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Years ago, I picked up a few sheets of plywood at the hardware store and threw them in the back of my pickup truck. With a truck box only 5.5 feet long, the tailgate had to be down to allow for the eight-foot sheets to fit, so I secured the load with a ratchet strap. Like many a hot-blooded, always-in-a-rush man, I assumed it was secured properly and headed home, which was only a few minutes away.

Accelerating gently from a traffic light, I felt something shift in the back. In what felt like slow motion, I watched in my rear-view mirror as my cargo slid backwards. My attempts to slam on the brakes and use the stopping force to slide it back in place were unsuccessful. The whole load dropped on the ground behind me. Fortunately, traffic was not heavy, and no vehicle was close enough to be impacted by my stupidity. A nice police officer who witnessed the whole fiasco from a short distance away came to my aid. He was very polite as he helped me reload my truck, and then he wrote me a sizeable ticket.

No longer do I only fasten a couple of tie-downs and head out hastily because home is only a few minutes away. That time, my lesson came only at the expense of my pocketbook, and, thankfully, no one else had to suffer. Since then, I have become keenly aware of unsecured loads and vehicles towing trailers that are obviously far heavier than the vehicle can handle. I’ve seen everything from a Honda Civic towing what looked like a 16-foot bowrider boat to a Hyundai Veracruz with an aerodynamic mattress floating above, loosely strapped to the vehicle’s roof racks. Large transport and dump trucks are not the only ones dropping their loads.

Lou Trottier spotted this mattress barely hanging on to the roof racks of a Hyundai Veracruz in Toronto.Lou Trottier/The Globe and Mail

In my own embarrassing incident, I assumed that because I wasn’t going to be on the highway, I could get away with just a quick tie-down. Unfortunately, the tie-down points on my pickup truck were not low enough for the strap to bite aggressively enough to keep the load from slipping underneath it. In hindsight, I should have placed an object such as a two-by-four or something similar, width-wise, underneath to lift my sheet products up and let the strap do its job.

When strapping down your load, make sure you anticipate heavy winds and potholes that will inevitably cause it to shift. Always employ more straps, nets and tethers than you think you need, regardless of the distance you are traveling. Ask yourself if you would want to be driving behind your vehicle. If you can’t convince yourself it’s right, then leave some items behind for a second trip.

Lastly, when towing, know what your vehicle can handle and be realistic about the trailer weight. Thankfully, in the above-mentioned Honda Civic incident I witnessed, a police officer had the Honda pulled over, and a tow truck was on also on site.

Your automotive questions, answered


Our new gas station in town has pumps with a 93 octane rating. My 2014 VW Eos has been getting 91 octane (as recommended by VW) for years. Performance and mileage has been fine. Would the car benefit from the higher 93-grade fuel, or would I be wasting money? I enjoy your column.

Best regards,

Peter H

Hanover, Ont.

Thank you, Peter. The octane rating represents the anti-knock index (AKI) numerical value, which is the measurement of a gasoline’s resistance to pre-ignition. Before the days of modern engine-management systems, engines would rattle, ping or knock from fuel pre-ignition. A contemporary knock sensor detects when an engine is pre-igniting its fuel and slows the ignition timing accordingly to minimize this pre-ignition. In your case, the knock sensor typically only comes into play when incorrect, non-premium fuel is used accidently. The quality of the fuel is not in question, only satisfying the AKI fuel specification of the manufacturer so that the knock sensor doesn’t detect any rattle, ping or knock.

Your Eos specifies 91 octane, meaning anything 91 or above will satisfy those requirements. Filling your tank with 93 adds no benefit. It will most certainly not hurt, but from a performance, mileage and longevity perspective, you are, indeed, wasting your money.

I own a 2015 Kia Soul with 64,000 km and have no problems with it. What do you think about using the Kia Motors Fuel Injector Cleaner even though I don’t notice anything wrong with the injection system?

If I were to use it, what is the best way: a) in a day or two during a long trip? or b) during normal use where it takes me about two weeks before having the fill up the tank?

Many thanks,

Gilles B

As a consumer, knowing what product is truly beneficial and which one is a “wallet flush” chemical is next to impossible. If the product you are putting in your gas tank or oil is produced by a non-OEM third party, then I will assume that it is not endorsed by the manufacturer and is essentially useless. Keep in mind that you are getting a variety of fuel additives every time you fill up at the gas pump.

The alternative argument is that this chemical you are referring to is actually endorsed by Kia given that they labelled and bottled it as a Kia original product. Since your Soul features a gasoline direct-injection (GDI) engine that is known to suffer from premature carbon build-up, this chemical is their attempt to help minimize it. So the answer in your case, Gilles, is that it can’t hurt. The impact felt by a single bottle of injector cleaner will be minimal at best, regardless of which way you introduce it to the system, so either way is just fine.

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

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