entries filed under 'driving' tag:
posted by Odin on Sep 06, 2010
'damon's car, meet snow' by hradcanska, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License
Now that summer is over, and winter is approaching, the tire change deadline looms on my mind, and reminds me of my experience last year.
As I am certain that nobody reads my infrequently-updated blog on a regular basis, I will remind the reader that I had bought a new car last year in September. A month later, I was surprised to learn that car owners were now obliged to put winter tires during the predefined winter season (I was living temporarily in France during the previous winter, so I was not aware of this law passing).
So now all car owners are required to factor in the price of two sets of tires when considering the total cost of ownership of their car. And of course, I had to buy a 17-inch wheeler, thus adding up significantly to this cost.
I had never really purchased any tires in Canada before, and so after shopping around a bit, I discovered that the tire market seems very narrow and highly non-competitive (as are all other markets in Canada apparently). The conclusion was that I could not find any decent 17-inch winter tire for under $150 a tire. So I was looking at a minimum price tag of $690 for the set, after taxes. No small amount by any measure.
But then I remembered that I was driving to New York City a couple weeks before the winter tire deadline. I was sure that I could get a better price down there. After a few minutes spent on TireRack.com, I found an amazing set of 17-inch tires for $95 each. The same ones went for $165 at Canadian Tire! How ridiculous is that? I am not going to factor in currency variations as the two dollars have been fluctuating close to parity for a while now.
I would have to be insane not to take advantage of the price difference. Over the entire set, I was looking at $380 instead of $660! Plus, I was below my Canadian customs quota of $400 for an absence over 48 hours, so I wouldn't have to pay any duties on bringing the tires in from the US.
So I placed the order, drove down to New York and was on my way back to Canada after having spent the weekend away. Obviously the customs agent couldn't help but notice four very large bags sitting in the back of my car (17-inchers, remember). He asked me how much they cost. I said $380 all inclusive. He didn't believe me. I didn't have a bill since the tires were ordered online.
After a bit of persuasion, he let me through. However, he also warned me that I should have printed the bill to prove the price. What annoys me is the lack of trust and the assumption he made that I "had" to be lying. Why else would I buy the tires from the US if it weren't for the fact that they are so much cheaper down there?
Anyhow, I hope that everyone in Quebec would follow my example and buy their winter tires from the US. We need to teach our local suppliers that we will find other ways of getting what we want if they insist on raising prices and controlling them.
The worst part is that winter tires are now mandatory, meaning they are no longer a "luxury". Shouldn't the government intervene and do something to prevent retailers and/or distributors from taking us consumers for a ride?
On that note, drive safely this winter!
posted by Odin on Jul 26, 2009
'decarie-evening' by afternoon_sunlight, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License
Am I really doing this to myself? Am I some sort of masochist? Fifteen months ago, right before leaving Montreal to work in Paris, I had sold my 10-year old car. I didn’t know how long I was going to be away from Montreal, so I figured “why leave this car to sit around and lose value indefinitely?". Plus, I live in Westmount, and have always either worked downtown or from home, so I thought I really wouldn’t need a car when I returned.
Now I am back and working from home again. I have easy enough access to anything I need. I have a bus stop for the 24 line right in front of my building, and the Atwater metro station is ten-minutes away on foot. I can go to Supermaché PA on du Fort for groceries, and get them delivered for $1. For almost anything else, I can go to Alexis Nihon (Pharmaprix, Canadian Tire, Zellers …). Therefore, obviously I don’t “need" a car.
However, after lulling over the issue for a bit, I am starting to want a car again. There are many things I got used to when I owed one before. How else am I going to get my favorite groceries from Adonis in Ville-Saint-Laurent? Or visit my in-laws in Candiac? Finally, I have come to enjoy a number of restaurants scattered around the island, but that are difficult to reach using public transit.
This blog entry isn’t just about cars. It is also another jab into the Montreal public transit system (or the lack of it). Had we had a better, more connected grid with more metro stations, maybe I could have done without a car. During the fifteen months I spent in Paris, I was really able to go anywhere without too much complication or distance to walk.
So now that I have actually started to look at car prices and what sort of deals are out there, my hate of all automotive-related professionals is coming back to me. Am I really going to put myself in a situation where I have to deal with all these clowns again? The SAAQ, dealers, mechanics, insurance agents! They’ve all given me a hard time in the past! Not to mention all the costs associated with owning and maintaining a car! And what about being stuck in traffic and not finding a parking spot? Do I really hate myself this bad?
Finally, there’s the whole “environment" issue. I consider myself eco-conscious to some extent, so I do feel a little bad owning a car for non-necessities. Maybe I can get a hybrid to feel better about myself, but they’re pretty expensive and the choices are few.
At this point, I still haven’t made up my mind for certain: do I get a car or not? However, of all the disadvantages, the one that worries me the most is having to deal with mechanics (especially at the dealer): their high prices, their “invented" problems with your car, their pressure tactics … Man, do I hate this bunch!
posted by Odin on Apr 08, 2009
'Maximum 40' by Brad-514, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License
A few weeks ago, I read about the approval of an Island-wide slowdown law. Apparently, the Quebec government has given its blessing to lower the speed limit to 40 km/h across the island, including the demerged suburbs.
Is it just me or do laws like this make you feel like your government takes you for an imbecile? Or for an irresponsible baby that needs diapering and pampering way into its adult years!
So first, we’re not allowed to turn right on red lights. Next, we’re not allowed to use our cell phones while driving (mixed feelings about this one). Now, we have to drive at an impossibly slow speed of 40 km/h. What’s next? Maybe we shouldn’t be allowed to turn our head to talk to our side passenger! Or, how about banning scratching oneself while driving? Better yet, they should just forbid us altogether from removing either hand from the steering wheel, even if for one second!
The one that really kills me is the prohibition from turning left from a two-way street into another two-way street. What in the world is this? For an immigrant that has driven elsewhere, this comes off as completely insane and pointless! The worst is when you’re going south on Peel, and want to turn left on Sherbrooke. Nope, no can do! Instead, I have to go down all the way to traffic-ridden Sainte-Catherine, turn left there, and go back up Mansfield, thus wasting six blocks!
I’m all for safety for everyone, but how come we as Montrealers need stricter rules than everyone else? Are we dumber than Europeans, where speed limits are higher, red light turns are allowed and accidents are less frequent?
I mean, seriously, I don’t think I can possibly drive at 40 km/h on a two-lane street if traffic is light. I actually need to think about it and exert some effort to keep my foot off the pedal. In fact, I might become more dangerous and accident-prone driving at 40 km/h, because of how focused on my speed I would have to be. Wouldn’t the frequent glances at my dashboard distract me from the cars and traffic around me?
Good thing I sold my car. I’m sticking to biking and public transport. Not only is it greener, but it’s better for my sanity. I might just lose it next time they come up with one of these gems. Not to mention how hard and expensive it is to park downtown nowadays.
about the blog
MTLRants© is Seek Odin's brand new blog, bringing you entries from our staff and other contributors. The blog will cover topics and issues related to SeekOdin's central themes. Mostly, it will deal with the difficulties and frustrations of dealing with service-related businesses in Montreal.
|browse by tag|