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I plan to drive from Toronto to Tampa, Fla., this winter. I will stay in Tampa for a month before driving back to Canada. What tire should I use for my car – winter tires or all-seasons? – Lien

I am assuming you own a set of winter tires and have had them mounted on the car for the first portion of winter. If this is the case, I would suggest leaving them on and using them for the trip. They will wear a bit more than normal during your brief stay in the south but provide security on the trip there and back and continued safe driving upon your return, for the rest of the winter.

If you were staying in a warmer climate longer, all-seasons might be the better choice, providing you were careful in choosing your transit trips around the weather forecast. Another choice would be to invest in a set of all-weather tires – which pass the winter tire test and carry the "snowflake in mountain backdrop symbol" but provide better performance in warmer weather than a pure winter tire. You could probably get two or more seasons out of this investment.

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However, like all-season tires, all-weather tires are a compromise and not top performers in either summer or winter.

Transmission fluid flush

I have a 2007 Honda Civic and I've been told I need my transmission fluid flushed. It is a tarnished colour. However, I've also been told that if I've never done it before and if I do it now it might make things bad because sediment will be stirred up, causing more issues. I'm not having any issues right now but I don't know what to believe. – Raquel

Unfortunately, you provide little information about your Honda. How old is it? What is the mileage? What type of use has it seen – was it used for towing, long trips or short drives?

In general, transmission oil changes are not necessary until high mileages. Honda, like many manufacturers, does not list any oil change intervals in its service/maintenance schedules unless the vehicle is used for towing/hauling or in other severe conditions.

If you decide to change the fluid, there is a debate about whether you should flush the transmission or merely change it. Changing the fluid involves dropping the pan, draining the fluid, changing the filter and then replacing that fluid. But, you really only change about 50 to 60 per cent of the fluid this way because the remainder is still in the torque converter.

Thus, to replace all the fluid, several changes in succession are necessary. Flushing the transmission involves forcing the fluid out under pressure by another fluid, sometimes a cleansing agent and sometimes with new fluid. The problem with this is that the process often dislodges particles that may have become stuck in the valve body or other locations and this will cause new problems. If the car has high mileage – more than 125,000 kilometres, then a fluid change would be fine.

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My recommendation would be that a transmission flush is necessary only if the transmission is not performing properly. Signs to watch for include problems engaging or shifting gears and surging at idle – the car wants to move forward only occasionally.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at

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