Category Archives: Automotive

Cars, trucks and anything related to them.

Our Dodge, no, Mazda Grand Caravan

Apparently our Dodge Mazda Grand Caravan is due for maintenance.

It’s awful nice that they have the highest number of Mazda certified technicians but the last time I checked, we had a Dodge Grand Caravan. I’m guessing that the Dodge dealership was bought out but you think they might have noticed that the van has never been serviced there. Oh well.

Service remind for a Dodge Grand Caravan from a Mazda Dealership

I think someone forgot to proofread their service reminder to make sure that the form text matched the vehicle.

Proofreading FAIL.


2009 Dodge Grand Caravan frozen sliding door latch mechanism

At 2PM today, the official temperature here is only -21°C.  Of course the sliding door latch on our 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan would freeze today. Thankfully, it’s not the locking mechanism (or we’d spend the rest of the day emptying the van of it’s contents so no one else would over night!) but just the front latch.

As you can see in the image below, the front latching mechanism is covered by a wonderfully flimsy piece of soft rubber.

2009 Dodge Grand Caravan sliding door front latchIn theory this flap should be able to keep large debris out but unfortunately, it also appears to allow water to collect and pool in the mechanism. I’m not entirely sure why we had water in the door but when I opened it today, I could see large amounts of ice lodged in between the two latch parts (shown in the picture below) as well as between the latches and the bottom of the opening.

After I poked at the ice and removed a fair bit, you can see that the first latch appears to be back in the right position.  The second latch is still rotated in an locked, or partially locked, position. This prevents the sliding door from closing completely. Unfortunately, as you can see, the plastic coating on the second latch took a beating the first couple times we attempted to close the door.  Ooops! By the time I took the picture above after removing the ice, the second latch has started to rotate downwards into what I assume should be a similar position as the first latch.

I’m going to dig out a heat gun and try and melt the remaining ice in there in hopes it will allow everything to return to the correct position.  Then I get to cross my fingers and hope it doesn’t refreeze overnight when our forecast low is -30°C.

Updated: Well, a few minutes with the heat gun and voila! The second latch rotated down into place and now the door closes fine. I’m still not overly thrilled with this design though as it’s pretty obvious the problem stems from water/ice being able to collect in the bottom of the latch mechanism. Oh well, something to watch for over the next few months and years.

Update 2: I forgot to add the picture of what the latch looks like after it rotated back down into the “open” position. Please ignore all of the grooves on the latch that were caused by my screw driver as I tried to move the latch down. :)

10 Rules of Winter Driving

Wonderful Winter Driving

Wonderful Winter Driving

There are 10 rules of winter driving.  Don’t get intimidated, they are really easy to understand and remember.  I’ll even help by providing a reason why each of the ten rules should be followed.

  1. Follow at a safe distance
  2. Follow at a safe distance
  3. Follow at a safe distance
  4. Follow at a safe distance
  5. Follow at a safe distance
  6. Follow at a safe distance
  7. Follow at a safe distance
  8. Follow at a safe distance
  9. Follow at a safe distance
  10. Turn your lights on (specifically your tail lights)

See, I told you that it would be easy to remember the 10 rules. ;)

So why do I think these are the 10 rules of winter driving?

Well, in my observations, most of the time people end up in a ditch or in an “accident” because they had to do some panic braking because they were following too close to the car in front of them.  A couple days ago I observed as groups of cars would drive down the highway, only a few feet from each other.  As one driver touched his brakes, the trailing vehicles would all slam their brakes on harder because they suddenly realized it was slippery conditions.  Eventually, one of the trailing vehicles spins out and ends up in the ditch because they have discovered one of the laws of physics really does apply to them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “conservative” driver.  I’m probably the guy passing you in the left lane on a snowy day, even without snow tires!  **gasp** What I won’t be doing is following too closely to the car in front of me.

Which brings us to rule number 10.  Turn your lights on so that your tail lights are also on.  I could care less about the front end of your car when we’re driving in the snow.  I’m more interested in the front end of my car.  When you turn your tail lights on, it provides trailing drivers a visual cue as to where you are.  They can see you through the snow before they will be able to see your vehicle.  In a sudden white out condition, this can make a huge difference.  I can judge my following distance based on your tail lights so I’m not suddenly on top of you as you slam your brakes on due to the white out.

Image credit – hint of plum

2006 Pontiac Vibe Gas Mileage Updates

In the next few weeks, my 2006 Pontiac Vibe gas mileage updates will be coming to an end. We are going to be getting rid of the Pontiac Vibe as our family needs a larger vehicle now. The Pontiac Vibe gas mileage tracker will remain online and I’ll make sure I update the information one last time. I’ve got a bunch of gas receipts that need to be entered.

The Pontiac Vibe has been a fantastic car for us and we’re really sad to be giving it up. Unfortunately, it’s the car that is better for us to get rid of at the moment. We’re replacing it with a 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan (the deals are just too good right now!).

2006 Pontiac VibeI would have no problem recommending the Pontiac Vibe as a fantastic car for a couple or for a small family who has kids out of car seats. It’s also a great second car for commuting or piling everyone into for a short drive to the corner store or park. Our problem is we have two young kids in car seats and a stroller. Once you put the stroller in the back of the Vibe, you’re not going to be doing much shopping as there isn’t a whole lot of space left. With the two kids seats, the car is really a four seater. It’s impossible for us to go pickup anyone at the airport as a family. There just isn’t room for a person to sit in the middle between the two car seats.

When we return the Vibe, it will have just shy of 96000km on it.  We’ve had absolutely no issue with it.  It even still has the original brake pads and rotors on it and they are in fantastic shape! It was 85-90% highway driven and maintained according to the recommended schedule.

And hey, if you’re in the market for a used 2006 Pontiac Vibe and you know me, give me a shout and maybe we can work something out. :) I’ll even toss in the barely used winter tires on rims, the roof rack and the trunk carpet.

Google street view is in Ottawa

Make sure you check both ways before coming out of the “adult video” stores today if you live in Ottawa. Google street view cars are on the streets. I spotted one this morning around 8:30AM coming onto the 416 North bound at Fallowfield. To bad I don’t seem to be able to figure out how to use my camera phone or I’d have a picture to show too!

Google street view car from kylemurley

Here is an example of what the car looks like. It’s just a regular looking gray Chevrolet Cobalt with a huge mast on the top.

Image Credit – kylemurley