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I have received a fair amount of feedback regarding my recent winter tire pieces and in particular, why I omitted all-weather tires from my discussion. For the record, I didn’t neglect discussing all-weather tires, I just wanted to dedicate a full write-up on the subject.

All-weather tires are a great option for some, but not everyone. If they were as good as your all-weather tire vendor wanted you to believe, then there would be no need for all-season or winter tires.

All-weather tires are relatively new and have had growing pains along the way, with premature tread wear and significant road noise being a couple of common complaints. Thankfully, now that major tire companies are interested in getting into the market, we are seeing significant improvements in tread life and driveability.

The criteria I use when recommending any tire to a customer is structured around their driving style and the number of kilometres they drive per year. I place drivers into two categories. The first are those who couldn’t care less about the driving experience and see their car as just a tool to get them from point A to B. The second are those who actually enjoy driving. If you are in the first group, you probably won’t notice any driveability difference between all-season and all-weather tires. Tire-tread longevity may be an issue for you if you drive a lot of kilometres per year, but otherwise, you are an ideal candidate for all-weather tires.

Are you the kind of person whose vehicle sits all week long because you live in a downtown core and use public transit for work? Maybe you’re a retired individual who drives very little, rarely venturing out on snow-covered roads? You may also find an all-weather tire works for you.

People in the second group may not be enthralled with the compromise an all-weather tire supplies. While an all-weather tire will provide adequate winter traction, it certainly isn’t as good as a dedicated winter tire. The same goes for summer performance. If you enjoy brisk country backroad drives in your sports car or high-end sedan, you likely won’t find that an all-weather tire suits your needs.

If it wasn’t already obvious, I’m a dedicated winter tire and all-season tire user. However, I am fully aware that the market is rapidly expanding and growing. Someday, a company may provide a product that changes my mind.

Your automotive questions, answered

I recently hit a deer at the speed of 45-50 mph in my Honda Pilot. When the impact happened, the vehicle filled up with a nitrogen smell and the SRS sensor mode light came on, but the airbags did not deploy. The vehicle detected that it was in a crash, but bags never came out. What should I have done to resolve this issue, and would I be safe if ever involved in a more serious accident? Would the airbags work properly? Thanks for your help.

Chris T

Call your insurance company is the short answer. The longer answer is that your vehicle has just had the seat-belt pre-tensioners deploy. The pre-tensioner is a tiny airbag-like device that is located in your seat-belt assembly. When sudden deceleration or an impact like your deer crash occurs, a series of sensors are activated. The severity and direction of the impact will be measured and forces calculated by these sensors. During a major collision, the penetration will obviously be deeper into the vehicle, and the full arsenal of airbags will be deployed. Your deer hit was hard enough to activate these seat-belt pre-tensioners. The pre-tensioner is designed to take up any slack in the seat belt and firmly secure the driver and front passenger. The repair, however, can be costly as the pre-tensioners need to be replaced as well as the control module and possibly some other sensors.

Make no mistake, when that Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) lamp is illuminated, your vehicle will have no further airbag deployment. It is disabled. You need to get if fixed immediately.

My leased BMW 320iX is due to be returned in April. The car has a slightly cracked front bumper at the bottom that can be repaired (not replaced), scratches and a few other dents. I’ve been told all the repairs must be done at BMW-certified repair shops, otherwise they would be considered not acceptable. I’ve been to two of them now; one quoted me around $8,000 and the other around $5,000. I know for a fact that I can get everything repaired for less than $3,000 at other body shops.

Should I repair the damages before or after the inspection? Or just repair the front and rear bumpers before inspection and hope the inspector will be more lenient on the other dents and scratches? I’m losing sleep over these unexpectedly high costs of repair. Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Danny T

I understand that BMW Canada expects quality repairs to all their products that are being returned off-lease and being made available to their resale customers. That being said, it’s just a bumper and some scratches.

Keep in mind, this is just my opinion as to what I would do if I were in your position. I would repair the car at the facility of my own choice, before it was inspected. Firstly, I would have the minor dents repaired by a paintless dent repair (PDR) specialist, and then I would proceed to the body shop for bumper repair, paint and scratch-buffing. I would make it crystal clear to the body-shop estimator that any repair that they were about to complete needed to be of a quality that would easily pass the upcoming inspection. If they can’t guarantee that, I would move on.

I know many body-shop owners that take extreme pride in their workmanship and can easily meet the standards set out by BMW or any other manufacturer. It dismays me as to the amount of times I have inspected a newer vehicle that was just painted and repaired at an approved facility that has subpar results. It makes me believe that there is some truth in what other body-shop owners have told me – that the repair-shop approval process is more about discounts offered to the dealer than quality. Once again, that’s just my opinion.

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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