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lou's garage

A few years ago, I was preparing dinner when my girlfriend offered to pick up my daughter from her part-time job so I could continue cooking. I suspect she offered because I just got an Audi A4 convertible and it was the perfect top-down driving weather. Twenty minutes later came a call no one wants to get. Her and my daughter had just been rear-ended hard while sitting at traffic lights waiting to make a left turn.

By the time I got to the scene 15 minutes later, emergency services were already there. I was in a near panic as I was told my daughter was being treated in an ambulance. My girlfriend could not get access to her while she was being treated, which further aggravated the situation. The collision occurred right beside a ribfest; the driver of the other vehicle had just left the event. Police officers were already present directing traffic for the event when the collision occurred and thankfully responded immediately. The driver had parked his car several blocks away and walked to the event, after staying for a few hours he walked back to his Honda CR-V and set off to head home. Amid the congestion, he was driving recklessly, speeding and swerving in and out of traffic, according to witnesses. He slammed into the back of our A4 and then spun out himself eventually being stopped by the curb. That curb probably saved the lives of several young families arriving to the event. He wasn’t wearing his seat belt either and almost went through his own windshield. Police on scene immediately recognized that he was intoxicated, and he was arrested after he was treated.

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Lou Trottier's Audi A4 convertible after his girlfriend and daughter were rear-ended in it by a driver who was under the influence.The Globe and Mail

It was a traumatic event; my daughter suffered a concussion and whiplash and essentially had her school year ruined dealing with the aftermath. My girlfriend swore she was okay at that time, but her neck still bugs her four years later.

Your auto repair facility gets a small peek into your life every time you bring your car in for service. The state of your vehicle, especially the interior is telling, including unpleasant odours. While I rarely see beer bottles in back seat like I did 30 years ago, I am amazed at how often a car that comes into the shop smells of cannabis. Now that cannabis use has been legalized it seems more common, then again maybe I’m just paying attention now.

One in four (26 per cent) cannabis users say they have operated a vehicle while under the influence, according to a survey conducted by Public Safety Canada. Almost one in three (30 per cent) say they have ridden in a vehicle operated by a driver who was under the effects of cannabis.

“Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada, and drug-impaired driving detected by law enforcement is increasing,” states a Government of Canada website. “The percentage of Canadian drivers killed in vehicle crashes who test positive for drugs now exceeds the numbers who test positive for alcohol.”

Whether it be cannabis or alcohol I just don’t get it. Ordering a ride-sharing service can be done so easily and in a moments time on your phone. There is just no excuse anymore.

Your automotive questions answered

Hi Lou,

I recently bought a 2018 Mazda 3. I didn’t realize this was just one year away from having Android Auto included. I’ve found online that there is a DIY option to install it with an updated board. Would you recommend this or just go to a local Mazda dealership to have it installed?

Thanks, Micheal K.

The aftermarket units are reasonably within grasp as a DIY install once the radio is out. Unfortunately, the most difficult part will be getting the factory radio out of the dashboard. While it may not be technically challenging, it will require a lot of patience to not scratch or damage the consoles, glove box and surrounding dashboard pieces.

Assuming your unit has Mazda Connect, which I do believe it does, Mazda should be able to provide you with an approved upgrade. I suspect however that you are inquiring here because the aftermarket units I see on the Internet are likely a quarter the price of the Mazda original unit.

If it were my car, I would likely go with the cheaper aftermarket unit only because my labour is free. If you can install it yourself, go that route. If you can’t, then try calling around to local aftermarket radio providers and ask them if they have a solution to install their own aftermarket unit. I suspect that once they add their labour, the price will start to approach the dealer-installed option.

Hello, I have a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited and a 1998 Toyota Camry XLE. I bought the Jeep new and the Camry belonged to my mother. They are both six-cylinder engines and have been mechanically sound until now and have had the maintenance done. The Jeep has 219,000 kilometres on it and the Camry has 229,000. The Jeep has been highway driven the whole time I have owned it as I commuted to Sparwood B.C. for my work. Both vehicles have winter tires. We want to purchase a new car next year and give one of those vehicles to our daughter. Which vehicle do you think would serve her best?

Thanks, Paul D. - Calgary

As much as I loved that generation of unstoppable Camry’s, it’s just too old now. The Jeep has far more safety and drivability features and I believe is the better long-term choice. Plus, I can only assume that no young person wants to be seen in what they consider to be an ancient Toyota Camry.

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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