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lou's garage

To all the riders pulling wheelies, flying in between cars on the highway and generally driving with zero respect for others, please stop.Ion Barbu/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

I’ve had an on-and-off-again love affair with motorcycles my entire life. My first bike was a 1975 Honda CB550 that I resurrected from the junk pile as an 18-year-old. It was my first time successfully taking something unusable and repairing it to become functional, and my mother still reminds me at every family get-together that it was a turning point – up until that project, I was a disaster, taking everything apart trying to figure out how it worked, but unable to get it back together. See mom, I’ve come a long way.

That first Honda and I were inseparable. It represented freedom and I pushed the season every year, riding until almost Christmas or the first snowfall. Eventually, I moved on to other motorcycles, but had one too many close calls on the road and retired from street riding in my late 20′s.

But the motorcycle bug caught up with me again in the prime of my mid-life crisis 40′s. At the time, I decided that a BMW F800R was the ideal machine to reintroduce myself to the two-wheeled world. Somewhere in between a sport bike and a cruiser, it was a refined machine that was also gentle on my back. Again, I rode for several years but eventually came to realization that I had too many toys and a motorcycle provided the least convenience for transporting kids and groceries. I decided to sell it.

Sadly, I was recently reminded of the mishaps that can come with riding a motorcycle. As some of you may remember, my girlfriend and I are completely rebuilding our home. Our project is currently stuck in limbo with only a bare shell, with neither a roof or second storey. You see, the contractor that we hired was involved in a motorcycle accident at the end of July and perished at the scene. Unfortunately, a young teenage driver in a SUV exited a gas station and either didn’t see him or misjudged their speed. While the teen was not hurt, I’m sure they are now scarred for life. It’s an incredibly sad story that has a left a 3-year-old son without a father. We had a genuine fondness for our contractor and were devastated when we heard the news.

What remains is a business that has been crippled because there was no succession plan in place. Our home rebuild is also caught up in this, stranded as we try to deal with lawyers and insurance companies to recoup our funds. This unfortunate event has also made me realize that my own succession plan is not strong enough and would currently greatly burden my partner should I pass unexpectedly.

From my own years on two wheels, I have learned that being a defensive rider is the best way to increase one’s chances of mitigating disasters. Our contractor was a new rider. Perhaps a few more years of seat time may have given him an edge – that sixth sense that most experienced riders develop. But then again, maybe not.

To all the riders pulling wheelies, flying in between cars on the highway and generally driving with zero respect for others, please stop. Life is priceless and gone in a moment. To rest of us: Give every motorcycle a second look. You may just save a life.


Your automotive questions, answered

I have driven my car for about 48.000 km and when last serviced it was suggested to have the engine decarbonized.

The car drives well. Gas consumption is normal, and I wonder if at this low mileage the suggestion to decarbonize the engine might just be an up sell.

Thanks, Walter

The answer to that question depends on what kind of car of you are driving. Most contemporary vehicles feature direct injection engines which means that the fuel injector has been moved out of the intake manifold as in older fuel injected engines and now resides in the cylinder head. The moving of the fuel injector is significant due to the fact that in newer direct injected engines there is no washing of the intake valve as observed in fuel injected vehicles.

So yes, engine decarbonization does play a role in regular maintenance for most direct injected engines.

Results vary by manufacturer, 48,000 kilometres may or may not be early. Some manufacturers have little problems with their engines carboning up, whiles others require this service to be completed more often. You will have to do a little bit of research on your model to determine when most other owners are completing this service, but I would say no later than 80,000 kilometres is a decent interval for a decarbonization in my opinion.


I have a 2020 Kia Forte 4 door sedan EX. Previous car was 2012 Ford Focus SE. I have used 195/65R15 winter tires and steel rims for the Focus. I plan to buy new winter tires (same size) for Forte and reuse the rims as possible. Are the current steel rims reusable? I brought 1 winter wheel (tire and rim) to a Kia dealer to check if fit and they said no. (Maybe they want to sell me a tire n rim package.) Please advise. Thank you

Isabella L

I have checked the tire size for the Kia and while the tire circumference may be similar between the two tires, the wheel bolt pattern is not. The Ford Focus use a 5-bolt pattern, with a bolt circle of 108mm. Your new Kia also has a 5-bolt pattern, however the bolt circle is 114.3 mm. The dealer is correct, the wheels from the Ford will not fit onto the Kia.

Unless you had just recently purchased a new set of winter tires prior to retiring your Ford and are steadfast on reusing them, I would advise to sell the old stuff and start over.

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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