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1956 Mercedes Gullwing at the Drive Festival in Bowmanville, Ont.

Lou Trottier/The Globe and Mail

I haven’t gotten to the point in my writing career where I receive invites to tour the world’s most famous factories like Porsche in Germany or Ferrari in Italy. I’m working on it. But writing these weekly pieces for the Globe and Mail does come with its perks, such as getting invited to exciting automotive events. Even though these events may not see me travelling the world, they do bring the best of what the automotive world has to offer to me, locally. In this case, to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont. is where the first annual Drive Festival is being held this weekend.

Four years went into the process and planning of this event, and it shows, because it is not like any Canadian car show you may have attended. Organizers Adam Ruppel and Fred Cox spent a year travelling to and from worldwide automotive events, studying and strategizing on how best to bring a Goodwood-Festival-of-Speed-like event onto Canadian soil. While visiting these shows, they realized that a static car show is fun for a few hours, but a dynamic automotive festival with cars driven at speed is an inspirational experience. Nowhere else will you get this much access to the machines and their drivers as they demonstrate what these cars do in a dynamic automotive experience.

Ever seen a multimillion-dollar Ferrari F40 being unloaded? Yeah, me neither. I imagine some event coordinator saying sure, sure just throw it over there besides the 1956 Mercedes Gullwing under the Hagerty Insurance tent. Oh, and don’t forget about the Ferrari Enzo and Pagani parked 100 meters away. Maybe we should give them a wash. All joking aside, the collection of cars that the Drive Festival team has managed to put together is nothing sort of astounding. Staring at the car of your dreams roped off or up on a podium is okay, but hearing it start up and feel the ground shake under your feet as it heads out towards the track for an at-speed run is something else. Your yearly local new car manufacturer auto show brings you all the new stuff, but if you are anything like me, you go looking for the one-offs, exotics and classic car displays. Usually, there are just a handful tucked away somewhere in the bowels of the event. Not so at Drive Festival. They are all here, front and centre. Even the cars in the visitor parking lots were special.

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One of the best parts about car shows are often the driving events available to licensed drivers. In this case, several auto manufacturers provided a 3-kilometre new car test track, an off-road track meandering through various terrains, a tire performance track and of course the classic Supercar experience.

If you’re not a car person, you may scoff at these chances to rip around on a track, but I firmly believe that car shows are still an integral part of modern Canadian automotive social networks. Deals for parts and car sales between enthusiasts are made. Young people are inspired to create their own automotive visions. Lifelong friendships are forged. The festival ends today on September 12, but regardless of whether or not you can attend Drive Festival, get out and visit that local car show in that parking lot down the street from you this weekend. You never know what you will find, or who you will meet.

Your automotive questions, answered

I have a 2010 MDX Elite with those ridiculously expensive ADS shocks that cannot be replaced with anything aftermarket and have cratered once on the front and now twice on the back. The Front shocks and first ones on the rear were done in March 2019 at the Dealer

In April 2020 it was riding like a tank again so I tried an independent garage after the Dealer couldn’t offer a solution. The Independent garage said the Strut Sensors were shot all the way around, 2 of them were seized and 2 of them were broken on the rear; they replaced them for $2K & the ride was instantly better, just like new!

Now almost a year later the rough ride is back this time just on the rear end, back to the independent garage who said consider replacing the rear shocks (now a 2nd time!) as everything else is fine. So we did that to the tune of $1600 but the ride is still harsh and I now go out of my way to miss potholes and such on the road.

I’d appreciate your comments on this issue of these ADS Shocks and Strut Sensors before I look at getting rid of it. Is there any way the Strut Sensors being broken on the rear contributed to the failure of the Rear ADS Shocks that were replaced at the Dealer for the first time in 2019?

Also, on the horizon for this MDX is another Timing Belt service and at the same time we’ll have to get the oil pump replaced as Dealer said that’s the reason it’s using oil at almost 1L per 1000 km.

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Finally, the MDX User forums suggest replacing all shocks with Base model shocks that are aftermarket but that eliminates the ADS system and then you would have to install resistors on every shock, so it won’t throw error codes because you overrode the ADS system. The independent garage said they wouldn’t do this work or recommend it.

RS in Alberta

The Active Damper System (ADS) in your MDX is a huge strike against the value on these aging MDX Elite Models. I tell all my customers looking at purchasing a used MDX of this age to avoid the Elite model.

From what I understand, depending on where an Elite owner lives in Canada, there are recalls for this ADS to combat and repair the corrosion in their applicable electrical connectors. Obviously, the issues are worse in more humid regions.

That being said, if you decide to repair your suspension again, you must be aware that you will likely do so repeatedly. Converting to the Base model suspension is an option if you can find a repair shop to perform that task. It may be hard to find one, as installing the required resistor to fool and defeat the ADS control module might be considered a modification that creates a liability issue for the shop.

What really caught my attention, however, was the statement that your engine is using 1 litre of oil per 1000km. In my opinion, this problem is at least as significant, if not more so, than your troublesome ADS. Somehow, you have been misinformed or misunderstood, as your oil consumption problem will not be fixed by replacing the oil pump. Given the age, mileage and significant issues, I think it might be time to retire this vehicle and move on to something newer.

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Hi Lou, I have a 2015 Toyota tundra regular cab with 36,000 km on it. Although the truck doesn’t have a lot of kilometres it does work hard. In the wintertime I plough snow with it (just my own large driveway), and I often use it for towing or hauling wood etc. My problem is the steering. It has become stiff and somewhat notchy and doesn’t return to centre. Could this be a front-end problem or is it a problem with the steering itself. I’ve inspected the ball joints and most of the front-end bushings etc. and everything seems fine. I love your column by the way and thanks.

Paul H Corner Brook, NL

Snow plowing activities will certainly cause accelerated wear on all front-end and steering components. It sounds to me like the problem might either be the steering rack itself, that is internally binding, or a problematic universal joint on the steering column intermediate shaft.

To diagnose this, I would separate both front outer tie rods from their respective knuckles and ensure that both knuckles pivot freely when unencumbered by the steering system. Moving on, I would go inside the cab of the truck, under the dash and detach the lower steering column from the steering rack pinion shaft. Once done, the steering lower intermediate shaft can be removed, and the steering universal joints inspected for correct range of motion.

I have plowed commercially in the past and have also done my share of smaller driveways. As opposed to a commercial plow truck that typically does a lot of straight, long runs clearing parking lots, driveways can sometimes require constant steering adjustments depending on their shape. If this is the case, my guess is that your steering rack is taking the brunt of the additional wear and now needs to be replaced.

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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