The Hamilton Spectator

Answers to your car questions



Hi Dennis! I seek your customary excellent expertise and advice. My 2019 Ford Ranger is rated to tow 7,500 lbs and we are contemplat­ing purchasing a travel trailer with a GVWR of 6,800 lbs fully loaded. We are concerned that while theoretica­lly the Ranger can tow this RV, it may not be practical given the potentiall­y long distances and hilly conditions we expect. Would the wear and tear on the vehicle’s major components be too extreme if we are this close to the GVWR rating? Many thanks for your help

David from Kitchener


The only thing that this trailer weight will affect is the vehicle’s brakes and tires. The rest of the chassis will not have any problem doing the job for you. I do suggest however, that if you are going up a lot of hills, gear down on the gear shifter instead of letting the truck gear down automatica­lly.


Hi Dennis! Your answer in the Friday, February 16th Waterloo Record was the wisest, most logical, most level-headed, most down to earth ( I could go on) response to the climate/environmen­t/electric vehicle discussion that I have ever seen in the mainstream media! Thanks so much for putting that out there. I love your column and your answers are so often more than just technical advice e.g. like the time that you had to resolve the argument between a mother’s two sons. You are like the Ann Landers of tech issues! Keep up the great work.

Blessings, Bill Los from Listowel ON


Thanks Bill for taking the time to email me with your thoughts which are always appreciate­d.


Hi Dennis! Friday is the best day of the week for the Spectator as it has your column and I always enjoy it. I just finished the article about a grandfathe­r concerned about his son becoming an automotive technician. I do know that a lot of people see doom and gloom in the electric cars but they will require maintenanc­e as you pointed out. The phase out of internal combustion cars by 2035 is only on the sale of new cars. The ones built before that date will be with us for a very long time. When we moved to the internal combustion engine from horses, all the farmers did not disappear overnight. I expect the same to be true of the auto mechanics. I expect that classic cars will survive well into the next century. As my 14 year old son contemplat­es becoming a mechanic, I encourage him. He has already helped me rebuild the cylinder head of our Honda Element and he cleaned all the corroded contacts on my Tesla. Anyone who becomes a mechanic, no matter what the year, will not want for work. Thanks for a great column.

Brent from Ancaster


You are correct Brent! Not only will he or she not be wanting for work but within the trades, the technical trade is one of the highest paid trades in the industry today and even exceeds the income of other profession­s that require expensive higher education. This technical trade can also save the average family thousands of dollars over the years on vehicle repairs. I suggest to my readers that you do not discourage your son or daughter from entering any of the trades but encourage them not to overlook that option. One also does not have to get deeply into educationa­l debt in order to enter into any of the trades.


Dear Dennis, I am writing from Kitchener Ontario and I am a fan of your column. I have a 2012 VW Golf Sports wagon that has traveled from St. John’s NFLD to Tofino, BC. It has just rolled over 200,000 kms and I am faced with the unfortunat­e prospect of car shopping in the near future. I adore driving manual transmissi­on cars and want to own at least one more before we are all driving EVs. Call it a mid-life crisis if you will but I’m looking for your advice on something fun to drive in a five or six speed manual transmissi­on. I would also like something with enough leg room for my two teenaged sons so that they can drive safely (sadly, no Porsches).

Thank you, Jane from Kitchener (mad about manual)


Hi Jane! This is one of those questions where I would need to know a lot more personal things about the person before I could even begin to recommend a vehicle. Things such as health and one’s size and weight are important factors whenever one is considerin­g purchasing a new or used vehicle. I do suggest however, that you take your time to visit different dealership­s and road test every vehicle that you feel satisfies your needs. Your needs and wants may drasticall­y differ from that of your sons’ likes and wants so your comfort while driving and ease of getting in and out of a car is more important than that of your sons who can adapt very rapidly to any situation. Depending on the health and weight of the buyer, one may also want to consider a driver’s power seat option as it gives you better seating positions. Do not be afraid to talk to the service manager before you sign on the dotted line as he/she can advise you on the maintenanc­e requiremen­ts pertaining to your driving habits. Have a budget in mind and do not be talked into options that you may not want or need. My final point is that you should read the sales contract over very carefully and anything that was offered or agreed upon is on that contract before you sign.

To my readers: Please indicate the town, city or village that you live in. Be advised that unfortunat­ely not all emails can be answered. Send your questions (including address) by email to: dennis.osullivan6­

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