Tips

4 Tips for Driving in Fog

Those of us in Toronto and the GTA woke up this morning to a thick layer of fog. After torrential downpours and snowstorms, fog is our least favourite condition to drive in, but according to DriversEd, it may actually be the most dangerous. Depending on its thickness, fog can severely impact road visibility, causing cars to drift across lanes or not see cars stopped ahead. Keep these next quick tips in mind when you're driving to and from work on foggy days like today. Use Fog Lights

Some cars have lights specifically built to help you see in fog. It may sound obvious to use to fog lights to drive in fog, but many drivers don't even know about this option. If you have them, use them. If you don't, follow the next tip.

Use Low-Beams

If your car doesn't have fog lights, DO NOT use your high-beams, which can actually worsen your visibility. High beams will reflect off the fog, causing the light to reflect into your eyes and the fog to become more visible instead of the road. Again, it may seem obvious, but Instead, put on your low beams which will allow you to see the road, but the less intense light won't highlight the fog and nearly blind you.

Use the Line on the Right Side of the Road as a Guide

It's way easier to spot the bright yellow lines in the middle of the road in poor weather than it is to spot the white lines to your right. One of the first things you learn when you start driving, however, is that your driving follows your eyes. In other words, wherever you look, your car will start to drift that way. It's much safer to drift to the shoulder of the road than it is to drift into the centre of the road towards oncoming traffic.

 Slow Down and Be Aware of Your Surroundings

We know. At the end of the day you want to get home as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the most important thing to keep in mind when you're driving on a foggy day, is to slow down and be aware of your surroundings. Often, we zone out when we drive because it becomes second nature to us. We stop being aware of how fast we're going and of the other cars around us (a huge factor in most collisions). On foggy days, it's especially important to be aware. As we mentioned in the previous tip, the centre line may be easier to see in the fog, but you always drift where you're looking. And so do oncoming drivers. Keep an eye on the cars around you in case you notice one of them starting to drift toward you, so that you can react accordingly.

 

Fog is the least ideal climate to drive in (in our opinion), but if you keep these four tips in mind, you'll get home slowly but surely (and safely).

Feb 15, 2017 - 4 Belated Valentine's Day Gifts That Won't Make it Look Like You Forgot Valentine's Day

Is it just us or is 2017 flying by? Valentine's Day has already come and gone, and while many of you probably celebrated with your significant other this past weekend, it's completely understandable that you may have forgotten the holiday altogether (what, with it being on a Tuesday and all). On the plus side: if Valentine's Day DID slip your mind last weekend, you can just blame it on the inconvenient mid-week date it fell on this year. We're big fans of buying loved ones experiences, not more stuff. It's so much more personal to share a crazy experience with someone you care about than to give them something they, in all honesty, will probably never use. We've made a list of great last-minute gift-experiences that will make your s/o believe your plan was to celebrate after the fact this entire time!

CN Tower Edge Walk 

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It's like a trust-fall for adrenaline junkies and the best gift for the adventurous couple. What better way to bond with your significant other than by hanging 1,168ft above the ground together. Really though, numerous proposals and even weddings have happened on the Edge Walk. There must be something about the adrenaline rush you get when you're hanging over the edge of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with nothing but a thick string keeping you from falling to your death that makes you think how romantic.

Niagara-on-the-Lake 

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If you're looking for a scenic, relaxing Valentine's weekend, consider heading to Niagara-on-the-Lake; with the heavy snowfall we had last week, you might even get lucky enough to find yourselves in the midst of a winter wonderland. Stay in a charming, vintage-inspired hotel like the Prince Charles of Wales, and spend the weekend relaxing and reconnecting. Check out events like Days of Wine & Chocolate, sign up for the Winter Wonderland Food Tour, or, you know, do what most people do when they visit Niagara-on-the-Lake: drink wine.

Sign up for a Cooking Class

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The Chef Upstairs offers both group and private cooking classes in Toronto. For the more social couple, why not sign up for one of their fixed-menu group classes. If you're more keen on staying in (as so many of us are in the winter months), you can sign up for a private dining experience in your own home. The Chef Upstairs offers interactive cooking classes for those who like to be a part of the experience, or if you don't trust your cooking abilities, the chef will prepare a meal for you and your S/O, and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and have a glass of wine.

Bruce Peninsula

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It was the must-see day trip destination for Torontonians and the GTA this past summer for its crystal blue water and dramatic cliffs. You probably won't get a tan while you're there in February, but the Bruce Peninsula is no less stunning in the winter. If you and your S/O are big on traveling but also can't just pack up and head to Paris or London for a Valentine's getaway, consider making the ~4 hour drive up to Tobermory for a couple days. Cottage rentals are available, or if you love nature as much as you love each other, just sleep outside.

Nov 9, 2016 - Is Premium Gas Worth the Extra Cost?

We're conditioned to react more favourably to terms like premium and exclusive, as though these words dictate the true quality of a product or service. We will happily pay a higher price tag thinking we're getting a better value for them. After all, higher price equals higher quality, right? When it comes to gas, our biggest decision is whether to use regular (cheaper) gas or premium (more expensive) gas. When we choose premium, we feel like we're doing better for our vehicle, whereas when we "settle" for the cheaper option, we can have the false impression that we're hurting it. AAA recently published an article announcing that in 2016, Americans wasted $2.1 billion on premium gas for vehicles that really don't need premium gas.

We get it, a car is one of the largest purchases you'll make in your life, so why not treat it well in order to lengthen its life. But what exactly is the difference between regular and premium gas, and is the extra 15-20 cents worth the upgrade?

Premium gas is more expensive because it has an octane level of about 92-93, as opposed to regular gas, which has an octane level of 87.

What does that mean?

Octane levels are designated with your car engine's compression ratio in mind. That is, the ratio of the volume of your car's combustion chamber from its largest capacity to its smallest capacity.screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-2-03-36-pm

When your car requires the use of a premium gas, the lower octane levels in regular fuel can increase your car's exhaust-gas temperatures and can sometimes lead to knocking (that sound you hear when the fuel and air mixture in your car's cylinder doesn't start correctly, and a pocket of the mixture explodes outside of the normal combustion front).

If your car requires premium gas, these two symptoms can have adverse effects on your car in the long run. If your car does not specify that it requires premium gas, that means the lower octane levels of regular gas will not cause the increased exhaust-gas temperatures that can lead to knocking.

Premium gas does help your car's performance, however it will only improve its ability to accelerate from 0-100km/h about half a second more quickly than with regular gas.

Although premium gas doesn't really benefit your car if it doesn't require the higher octane levels, it also won't harm it. What it comes down to is whether saving those extra 15-20 cents every time you fill up your tank is important to you.

If you'd like to see if your 2016-2017 vehicle requires premium gas, check out the list on BestRide.com.

May 17, 2016 - Long Weekend Staycations Within 2 Hours of the City

(Featured image via BlogTO) Mother Nature hasn't been overly consistent these past couple weeks. Between the pellets of snow last weekend to alternating sunshine and thunderstorms, it's been hard to plan our daily outfits and activities, let alone the long weekend's. Luckily though, it seems like the weather is finally settling down and harmonizing itself, and this weekend is supposed to be sunny and hot (we might even hit a high of 26 on Monday)!

As a proper welcome to the much-awaited spring weather, we've compiled a short list of long-weekend staycation trips, within a couple hours from the city, that you can take with your family, friends, or significant others (or, if preferred, by yourself)!

Healing Salt Cave Niagara Falls, ON

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Yes, it's ironic that on our first warm, sunny weekend, we're suggesting you hide yourself away in a cave, but the Healing Salt Caves in Niagara Falls will leave you feeling so refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the summer! We see it as a sort of spring cleaning for your body - the salt caves have infinite health benefits for respiratory, cardiovascular, and dermatological conditions. And really, considering you'll start seeing results and have an easier time breathing after only 20 minutes, you'll still have the rest of the long weekend to spend exploring Niagara Falls (and maybe take a wine tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake) .

Pillar and Post Niagara-on-the-Lake

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Speaking of Niagara-on-the-Lake, if you do choose to visit one of their many vineyards, we will obviously not advocate drinking and driving back to Niagara Falls, so why not stay at Pillar and Post, an eclectic and incredibly aesthetically appealing inn. The decor is reminiscent of a very fashionable grandmother, and the skylight in the main lobby would be especially scintillating on a sunny weekend like this one. The inn also offers spa treatments and other [indoor and outdoor] activities!

Classroom Suites Picton, Ontario (Prince Edward County)

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The long weekend is the perfect time to visit Prince Edward County. Located a little bit over two hours from the city (sorry, our title lied!), you'll need the full three days to really enjoy everything Picton has to offer. The classroom suites are located about 15 minutes from the Sandbanks Provincial Park, so you can spend the day relaxing on the beach, or get active with a hike through the park. Bursting with vineyards (and the occasional brewery), what better way to spend the first weekend of 20-something degree weather with a wine tasting. For a more laid-back afternoon, wander around the Picton area and stop by and support small businesses like the Ungallery or the Black River Cheese Company (to go with all that wine).

Power Yoga Canada Muskoka 

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Consistently appearing on Best Trip lists, and with over 100,000 seasonal homeowners each year, Muskoka is the epitome of summer-getaways in Ontario. If you want to really immerse yourself in nature this weekend, get your zen on with Power Yoga Canada . Not only is a retreat a great opportunity to finally spend some much needed outdoors time (after our never-ending run of winter and miserable weather), it will send you back to work on Tuesday feeling relaxed and ready to face that pile of work you left on your desk when you bolted out the door on Friday!

May 3, 2016 - Electric vs. Gas Cars

After the unveiling of the Tesla Model 3, the flood of pre-orders both shocked Elon Musk and gave the automotive industry an early insight into the future of electric cars. That is, the potential that electric cars may become much more mainstream in the near future than they ever have been in the past. Despite having been in production for nearly two decades, the Toyota Prius hasn't received anywhere near the attention that the Tesla Model 3 has been getting before it's even begun production. With the prediction that electric cars will become mainstream in the next few years, it might be worth considering switching from a gas vehicle to an electric one. The biggest selling feature of electric and hybrid cars is their lower impact they have on the environment, but "better options" are known for costing significantly more than their "less good" counterparts (healthy vs fast food, solar power vs electric energy).

We decided to do an in-depth comparison of two similar cars to determine whether it makes more sense to go electric or stick with your gas car.

FUEL ECONOMY - Obviously there is no cost of gas with electric cars, though there is the cost of the battery, which needs to be replaced, on average, every 10 or so years. Batteries for electric cars have 8 year manufacture warranties. The cost of a new one is about 1/3 of the cost of the car (approximately $11,666, in the case of the Model 3), but prices are expected to drop significantly by 2020. A mid-sized gas car would cost the driver just over $2,000 in gas per year, if it's driven a distance of 20,000km annually.

An electric car like the Nissan Leaf can drive about 150-200 km on one charge (and some charging units can get your car up to an 80% charge in 20-30 minutes), whereas the Nissan Maxima's 18 gallon fuel tank can get you close to 500 miles (or 800km).

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COST - An electric car can cost anywhere from 23,000 to over $100k, obviously depending on its make. The 2016 Nissan Leaf would cost you $32,698+ whereas the 2016 Nissan Maxima starts at 35,900.The Tesla Model 3 sedan will be manufactured to be sold at a base price of $35,000. If you're looking to go cheaper, a bare-minimum electric car would cost you $22,295 for a 2015 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, whereas a lower priced gas car, like a Fiat, would only cost you about $15,000. Another downside to electric cars, if you're looking to save some money,  is the fact that because they are much newer than gas cars, it's much harder to find an older, used model at a lower price. If you're a young, first-time car buyer trying to save some money, an electric car might not be your most economically-conscious option.

SAFETY - Due to a few electric car fires, people have been hesitant to make the switch, thinking gas cars are safer. What we fail to report on however, are the nearly 200,000 gas car fires each year that occur in the U.S alone. Though there isn't enough data to conclude that electric cars are safer than gas ones, the chance of an electric car fire is actually significantly lower than that of a gas car fire.

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ENVIRONMENT - A mid-sized gas car emits approximately 18,603 kg of greenhouse gases over 5 years, whereas an electric car only emits about 1,930 kg from the production of electricity to power the car.

BONUS - You can actually receive a tax credit of up to $13,000 when you lease or buy an electric car.

To sum up, both vehicles have their pros and cons, and the decision between the two depends primarily on your use for the car. Electric cars produce significantly fewer greenhouse gases, have thus far proven to be safer than gas cars (in terms of fires), and are accompanied by a tax rebate. Gas cars, on the other hand, are more cost-effective, and are much more efficient for long trips.

Mar 15, 2016 - Spring Clean Your Car

Spring is welcomed with chirping birds, longer, sunnier days, and freshly blooming flowers - don't overshadow the beauty of the season by surfacing your dirty, salt stained car from the throes of winter. Most people use spring as an excuse to reinvent themselves, to organize their life, and to focus on new goals and endeavours. Typically goals fall along the lines of cleaning out your closet, starting a new fitness routine to get in shape for summer, or planning some kind of new experience like travelling or signing up for a new class. We don't often think about the "spring cleaning" our cars require. Cars take a beating over the winter, from the engine running twice as hard, to the salt stains and mounds of snow we drive through, so some TLC for your car will help it run more efficiently for all those road trips you'll be taking this summer, and will save you in maintenance costs in the long run.

EXTERIOR

tiresChange tires. It goes without saying that winter tires are for the winter and summer tires are for the summer, but often drivers put off changing their tires or just don't bother changing them at all. After all, if winter tires can handle driving on ice and snow all winter, they can surely handle driving in the summer. Unfortunately, this mentality will ultimately cost you more, as winter tires aren't meant to be driven in the extreme heat of summer. The humidity can melt the rubber and cause your snow tires to be damaged and unusable in the future.

stone chipsWash & Wax your car to get rid of all the dirty snow and salt stains, making sure to get right inside the wheel walls. While you're washing, make sure to look carefully for any stone chips that need to be touched up. You may not want to spend the money to fix up any marks on your car, but ignoring stone chips can lead to rusting, which will become much more expensive to repair in the future. It's important to deal with chips as soon as you notice them.

INTERIORcar interiorClean Inside

After months of dragging dirty boots in and out of your car, and most likely spilling coffee or hot chocolate in the console once or twice, the inside of your car probably looks as dirty as the roads you were driving on. To clean the mats, first vacuum off any stones and loose dirt, then use a hose or pressure washer to scrub away the stains. To get salt stains off pedals and any leather parts, mix 2 parts water with 1 part vinegar and wipe them down with a cloth.

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Spring Tune Up

If time isn't on your side, why not opt to have a professional wash, wax, and clean your car, and have them service it while they're at it? As we mentioned, running a car in below freezing weather all winter can take a toll on the engine. It isn't necessary to tune up your car at the beginning of spring, but it's always a good idea to do everything at once for the sake of having peace of mind that your vehicle is as clean and efficient on the inside as it is on the outside.

Feb 09, 2016 - Valentine's Day Gifts for the Car Lover

As the most romantic day of the year approaches, most of you are probably frantically looking for the perfect gift to give your significant other. Sure, chocolate and flowers are nice, but what's more romantic than showing someone how well you really know them by getting them something they'll actually use. We've compiled a list of 8 great Valentine's Day gifts that your car loving boyfriend or girlfriend will love (and will last longer than a day). Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 11.11.45 AM

1. Shift Knob $30-100 - If he or she drives a manual car, a fun shift knob is an easy and practical way to decorate the inside of their car. Whatever their hobbies, you can find tons of different designs suited to their interests, like this Poké Ball shift knob that we found on Etsy.

2. Sports car lego set $100-200 - If your significant other is a child at heart, why not get them a lego set to build their favourite sports car. Tell them you got them a Ferrari and see how excited they get - after all, isn't a lego Ferrari the next best thing to owning an actual Ferrari?

3. Senna F1 documentary $10 - The Senna documentary, which documents World Champion Formula 1 racer, Ayrton Senna's life until his death at age 34, is a great add-on if you've already gotten a gift, but want to throw in a little something extra.

4. Grand Prix Tickets $33-400 - If you're looking for an excuse to plan a weekend away, consider the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal. Not only are tickets reasonably priced, but even if you aren't into F1, you'll still look like the greatest partner ever and you'll get to spend a few days exploring Montreal.

5. Cayuga racing pack $400-1,100 - Toronto Motorsports Park's racing packs can be a bit pricey, but the cost is totally worth it for a car fanatic. Until the 14th, they're even offering Valentine's Day specials, so if you have a higher budget and are still on the hunt for a gift, a Cayuga racing pack won't make you look like you forgot.

6. License plate frame $20-30 - A license plate frame is a great option when you don't want to spend too much money. Get one with a funny saying or check out their favourite sports team's memorabilia website and get double brownie points for knowing that they love cars and what their favourite team is.

7. Toronto International Auto Show tickets $23 - The Auto Show runs from February 12th until the 21st and is a great reasonably-priced gift option (or Valentine's Day date idea, if you're both car fans). While you're in the area, you might as well make it a Toronto Tourist day and also check out Ripley's Aquarium of Canada or the CN Tower.

8. Dash Cam $100+ - A dash cam is a great gift idea for the boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife who is into drifting or racing and wants to get footage of their races. You can get a basic camera for $100 if it's just a part-time hobby or go up to $500 for more professional quality.

Jan 26, 2016 - Why You Need Snow Tires (even when there's no snow!)

You'd think that living in Canada with our unpredictable weather and abundance of snow, every driver would want to invest in good quality snow tires for the sake of their safety. To our surprise though, many of our friends and customers this year have admitted that in order to save some money (and in some cases, out of pure laziness), they chose to opt out of snow tires because of the mild winter we've been having. Actually, in 2014, approximately 44% of Ontarians chose not to use snow tires! The biggest misconception people seem to have in regards to snow tires is that their only purpose is to help you drive better in snow, when in reality, snow tires are beneficial for various other, and in some cases more important reasons. If their ability to prevent you from slipping around on the snowy/icy roads isn't reason enough to convince you to put on snow tires every winter, here are a few others that might:

Save money. As of January 1, 2016, insurance companies are required to offer some kind of discount to drivers in Ontario who put snow tires on their car. Our government recently introduced this new policy in an effort to encourage safe driving in the winter months. Granted, it isn't a huge break, (it might be anywhere from $20-$100, or about 5% of your policy) depending on your insurance company), but it's a nice added benefit to ensuring your own safety on the road.

It's not just about snow. Many drivers, especially this winter, think I don't need to get snow tires until there's actually snow on the ground. In reality though, while the grip of snow tires on ice and in snow is the most noticeable benefit to them, the biggest difference between summer and snow tires is their ability to stay soft and flexible in below freezing temperatures. As the temperature drops, summer tires can become stiff and inflexible, which may lead to cracking and a lower lifespan. Ultimately, not changing your tires can lead to you spending more money by having to replacing them more frequently.

It's not you, it's them. You may be a good driver, but that doesn't mean everyone else is. Snow tires aren't only there to help you drive more smoothly in winter weather - they're also there to react as quickly as you do when other drivers lose control of their own cars. Many driving schools teach students to "drive defensively, not offensively", meaning you should adjust your driving to your surroundings and pay attention to the other drivers on the road in order to react accordingly. The same idea can be applied with winter driving - by putting snow tires on your car to protect yourself in the event that another driver loses control of their own car, instead of deliberately choosing not to because you can drive fine without them, you are assuming other drivers will be able to control their cars to avoid a collision with you; that is, you're putting your safety in the hands of the other drivers on the road.

At the end of the day, it's your choice to (or not to) equip your car with weather-appropriate tires, and we hope you keep these reasons in mind when deciding whether to invest in snow tires - after all, you can never be too safe on the road!

Jan 19, 2016 - The 4 Things You Need to do as Soon as You've Been in an Accident

The sudden influx of snow in the GTA has no doubt taken a lot of drivers by surprise. The beginning of winter generally leads to an increase in accidents from a lack of preparedness in most drivers, but this winter, thanks to El Nino, we didn't even have to worry about snow driving until mid-January. Many drivers still don't have snow tires on their cars (after all, who wants to spend hundreds of dollars on them until it's absolutely necessary?), and as a result, are having trouble keeping control of their cars on the road. While we absolutely advocate putting snow tires on your car (our next post will tell you why), no matter how careful you are, accidents are inevitable. Most of us think we know how we'd handle ourselves in the chance of a collision, but since our first big snow storm a couple weeks ago, we've realized a surprising number of customers don't know what to do in the event of a car accident.

Get photos or sketches of the accident - Photos of the accident will help not only in establishing who was at fault, but will also help you remember what happened. When it becomes a case of he-said-she-said, having photo evidence of the collision will always strengthen your case.

Get a police report - This is one step that many drivers are either unaware of, or put off doing at the time of an accident. It is essential that you report your accident and wait for the police to arrive to write up a report. One customer called us last week and admitted that because her accident happened in the middle of a snow storm, neither she nor the other driver involved had decided to file a report at the time of the accident. Understandably, the idea of waiting in the middle of a storm is less than appealing, but in order to get an accurate report of the scene, and subsequently, a much simpler process of going through your insurance, the police must be informed of the accident at the time.

Don't sign anything - Whether it's a towing or a repair authorization, don't sign anything if you aren't 100% sure. Don't even let a tow truck driver touch your car unless you're absolutely certain you need/want it towed. Often, as soon as they hook up your car, even if you change your mind, they will charge you a fee of a couple hundred dollars just to release it. If you do choose to have your truck towed, again, don't sign a repair authorization because many towing companies are associated with a specific body shop. Unless you're aware of and okay with the shop where the tow truck will drop your car off, signing anything will only add stress to an already stressful situation.

Stand your ground - Call your insurance company to report your accident, but know that ultimately, where you take your car is your decision. Sometimes insurance companies will strongly encourage you to bring your car to one of their authorized body shops, and that's okay! Keep in mind though, in the moment you may think it'll be easier not to argue and then to later request to bring it to a different shop, but it can be incredibly difficult to get your car released from the first body shop. It's always your choice, but it's important to stand your ground if you feel you're being backed into a corner by anyone, whether it be your insurance company, your car dealership, the towing company, or even a body shop.

It's hard to plan for a potential collision, and nobody ever hopes to get in one, but knowing these steps in the unfortunate chance that you do get in an accident will help you keep calm in the moment and will simplify the post-collision process.