We spent a day with a technician to get our cars ready for winter

Nov 26 2020, 1:40 pm

It’s easy to have a love-hate relationship with the unpredictable winter weather in Vancouver, whether you’ve grown up here or moved to the city in recent years.

Since you never quite know if it’s going to rain, hail, snow, or be a combination of conditions, you’ve got to be prepared for everything. But before we could even begin to imagine tackling fierce winter conditions, we wanted to feel confident about our cars. So, we spent a day learning from a technician at Mr. Lube.

When we arrived at the service garage, we met an expert technician, our mentor for the day. The first thing on the agenda? To address the finer details of getting a vehicle winter-ready.

Vanessa Shakespeare/Daily Hive

Curious to learn, we took in all of the advice the technician and the team had to share about what to look for when getting your vehicle serviced.

For instance, coolant isn’t something we think of too often. However, it’s important to check it in winter to ensure it doesn’t freeze. For cars in BC, coolant must be protected down to -37 degrees.

Did you know that cold temperatures can decrease the air levels in your tires? This can lead to a strain on your brakes and steering. That’s why it’s key to get this checked at the turn of the seasons.

Vanessa Shakespeare/Daily Hive

According to the experts at Mr. Lube, one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about winter driving is assuming that all-season tires are suitable for winter conditions — but you wouldn’t want to have all-season tires in the middle of a snowstorm.

He explained that there’s an important difference in the composition of the tires. Pointing to the tread design, he talked us through the structure and how it allows slush and snow to come in and be cleared right out of the tire.

Another feature of winter tires is that they have little cuts in the rubber. This allows for better grip on an icy and cold road (think Cypress Bowl Road in North Vancouver), whereas all-season tires aren’t going to be as safe in those conditions.

An additional benefit of buying winter tires is that when you swap them in for your summer set, you’re actually rotating the tires and wearing them evenly. This, the technician said, means you have tires that are going to last you eight years, instead of having to buy them every four years.

And for those of us without our own personal garage at home, Mr. Lube offers to store winter tires for you for $99 for an eight-month period (while space is available).

Vanessa Shakespeare/Daily Hive

When it comes to getting a vehicle tune-up at Mr. Lube, you can stop by whenever suits you, in the same way you would at a drive-thru car wash. The entire service is actually done while you stay cozy inside your vehicle, ensuring a safe environment amid the COVID-19 crisis.

To ensure you stay connected, the garage offers free WiFi, allowing you to work right from your car. When we took ours through the service procedure, we even noticed someone working on a laptop in the vehicle behind us.

Throughout the entire process, you’re kept in the loop and empowered to make decisions — there are no surprises here. Plus, you can keep an eye on a computer screen near the driver’s side window that tallies the various checks (lights, battery, coolant, oil change, tire rotation) as the team completes them.

The lead technician also walked us through what they were doing as each item was completed, so we were aware of whether our car needed any top-ups or adjustments. All the while, everyone on the team was following COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing masks and keeping their distance as we stayed inside the car with the windows rolled up.

Vanessa Shakespeare/Daily Hive

Experiencing Mr. Lube’s vehicle service felt almost like being in a car race. As the group of technicians worked on the car, they called out checks and technical instructions every step of the way. Coolant? Coolant, check! Tire pressure? Tire pressure, check!

The entire process took only 45 minutes. If you’re just getting an oil change, which is advisable for consistency before colder weather hits, it can take as little as 10 minutes (oil change packages come with up to six litres of oil).

To learn more about the services offered at Mr. Lube and get your car winter-ready, visit mrlube.com or stop by your nearest location.

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