Top signs that your vehicle’s steering and suspension needs repairs

Spring is here, and while the weather is certainly welcome, it also means pothole season in Edmonton. And while your car’s suspension does a great job protecting you and your car from the road, sometimes it needs some maintenance work to keep you safe.

Here are a few signs that you might need to take a look at your steering and suspension system to see if it needs any repairs.

Symptoms that your vehicle’s steering and suspension may require repairs

Steering Issues

  • The Car Pulls to One Side When Driving
  • Difficulties steering the car, especially while turning
  • Drifting To One Side
  • Drifting or Pulling During Turns
  • Abnormal noises when turning
  • The steering wheel shakes at high speeds

Comfort Issues

  • The ride is bumpy (the car bounces excessively)
  • Feeling every bump in the road
  • Car rides rough

Other potential signs of a failing suspension

  • The tire tread is uneven
  • The steering wheel is not centered.
  • One corner sitting lower on the car
  • Oily shocks or struts leaking
  • The front of the car dives while braking
  • Visually damaged strut or shocks

Generally, if you live in the city of Edmonton, you should know by now the roads are not great. Never mind the deep manhole covers we have, but nothing screams spring quite like the appearance of new potholes on our city streets. There are potholes on every road you go on, and, in many cases, they’re unavoidable. There isn’t much you can do but anticipate hitting it, grit your teeth, and hope it didn’t break anything. How it affects your car or truck depends on a few different things. If it’s minor, then only a wheel alignment is needed. If you are unlucky, a bad pothole experience may require new shocks or ball joints. A wheel alignment may only be $150, but a damaged wheel or shock could be over $1,000!

Do you notice any symptoms of a potentially damaged suspension? Just let us know, and we can let you know if it’s nothing to worry about or a sign of something that should be addressed.

Winter Driving Quiz

Here are a few things we like to talk about with clients when winter driving conditions are in full swing here in Edmonton. How many can you get right?

Winter Driving Quiz

Winter Driving Quiz, written in Dec 2022

How long does an Engine Block Heater have to plugged-in before you start the vehicle?
2. What are the ways to prematurely wear out an engine prematurely?
3. How long should you warm-up a vehicle before driving off?
4. What kind of vehicles brakes best on snow and ice?
5. What does a dirty air filter impact the most?

Typical Brake Repair Pricing

An important part of caring for your vehicle is knowing what typical repair costs are for different services and repairs, and working that into your long term transportation budgeting. While it’s impossible to give an exact estimate for every type of car in a short written paragraph, we can give general ranges that you can try to apply to your own vehicle.

Brake repairs depend on whether you are replacing just the brake pads, the pads and the rotors, or the pads, rotors and calipers.

Brake Repair Costs Estimate (low-end) range for cars

2000 Toyota Camry brake pad replacement ~$450

2000 Toyota Camry brake pad, rotors and calipers ~$900

Brake Repair Costs Estimate (low-end) range for cars

2012 Porsche Cayenne brake pad replacement ($1120)

2012 Porsche Cayenne brake pad, rotors and calipers ~$3950)

Brake Repair Costs Estimate (low-end) range for Trucks

2011 GMC Sierra 3500 HD / 1 Ton brake pad replacement ~$970

2011 GMC Sierra 3500 HD / 1 Ton brake pad, rotors and calipers ~$1700

Access Automotive Quiz: How To Buy A Used Vehicle

Image of a Scantron Quiz and a caption that reads Buying a Used Vehicle Quiz

Test your used vehicle purchasing knowledge by taking the quiz below. Looking for more information? Check out our guide to buying a used car or truck in Alberta!

Buying a Used Vehicle Quiz

A quiz testing your knowledge about buying a used vehicle

1. How long can you take a used vehicle for a test drive?
2. Can I have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic of my choosing before I agree to buy?
3. When should you check for liens when buying a vehicle? When buying from a:
4. What are the things to look for on your road test
5. What are the things to look for on your road test

How to Buy a Used Car or Truck in Alberta

One of the more common questions I get asked is about buying used vehicles. If you’re currently planning on buying a used car in Alberta, the last thing you want to do is rush your decision. Making a hasty, uninformed decision can lead to a wide variety of issues down the line. That’s why I’ve put together this procedure for buying a used car in Alberta. Use the procedures and do it like a pro!

Choose a Car, SUV or Truck That’s Right for You

  1. Decide on Your Budget. Naturally, one of the main considerations when you’re buying a car, new or used, is cost. And although it’s fun and exciting to start car shopping, financial experts advise that you decide on a budget first. A rule of thumb is that all your vehicle expenses should not exceed 10-15% of your take-home income
  2. Consider Your Lifestyle. Buying a used cars in Alberta could be your first big deal, it’s important to think carefully about what type of vehicle is best for you. Do you need a compact car that gets great mileage? A pickup truck or SUV for hauling sports gear, musical instruments, or lumber around town? Or just a reliable sedan to get you to and from work, your friends’ houses, and the shopping mall?
  3. Think About What You Really Need. Now, turn your attention to the bells and whistles. If you can live without amenities like a rear camera, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, voice commands, or dual-zone automatic climate control, then you’ll be able to shave quite a bit of money off your investment.
  4. Check out a list of amenities and ask yourself which ones you really need, and which aren’t as necessary.

Your Choices to Purchase the Vehicle From

You can buy a used car from a dealership, private seller, friends or family, or online broker in Alberta. The provider you go with does NOT affect the process you need to follow to carry out your purchase.

  1. Dealer. You’ll usually pay more if you shop with a dealer because there’s less risk involved, and it can be more convenient.
  2. Private seller. You may pay less with a private seller, but it can take more time to compare cars and there’s a higher chance that you’ll end up with a lemon.
  3. Broker. You can easily compare prices with an online broker, but it may be more difficult to know if you’re shopping with a legitimate seller when you settle on a price.
  4. Friend or family. Same rules apply as above

Check the Vehicle History

Vehicle history. An automotive business operator must disclose vehicle history in writing to the consumer before purchase. This includes answers to the following:

  1. Was the vehicle ever bought back by the manufacturer?
  2. Was the vehicle ever damaged by fire?
  3. Was the vehicle ever damaged by flooding?
  4. Was the vehicle ever used as a police or emergency vehicle?
  5. Was the vehicle ever used as a taxi or limo?
  6. Was the vehicle ever owned by a vehicle rental business or used as a rental vehicle?
  7. Was the vehicle ever declared a salvage vehicle in Alberta, or the equivalent under another jurisdiction?
  8. Was the vehicle ever declared a non-repairable vehicle in Alberta, or the equivalent under another jurisdiction?
  9. Was the vehicle ever declared an unsafe vehicle in Alberta, or the equivalent under another jurisdiction?
  10. Was the vehicle ever in need of repairs that cost more than $3,000 including parts and labour due to an incident or collision? If yes, the total cost to complete the repairs.
  11. Was the vehicle previously registered in a different jurisdiction immediately prior to the business operator acquiring it? If yes, name the province/country.
  12. If the vehicle was registered in another jurisdiction immediately prior to the business operator acquiring it, was it required to be inspected prior to being registered in Alberta? If yes, did the vehicle pass or fail any inspections?

Questions You Can Ask The Seller of a Vehicle Before Viewing It

When you contact the seller, here are a few things you can ask.

  1. Ask for history repairs and maintenance done to the vehicle. Does the owner have any invoices? 
  2. Ask if the vehicle was involved in any collisions.
  3. Ask how long they owned the vehicle.

Take precautions to protect yourself. Research the process and potential risks of buying used vehicles.

  1. Check reliable resources, such as the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC) for information about purchasing used vehicles in AlbertaAblerta.
  2. Make sure the seller has valid ID and proof that they own the vehicle.
  3. Contact a registry agent or AMA to get a vehicle information report, which describes the vehicle’s registration history in Alberta. Get a personal property lien search from a registry agent, based on the vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). A Carfax vehicle history report is also recommended.
  4. Liens. A lien on a vehicle is when a creditor lends money to a debtor taking the vehicle as security. This means that if the debtor defaults on the loan payments, the creditor has a right to repossess the vehicle and sell it to recover the money owed. It is best practice for an automotive business selling a vehicle to pay out any liens prior to a consumer purchasing it, however it is always worth checking on the lien status before purchasing a vehicle. AMVIC-licensed businesses must pay out all liens on a vehicle within seven days after it is sold to a consumer.

What to Look for When Taking the Vehicle on a Road Test

Next you want to try to car out to see what it’s like to drive. Here are some things to look for.

  1. Take notes of any warning lights staying on.
  2. Take notes of any abnormal noises on a cold start-up and when hot at higher speeds 
  3. Abnormal smoke from the exhaust tail pipe.
  4. Inspect the car body for dents, signs of rust, ripples or signs of repainting which might indicate recent bodywork. Another tip I suggest is look at the body lines. Does the hood and fenders have equal spacing? Any of these signs suggest that bodywork has been done and that the vehicle could have been in a collision.
  5. Vehicle interior. Look for damage to the upholstery, trunk, and dash.
  6. Tires. Make sure the tires have tread and are in good condition.
  7. Engine, brakes, and steering function. Check that the engine runs smoothly and the car brakes and turns easily.
  8. Electrical systems. Make sure all the electrical systems are working properly, including lights, power windows, sunroof, heated seats, power locks and more.
  9. Heating/cooling systems. Verify that air conditioning and cooling systems work.
  10. Confirm that miscellaneous parts are in good working order including wipers, gauges, speedometer, odometer, and radio.

Get a Pre-Purchase of Safety Inspection

Get a Pre-Purchase or Safety inspection of the vehicle from a reliable and trusted vehicle inspection facility. ALWAYS. It does not matter who you are buying the vehicle from, everyone has good intentions. But do they really know the current health of the vehicle? 

Fill in the Bill of Sale for the Vehicle

The documents required when buying a used car in Alberta varies between private sellers and dealerships. Buying a used car in Alberta from a private seller. You’ll need a standard bill of sale, which is an original document that certifies the transfer of property. The bill of sale must include:

  1. The buyer’s and seller’s name and address
  2. The vehicle identification number (VIN)
  3. Make, model/series, style, colour, and year
  4. Cost of the car
  5. Signature from the buyer and seller

Saving on Fuel: Myths and Truths

Featured Image for a Vehicle Fuel Consumption Quiz with a scantron sheet and pencil

Most of us have likely heard or read of various tips on ways to save fuel.  While there so many tips that are great, unfortunately some of them are complete lies. Here is a quiz to test your knowledge.

Fuel Efficiency Quiz

A quiz about fuel efficiency

Replacing a Clogged Air Filter Will Increase Fuel Mileage
Keeping Wheels Properly Aligned Will Increase Fuel Mileage?
Does Having the Correct Tire Pressures Increase Fuel Mileage?
Does Filling the Tires with Nitrogen in Increase Fuel Economy?
Will Using After-market or Hi-Performance Air Filters save you fuel?
Will Using Gas-Saving Devices/Computer Chips Save You Fuel?

2022 Access Automotive Spring Quiz

Test your car knowledge! If you submit your answers with your email before June 1st, 2022, we will enter you in a draw for a $25 gift certificate to Access Automotive – no need for a perfect score. My explanation for each answer will appear after you select a response for each question. Good luck!

2022 Spring Quiz

Quiz from the Spring 2022 Access Automotive Newsletter

  • If you’d like to have a chance to win a $25 gift certificate then enter your email. We will let the winner know by email by July 30th.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How To Check Your Vehicle’s Oil Level the Right Way

My heart sinks anytime I check the oil in a client vehicle and the engine oil dipstick is bone dry. Checking your oil is easy to do and it can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs. Here’s how I do it.


Rob Music showing off his oil checking abilities

Do You Feel Lucky?

Car batteries are the strong, silent member of the automotive team. They do their job regardless of heat, cold weather and the drivers who demand so much of them. While a battery that allows a car to start at the first turn of the key is a joyful thing, it doesn’t last forever.

In fact, depending on where you live and how you drive, the condition of your charging system, and a number of other factors, a battery lasts about five years on average. And when it does give out, there’s generally no sign of trouble — your car just dies.

While the lead-acid car battery hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years, it’s still a difficult part of the car to check during routine maintenance. Simple battery testers can’t, at this time, muddle through the chemical complexity of what goes on in a battery. Instead, they provide a sort of snapshot of the battery at the time it’s being tested — without the context of the battery’s chemical composition before or after the test.

So, the rule of thumb is simple for battery replacement: You have approximately five years before the battery will theoretically begin its slide from chemical powerhouse to a chemical paperweight. At the five-year mark, we will start testing, and possibly detect a problem, before it’s too late.

But due to the nature of the chemical cocktail inside any battery, it may give out before the five-year mark, or maybe it will last for several more years. So, you have to ask yourself, “Do you feel lucky?”