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Hi Lou,

I drive a 2000 Fiat Barchetta with 65,000 km on the odometer. This vehicle has a “code key” that needs to communicate with the vehicle-control system at startup. Unfortunately, one of my keys has been misplaced. Is there a way to have a replacement key made using the master key that I still have? There are no Fiat dealers in my area.

Thank you for your suggestions.

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Donavon P, Haileybury, Ont.

That’s quite the distinctive, rare vehicle you have there Donavon. The problem is that when a vehicle is that unique, sourcing parts and service is difficult, especially when your location is somewhat remote. Additionally, I believe your car was imported into Canada and therefore, even if you travelled south to a Fiat dealer, I doubt that they would know what to do with you. I only have one idea for you, and it’s a little out there. As you are aware, most modern cars have an anti-theft device referred to as an immobilizer. This device prevents a vehicle from being started without the proper factory original coded key being present in the ignition.

If you have a local aftermarket radio/alarm installer in town, give them a visit. They will likely have a module that they wire into a customer’s vehicle that bypasses the immobilizer. These bypass units are required when anyone installs a remote-starter unit in their car. Yes, all of you reading this that have an aftermarket remote starter installed, your vehicle is more vulnerable to theft. So if you are comfortable with having the immobilizer on your car being bypassed, then you can head off to any local key-cutter, have the original key copied and then drive off into the sunset with your new non-immobilizer key.


I recently purchased a 1997 F-250 7.3 Powerstroke 4X4 out of province but need to safety it. I brought it to get a safety at a garage, and they argued with me that the truck is too old (no rust on it, by the way) then said it won’t be MPI-approved (MPI gave me temporary insurance). They then proceeded to argue about weight of the truck. It’s 3,900 kilograms, as per the certificate, and they argued I didn’t know what I was talking about and said it’s over 4,500 kg! Where can I take it to get a safety? Please help!

Leslie B, Winnipeg

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of any vehicle includes the weight of the vehicle plus potential occupants and payload capacity. Theoretically, a crew- or extended-cab Ford 250 diesel Powerstroke such as yours has the potential to carry a driver plus five husky passengers and a fully loaded box. Regardless of what your out-of-province paperwork says, you have to look at the manufacturer placard in the driver’s door jamb. If that placard shows a GVWR of over 4,400 kg, then your truck is a heavy-duty (HD) vehicle, and this will likely change the way it is registered/certified.

Vehicle certification differs from province to province; your vehicle may have been downgraded in another province and the Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) inspection station may have been well within their right to refuse. My advice is to look at the placard. If it shows a weight of over 4,400 kg, you will need look for a commercial facility to certify it. If the placard shows a weight of 3,900 kgs, take it to another facility and start over again. Alternatively, you may be able to downgrade the vehicle to personal-use-only when registering it.

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What’s on my radar

Multiple times per week, customers ask my opinion on the best way to sell their personal car and, of course, its value. Multiple times per week I have to break the news to them that their vehicle is not worth nearly as much as they imagine. The problem is that everyone who is thinking of selling immediately heads online to determine their vehicle’s worth. Of course, everyone gravitates towards the highest priced similar examples to form their basis of value. This ultimately leads to disappointment, as just like in the real estate market, there are those testing the market, fishing for someone not paying attention. If you make the mistake of basing your value on a small percentage of overpriced vehicles, it will just take you longer to sell as you wait for reality to set in.

A great resource I have found is a tool located on Autotrader.ca. “What’s my car worth?” has three categories to choose from: I’m trading in, I’m buying and I’m selling.

As soon as a customer at my front counter initiates a conversation about their vehicle’s value, I immediately pull up this site, enter my postal code and relative information about their vehicle – mileage, general shape and if the vehicle has any accidents over $2,000. The Autotrader algorithm does its magic and a value is displayed based on all the cars currently listed for sale and other factors that their algorithm deems important.

For what it’s worth, I actually find this tool to be reasonably accurate, and the best part is that it’s free. Obviously as your vehicle ages, the value gets harder to predict with an online tool such as this, as there are many more factors that affect value. However, this is a great place to start on your quest to sell.

FYI, I am not being paid by Autotrader to mention this tool, I just think it’s a great addition to their site. You’re welcome, Autotrader.

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

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