Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2005   by Auto Service World

Car Care and Cappuccino

“You wouldn’t take your makeup off with motor oil instead of baby oil, so why wash your car with dish detergent?” asks Kelly Williams, as she takes a small sip from an electric-green Starbucks smoothie.

It is just one example of the lack of thought that many car owners put into caring for their car.

“Buying a car is the second-biggest investment in your life,” the other being your house, “so you need to take care of it. It pays off. I have seen information that says that if your car is in good condition versus fair condition, you could get 50% more for it at resale. So you are maintaining that investment.”

Williams, who has served as the official spokesperson for the Be Car Care Aware initiative in Canada since its launch last fall, is probably more aware of what her car is telling her than most. With many years of competitive driving behind her, the professional racer and driving instructor says taking care of your car is about safety and the pleasure of driving.

Whether you sell your car or keep it longer, it can make the whole ownership experience more positive.

“People take a lot from it but they don’t give back. The only time they give back is in the winter, because they don’t want to be stranded at minus 30 degrees. Nothing is more miserable than being stranded in a car that won’t start and you’re not dressed properly for the weather. That hits home more than in the summertime.”

The irony is, she says, that all car owners have most of the information they need to know about car care at their fingertips: the owner’s manual.

Most Canadians barely ever open it, which leads to the number-one misconception amongst drivers: that they don’t subject their car to severe service.

“Nobody thinks they drive in severe conditions, yet almost all of us do. Out west you have mountainous conditions; here in Toronto there is stop-and-go traffic. People take a lot of short trips, like taking your kids to daycare.” Williams says that trips under 6 km in summer and 16 km in winter don’t allow the car to warm up, putting this type of driving firmly into the severe service realm.

There is a wealth of information in the typical owner’s manual: how to change a tire, how to adjust the clock, how to work the stereo, even how to wash your car.

She admits that her owner’s manual has gone missing, albeit for the right reason. “I had it out to check something, and left it somewhere. I’m going to call to get a new one.”

Tools to Promote Car Care

For the trade, the Be Car Care Aware program is providing a consumer awareness campaign that last October generated millions of impressions. The second media tour in May hit 12 cities, with a separate campaign being run in Quebec.

Together they are just the beginning of an ongoing campaign to generate more awareness of the importance of proper automotive care to consumers.

An important part of the program is an information website,, which provides consumers with vehicle knowledge, and can also be used by independent service providers to help explain maintenance issues. In addition, there is a Be Car Care Aware package, which includes brochures and other promotional materials.

For more information, contact the AIA at (613) 728-5821.

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