Skip to main content
lou's garage

Canadians are getting the message. Winter-tire use outside of Quebec has jumped to approximately 69 per cent in 2019 from 51 per cent in 2014. I know that there are some among that remaining 31 per cent who are diehard all-season-tire-only users who won’t listen to any argument whatsoever. But I also suspect that a sizeable percentage are those who haven’t driven in winter weather lately because they were at their Florida home.

This is for the snowbirds who are going to be stuck here this winter due to closed borders and the remainder of you sitting on the fence about making the decision to switch to winter tires. Seven out of 10 cars are now equipped with winter tires, and you are not. This puts you into a situation where you are destined for failure, as it is a proven fact that winter-tire-equipped vehicles stop in much shorter distances for all road conditions, including dry ones. At every intersection, the majority of the vehicles in front of you will have a significant braking and stopping advantage, forcing you to drive in an extreme defensive manner, even in a rain/snow mix. How long will it be before you have a close call or cause a rear-end collision?

The rest of the traffic will move along at faster pace, and you will naturally try to keep up. However, even with moderate throttle application, your tires will spin, the vehicle’s traction control will take over or worse – the car will slide out, forcing you to correct heavily. This constant need to overdrive your vehicle is fatiguing, and it will eventually lead you to give up and just drive at a much slower pace. I hate to lay blame, but a major factor in why commute times triple with even the slightest snow accumulation is because of improperly equipped vehicles. For the record, I am also not condoning winter-tire owners who have an opposite point to prove by driving super aggressively in the snow, just because they can.

Most major tire manufacturers have rebates starting October 1. If I might be so bold, please do me (and the rest of us who have already switched) a favour. Seriously consider making the small investment this winter tire season.

Your automotive questions, answered

In the fall of 2018, we bought a new 2017 Kia Sorento (it was a display model with 48 km on it). From the beginning, it has displayed a rhythmic wowing sound, and I feel that can sometimes be felt through the steering wheel and sometimes both the gas and brake pedals. When taken to the dealer about this, they told me it was the snow tires. I didn’t think that but took them at their word. The car sat unused until the spring when we had the all-seasons put back on for our move to Nova Scotia. Same symptoms! I took it back into Kia for a second time. They could find nothing wrong with it. Winter tires were put back on, and the condition/symptoms persist. There is something NOT right. Other than tire/wheel/alignment issues, any ideas what else could be going on to cause this problem? I’d love to have something else to go the garage with besides “it’s still doing it.” Thanks.

Heather B

If the dealer is suggesting it is your winter tires, then I have to assume that they are at least hearing or feeling something. Considering that it still persisted with your all-season tires installed leads me to believe that your vehicle possibly has a wheel bearing that is just at the first stages of failing. For the less-than-obvious noises, we typically use a listening device that employs four Bluetooth-based transmitters and a user-selectable multi-channel receiver. The transmitters are temporarily fastened somewhere within the suspension at each corner of the vehicle. The receiver sits with one technician wearing a pair of headphones while another drives. The technician assigned to the job of listening will toggle through each independent listening channel one at a time, attempting to determine which channel is the loudest. The technicians will have written down which channel corresponds to which corner of the vehicle, and they can now focus their efforts on one part of the car. Unfortunately, noises that are not obvious will be tedious to find. Stay on the dealer; get them to confirm in writing that they also hear/feel something as you do and then call Kia Canada if they are unable to resolve the issue.

The automatic climate control on my 2018 Nissan Kicks is driving me crazy. The lowest possible temperature it can be set at is 18 C, which is actually just “cold.” Set it to 18.5 C, and the car tries to actually achieve that temperature by pouring superheated air into the cabin, which I’ve registered at over 40 C with a thermometer. Even at the lowest temperature and fan setting, that amount of heat coming into a confined space makes me sick. I want some heat and some air, but not this much. Plus, this is mostly a problem in the colder seasons and sunny winter days, when I need the defroster to prevent the windows from fogging. The defroster will work with the temperature set at 18 C, but then it’s freezing cold, so I’m stuck at too hot or too cold. After around 45 minutes of driving, the system must sense that the cabin has finally got to 18.5 C, and cooler air starts coming through the vents. By then, I’m nauseous and sleepy from the heat. Nissan says this is working as designed, but how can this be right? It can be set up to 32 C; who in their right mind would want it that hot? But there are lots of reasons to want the temperature a little lower than 18.5 C with the sun beating in. I’m baffled about what to do.

Thanks for your help.

Chris F


I’ve personally owned multiple vehicles featuring automatic climate control, and I can confirm their operation is anything but intuitive. You will need to learn to work within the limitations of the design. I always typically overrode the controls on my vehicles after first startup until it reached a comfortable temperature, and then I switched it to automatic. I will admit that I do prefer automatic climate control on long journeys when one could just set-it-and-forget-it. Some manufacturers do seem to have implemented a more user-friendly climate-control system while some have failed at it miserably. I am going to assume that your vote will be to the latter.

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.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up today.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct