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lou's garage

My girlfriend and I are coming up on the sombre one-year anniversary of the loss of our home builder/contractor to a motorcycle accident. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with motorcycles my whole life. However, his passing has likely forced the motorcycle rider in me to ride off into the sunset permanently. His untimely death hit us both hard and has left us in a financial crisis as he passed away while rebuilding our home and without a will nor any kind of succession plan for his business. This lack of estate planning has left a young family in hardship as well as several clients like us picking up the pieces, unable to retrieve our funds without costly legal action. More on this in the future, but back to motorcycles for now.

If this event wasn’t enough to demoralize any possible enjoyment derived from being on a motorcycle, being associated with the current crop of aggressive riders would. The constant wheelies, disruptive lane splitting and passing on shoulders negatively affects the way most motorists regard everyone on two wheels. Lane splitting is the act of passing traffic by driving between vehicles on the white lines and I blame the recent trend as the turning point when things took a detour for the worse.

While it is widely regarded as being illegal, the laws in most of the country aren’t clear, which appears to many riders to be a permission slip.

Lane splitting advocates site multiple benefits to support this habit, such as that they are less likely to be rear ended and that it reduces traffic congestion. But all I see is a driving style that encourages aggressive weaving in and out of traffic. Lane splitting has changed over the last several years from an innocent enough 5-10-kilometre-per-hour squeeze-by at a set of downtown traffic lights, to 140-kilometer-per-hour rockets coming out of nowhere, startling motorists as they narrowly pass in between vehicles on major highways.

Add to this an increase in illegal off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles as sometimes seen in large groups on our roads, and we have a significant problem developing. In New York last month, authorities crushed almost 100 illegal dirt bikes, ATVs and motorcycles seized from city streets. The mayor oversaw the event amid a crackdown on those types of vehicles for their drivers revving engines, speeding, riding on sidewalks and performing wheelies.

Provinces and territories need clear-cut laws before authorities resort to crushing motorcycles. I know the majority of riders are courteous and law abiding, but it seems a few bad apples are growing into a bushel.


Your automotive questions answered

Is there a special oil to spray under a car to help rusting? – Shirley H.

Rust proofing and undercoating perform the same job of protecting against corrosion but in slightly different ways. Rust proofing spray is generally a wax/oil mix that gets into the hard-to-reach places like the insides of doors, fenders and tailgates. While you can spray the underside of your vehicle with it, it will be washed away because of its thinner, non-hardening nature. Undercoating is typically a wax or rubber-based composite that is applied underneath the car only. While it doesn’t completely harden, it does provide a more durable layer that sticks to the bottom of your vehicle.

Both can be applied any time of year, but fall is usually when drivers start thinking about rust prevention. Both rust proofing and undercoating will have to be touched up from time to time depending on the products used.


Can you recommend the best way to remove pine sap from the car surface? I have tried a bug and tar foam from Canadian Tire without success. Thanks – Dan

I have had success with simple white vinegar in a spray bottle. I have also been told that the time tested WD-40 can also be used with reasonable success. Apply either directly to the dried sap and let stand for five minutes. Then use a cloth soaked in hot water to further soften the sap.

Trying to get the sap off all in a single short period never works. The key to removing the really hardened sap is to keep repeating the process, slowly making headway in small increments.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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