Did you know that there is a postal strike looming in Canada? A new collective agreement is being negotiated right now and negotiations are not going well, due to "major cuts to benefits and job security”, according to the CUPW union president. The union will not be in a position to strike until July 2nd, but after that we could see a disruption in mail service. Any parcels or letters caught up in the system at that point would be held and secured. If you normally mail your payments into us at Sprucewood, you can contact us to make alternate arrangements.
Did you know that the extra slits and pliable rubber that make winter tires so exemplary at handling ice and snow are the same things that make them wear down more quickly on cleared roads? Be sure to remove winter tires as soon as the threat of inclement weather passes, so that you can get as many winters out of those tires as possible. Of course the challenge for those of us living in Ontario is in knowing when the inclement weather has really past.
Pedestrian Crossover Laws
Did you know that Starting January 1st, 2016, drivers (including cyclists) must stop and yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossovers, and at school crossings where there is a crossing guard displaying a school crossing stop sign. That means as a driver you must remain at a full stop the entire time the pedestrian is in the intersection, not just when they are in front of your lane.
The new rules do not apply to pedestrian crosswalks at intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, unless a school crossing guard is present.
Drivers will be fined $150 to $500 and 3 demerit points for offences.
Winter Tire Insurance Discount
Did you know that starting January 1, 2016 all auto insurers will be required to offer a discount to those who use winter tires? This policy was one of the auto insurance reforms announced in the 2015 Provincial Budget. So how do you take advantage of this discount? When you are renewing your policy, ask about the winter tire discount. It is up to the individual insurer to set the discount, so you may need to shop around to find the best possible rates and the coverage that fits your needs. If you are not up for renewal soon, you may contact your insurance agent to see if they are offering any midterm adjustments. For more information read the full press release on the Ontario Government's website.
Did you know that in early April Microsoft will be ending tech support for Windows XP? That means if you are running XP, your system will continue to work but Microsoft will no longer be issuing security upgrades. That means that going forward Windows XP will be more vulnerable to viruses and malware. So what is the suggestion from Microsoft if you are still running XP? It’s about what you would imagine - either install a new operating system or a buy a new PC. If replacing XP is not an option, a firewall in addition to a reliable antivirus product will offer you some protection. To read the press release from Windows, follow the link to their website.
Did you know that based on recent estimates, the Canadian insurance industry pays $1.7 billion each year in claims due to water damage? Whether it feels like it or not here in Toronto, spring is coming and there are a few simple steps you can take to get your home ready for the big melt.
- Clear snow away from your home’s foundation.
- Keep snow and water away from window wells.
- Make sure downspouts extend six feet out from your home and that water drains away from your home and neighbouring homes.
- Ensure the drain in your basement is unblocked.
- If you have a sump pump, ensure it is working properly.
- If you are travelling for more than three days, arrange for a neighbour to check on your home frequently.
For more information, see the Insurance Bureau of Canada's water damage brochure
Saving Your Battery
Did you know your car battery can lose over half of its starting capacity due to severe cold? A dead battery can be an easy fix as long as you have a car with a working battery, some jumper cables and a little know how. First put the two cars close together, but not touching, and leave the car with the working battery running. Grab your jumper cables and remember the following rhyme to ensure you are connecting in the right order: "Red of the dead then red of the good, Black of the good then under the dead hood." The red cables connect to the positive battery terminals. You may have to flip open a red cover to reveal the terminal. The first black cable you connect is to the negative terminal on the good battery. The last connection should not be to the negative terminal on the dead battery but to any metal part on the engine block of the disabled vehicle, away from the battery. Let the battery charge for a few minutes before starting the dead car. Disconnect the cables in reverse order.
Flood Damaged Vehicles
It was hard to miss all of the flooding in BC and Alberta that happened this summer, but did you know that those storms left behind many vehicles destroyed by flood waters? While Ontario and Alberta's Branding Programs attempt to identify and brand all damaged vehicles as "irreparable", it is possible that some will slip through the branding process.
The damage caused by flood waters can be difficult to spot and can take months or years to show up. If flood waters cause corrosion inside sensitive electronic or safety components, the results can be catastrophic: air bags might not deploy in a collision, engines could shut off at highway speeds, steering could fail - these vehicles are not safe for the road. One of the advantages of working with Sprucewood in purchasing a used vehicle is that we track red flags like this, and are up to date on what's happening in the market.
The U.S. National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) provides these tips on how to spot a possible flood vehicle:
- Check the vehicle's title history by VIN through commercially available vehicle history reports.
- Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion.
- Check for recently shampooed carpet.
- Look under the floorboard carpet for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.
- Inspect for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting, and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for any evidence of fading.
- Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue, and note any evidence of mold or a musty odour in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.
- Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where water would normally not reach unless submerged.
- Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.
- Complete a detailed inspection of the electrical wiring system looking for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.
- Inspect the undercarriage of other components for evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late model vehicles.
Drive Clean Ontario
Did you know that as of Jan 1, 2013 the Drive Clean test in Ontario has changed? Rather than measuring a vehicle's emissions directly at the exhaust, the drive clean test is now administered by using a computer that interacts with your vehicle's manufacturer installed emissions monitoring device. With this change in testing, there are steps that Drive Clean suggests that you take before having your vehicle tested to increase the likelihood of passing. The steps listed on the Drive Clean website are as follows:
If your vehicle was recently repaired, or if the battery was disconnected, the information in your vehicle’s built-in computer might not be readable, and the test might not be completed. As a result, you’ll have to re-take the test and you could be delayed in getting your licence sticker.
A day or two of normal highway and city driving will usually reset your vehicle’s computer and ensure it’s ready for the Drive Clean test.
You can also take your vehicle through a “generic drive cycle”:
|Step 1:||Make sure the vehicle has been parked for eight hours without a start.|
|Step 2:||Start the engine and let it idle in Drive for two-and-a-half minutes with the Air Conditioning (A/C) and rear defroster on.|
|Step 3:||Turn the A/C and rear defroster off. Drive the vehicle for 10 minutes at highway speeds.|
|Step 4:||Drive the vehicle for 20 minutes in stop-and-go traffic.|
|Step 5:||Your drive cycle is complete. You can now go in for your test.|
Gas tank should be ¼ to ¾ full. Driver should avoid rapid acceleration.
Did you know, the US National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program (NSVRP) is warning US regulators and automotive industry members to brace for a huge influx of flood and storm damaged vehicles after Hurricane Sandy tore through the American North East?
Unfortunately it is expected some of the salvaged vehicles from Hurricane Sandy will be repaired and unscrupulous individuals will attempt to "wash" the title to remove the salvage or flood brand. It's only a matter of time before some of these vehicles begin appearing at auctions. According Ontario's transportation ministry "the brand of 'irreparable' will be applied to all imported branded vehicles previously identified with 'fire or flood' damage". This means vehicles branded as 'irreparable':
- cannot be made roadworthy and can never be driven on the road in Ontario
- can only be used for parts or scrap
- have been written-off as a total loss
This makes it very important to obtain a full disclosure of a vehicle's past use, history and condition before purchase. To read the full bulletin published by OMVIC, please visit omvic.on.ca
Polo For Heart
Did you know that Southlake Regional Hospital's performance vision is "Shockingly Excellent Service?" And it seems they are working towards their goal, with over 95 percent of patients reporting a positive experience in the hospital with over 50% of those respondents giving a top result of "Excellent" in 2011. This year Polo for Heart is once again supporting Southlake with a portion of event proceeds. Come and enjoy a day of Polo June 15 - 17. This event has something for everyone, with two international polo matches played daily, a boutiques tent, silent auction, children's village, and the Mallet lounge. Plus enjoy half time entertainment shows and take part in the traditional champagne divot stomp, perfect polo picnic contests, or the best hat contest. For event details please visit http://www.poloforheart.org/.
Did you know that according to Mobile Future, the connected car is the third-fastest growing technological device in the world, falling only behind smart phones and tablets? OnStar is on trend with its new app available for your smart phone. With RemoteLink you can lock and unlock doors or contact an OnStar Advisor all from your smart phone. If you're a Subscriber with Directions and Connections, you can now find a location with OnStar RemoteLink and send directions right to your vehicle. For more details visit OnStar's website.
Changes to Ontario's Drive Clean Program
Did you know that changes to Ontario's Drive Clean program came into effect as of September 1, 2011?
- Vehicles will need a test for registration renewal at seven years of age, instead of five.
- Light duty vehicles no longer require a test for family transfers and lease buyouts by the lessee.
- No test is required for licence renewal if your vehicle passed the test in the previous year.
- Vehicles plated "Historic" no longer require testing.
You can visit the Ministry of the Environment's website to learn more about the Drive Clean program.
Back To School
Did you know the Government of Canada, along with the Canada Safety Council, has released some back to school safety tips, to help drivers during this heavier traffic time?
- Observe School Speed Zones. Children crossing the road on their way to and from school can easily get distracted and step into harm's way.
- Obey the Crossing Guard. If you come up to a set of lights, and the light turns green, but the crossing guard still says stop, follow his/her direction and not the traffic light.
- Watch for Darting Children. Be vigilant and alert behind the wheel. You never know when a small child might step out from between parked cars or off a sidewalk.
- Be Alert Near School Buses. You shouldn't pass a school bus when the signal lights are flashing (as children are often crossing the road at that time), and drive slowly as a general precaution.
Project Life Saver
Project Life Saver offered through Canadian Police Services?
Project Life Saver combines radio technology and police rescue teams to effectively recover persons who have gone missing. Those benefiting from this program could be suffering from Alzheimer's, Autism, Down Syndrome or other mental disabilities making them vulnerable when missing from home. Over the last ten years, over 1,600 people have been found, with an average search and recovery time of 30 minutes. In every case the person was found alive and brought home safely. Project Life Saver runs on a cost recovery basis, making it an affordable opportunity for families with vulnerable loved ones. For more information please visit the York Regional Police website www.yrp.ca or the Project Life Saver web page.
CAA and You
Did you know that your CAA membership covers you for breakdowns, even when you're on your bicycle? Summer is a great time for bike commuters, and with CAA's Bike Assist you can commute worry free. Whether your chain breaks, or your pedals come loose, you can call CAA. They will first make an attempt to fix the bike on the spot, and if they are unable to do so will transport you and your bike wherever you need to go, within the kilometre restrictions outlined according to your membership level. CAA's Bike Assist program is available to all CAA members at no additional cost. For more information visit CAA's Website www.caa.ca.
Polo for Heart
Did you know that 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke? Risk factors include smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.
For over 30 years, Pace Polo for Heart has raised funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario through their annual Polo event. To date they have raised over 5 million dollars in support of heart disease and stroke research. From June 17 to 19, 2011, you can enjoy watching polo matches, participate in the traditional divot stomp and browse boutique tents selling food, jewellery, clothing and accessories. With picnic areas for the public and exciting, on-going entertainment throughout the day, Polo for Heart is an unforgettable, family-friendly event. For more information, please visit the Polo for Heart web page http://www.poloforheart.org. After all, this is in support of a cause affecting all Canadians.
If you use the HOV lanes around the GTA you may have seen the GREEN PERMITTED signs that have gone up. What do they mean? If you are driving a vehicle that is eligible for green plates, those green plates allow you access to the HOV lanes even if you have just one occupant in the vehicle. So who qualifies? Chances are that right now you do not. This access to the HOV lanes is part of a new program to encourage the purchase of new green vehicles. Additional incentives include a cash rebate on the purchase or lease of an approved vehicle. Anyone driving a plug in electric hybrid vehicle (PEHV) or a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is eligible for the green plates, available through the normal vehicle plating process.
The list of vehicles eligible for the green plates is short. As of right now there are only two vehicles on the list, the Telsa Motors Inc. 2010 Roadster convertible and Smart Canada 2011 Smart Fortwo. This list should be growing however, as the Government of Ontario’s vision is to have one in twenty cars on the road by 2020 be electric. For more information please visit the Ministry of Transport.
Snow Plow Safety
Did you know that the large blades on snow plows extend several feet ahead and to the right of the truck? This makes snow plows larger at the front that they appear from the rear. When you see the flashing blue light of a plow approaching from the opposite direction, move as far away from the centerline of the pavement as you safely can.
There's More Than One Way To Lease From Sprucewood
I talk to people every day who would like to lease a vehicle but believe they can't. Many people feel they will be penalized because they drive too many kilometres in a year. Others need flexibility in payments and the opportunity to buy the vehicle out early. I also hear that other leasing companies won't let their customers extend their leases at the end of the term.
With other leasing companies these would all be serious concerns, but not with Sprucewood Leasing. We taylor the lease to the client, offering a wide variety of options such as open end leases, closed end leases, operating leases, capital leases, finance and purchase options. Further, Sprucewood Leasing's knowledgable staff offer the business owner advantages such as fleet management and helping them dispose of vehicles at the end of the lease. Who else does that?
Sitting down with one of us to explore the advantages and disadvantages of a lease that's right for you and your business will help put you on the right track to your next vehicle acquisition!
Car Seat Safety for Children
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation reports that vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for Canadian children. According to the MTO article Safe and Secure many car seats are not installed correctly. But even after the seat is installed right, many people do not tighten the seatbelt and harness enough or use the required strapping.
There are different requirements for proper seating at all stages in your child's development into young adulthood, so check the MTO'S web page on car seat safety at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/carseat/choose.shtml
ICE - In Case of Emergency
Putting the word ICE beside a contact's name and telephone number in the phonebook of your cell phone will enable emergency services, such as the police or ambulance, to connect with your emergency contact in the event of a life-threatening emergency.
ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. This will allow ambulance crews and police officers to quickly contact a nominated person who can be informed of the incident.
This is really easy to set up in your mobile phone. Here's how...
- Type the acronym ICE followed by a contact name (for example, ICE - mom or ICE - Jennifer) in to the address book of your mobile phone
- Save the phone number
- Tell your ICE contact that you have nominated them
That's it. Now you know!
Enhanced Ontario Driver's License Is Here!
Every day close to 35 million passenger vehicles are driven across the borders between Ontario and the United States. For Canadian citizens with an Ontario Driver's License, at least, the concerns about new the documentation rules are a little simpler to deal with. An Enhanced Driver's Licence (EDL) is a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document denoting identity and citizenship that can be used to as a passport alternative at Canada-U.S. land and water border crossings. A valid passport is still required to enter the United States by air.
Since May of 2009, nine Ontario Service Centres in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, St. Catharines, Downtown Toronto, North York, Kingston, Cornwall and Ottawa have been processing applications for the new alternative to the Canadian Passport. To book an appointment on-line go to the Service Ontario website.
Nitrogen and its benefits.
Nitrogen is a dry, inert gas used to inflate tires on airplanes, off-road trucks, military vehicles and race cars for improved performance and safety.
78% of the air that we breathe and put into our tires is actually Nitrogen. Oxygen, which accounts for 21% of the air, is actually the bad actor and is quite reactive with other substances.
The Oxygen in compressed air permeates through the wall of the tire reducing the tire's inflation pressure. During it's journey through the tire wall the rubber compounds oxidize and deteriorate. Eliminating Oxygen in the tire helps to keep the tire cooler allowing you to operate the vehicle more safely.
Benefits of Nitrogen
- Enhances safety
- Improves fuel efficiency by up to 4%
- Extends tire life by up to 25%
- Helps prevent under inflation
- Provides more consistent tire pressure
- Reduces rim corrosion
Spot Light on a Sprucewood Leasing Client
Sprucewood Leasing client Motion Picture Vehicles Inc. is a service provider to the film and television industry for picture car rentals, fabrication, stunt prep, vehicle location and logistics. As a service provider to Toronto's Film and Television Industry, they have worked to become a leader in the specialized picture car market. Their equipment and staff have proven to be reliable, flexible and supportive to the industry. And with Sprucewood's assistance they will continue to improve their equipment stocks and services on an ongoing basis.
Never drive in the rain with your cruise control!
Driving with cruise control in the rain can be very dangerous. If the cruise control is turned on and your tires lose contact with the pavement the cruise control's response is to apply power to the wheels in an attempt to keep the speed constant. The result is that you actually accelerate in a situation where speed is the last thing you want. The right move is to decelerate without using the brakes while maintaining control of the vehicle. As a rule, you should always use caution when operating the vehicle under cruise control, but certainly never use it in wet, slippery or snowy conditions. Please pass this message on to anyone you know with a driver's license.
The Ban On Hand-Held Devices Is Here!
On October 26, 2009 all hand-held devices will be illegal to operate while driving. The new law will make it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones or any hand-held device There will be no tickets issued until February 1st, however, Police will focus on educating drivers during the first 3 month probation. The only time you are allowed to use your cell phone is while making a 911 call.