 when a replacement plate with the words REV JO was initially rejected because it was felt it promoted a vodka-based drink called Rev. The panel looked at whether the tools and resources used to review such applications are still appropriate or could be improved. The panel started work in August 2008. Results were released this past March. By all accounts, there was healthy discussion on many topics and it was felt that most criteria could benefit from some revision. For the record, here are some of the decisions made by the panel. There was unanimous agreement that overtly sexual terms and sexually explicit and offensive language should not be permissible under the PLP program. As that includes reference to body parts that are used for sexual and eliminatory functions, the panel specified that phrases such as BUBBIES, MYBUMPS, THRUST, RIDEME and PIMPIN can not be used. The panel was also in broad agreement that abusive, obscene and derogatory slang should not be allowed on PLPs, and specified that phrases like LILHOZR and IH8EVRY1 were not allowed. The panel also agreed that all forms of drugs, legal or illegal, that could impair motor vehicle operation should be prohibited, and specified that KRAKHEAD and PI55ED are therefore out. The decision also applied to brand names, ruling out V0DKA and LCBO as well. The sticky issue of religious phrases proved more troublesome and the panel had a lengthy discussion on whether or not some connotations should be permissible on licence plates. While the existing rule stipulates that no religious word or phrase is permitted, the panel felt it didn’t support freedom of expression and seemed inconsistent with community standards. Ultimately, the panel recommended that positive expressions of religious beliefs, titles, or references to passages from scriptures, and religious celebrations, symbols and mythology should be allowed, but derogatory statements about any religion should be excluded. The panel specified that phrases like IBLVJC, JESUS, and GODSENT are okay, but JCSUKS, ILVSATAN, and HELL are out. Anything that could incite violence and/or criminal activities, including geopolitical variables such as references to war or terrorism or related subjects are also to be prohibited. The panel specified that includes phrases like EFFOF, RETARD and MENSUCK. The panel faced a difficult challenge. It had to balance the right of personal expression with community standards. No easy task. But the panel accomplished its mission. And with flying colours.

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Hand-held cell phone ban will soon be in effect

By Grant Cameron

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otorists in Ontario will no longer be allowed to use hand-held cell phones while driving. Legislation called the Countering Distracted Driving Law has passed third reading in the Ontario Legislature and is expected to be in effect as early as this fall. The ban also applies to all hand-held wireless communications and hand-held electronic entertainment devices. Drivers will still be allowed to use a wireless communication or entertainment device that can be operated in a handsfree manner. For example, a cell phone with an earpiece or headset using voice dialing, or plugged into the vehicle’s sound system will still be legal, along with a global positioning system device that is properly secured to the dashboard or another accessible place in the vehicle, or a portable media player that has been plugged into the vehicle’s sound system. Once the new law is in place, drivers who text, type, email, dial, or chat using a prohibited hand-held device can

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be charged with careless driving, be assessed six demerit points and fined up to $1,000. Licence suspensions and possible jail time can also be assessed. If convicted of dangerous driving, motorists could face a penalty of up to $2,000 and five years in jail. Motorists who use a hand-held cell phone to dial 911 in an emergency would be exempt from prosecution. However, the government says drivers should pull off the road if possible before making such a call. Drivers will only be permitted to use their hand-held device when safely pulled off the roadway. They can not legally use a hand-held cell phone or other device while stopped in traffic or at a red light. Police, fire department and emergency medical services personnel will be permitted to use hand-held wireless communications devices in the normal performance of their duties. The Ministry of Transportation is also considering additional exemptions for certain communications devices used to dispatch, track and monitor commercial drivers.

Ontario is joining more than 50 countries that already have similar laws in place. A growing number of North American jurisdictions such as Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, California and New York also already have such bans in place. Transportation Minister Jim Bradley says the province introduced the law to make roads safer. “We want drivers to focus on the task of driving,” he said. “Driving safely must always be a driver’s primary task and responsibility. “Anything less is unacceptable. Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel - it is one of the basic tenets of safe driving.” Transport Canada estimates that driver distraction is a contributing factor in about 20 per cent of all collisions, and that drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a crash. In addition to cell phones, the new law will also prohibit drivers from using portable video games or viewing display screens unrelated to the driving task such as laptops or DVD players while driving.


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Blowing .05 can result in three-day licence suspension “Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your driving,” he said. “These tougher penalties show that we mean business when we say don’t drink and drive.” Brian Mitchell, president of the Arrive Alive Drive Sober campaign sponsored by the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving, said the tougher law sends the right message. “It is important to note that drivers with a BAC between .05 and .08 have been subject to short-term suspensions since 1981,” he said. “These increased consequences should motivate us all to aim for zero.” According to the province, drivers whose blood alcohol concentration is from .05 to .08 are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than someone who has not been drinking. In 2005, one of every six fatally injured drinking drivers had a blood alcohol concentration of less than .08.

The province now has some of the toughest laws and programs in North America to combat drinking and driving. Drivers face immediate licence suspensions for refusing a breath test and drivers who are caught with a BAC of more than .08 can be convicted under the Criminal Code. Driving-related Criminal Code convictions also remain on a driver’s record for at least 10 years. Motorists who are caught driving while their licence is suspended for a Criminal Code driving conviction can have the vehicle they’re driving impounded for a minimum of 45 days. Meanwhile, novice drivers in the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) must also maintain a zero blood alcohol concentration while driving or face an immediate suspension at roadside, a 30-day licence suspension and a fine upon conviction.

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ntario has toughened its impaired driving laws. Motorists found with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 to .08 now face licence suspensions of three days for a first offence. The new rule took effect May 1. Second-time offenders will have their licence suspended for seven days and be required to attend an alcohol education program. Third-time offenders will have their licence suspended for 30 days, be required to complete an alcohol treatment program, and have an ignition interlock condition imposed for six months. Previously, drivers only received a 12hour licence suspension, no matter how many times they were caught. Provincial Transportation Minister Jim Bradley said Ontario is trying to drive home the message that drinking and driving is not acceptable under any circumstances.

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New licences can be used like passports at border

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otorists in Ontario who are Canadian citizens can now apply for an enhanced driver’s licence (EDL) that can be used as a passport alternative when entering the U.S. by land or water. The licence contains a machine-readable radio frequency identification chip that enables border security to determine if you are a Canadian citizen and ensure your credentials are in order. As of June 1, Canadian citizens entering the U.S. by land or water must present a valid passport or other approved secure document that denotes the bearer’s identity and citizenship. A valid passport is still required to enter the U.S. by air. The EDL was developed by the Ontario government in consultation with the federal and U.S. governments as a passport alternative. To be eligible for an EDL you must be an Ontario resident, hold a valid Ontario driver’s licence, be a Canadian citizen and not have any travel restrictions. Holders of a standalone M1 licence are not eligible. The EDL looks similar to a regular licence except it has the words ‘enhanced’ in the title and CAN in the corner to identify the bearer as Canadian. At the U.S. port of entry, the chip on the licence can be scanned. The information can then be transmitted to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) network. CBP can then query the Canada Border Services Agency database in Canada, and the EDL information is then securely transmitted back to the CBP. For added protection, the EDL card comes with a security sleeve to prevent the chip from being read by unauthorized sources. Changing to an enhanced driver’s licence is completely voluntary. The fee for an EDL card is $40 in addition to the cost of

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renewing a driver’s licence. The EDL is ideal for a licensed driver who frequently travels to the U.S. by motor vehicle. It’s less expensive than a passport and can be conveniently stored inside a wallet just like a regular driver’s licence. Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley says the new licence will make life easier for people who regularly travel to the U.S. “As a convenient, affordable and secure alternative to a passport, Ontario’s enhanced driver’s licence will help keep goods and people moving safely and efficiently across our borders.” Those who wish to apply for an EDL can visit www.ServiceOntario.ca to book an application appointment. A guide and application form can be downloaded from the same site. Once an appointment is booked, applicants will have to attend an interview at one

of nine ServiceOntario locations in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, St. Catharines, downtown Toronto, North York, Kingston, Cornwall or Ottawa. “ServiceOntario is excited to be able to offer this product to Ontarians, as part of making it easier for people to get a wide range of services, including birth certificates, driver’s licences, business registrations, and now enhanced driver’s licences,” said Government Services Minister Ted McMeekin. In a typical business day, Ontario issues almost 15,000 driver’s licences. Almost 35 million passenger cars cross the Ontario/U.S. borders each year. The busiest crossing is the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor with more than six million passenger vehicles crossing each year.


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Save racing for the track, says champion

Paul Tracy By Grant Cameron

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anadian race car champ Paul Tracy may push the speedometer on the track, but he’s warning drivers not to try it on Ontario roads. High-speed driving on roads and highways is uncool, he says, and, more importantly, it leads to extreme consequences. The consequences are hundreds of trafficrelated deaths and thousands of injuries resulting in permanent disabilities each year,

If you want to prove yourself behind the wheel, save it for the race track,

Since legislation was enacted in 2007 it is estimated that road fatalities in Ontario have been reduced by 150 on an annual basis. Don Fergeron, vice president of federal affairs in Ontario at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said driving at excessively high speeds can not be tolerated. “It’s time to deliver a categorical message to all drivers that extreme driving is simply not socially acceptable,” he said. “Those who don’t understand this, and in many cases their peer group and their parents, need to be told that there is nothing smart or cool about extreme driving. It is a deadly behaviour, pure and simple.”

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licence for seven days and impound the vehicle for seven days. Courts can impose a licence suspension of up to 10 years for a second conviction, if the second conviction occurs within 10 years of the first. For a first conviction, the maximum licence suspension period remains at two years. Police can also immediately suspend licences and impound cars for seven days if they suspect street racing, a contest or stunt driving. The legislation also bans driving a motor vehicle with a connected nitrous oxide system. Some street racers use nitrous oxide to enhance the acceleration capabilities of their vehicles.

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said Tracy, the 2003 Champ Car World Series Champion. Tracy recently joined forces with the Ontario Safety League (OSL), Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to try to stamp out extreme driving. He appeared in a series of public service announcements that aired on television networks across Canada. Brian Patterson, president and general manager of the OSL, said extreme driving is dangerous because it encompasses high-risk behaviour behind the wheel, including driving at high speeds, failure to consider weather conditions, or driving while distracted, fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. “Drivers have to be made aware of the fact that, within seconds, this type of driving can lead to a lifetime of misery,” he said. “There have been several tragic examples of this recently and it’s time we demand that all drivers take responsibility for their behaviour.” The Ontario government has been sparing no effort in going after street racers. Legislation passed in September 2007 increased fines for street racers and aggressive drivers. The fines for those caught driving 50 km/h or more over the speed limit was raised to $10,000 from $1,000 - the highest in Canada. In such cases, the legislation also enables police to immediately suspend the driver’s

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New rules aimed at making roads safer

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ew rules have been passed in an effort to protect young drivers and make Ontario’s roads safer. Measures in the Road Safety Act 2009 will come into force at various times, beginning next summer. The legislation increases penalties for drinking and suspended drivers and gives police better enforcement tools. Transportation Minister Jim Bradley says the rules will make the roads safer for all motorists. “Safe roads take smart laws, tough enforcement and widespread education,” he said. “Our new road safety legislation does all of these things. It will make a tremendous difference for everyone who shares our roads.” The legislation makes it illegal for any person aged 21 or under to drive after drinking any alcohol. This means that drivers aged 21 and under in all licence classes will be required to have a zero blood alcohol concentration whenever they are behind the wheel. Statistics show that the peak ages for drinking and driving collisions are ages 19, 20 and 21. To help police get drunk drivers off the roads, the legislation will allow authorities to immediately impound for seven days vehicles being driven by impaired drivers whose blood alcohol concentration registers at .08 or higher. The same will go for any driver who drives a vehicle that is not equipped with an ignition interlock device when one is required. Statistics show that drinking and driving is a factor in about a quarter of all road fatalities every year. The legislation also raises fines for serious Highway Traffic Act offences, such as running a red light, not wearing a seatbelt, failing to stop for an emergency vehicle, failing to ensure children are properly secured and failing to remain at the scene of a collision. To get suspended drivers off the roads, the legislation gives police the power to immediately impound the vehicles of suspended drivers. Approximately three-quarters of suspended drivers continue to drive illegally in Ontario. Statistics show that drivers suspended for drivingrelated reasons, such as drunk driving or speeding, are about four times as likely to crash as drivers suspended for non-driving-related reasons, such as not paying fines. The legislation also increases the length of time that new drivers will spend in the Graduated Licensing System (GLS). Currently, novice drivers can obtain a full G Class licence in as little as 20 months. Under the new rules, the minimum time it would take to get a full G Class driver’s licence would be 30 months: 18 months at the G1 level (reducible to 12 months if the driver completes an approved driver education course) and another 18 months PG.10 at the G2 level.

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Retire your old ride and earn up to $300

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f you’re looking to scrap that old vehicle for some pocket change, and do your part to protect the environment in the process, the Clean Air Foundation might have just the ticket. A new vehicle recycling program being run by the foundation in Ontario will enable you to get rid of the car, if it’s still in running condition that is, for as much as $300 in cash. And, you’ll be environmentally responsible in the process as all cars retired through the program are sent to a certified, environmentally sound recycler. The program, called Retire Your Ride, allows motorists to get rid of vehicles that were built in 1995 or earlier. Fatima Dharsee, acting executive director of the foundation, says the program is easy and rewarding. “If your car was built in 1995 or earlier, it actually produces 19 times more smog than a 2004 or newer vehicle. This program offers Ontarians a voluntary and proactive environmental measure they can take, not only in preventing emissions but ensuring their old car is responsibly recycled.” The foundation’s program is relatively straightforward. Drivers can call the program at 1-877-773-1996 or log on to www. re t i re y o u r r i d e . c a to obtain m o re information. The vehicle must be ‘live’, meaning it’s registered, it was insured for the

six previous months and in running condition. In Ontario, motorists who participate in the program are eligible to receive a number of different rewards, including up to $300 in cash. The program is aimed at preventing the release of 1,637,820 kilograms of smog-forming emissions into Ontario’s air by removing 30,330 vehicles from the roads before it ends March 31, 2011. Seventy-five per cent of an average car’s content by weight can be recycled. The Retire Your Ride program is also being operated in other provinces. It is managed and delivered locally in each province. “The effectiveness of Retire Your Ride lies in its strong network of local experts who deliver the program on the ground in communities across the country,” said Dharsee. “In less than a year, our organization has taken a program that had limited availability across the country to a national vehicle recycling program now available from coast to coast.” The federal government has committed to investing up to $92 million in the program to help Canadians recycle their older, higher polluting vehicles and make sustainable transportation choices, leading to reduced air pollution and gas emissions.


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0 5 3 K L S s e d e c r e M 9 200 restyled roadster is sophisticated

By Justin Pritchard

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he Mercedes SLK recently went under the knife for a face-lift, emerging visually positioned to do battle with this year’s class of updated roadster models from Audi, BMW and Nissan. Those with a keen eye will recognize subtle updates to the front and rear of the SLK, tied together by a unified, flowing and dynamic character. Ultimately, it’s sophisticated, fun and aggressive from any angle. It oozes the kind of potent stylistic punch that turns heads and makes owners proud to see it parked in their driveway. Top up, or folded down after a 22-second display of panel gymnastics, it’s blessed with unmatched stare-collecting power. The optional AMG sport package enhances the appearance, positioning the car more solidly as a performance offering in the looks department. It’s no empty threat. The tester employed SLK 3.5-litre, 300-horsepower V6, revs eagerly to well past 7,000 RPM.


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The powerplant feels deliberately involving. It’s silky smooth, and you’ll get to hear its every breath with minimal compromise to the requisite refinement dictated by the badge on the grille. The engine is loud, but always gorgeous sounding. Every press on the pedal is met with an instant increase in forward momentum and an associated spike in the gentle howl from the tailpipes. This new ‘sports engine’ is willing to hum along at a snail’s pace - though SLK absolutely leaps forward when it’s opened up. There’s a gorgeous, addicting, high-pitched wail as drivers exploit the full span of the tachometer. It’s a wonderful show. The seven-speed automatic can

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be operated in a ‘comfort’ mode which favours smoother operation, as well as a sport mode which dials responsiveness and shift speed up a few notches. There’s a full manualmode, too. Shifting speed and responsiveness therein aren’t as quick and tidy as those offered by a dual-clutch transmission, or even some comparable automatics. The throttle eases back but doesn’t fully cut during upshifts, and gearing down doesn’t generate the F1-sounding throttle blips some expect of a paddle-shift gearbox. The SLK rev matches, though somewhat slowly and with a focus on smoothness rather than speed. It’s a nice match for the buttery engine,

though stick with the six-speed manual if possible. Many a roadster can deny owners graceful entry and exit, though the SLK invites occupants to effortlessly plop into its low seating position with minimal drama. The steering wheel lifts out of the way automatically, and once settled, there’s adequate hip, leg and shoulder room. Headroom is notably good with the top up, and wind turbulence levels are notably good when it’s down. The SLK fits like a glove - just not a tight one. There’s as much storage on board as one could ask for from a two-seater. Covered compartments are placed in the middle, alongside a change drawer and door pouches. A pair of cupholders spring out from


s above the navigation screen too, though their placement calls to mind dreadful images of accidental spills into the navigation and entertainment display. Free of spills, this display is especially slick, though full comprehension of all controls comes only after spending some quality time with the owner’s manual. The trunk could do with some more storage, though it’s adequate if packed carefully. Seats feature heaters and an ‘Air Scarf’ system that pumps hot air onto the neck and back, thus helping extend SLK’s top-down driving season well into the fall. Your correspondent has personally tested the car with the top down to three

degrees after dark with only a light jacket on. Two thumbs up for the heater system. With large alloy wheels, low-profile tires and taut suspension, the SLK’s ride favours a setup for extremes of handling, not ride comfort. Payback comes in the form of handling prowess, and nimble and agile are almost understatements. If you’re so inclined, the SLK 350 with the AMG package will do a real number on a road course. Heavy steering helps drivers feel locked into the roads surface, and SLK rips through corners like a buzz-saw through plywood. Crushing brakes act as an insurance policy all the while, though they exhibit a dead-spot in the pedal

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during initial application that takes away from their precise feel. Starting price for the SLK 350 is $63,500. Despite the sometimes harsh ride, Mercedes has created a roomy, fast, easy-going and posh roadster experience that’s right on par with the badge it wears. With all the classiness the SLK exudes, nobody has to know how much of a riot it can be to drive. In fact, a go-kart has probably never looked so sophisticated.

Justin Pritchard is a Sudburybased automotive writer and photographer. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.


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Drivingthedream-traveling the coast of sunny Spain By Anette Mueller

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riving the Mediterranean coast of Spain is a dream for many. I recently fulfilled that dream. Visiting Spain during the off-season is very enjoyable, as you can travel for miles without seeing another motorist. Generally, late spring and early autumn are perfect for driving in Spain. During winter and spring the weather along the Mediterranean is generally mild, with occasional heavy rain and wind, followed by long spells of glorious sunshine. Summers on the other hand, can be much hotter and crowded with locals and visitors. As the second largest country in western Europe, it is impossible to see Spain in seven days. I decided to map out a route from the ancient town of Tarragona to Barcelona along the Costa Daurada, in the northeastern province of Catalonia. Driving distance between the two cities is only 100 kilometres, which allows plenty of time for exploring. Reus is a commercial hub and one of the main airports in Catalonia. It can be reached via several budget airlines from Europe. Inside the small airport are several car rental agencies. Local companies usually charge somewhat lower rates, and in the off-season rentals are quite inexpensive. I was able to rent a compact car for a week with unlimited mileage for the bargain price of 100 Euros. It is usually best to reserve and pay for your rental car from home prior to starting your vacation. In Spain, the legal age for renting a car is 21 and you must have a valid Canadian driver’s licence. Reus Airport is located on the Dual Carriageway, which is the main route to Tarragona, about 12 kilometres away. Tarragona is a must see and ideal stop for a couple of days. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is nestled above the Mediterranean Sea along the main coastal road of the Costa Daurada. Tarragona has a population of approximately 150,000. When the Roman Empire was at its peak, the city was considered the second most important centre after Rome. According to records, Tarragona was the richest coastal town of the area. Its fertile plain and sunny shores are known for producing excellent wine and flax. It’s only an hour’s drive from Tarragona to Barcelona using the AP-7, the quickest road between the two cities. Tolls along the way are approximately

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a wonderful variety of robust reds, dry whites, dessert and sparkling wines. Miguel Torres, one of the top producing and internationally famed wineries, is in the ancient town of Vilafranca del Penedes. Back on the coast, the road becomes the C-31, which leads to Sitges, a town of particular beauty about halfway between Tarragona and Barcelona. The popular tourist destination offers a magnificent beach with several restaurants, serving local fish and a fantastic view of the endless blue Mediterranean. The scenery changes dramatically after Castelldefels. The narrow road meanders up steep mountainous hills, offering spectacular views. Traffic can be congested with trucks, particularly during the peak season. Traffic jams are common during the summer. Traffic on Spanish roads has increased significantly since 1980. Spain has the worst accident record in the European Union. There were more than 4,400 deaths in 2005, of which over half the victims weren’t wearing a seat belt.

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10 Euros. Spain has a number of toll roads. In summer and during major holidays the toll price almost doubles compared to the winter months. The major roads are generally good, but traffic can be heavy. On open roads the speed limit is 90 km/h, 100 on major roads and 120 on motorways. The more scenic and slower way to Barcelona is the N-340 along the coastline. Several smaller towns are nestled on the sea and make for wonderful stops enroute. In Spanish towns, the speed limit is 20 km/h in residential areas and 50 km/h in other developed areas. Driving any faster wouldn’t be possible because of countless steep speed bumps and roundabouts. Pedestrians have the right of way at road crossings. Ignoring this could result in hefty fines. At Calafell, the N-340 north turns inland and meanders up to the curvy landscape of the Penedes wine region. One of Spain’s top wine destinations, this area produces

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From Castelldefels it’s another 19 kilometres to Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. The vibrant 2,000-year-old metropolis is nestled between the Mediterranean coast and the Montserrat mountains to the west, and the Serra de Collserola ridge of 512 metres. Coming from the south, three main roads lead into Barcelona: Diagonal Avenue, which crosses the city diagonally, Parallel Avenue, and Ronda Litoral along the seawall. All lead to the city centre and the harbour with the largest port in the Mediterranean. Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain, has a population of more than 1.5 million and hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics. Traffic jams are bad in Barcelona and driving can be a nightmare, as in most major Spanish cities. Barcelona has excellent public transportation. It’s best to park the car in a protected parking area and take the bus or walk through downtown.

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The people are general friendly and tolerant towards foreign visitors, and you can almost always get by speaking English. Barcelona is famous for its rich variety of architecture and the city’s medieval centre includes remains of the Roman wall and the Gothic Quarter with numerous churches and cathedrals. The famous Rambla promenade is a busy pedestrian walk, lined with hundreds of colourful street vendors, entertainers and the La Boqueria Market, the oldest functioning market of its kind in Europe. It’s the perfect spot for some fresh seasonal fruit and seafood before heading back on the road to enjoy some more history and sunshine along the coast of Spain.

Anette Mueller is a Torontobased freelance writer.


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BMW’s little bike

is like an urban street fighter

By Glen Konorowski

computer, white turn signals and centre stand came to $11,000. As with all bikes, this one had its quirks. I found the throttle on the light side so it took a little getting used to when riding and switching gears. As I don’t have the longest legs in the world, getting the kick stand up or down was sometimes a chore as the peg interfered with the operation. I will be the first to admit these are really minor complaints in the whole scheme of things. This bike is an enjoyable ride, and I wouldn’t hesitate in doing some traveling on it. The F650 is not a bike for beginners, but it is one for riders who are looking to step up from their first ride. It is also a bike that experienced riders would enjoy.

Glen Konorowski is an automotive journalist who specializes in writing about motorcycles and auto accessories.

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and, although oddly shaped, provided a good view. For those not familiar with this line of BMWs, it’s important to note that the gas tank is, in fact, under the seat. Rolling the bike into my garage for the first time, I was surprised that it didn’t feel top heavy when you consider the overall height of the bike. With the fuel being stored lower, it really aids in the weight distribution of the bike. Power for the F650 is a doubleoverhead-cam, twin-cylinder engine with eight valves pushing out a nice and healthy 71 horsepower and 55 pounds per foot of torque. In and around town, the bike pulled and zipped about traffic with ease. When I did get out of town, cruising was easy and relaxed with the six-speed transmission. At just 395 pounds, the torque was more than adequate to pull me and the bike with ease. In fact, I could easily have pulled the front wheel off the ground without a problem in the first few gears. The price of the bike is $9,775. The one I tested, with heated grips, ABS brakes,

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recently had the opportunity to try out the F650GS, one of the smaller displacement motorcycles produced by BMW, and found it to be a very pleasant experience. Normally, the numbers indicate size, but in this case the F650 is actually a 798-cc bike and is categorized by BMW in the Enduro (on road/off road) class. I would categorize it more as an urban street fighter that allows one to easily contend with bad roads and potholes. Its tall stature makes it look the part, allowing it to zip in and around bad city streets with the ability to avoid potholes with ease. At first glance, the F650 appears to be on the tall side, typical of many European motorcycles. Looking at the upswept muffler, it gives the bike an even taller look. I’m five feet nine inches tall, 195 pounds, and I have a 33-inch inseam. I found it easy to throw my leg over the bike and get my feet touching the ground. Once on the bike, I found the seat comfortable and the handlebars easy to reach. The mirrors were well placed

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DRIVER garage

Maintenance is a must for cooling system health By Justin Pritchard

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he hot weather is one of the most eagerly anticipated parts of the summer season - if you’re a human being. If you’re a vehicle, implications of the heat aren’t so admirable. In fact, heat means additional strain on vital components during towing, hauling and long family trips. It can break a vehicle down in a jiffy, if said vehicle isn’t prepared. Poorly maintained parts tend to show themselves when vehicles are pushed to extremes. As such, a sweltering summer day is a fantastic time for overheating, driveline failure or engine damage if your cooling system isn’t performing properly. Any of the above will leave you stranded on the roadside with a car full of sweaty, irritated and cranky family members. Fortunately, readying your cooling system for warm-weather traveling is a relatively quick and painless endeavor. In addition to keeping your engine running at its ideal operating temperature, your cooling system may play a part in keeping other components, like your transmission, from overheating as well. Your cooling system works by circulating coolant throughout the engine to absorb and remove the tremendous heat it generates while running. Over time, the effectiveness of the coolant diminishes, and a coolant change is required. This occurs in varying intervals for different vehicles, or on an ‘as-needed’ basis as advised by your mechanic. Forget when your coolant was changed last? It’s probably overdue. A proper cooling system check should include a look at coolant level and effectiveness, the thermostat, and the water-pump belt, if applicable. The radiator and associated hoses and lines should be inspected as well, and a visual check for leaks is also important. If your ride is dripping green fluid and you’re planning a road trip anyways, you’re asking for trouble. Overheating can quickly lead to engine failure and permanent, catastrophic damage. Cooling system repairs tend to be considerably more affordable than an engine replacement.

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A periodic radiator flush is also advisable to remove harmful sludge from within the cooling system. Sludge may accumulate within the radiator and hoses over time, reducing effectiveness and component life. Put another way, a coolant flush ensures everything is functioning properly, from the inside out. Thankfully, your cooling system isn’t a tremendously complicated animal - and reliable operation is mainly a function of keeping on top of the maintenance it occasionally requires. Protecting your engine from the heat this summer is only half the battle - and you’ll want to make sure you and your passengers benefit from a reliable and effective air-conditioning system. If your AC seems hesitant to blow cold, or if it isn’t cooling the cabin as quickly as you remember, an inspection is in order. This can often reveal a small problem before it escalates into a much larger and pricier one. For instance, a leaking AC line or fitting may allow air, moisture or other contaminants into the system. This can cause a world of trouble and result

in serious damage. Air and moisture mixing with refrigerant is bad news - so fixing a leak early on can save money, not to mention preventing potentially harmful chemicals from winding up in the atmosphere. A simple mechanical or electrical failure could result in improper operation of the AC system, too. A properly trained technician will be able to diagnose and remedy such problems quickly and effectively. Another common cause of poor AC performance may be a blocked condenser. This vital part typically gets clogged by leaves, dead bugs, sand or dirt. Learn where your condenser is, and make sure it’s kept clean to ensure proper operation. Note that if you’re uncomfortable performing vehicle-related work yourself, your favourite mechanic would be happy to help. Most cooling and air-conditioning maintenance can be carried out quickly the next time your vehicle is in the shop for an oil change or tune up.


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DRIVER garage

Wipers should be changed at least once a year

By Dianne Park

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A wiper blade coated in Teflon will sweep across the glass more smoothly and quietly, due to less friction. Silicone is another option as it is also a non-stick material similar to Teflon. Regarding different wiper contours, there are ones that resemble a floppy crescent-shape, which claim to give a tighter profile on top of the windshield. Shelling out extra money for an advanced set of wipers could be worthwhile in terms of performance and longevity, but equally important is recognizing when they need to be replaced. Paying a little attention to them can prevent you from suffering through a stressful drive and streaky windshield. Ideally you should replace both wipers at the same time, at least once a year. Signs that you need new blades can include streaking of the windshield or chattering of the blades as they skip across the windshield. There are plenty of wipers on the market so it’s advisable to do a bit of research, compare prices and read reviews written by people who have purchased the model you are considering. It’s also wise to know the size of the wipers you need before heading into the store.

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hey’re basic and essential devices on your car, but most of us forget to properly maintain them. With each pass across the glass, windshield wipers help us navigate our way on the roads by keeping the view clear. The blades need to be in tip-top shape in order to effectively endure the elements, whether it be ice and snow in the winter or rain in the spring. From their early beginning as a hand-crank device to today’s high-tech composition, windshield wipers continue to evolve. The wipers came into being when Mary Anderson, a female inventor from the United States, was granted a patent in 1903 for her window cleaning device. The idea came to her one day during a trip to New York City. While sitting in a streetcar, she noticed the driver had to keep the front window open during inclement weather in order to get a clearer view of the track. Upon returning home, she designed a device with a spring-loaded, swinging arm with a rubber blade controlled by a lever which allowed the driver to manoeuvre it inside the car. Anderson’s windshield wiper prototype was a success, following failed devices invented by others. Windshield wipers today come in different shapes, are made with sophisticated materials, and are even designed to tolerate specific seasons. Modern vehicles are increasingly being outfitted with a more aesthetically-pleasing windshield shape and form, often causing the wipers to lift off the glass from the flow of the wind. Because the blades act as a squeegee, a weak spring tension in the arm can also hinder a clean wipe. There are wipers available that address issues such as these - with models that resist lifting, and ones that tightly hug the windshield. A wide variety of wipers are available to car owners, allowing them to find the most perfect fit possible. A noticeable change, however, is the transition from natural rubber to a combination of different rubbers. Teflon is a familiar substance used in a variety of products such as frying pans, clothing, and bakeware and is widely valued for its non-stick properties.

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Keeping your car on the straight and narrow: the importance of wheel alignments By Mohammad Shahzad

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teering and suspension systems are vital components for the safe operation of any vehicle. A steering system that’s working properly will enable you to control your vehicle while driving straight or turning. The condition of your steering and suspension parts, tire tread or inflation, brakes, road, weather, and your own reaction time, will also affect performance. Wheel alignment is also important. A series of precise measurements and adjustments of the wheels make them perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. The purpose of these adjustments is to ensure that the tires are making full contact with the road. These critical operations are done by a trained certified technician with laser-guided equipment. Think of it this way. If you are pushing a shopping cart with crooked wheels you will need to apply an extra amount of force to overcome the drag to keep your cart straight. The engine in your car has to exert extra power when the wheels are not precisely aligned. You should have your steering and suspension systems inspected every year, or every 24,000 kilometres, or whenever you experience the following symptoms: • Excessive, uneven or rapid tire wear or feeling of wheel looseness or wandering or shimmy. • If the steering wheel pulls to the left or right, drifting away from a straight line.

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• If the steering wheel is not centred when the car is moving straight ahead.

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Rough roads with potholes are the major cause of misaligned wheels. Steering and suspension parts that are worn out due to age, rust and mileage are other causes while neglecting tire pressure, periodic safety inspections and preventive maintenance can also cause problems. Accidents, hitting curbs, passing over speed bumps, obstacles or objects on the road also can cause misaligned wheels. The benefits of having a four-wheel alignment are: 1. Reduced tire wear: Improper alignment is a major cause of premature tread wear, resulting in shortened tire life. 2. Better gas mileage: Gas mileage increases as rolling resistance decreases by reducing wheel drag. 3. Improved handling: With all system components aligned properly, road shock is more efficiently absorbed for a smoother, comfortable and safe ride. 4. Safer driving: A suspension system inspection allows a technician to spot worn tires and problems with parts before they cause costly repairs, additional problems, or unsafe driving conditions. Regular steering and suspension maintenance will protect you from unexpected major repairs, tire expenses and accidents. It can save lives, money and give you extra peace of mind while motoring.


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Total car care for the summer months By Mohammad Shahzad

Mohammad Shahzad is customer management operations manager at Brimell Toyota in Scarborough.

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part from the obvious - like your cooling and air-conditioning systems - there are a number of other things you should check to ensure a safe and comfortable summer driving season. Whether you’re packing up the car and heading to the cottage, going to the beach or just driving around town, it’s important to make sure everything’s in order. A good place to start any inspection and maintenance is to consult your owner’s manual. The following are some other areas to think about: Tires: Check all tires, including the spare, for air pressure, tread depth and condition. Replace worn out tires as they’ll be unsafe during rain. If you still have winter tires on your car, switch to summer tires. Winter tires are recommended for sub-zero conditions because they are significantly softer than all-season tires. The dry/hot pavement will wear them down quite prematurely. Tires should also be checked for balance and alignment to improve their longevity and for fuel economy. Brakes: Brakes are the primary safety system and your lifesaver. Check your brakes for safe stopping, especially during rain. It takes much more time and distance to stop on a wet road. Brake oil levels and condition should also be checked. If fluid is low and the brake pedal is spongy, consult your dealer or mechanic for complete brake safety inspection. Visibility: Driving with a clean windshield is critical not just for your safety, but also for the safety of others. At 90 km/h, your vehicle covers nearly 90 feet per second and 90 per cent of driving decisions are based solely on vision. Check your wipers and washer system and replace wipers that are worn down. Top up windshield washer fluid. Do not use plain water as it may freeze during winter if left unused. Check the windshield for any cracks or chips and fix them before they get worse. Lights: Make sure all lights are operational and replace burned-out bulbs. Pay close attention to headlights, brake lights, and indicator lights and check all warning lights on the dashboard. Engine: Check your engine and transmission oil for level and condition. If your engine is due for an oil change, make sure to replace it as per your maintenance schedule. Use only oil recommended for the summer months. Check the air filter and replace it if it is dirty. Check and replace dirty cabin dust and pollen air filter for your healthy driving. Cleanliness: In winter, your car goes through snow, salt and harsh conditions. Salt can accumulate underneath your vehicle on rust spots, as well as inside on carpets. Wash and clean the exterior and interior of your car. Make sure you clean and clear all drain holes under the doors and apply lube to the locks and hinges. Touch up all stone chips before they become large and create rust spots. Clean, vacuum and shampoo the carpet. Protection: Consider applying polish or wax to the exterior of the car and protect the inside of your car with products that can increase the longevity of the seats, dash, carpets and hardware from dirt and grime. Safety: Make sure you and all occupants wear seat belts. Keep a basic emergency kit and a charged cell phone ready for use in an emergency. Regular inspections and proper maintenance can spare you the expense of a major breakdown during the summer. It can also add years of troublefree driving to your vehicle.

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DRIVER lifestyle

Travel tips for summer road trips By Anette Mueller

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ummertime is travel time, and if you’re planning a road trip there are some simple and effective ways to keep drivers, the family and pets healthy on the road.

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Eating A big issue while traveling is food. Drivers should start off right with a healthy breakfast. Choose fruits, oatmeal, bran muffins, whole grain toast, or wheat pancakes. These foods will provide you with steadier energy throughout the day and help prevent snoozing off when your focus needs to be on the road. Eating light and frequent meals will help you stay well nourished and alert. Pack a cooler with lots of water, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, hummus, trail mix, and items for making a sandwich or salad. Pack small portions of fruits and veggies in bags to nibble on. Stop at markets along the way for some fresh local farm produce. It’s a fun break too. Bring along crackers and other wholegrain goodies with low sugar and salt. Bring plenty of water. It’s better to have more than not enough. You don’t want to be stranded without any H20 in the middle of nowhere. Choose wisely when eating out. Split a lunch or dinner entrée at the neighbourhood diner or mom and pop restaurant. Have a healthy sandwich instead of a greasy burger. Choose low-fat grilled chicken and veggies. Avoid loading up on side dishes. Order veggie pizza and reduce the cheese. Watch the dressing and extras. Give yourself frequent breaks on long trips. The CAA recommends stopping every two hours for about 15 minutes to give your legs a stretch and your mind a break. If the person you’re traveling with also has a licence, share the responsibility of driving.

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Children Make the road trip with children fun. Before you start your journey, talk with your children about the trip so they will know what to expect. The CAA recommends involving them in the planning, from choosing your destination to where you will stay and what attractions you’ll see. Edyta Zdancewicz, media and PR specialist for CAA South Central Ontario, recommends bringing a child’s favourite stuffed toy, blanket or pacifier. “Children who need a special object to feel safe and secure at home will need it just as much, if not more, while they are away,” she said. “Make sure to bring extras in case some of these precious objects get lost in transit. This, along with some favourite games and books, will help to maintain a sense of routine and familiarity that will be very comforting to your child in the midst of all the new things he will see and do.” Zdancewicz also recommends spending more time exploring the more fun aspects of parenting. “Take your child to a local festival, ask the hotel staff to help you find children’s activities in the area, or simply take the time to play in the water with your child at the pool or beach.” She also recommends that parents take advantage of being in a new environment to teach a child about different things. “You and your child may be seeing trees, flowers, animals and other things that you never see at home. Outings in your new surroundings are adventures that will stimulate your child’s curiosity.” Seniors Seniors who are on medication should have a list of all their prescriptions, including dosage and instructions. If medical equipment requires a power source, remember to take proper batteries or an adaptor. You might want to discuss your travel plans with your doctor who might be able to recommend a physician or hospital in the area you are headed in the event of an emergency.

Pets Zdancewicz of the CAA said many people view their pets as full-fledged members of the family until it’s time to go on vacation and then they’re left behind. Many owners are anxious about taking their pet with them on vacation because they don’t think they’ll be able to find a place for those four-legged friends, she said. “The truth is, it’s much easier to include your dog or cat in the family vacation, so long as you plan ahead.” To make the journey easier on you and your pets: •Take a carrier or crate. Make sure it is sturdy, well-ventilated and large enough for your pet to stand up in and turn around.

•Pack food and healthy snacks and bottled water. Bring a little more than you think you’ll need in case you get delayed. •Have health certificates and other required documents such as vaccination records with you. •Consult the CAA/AAA 10th edition of the ‘Traveling with your pet’ book for a list of pet friendly places. •Never let your dog ride in the front passenger seat, especially if you have airbags. •Take a collar along with a licence tag, ID tags and a leash. All should be sturdy and fit properly. •Never leave your pet in the car or truck during the summer. Dogs are sensitive to the heat, especially shortnosed breeds and overweight dogs. A little preparation can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable.


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DRIVER lifestyle

Eco-friendly items for the summertime driver – don’t leave home without them By Laura Ashdown

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A handmade felt flower headband by Dara Dot Designs.

Ballet flats by Do-Ni.com

Laura Ashdown is a freelance writer with a passion for fashion and the environment.

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ith the warm weather upon us, driving is a lot more fun. Top down or windows wide open, balmy breeze blowing through your hair … it’s exhilarating. But you could end up looking like Shirley MacLaine after her spin in Jack Nicholson’s convertible in Terms of Endearment if you’re not careful. To keep your hair in place, and do it in an eco-friendly way, a handmade felt flower headband by Dara Dot Designs might be the answer. It’ll enable you to sit pretty and keep your locks locked at the same time. It’ll also save on air-conditioning, an added bonus for the environment. The headband comes in an array of colours and has a detachable brooch pin in case you want to re-imagine that dress you’ve pulled out of your closet once again. There are plenty of other eco-friendly items available to drivers who want to soak up the summertime. For example, you might want to ditch the high heels and doll up in some breathtaking ballet flats by Do-Ni.com. All retail profits generated by the company go to participating non-profit organizations. The shoes are vegan and handmade from eco-friendly materials like water-based glues, recycled insole boards and low solvent PU leather. Customers can even choose which organization they’d prefer their purchase to support. As for handbags, you can grab a Gucci bag for a fraction of retail at Got 2 Have It Handbags and enjoy being an environmental ambassador. You can rent the bags for a week, a month, or a season. Can’t stand to see the relationship end? Rental fees can be applied to your purchase if you decide to keep your new best friend. A company called Shoulder Candy also rents out precious purses by the likes of Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. Founder Julie Kryk, also a singer/songwriter, designs the bags from recycled materials like vintage skirts and guitar straps, some of which are donated by celebrities. The bags are eventually auctioned off for charity. A dollar from every purchase goes to Musicounts, which promotes music education in schools, or Musicares, a safety net of critical assistance for musicians in times of need. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for eco-friendly items for the car, online sites like eBay and Craigslist offer a forum for buying and selling used goods, extending the life of the items and preventing their deposit in a landfill. The most visited retail website in Canada, eBay has launched World of Good, an offshoot site specializing in fair trade and eco-positive merchandise. Everything sold is screened by a trusted third party to ensure the goods have a positive environmental impact. Buyers can search for goods by indicating the type of impact they’d like to make, be it animal friendly, people positive, or eco-friendly. An eco-friendly way to keep your vehicle clean is to take it to the local car wash instead of doing the work at home. A professional car wash is regulated to ensure the water doesn’t enter the local ecosystem. The water is processed and recycled. At home, you’ll use about 150 gallons of water as opposed to only 50 at a professional wash.

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St. Marys has gracious charm and timeless flavour By Anya Wassenberg

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slow drive in the countryside is one of the true pleasures of summer, especially if you allow yourself enough time to stop and savour the view. St. Marys – down the Thames River just minutes from the cultural hub of Stratford - lends itself to just that kind of leisurely exploration. The stone turrets and gingerbread storefronts of the town punctuate the bucolic southwestern Ontario farmland with a gracious kind of charm. Stonetown is the community’s nickname, its silhouette dominated and characterized by ornate 19th and early 20th century limestone construction. The stone was extracted from now defunct quarries that today serve as Canada’s largest outdoor swimming pool. St. Marys was settled in the 1840s. There are gorgeous examples of architecture that date from the mid1800s to the early 1900s throughout the town, from the elegance of Queen Anne style to the curved mansard roofs of the Second Empire, the grandeur of Romanesque Revival, and ornamental Italianate styles. The combined effect gives St. Marys a timeless flavour. You’ll want to get out of the car and experience it on foot. A walk down Queen Street, a main thoroughfare, yields a variety of one-ofa-kind shops in buildings made of stone and brick, including a few that offer mouth-watering chocolates and other sweets to keep up your energy for the walk. There’s more to do than just look in this historic town of 6,300. An array of events and attractions includes summer theatre, and a museum housed in a former mansion known locally as the Castle in the Bush and built in 1854. The Stonetown Heritage Festival takes place in mid-summer in a series of events throughout the town that

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combine food and fun for the whole family. Best of all, most events are free of charge, letting you mingle with the locals and get the true flavour of rural Ontario. St. Marys is home to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, which opened in 2008. Each year, a ceremony is held to welcome new inductees. The facility features exhibits on 86 Canadians and their contributions to baseball. If you’d rather get active yourself in the great outdoors, the Wildwood Conservation Area offers 20 kilometres of hiking trails along with modernized camping facilities for overnight stays. There are three golf courses in the area to practice your swing. Spending a night or two in St. Marys lets you experience the town’s old style charms from close up, with a range of accommodations to choose from. Among them, the Westover Inn is a typical limestone Victorian mansion. The oldest part was built in 1867. It is situated on 19 acres of beautifully tended gardens along the Thames River. B&B options include the Riverside, also overlooking the Thames, or Hathaway House, a prime example of stately Victorian Queen Anne style architecture. The town also has a selection of cuisine from fine dining in gracious surroundings at the Westover Inn to the chic Bar & Grill at the Stone Willow Inn, featuring contemporary cuisine and an emphasis on local ingredients. Budget and familyfriendly dining is available at several locations throughout the downtown area. St. Marys offers its guests classic rural charm with an appealing historic flavour - a gem to discover on that long country drive.

Anya Wassenberg is a freelance writer based in southern Ontario.

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DRIVER lifestyle

Driver stress: How to stay calm behind the wheel By Megan Pasche

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Time spent behind the steering wheel can easily become the most stressful part of a person’s day. The more we load up our schedules with countless obligations, and the more cars that continue to hit the road, the more stressful driving can become. As everybody rushes from place to place, it becomes increasingly important to try to minimize stress levels - not only for yourself, but for other drivers on the road. Driving while stressed can easily lead to road rage and careless driving, and that makes the road a more dangerous place for everyone. Dr. Dwight Hennessy, a professor of psychology at Buffalo State College, says drivers cope with stress in different ways. “Coping with stress, like the experience of stress itself, is somewhat unique to each individual,” he said. According to Hennessy, there are a number of things people can do to alleviate stress while driving. Some of the techniques involve lifestyle changes, but others can be performed right away. Here are some examples: Stop running late: The less time you

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leave yourself to get from place to place, the more stressful it is going to be. Allow yourself an extra 10 or 20 minutes to get where you are going. That way, if you run into any traffic, construction or detours, it won’t become a huge deal. Make your car a place you want to be: Instead of dreading the commute and the clutter, make your car an inviting place. Clean out the old coffee cups, organize the CDs, and put everything into an organizer. Investing in a seat massager might also make long trips a little easier. Stay clear of static: Static from a radio station can be distracting. Do yourself a favour and pop in a soothing CD to listen to while you are commuting. Beat the heat: Getting into a hot car, and sitting in one, is unpleasant. If this is something that stresses you out, invest in a remote starter so your car will be nice and cool when you are ready to go. Another option is to open the windows of your car for a while before you head off. Occupy the wee ones: Driving with screaming or fighting children can make stress levels rise rapidly. Why not make up a car kit and fill it with toys and games that are appropriate for the car? It will be exciting for the children, and keep them

relatively quiet. If all else fails, you might want to invest in a portable DVD player. Keep fuelled: Hungry people can be irritable people, and that can easily lead to stress. Keep snacks in the car and you can avoid that painful stress-induced headache that often goes along with an empty stomach. Make MapQuest your friend: Making sure you know where you are going can do a lot to reduce stress. Driving around aimlessly can sometimes be fun, but if you have to be somewhere it makes sense to get proper directions before you go. With tools like MapQuest and Google Maps you don’t even need to know the exact street address. A simple name will do. For the technologically advanced, a navigation system can work wonders. Carpool: It is a lot harder to be stressed out while driving when you have friends in the car. Having someone to talk to while you are stuck in traffic can make the time go by a lot quicker. Trying out some of these suggestions might make for a more peaceful drive, wherever you are going.


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DRIVER games

WHEELMAN fails to inspire, lacks good content

I recently evaluated a copy of Wheelman, which is a companion piece to the movie of the same name. Unfortunately, as is the case with most movie companion games, this one is lacking. Vin Diesel stars as Milo, a tough guy working for gangs in Barcelona, Spain. What the gangs don’t know is that he is an undercover agent - not a very original or creative storyline. The game is designed as an ‘open world’–type scenario. You have the option of finding the specific mission of your choice, or simply driving through the city until you come upon the next story mission. The missions often revolve around escorting, capturing, or stealing cars. Fugitive missions plant you deep in enemy territory and

Michael O’Gorman is an auto enthusiast and writer who lives in Panama City, Florida. He plays video games to escape the daily grind.

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’d like to welcome you to a new section of the magazine called Driver Games. In this section, I’ll provide driving enthusiasts with a safe way to explore driving fantasies, without speeding tickets or unfortunate crashes. Some games are worth the money, some aren’t. My goal is to shake down some of the latest games to either save you the frustration of discovering the ones that are lousy, or to get you excited about trying the ones that will leave you with a great, big smile.

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By Michael O’Gorman

they challenge you to make it to a safe point alive. The provided map of the city allows you to choose the mission or side mission of your choice. This allows you to not have to drive endlessly to find the next mission. Although this does allow immediate access to your mission of choice, it does diminish the ‘open world’ feel quite a bit. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The backdrops are not really creative or compelling. The designers did not go the distance to offer the details that would really differentiate the various city streets - they all look very similar. So with this in mind, being able to quickly move from mission to mission saves a lot of tedious and uneventful driving. It seems that it would have been more effective to offer a simple menu of missions to choose from, instead of the ‘open world’ scenario. Now we get to the missions themselves. They can be described in one word: boring. All the missions are based on driving your car to a location, killing some bad guys and returning to where you began - not very exciting. Other factors that add to the dullness are that you never run out of ammunition and you are able to recover from being hit in no time. There is also no cover system. You have to protect yourself by ducking behind objects. It is also a real pain to target enemies and free aim. And it’s irritating that you don’t have a jump button. You have to walk around obstacles. Unfortunately, the negatives don’t stop there. The cars are another letdown. They respond in a very choppy manner, which is not very rewarding or realistic. The on-foot sections are also not great. Again, the responses are poor. Diesel also can’t kill any civilians - I guess they’re trying to create a good-guy image for his character. I would give a lot of thought before purchasing this game. From beginning to end, it is lacking. The plot is unoriginal and uninspiring, the graphics and sound are okay at best, and its repetitive nature quickly becomes boring. Its storyline lacks good content, and it wraps with the notion of a sequel. I don’t think so. It seems that most companion games to movies, especially movies like Wheelman, never really exceed expectations. My advice if you’re interested is to rent it.

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DRIVER EDUCATION

Damages come in many different forms By Lawrence H. Mandel

When you are suing someone for personal injury damages, you expect to receive money for the damages you have suffered. These damages are broken down as follows:

Non-pecuniary general damages (often referred to as pain and suffering)

accident. This could be very significant. Suppose, for example, you are a welder, or a carpenter, and you have injured your back. A healthy back is of considerable importance to the ability to perform the occupation of a welder or a carpenter. It may not be quite as serious for a lawyer, because a lawyer may still be able to practice his/her profession, even if he/she has a bad back.

I. Deductible

If you can prove that you require someone to provide assistance for you, you may be able to claim that cost. If you need help 24 hours a day, and the amount paid for that person is, say, $30 an hour, that total is $262,800 a year, without any increase. If it can be shown that you will live, say 40 more years, with your injury, and the need for that assistance, then, at least, mathematically, the amount of compensation for assistance works out to be, at least, $10,512,000. A court would apply a present value calculation to determine what amount you would need now to pay for this in the future.

II. Threshold Before you can collect anything for non-pecuniary general damages, you have to pass a ‘threshold’. In order to qualify for collecting any compensation for non-pecuniary general damages, you have to show, amongst other things, that your damages involved permanent, serious and continuing injury of an important bodily function or severe disfigurement or death. If you can not prove that the compensation for your non-pecuniary general damages passes the threshold, then you will not be able to collect anything.

Past economic losses (income, expenses, and no-fault benefits) You can claim for past loss of income, past expenses, past services rendered, past medical and rehabilitation expenses, and generally, any expense that was incurred as a result of your injuries. You may be entitled, in law, to what is called ‘no-fault benefits’, if you satisfy the requirements for collecting no fault benefits. These benefits are set out in the Insurance Act and Regulations. The amounts are specific, and the amounts that you are entitled to receive under these no-fault benefits may be deducted from any award you are entitled to for past economic losses. This can get rather complicated. If the injury is serious, you should be in the hands of a lawyer who knows what he/she is doing in this area of law.

Interest You are entitled to interest on the non-pecuniary general damages and on the past losses, running from the date you gave notice of your claim.

Future economic losses (income, care, med/rehab, no-fault benefits, and guardian or estate management) I. Income It may be established that you will be unable to work in the future or, at least, unable to work as effectively as you did before the

III. Med/Rehab Cost of future rehabilitation expenses, and the cost of maintaining your home (including gardening, painting and laundry, etc.), may be so serious that, as a result of the injury, you have to acquire a new home (wheelchair accessibility may be required, and that could mean renovating the house to such an extent that it may be more practical to buy another house).

IV. No-fault Benefits Just as in the damages involving past expenses, no-fault benefits come into play here. You may be entitled to certain amounts for no-fault benefits. The future amount of no-fault benefits to which you may be entitled would have to be taken into consideration in determining and adjusting the amount you obtain for future economic loss.

V. Guardianship or Estate Management Other future losses that could be suffered are costs associated with guardianship of your person and/or management of your estate.

Level of damages Generally, in very serious personal injury cases, the highest award is for the future costs (care and med/rehab), and the second highest amount is for future loss of income (depending on the amount of income). The third highest loss is often for non-pecuniary general damages, and the fourth highest loss is for past expenses (although this could be higher depending on the circumstances of the case). This article does not pretend to give a complete list of the elements of damages. Hopefully, it will serve as a rough picture of what is involved and explains the types of damages for which compensation may be awarded. In my next article, I will deal with personal injury cases and how, through appropriate investigation and imagination, multi-million dollar awards can be collected. In the meantime, drive safely.

Lawrence H. Mandel is a personal injury lawyer with Thomson, Rogers Barristers and Solicitors. He has been with the firm more than 45 years and, among other things, has represented victims of car accidents, airplane crashes and train derailments.

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If your claim for non-pecuniary general damages is not worth more than $100,000, you will be facing a $30,000 deductible. That is, the amount of your claim (provided it is not over $100,000), is reduced by $30,000 because of provisions in the Insurance Act.

II. Future Care

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This heading of damage involves evaluating, in dollars and cents, the amount of pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of amenities, and inability to perform activities that you did before your injury. These include, for example, your inability to play golf, or to play hockey, or to walk or run, or dance. In Canada, there is a limit to the amount that can be awarded (presently around $330,000) for pain and suffering. In motor vehicle cases, at the present time, there are conditions imposed by law that affect the assessment of non-pecuniary general damages.

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Buying a used car before the deal is final

By Mohammad Shahzad

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So you’ve picked out a used car and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line. You’ve already made the first smart decision, then, as buying a used car allows you to get a good vehicle that catches your fancy without suffering the depreciation that wallops new car buyers. If you get a bad used car, though, it could cost more than you ever imagined in expensive repairs, time, trouble and aggravation. To protect yourself, make sure you examine the vehicle thoroughly, look it over on the lot and take it for a road test. You’re probably better than you think at judging what makes a good used car. Even if the car manages to pass a Department of Transportation safety certification and emission test, it’s wise to have it inspected by a mechanic you trust before signing any deal. The following tips may increase your odds of finding a safe, dependable car. Safety: •Tires: They should be checked for mismatches, tread depth, sidewall cracks, air leaks, wear pattern and rim damage. Uneven tread wear indicates poor wheel alignment or an accident. Uneven tread wear on the front tires might indicate serious suspension problems or damage. Grab the top of each front tire and shake it toward and away from you. If you hear a clunking sound, the

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DRIVER EDUCATION wheel bearings could be worn out or the suspension could be loose. Check the gap between all tires and mud flaps or lower fender end. If the gap is uneven, it may indicate frame damage. •Brakes: A spongy pedal is a sign of excessive wear or fluid leak. If the parking brake is sticky or loose, it could be a sign of wear or rusty cables. Check for noise and pulling to the side on a road test. The car should stop quickly and in a straight line. •Shock absorbers: These can be checked by pushing down hard at each corner of the car a few times to bounce it up and down. If the car rebounds more than once before leveling off, the shocks are probably worn. Step back 10 feet and see if one side is lower. A lopsided car may need new springs or have a suspension problem. •Steering: Steering should be smooth and precise without much free play, pulling, noise or vibration at high speeds. Wet the tires or drive straight through a puddle, then look at the track to see if the front and rear wheels are in line. If there’s noise during turns, this could reveal a problem with drive axles, ball joints or bearings. •Seatbelts: They should be checked for proper operation. Performance: •Engine: The vehicle should start easily and pick up smoothly. Knocking may signal costly repairs. The problem may be cured with higher-octane fuel or a major tune up if it sounds like pinging. Black smoke from the tailpipe might mean the fuel injection system needs to be adjusted or cleaned, or the air filter is dirty. White smoke might mean coolant is getting into the engine and a new head gasket is needed. Blue smoke is a sure sign of oil burning and the engine may need to be rebuilt or replaced. Under the hood, look for cracked or worn belts. Green or pink residue on the radiator or hoses may signal a leak. Sludge, corrosion or off-coloured coolant in the recovery tank indicates a lack of maintenance. Check for new gaskets or sealers around engine parts. These are signs of a recent repair. Turn on all electrical accessories and crank the engine. If it starts, the battery passed the load test. •Automatic transmission: Test drive the vehicle on a smooth road at variable speeds. A thump when engaging ‘drive’, or a rhythmic clicking noise, could signal worn parts. Check the transmission fluid level and condition. Look for metal particle deposits in the fluid and, if found, expect expensive transmission repairs. Manual transmissions should also have smooth shifting. If the clutch does not engage until the pedal is nearly all the way up, or if the pedal doesn’t have an inch or so of free play at the top, you could face an expensive clutch job. •Lights and gauges: All lights should be working. If the ‘check engine’ or any other warning light comes on while driving, have the proper diagnostic done before deciding to buy the vehicle. Appearance: •Body: Pick a sunny day and have a good look at the body of the car. Stand in front of the car and check and compare both sides. Any missing or uneven part can be spotted quickly. Use the same method to check the body from the rear. Re-position the car toward the sun and take a walk around the body to check for colour defects. Use a mirror and spotlight to check the underbody of the car. •Rust: It can hide beneath blistered or peeling paint. If it eats through the car or trunk floor, wheel well and fenders, it can let deadly exhaust fumes inside. Lift the front floor carpets and trunk carpet to check the condition of the metal underneath. Inspect other vulnerable areas like wheel wells and rocker panels. A small magnet passed over those areas will reveal plastic putty patches over rust or accident damage. Open hood and trunk doors. If they feel very heavy, they may have been replaced with aftermarket parts. Check all stickers, such as the VIN on the driver’s door, and the emission sticker under the hood. To check the finish of the outer paint, you can use an ultra-yellow colour spotlight to find mismatched areas.


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Stay alert - driver distractions can be dangerous By Scott Marshall

food wrappers on the floor, can distract you, especially on a windy day if you have the windows down. The garbage can blow around, forcing you to take your eyes off the road for a moment. Do yourself a favour and put the wrappers in the trash. Another distraction can be passengers themselves. They make us laugh, look at things outside the vehicle and get into heated discussions with us. But our attention needs to be on the road and the traffic. As the driver, you should establish vehicle rules that will allow you to concentrate on the road. Give your children things to do in the vehicle while you drive. Put music on the radio that everybody will enjoy. This may help them leave you alone while you’re driving. You must stay focused on where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. So, put away the distractions and, just maybe, you can drive a little more safely this summer.

Scott Marshall is director of training for Young Drivers of Canada.

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aren’t making logical decisions of their own. When I teach a class of novice drivers at Young Drivers of Canada, I do a test to help them understand distractions. Since most of my students have a cell phone, I ask them to turn it on and place it on the desk in front of them. On my command, I ask them to tell me what time it is from their cell phone while I keep track of their response time. The quickest response is 2.5 seconds. That can be a problem, considering the minimum safe distance to follow a vehicle in the city is two seconds. If the driver in front of you slams on the brakes just as you look down at your cell phone, you’ll crash into the vehicle in front before you get a chance to look up. Now, let’s deal with the issue of drinking in the car. I’m not referring to alcohol. I’m referring to things like coffee and water. When you drink a beverage while the vehicle is in motion you take your hand off the wheel and possibly your eyes off the scene for a moment. Pick your moment to have a drink. While you’re stopped is the best time to sip a drink. The other time, perhaps, is when there are no other drivers or pedestrians near you. This reduces the chance of having to swerve around a problem. You’ll need two hands on the wheel for that. It’s the same thing for eating while driving. I’ve seen many people eat a hamburger, sub and even a big pizza slice while driving. If they spilled the food on themselves, where would they be looking? What if they looked down just as the driver ahead of them slammed on the brakes? There wouldn’t be enough reaction time to safely stop the vehicle. And how many times do we leave our garbage in the vehicle instead of disposing of it in the trash? That coffee cup under the seat, or the

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e often think that winter is the worst time to drive in, but the truth is that summer is more dangerous. Most crashes occur during the summer months, according to Transport Canada. We tend to be in our vehicles more often when the weather is nicer, and we take more vacations during the warmer weather. One of the problems is that we often get distracted while driving. We must smarten up and be more alert on the road. Cell phones are one of the major distractions these days, and the Ontario government has introduced legislation that would prohibit drivers from using a hand-held electronic device while driving. This would include communication and entertainment devices such as cell phones and MP3s. More than 50 countries already have similar laws in place. Look for this new law to come into effect as early as this fall. There are some good reasons for the law. For example, if you’re having a conversation with someone on the phone and a problem is developing outside the vehicle, you’ll stop your conversation and try to deal with the situation as best you can. The problem is that the person on the other end of the phone keeps talking, adding to your distraction. It’s not the same as having a conversation with someone inside the vehicle. Your passenger would likely see the problem you had to deal with and stop talking. My advice is to ignore your phone until you’ve reached your destination. Leave the phone on ‘silent’ so you won’t be distracted by the ringing. Driving takes full concentration, especially if you’re dealing with other drivers who

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Recognize the early signs of fatigue – before it’s too late By Scott Marshall

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eing tired, or suffering from fatigue while driving is dangerous. But it’s something many people ignore. Have you ever been driving and nodded off for just a couple of seconds? Did it alarm you? It should have and I hope you did something about it. Drivers need to recognize the early signs of fatigue before it’s too late. If you’re constantly yawning, have heavy eyelids, blurred vision, wander in your lane, or your head begins to nod, pull over and take a break. Don’t fight it. When you’re tired your brain stops working as it should. You begin to make poor decisions, react later than you need to, and your judgment is dangerously impaired. Getting enough rest is the prescription for a tired driver. Your body and mind need to be sharp to handle today’s variety of traffic conditions on our busy roads. A sharp mind will always help you think clearly. If you’re driving during your vacation, take a break and get out of your vehicle every couple of hours. Put this break in your travel plans. Take a nap if you can.

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Better yet, switch drivers from time to time so the more rested driver can share some of the driving. Research in Canada and the U.S. indicates that a driver who has been awake for 18 hours or more will perform at the same level as someone who has a blood alcohol level of .08. The majority of drivers (58.6 per cent) surveyed by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation admitted that they occasionally drive while fatigued or drowsy, while 14.5 per cent admitted they’d fallen asleep or nodded off while driving in the past year. Nearly two per cent were also involved in a fatigue-related crash in the past year. Those surveyed were also asked what they could do if they felt tired or fatigued while driving. The least common answer was to take a rest. Common answers were opening a window and turning up the radio. However, neither action works as well as many people might think. Such actions might help for a while, but ultimately they won’t keep you alert for long. It’s better to stop driving before the drowsiness takes hold of you. To avoid falling asleep at the wheel, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation

suggests you: •Get proper rest before starting a trip. •Limit your driving time to two hours between breaks. •Share the driving so you can take a nap in the passenger seat. •Avoid caffeine as it only provides short-term relief. •Beware of medications that can impair your driving ability. •Avoid heavy meals just before driving. •Keep the temperature cool inside the vehicle. •Move your eyes every two seconds to keep your brain alert. •Avoid peak drowsy times of 2 to 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. When I’m teaching a class of novice drivers at Young Drivers of Canada, I often ask students if they know someone who has driven while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Hands rarely go up after this question is asked. But when I ask if they know someone who has nodded off while driving, normally more than half the students in my class raise their hands. So, make sure you take the time to rest before driving and pay attention to the signs of fatigue before it’s too late.


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Gasoline will ultimately be phased out: expert By Justin Pritchard

BMW is a world leader in powertrain technology - and its efforts to create efficient performance have lately

pointed the firm towards diesel, hybrids and even hydrogen power. With alternative fuels getting more attention than ever, some wonder where the beloved, familiar and proven gasoline-burning engine stands. Engineers are making gasoline engines more efficient than ever, and they remain an easier sell than a diesel or hybrid to most North Americans. But has modern science and technology tapped the gas engine for all it’s worth? Will it drive off into the sunset to clear room for more efficient options? The Driver recently talked to Tom Baloga, vice-president of engineering at BMW group, about the subject. Baloga was manager of safety engineering for Mercedes-Benz USA and a senior test engineer for Mack Trucks. He’s also the primary inventor on multiple U.S. and foreign patents. In his current position, Baloga is responsible for engineering duties in areas including product development, environmental and product analysis. The Driver: Is something wrong with gasoline? Why are Baloga: It’s too early to pick winners. We caution regulators

their ability to reduce fuel consumption and emissions with minimal driving compromise. Are shoppers buying these machines in masses? Baloga: Generally, shoppers aren’t looking for alternative fuel - they’re looking for the best value. Alternative fuel vehicles aren’t usually on anyone’s shopping list. Instead, people want long-range value - like great fuel economy and power, without paying extra. Except for hybrids, there’s not a high priority right now. Consumers will catch on and recognize these great technologies - but for now, we’re putting them out as a response to a problem, not as a response to a demand.

The Driver: Some day, will hydrogen, diesel or hybrids take over and make gasoline obsolete?

The Driver: So, has gasoline reached a certain limit? Are gas-powered engines now as efficient as they’ll ever be? Baloga: They aren’t at their limit, and there are improvements that can be made. We’re at a point where the additional benefits would significantly increase the cost. Incremental improvements come at a very high cost from where we are now. Interestingly, if gasoline with ultra-low sulfur content was available here like it is in Europe, fuel consumption could be improved by seven to 17 per cent with the direct injection technology we’re already using.

The Driver: What can shoppers after clean performance look forward to seeing from BMW in the near future? Baloga: Our absolute criteria is delivering the ultimate driving experience. Customers buying a BMW with better mileage, reduced emissions and improved comfort will always get the ultimate driving experience, which defines BMW’s efficient dynamics philosophy. The benchmark is established in this regard, and there are no compromises on that. Regardless of changes or improvements, the customer always gets a BMW at the end of the day.

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The Driver: Hybrids and diesel-powered cars are proving

and lawmakers not to pick winners and losers - and expect that there should be a mix available to let consumers decide. Ultimately, gasoline will be phased out - it comes from fossils and it contains carbon, which is the source of pollution. You can’t rebuild the supply of gasoline, either. Once the oil well is empty, that’s it. The ultimate solution is a fuel or energy carrier that is more stable. Gasoline isn’t the most stable, it’s just the most cost-effective.

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we hearing so much about hybrids, diesels, hydrogen and electric models lately? Baloga: Energy independence for North America is critical - and that’s what’s driving out new technologies. The price and source location of fossil fuel is an issue. Ultimately, we need to move away from it. Technology is being introduced to help recognize energy independence, but emissions are an issue too. We have a great handle on this at BMW, and all of our cars meet California emissions standards for low pollution. It used to be smog that was the major concern but lately, reducing CO2 has become a new and difficult challenge. It furthers the need to move away from fossil fuels.

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The HEMI V8 –

creating more power with less fuel

The all-new 2009 Dodge Ram has won the distinction of being Canada’s best new pickup for 2009 with a recent relaunch. The latest update sees Dodge’s 5.7-litre HEMI V8 making more power with less fuel than the outgoing truck. Horsepower is now rated at 390, a 10-per-cent increase since the last generation, while torque peaks at more than 400 pounds per foot. For a truck that could pull a tree out of the Earth’s crust, it’s actually relatively fuel efficient. How do engineers create more power with less fuel? And how much better on fuel could this beastly HEMI engine actually get, anyhow? According to Chrysler, making more power with less gas has a lot to do with breathing. Imagine an engine as being similar to an Olympic runner. For either to achieve top performance, a huge volume of air needs to make its way in and out easily. Imagine the runner trying to race while breathing only through the nose. The air intake system of an athlete is less physically complicated than that of a HEMI V8, but it remains that opening things up in the name of airflow brings benefits. Additional power for the new HEMI was achieved primarily through three areas: reduced airflow restriction in the heads; an active intake manifold; and Variable Valve Timing (VVT). Head ports (the engine’s equivalent of a windpipe) were redesigned using a sophisticated computer which helps engineers determine their optimal shape and size. Engineers even used a finer grain of sand in the casting process improving the surface finish inside the ports. The valves have been made larger too - all in the name of allowing the air-fuel mixture in and out of the engine more easily. The variable intake manifold is able to switch between different ‘runners’ to optimize efficiency depending on the situation. Runners are passageways that air is pulled through on its way into the combustion chamber. A flap-valve directs air through one of two sets of runners according to the task at hand. Longer runners aid low-RPM torque, while shorter runners rush air into the engine for

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higher-RPM pulling power. Chrysler says that a single manifold represents a compromise - but that the variable intake manifold allows a performanceoriented manifold and a more economical manifold to occupy the same physical space. VVT, meanwhile, manipulates engine operation in the most efficient possible manner, too. By closing the intake valve later, the engine has to do less ‘pumping’ as the piston travels down on the intake stroke. Another trick with exhaust valve timing allows more combustion energy to be transferred to the crankshaft, rather than simply being ejected as heat. Chrysler’s Multi-Displacement System (MDS) is also employed, saving fuel through cylinder de-activation when full power isn’t needed. Chrysler engineers estimate that MDS has saved about 100 million litres of fuel since originally hitting the road in 2005. For the new HEMI engine, MDS has a wider operating range and an indicator light in the information display to tell drivers when it’s saving them fuel. All said and done, fuel savings in the Dodge Ram are in the neighbourhood of four per cent. That’s respectable considering the extra available power. Could things get even better? Chrysler’s team says it’s reviewing technologies that can improve fuel efficiency of current engines by another 10 to 15 per cent. Trouble is, these technologies are very expensive and need to be introduced in low volumes to gauge customer response. A technology that can save $1,000 worth of fuel won’t sell if it costs $2,500. So will the world ever see gasoline-powered, full-size trucks get 50 miles per gallon - or is some mathematical minimum amount of fuel needed to make a full-sized truck move? Chrysler’s engineers say there is indeed a limit - and that it’s considerably less than 50 miles per gallon. An interesting question nonetheless, but it still looks like today’s consumer will have to take their fuel-savings a few per cent at a time.


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A colourful interview

with Ford paint expert Jon Hall

By Justin Pritchard

from? Who decides on which colours are available? Is it strictly an internal decision? Hall: Colour selection is led by our design team, but we have lots of input and resources to draw from in making those choices. Most importantly, we have a group with expertise in automotive design, fashion, interior design, textiles, art, and even technical product experience. We have information to help us keep abreast of such industries as fashion, automotive and other industrial design. Also, information comes from many worldwide trade shows for things like furniture, interior design, and materials. We also do market research to seek customer feedback on new ideas. Getting feedback from customers and dealers provides us with a good grounding for what people want.

The Driver: How much does brand image have to do with the colours available on certain models? Why can’t I get a Lincoln MKZ painted in bright yellow? Hall: Colours are evaluated for how well they fit with certain brands and designs. You might be perfectly happy with a bright yellow Lincoln, but through our research and dealer committees we are able to gauge that an exotic colour would not appeal to the majority of Lincoln customers. We want colours that fit right to the vehicles that customers see on the road and in our dealerships, and colours that are desirable and beautiful. The Driver: How often through a model’s life are the available

The Driver: What’s the next big thing in automotive paint? Is there a particular technology or trend we’ll be able to see in the near future? Hall: More colour and more effects. We’re at the pinnacle, and maybe on the downswing, of the volume trend for such colours as silver and gray metallic. We see many indications in automotive trends and many indications in other industries that more colour will be important to our market in the near future. In addition to that, such effects as white pearls and tinted clear enhanced colours sell quickly on our products. New kinds of sparkle and other effects will be successful in our new colours.

The Driver: What are some of the most common colours? Do they vary by vehicle type? By brand? By gender? Hall: In the midst of traffic, the most popular colours seem kind of invisible. Colours like white, silver metallic, gray metallic, and black make up more than 60 per cent of colours. The brighter colours that you notice like reds, blues, oranges, and greens are very much in the minority, and are most popular on performance or sport utility vehicles. We also see that brands sometimes will have specific colours or types of paints that fare more popular. For instance, we find with Lincoln or luxury brands in general that there is a high take-rate in metallic colours, and that customers are willing to pay a premium for these opulent paints.

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The Driver: Where do the available colour selections come

colours updated? Does it depend on the model, or is it a company-wide standard? Hall: We are developing new colours every year, and to the extent that we can introduce them, we try to refresh colours to fit with new trends. For example, in 2009 we will have replaced 45 per cent of our colours across vehicle lines from our offering in 2007. This is the biggest change in colour choices in Ford Motor Company’s history.

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ver wonder how carmakers come up with the colours available for your next ride? The Driver recently talked to Jon Hall, paint expert at Ford Motor Co., about that very subject. Hall is lead designer of colours and materials at Ford. He explains how colour offerings are decided, which colours are the most popular, and what to look for in automotive paint in the coming years.

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Finding a safe and secure ride for the family

By Justin Pritchard

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t’s not easy to put a price on safety, but it remains one of those things that most new car shoppers look for just as intently as their favourite paint colour or options package. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is responsible for helping consumers determine which vehicles are safe bets for them and their families, publishing information available as a brochure and website that helps point shoppers in the right direction. According to the IIHS, safety involves avoiding crashes as well as providing protection in case a crash occurs. Features like brake assist, lanedeparture warning systems and blindspot monitoring are all marketed with the ability to reduce the likelihood of a crash - though most such systems haven’t been scientifically evaluated. Stability control is one exception - and the IIHS recognizes it for lowering the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about half. It also lowers the risk of a fatal rollover crash by as much as 80 per cent by helping to reduce or eliminate dangerous skidding. For added peace of mind, look for it on your next vehicle - but note that the same system is marketed under various names like StabiliTrak, Vehicle Dynamic Control and Vehicle Stability Assist. No matter the gadgetry and features at play, crashes are sometimes unavoidable, so looking for a crashworthy vehicle is the next step. A crashworthy car, truck or SUV is built with a structure and restraints that help reduce the risk of injury or death in an accident. At the very base of crashworthiness is a strong occupant compartment or safety cage for protection, as well as crumple zones to help dissipate crash energy in an impact. In addition to the basic structure of a car, restraint systems play an important role. No longer just a simple combination of seatbelts and airbags, some restraint systems now have built-in functions like forcelimiters, tensioners and passenger

detection systems. These all work towards increasing the efficiency of a vehicle’s restraint systems in a crash, reducing the instances of seatbelt-related rib injuries or deploying the airbag at an appropriate rate for the occupant using it. Some vehicles have all of the above-listed features, while some have few. Since not all machines are made the same, the IIHS carries out crash tests to determine how a person would fare in a real-life accident. Based on the results, the IIHS gives vehicles a rating from good to poor in a variety of crash situations. The head-on, frontal crash was the ‘original’ crash test - which involved running a vehicle at 35 mp/h into a rigid barrier. Many improvements were made to restraint systems because of this testing over the years and, as a result, most new cars get the top score of ‘good’ in this test. Be sure that’s the case for any vehicle you’re considering. Side impact testing is a little tougher for a car to pass with flying colours. Earning a good rating from the IIHS in side impact testing means the vehicle has, at a minimum, been fitted with side airbags to protect the heads of occupants when the car is struck from the side, or T-boned. The IIHS notes that studies indicate side curtain airbags can significantly reduce the fatality rate in serious side-impact situations. If side airbags are optional on your next ride, be sure to opt for them. Rear impact performance is important as well, though the IIHS says it’s the trickiest test for vehicles to score well in. If you’re rear-ended, whiplash injuries are the most common occurring when your head accelerates forward at a faster rate than the rest of your body. Vehicles with active head restraints tend to boast better scores in this department as their specially designed headrests work to reduce whiplashrelated injuries. Want to make sure your next ride is as protective as possible? A sure bet is to ensure the model in question is rated as an IIHS ‘Top Safety Pick’. Achieving this rating means the vehicle must come with Electronic Stability Control and get ‘good’ ratings in all impact tests. Think of the ‘Top Safety Pick’ as a seal of approval from one of the most highly-recognized safety authorities in the industry. Vehicles that carry it can be purchased with confidence by the safety-minded shopper.


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product reviews

– even James Bond would be impressed By Glen Konorowski

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box of my friend’s pickup truck. For the eight days or so he had the Snitch in his Chevy, I could track everywhere my friend traveled within the 250-mile range he works in. When I zeroed in on the map I could even determine if the Snitch had moved in a parking lot. According to Blackline, the unit should operate for about a week or a little longer on an intermittent basis. When you’re online and tracking your Snitch, the computer tells you how much power is left in the unit. If you plan to keep your Snitch in just one vehicle, it can be hard-wired to the electrical system. The Snitch retails for about $300 and since it is connected through the cell phone network in North America there’s a monthly fee for your phone connection. For more information about the Snitch, visit www.GPS-Snitch.com.

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In Goldfinger, James Bond is given a device that he attaches to the villain’s car and then tracks him through Europe. In 1964 when the movie was released, this kind of technology was pretty fantastic. Well, now it’s here, and you can track someone across North America from in front of your computer with the GPS Snitch. A Canadian company from Calgary called Blackline makes the Snitch for the Canadian and U.S. markets. The device is unique in Canada because of its size. It’s about the size of a deck of cards and can easily be hidden in a vehicle or carried around in a pocket or purse. The Snitch works by way of GPS signal and the local cell phone network. When you log onto Blackline’s website and ask the location of your Snitch, the main computer sends out a message through the cell phone network for the unit to turn itself on and locate itself. The Snitch then locates itself via the GPS system built into it and then sends a message back to the main computer at Blackline via the cell phone network. Blackline’s computer then plots it on a map, which you view over the Internet. Operating the Snitch is fairly straightforward. Once you remove it from the box, your unit will need to be charged to operate. This is done by plugging it into a wall outlet for about six hours. This has to be done near a window so the Snitch can locate the satellite and communicate with the cell phone system. Once the unit is charged, it’s just a matter of turning it on and placing it in the vehicle of your choice. Unlike other GPS mapping systems that need a clear sightline to the sky, the Snitch does not. You can put the unit in a glove box, trunk or in your pocket. To track the Snitch, you must go to the company’s website and log on with a password and username. Then you go to the tracking page where you can find a big map and start tracking. I tested the Snitch by putting it in the glove

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DRIVER MAGAZINE


u ‘Bo Duke’ is still driving a Dodge Charger –along

with other makes

By David Francisco

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ost car enthusiasts of a certain age will likely remember those bright orange Dodge Chargers from the action-packed Dukes of Hazard TV series that ran from 1979 to 1985. The Friday night series on CBS was about the rubber burnin’, dust raisin’, car jumpin’, moonshine totin’ ‘Dukes’ of Hazard County. The mechanical star of the show was General Lee, the nickname given to the supped-up, wheel-spinning 1969 Charger. There were three versions of the General Lee, all mixed and matched to look like the 1969 model. All were painted orange and aptly numbered 01, 02 and 03. The name refers to the American Civil War confederate General Lee. The car had a Confederate battle flag painted on the roof, and a custom air horn that played the first notes of the American song ‘Dixie’. General Lee and the Dukes were known on the show with the CB handle ‘Lost Sheep’. The cars, as beautiful as they were, actually became quite rare during the show because the producers went through so many of them. It became so costly that Warner Brothers actually built their own garage and hired their own body man to do the work for the show. More than 300 cars were used in the episodes. The cars usually had a roll bar installed, the side windows down and the doors welded shut. But there was more to the show than the General Lee. The main actors were Tom Wopat who played Luke Duke, Catherine Bach who was cousin Daisy Duke, and John Schneider who was Bo Duke.

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DRIVER MAGAZINE

The Driver caught up with Schneider recently at the Motion Custom Car Show at the CNE in Toronto. Born John Richard Schneider on April 8, 1960, in Mount Kisko, New York, and now living in Windsor, Ontario, he was the blond heartthrob on the TV show. At the car show, Schneider - an ex-stock car test driver - showed he can still draw ‘em in. People lined up for about 45 minutes to have a picture taken with him. Many parents had their sons with them and received autographed pictures. One ‘Duke’ fan had taken the front spoiler off her new Dodge Charger, brought it in to the show and had Schneider sign it for a later clearcoating. The Driver asked Schneider what he’s driving these days. The answer? Well, it depends what mood he’s in. He’s got a few vehicles – a couple of Dodge’s, of course, as well as a ‘97 Ford Expedition. “It’s the real workhorse of the whole group,” he said with a little smile and a quick look around. “It’s a two-wheel drive ‘97 Ford Expedition. It won’t quit.” He works the truck hard and it’s still tickin’. When he’s in the mood for driving something a little bit more up to date, a 2006 Cumminspowered Dodge Ram Dually is his choice. To get somewhere a little faster, though, Schneider uses his 2008 Dodge Charger RT model. Only this time, he isn’t being chased by Sheriff Rosco.


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“I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE’S OLD ENOUGH TO DRIVE!”

It seems like only yesterday she was playing with her dolls.

Now she’s old enough to drive! I know she has a lot to learn even if she thinks she doesn’t. That’s why I have enrolled my daughter in Young Drivers of Canada. With the proven

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Prepare for the road ahead. For more details or to enroll online, please visit www.yd.com MTO APPROVED BEGINNER DRIVER EDUCATION COURSE PROVIDER

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The Driver - July/August 2009