The Hamilton Spectator

Answers to your car questions



Hi Dennis! I absolutely love your weekly column and it’s probably the main reason that I still read the Hamilton Spectator. With snow tire changeover season now on, how is the best way to store them? My single garage has no room so I store them in a tin shed in the back yard. The summer heat often takes the temperatur­e over 43 degrees C (110 F). Does this harm the tires? Should I re-duce the air pressure before storing? Does it matter if they lay flat or stand upright? Thanks for all your previous good advice!

Vic from Stoney Creek


Storing tires in an area subject to extreme heat or in direct sun-light will cause the tires to deteriorat­e faster and possibly cause the tires to show signs of early cracking. The most ideal place would be in one’s basement where the temperatur­e is rela-tively stable but if that is not possible then your garage would be the next best area. A dark dry area for storage is better if possible. It is always a good idea to clean the tires and com-pletely dry them before storage and cover them with plastic bags if you have them. If the tires are not mounted or mounted on the rims, then the best way to store them is on a tire rack side by side. If there is not any other option but to store them horizon-tally then place a cardboard or something similar between each tire. Do not store anything on the tires if stored horizontal­ly. Some recommend that you deflate your stored mounted tires to around 10 pounds (kPa 689476) to 15 pounds (1032 kPa) before stor-age but that is not completely necessary for the longevity of the tires - just make sure that they are not overinflat­ed. If you do not have a tire rack then place them vertically on a piece of wood or carpet, if stored on a concrete floor.


Hi Dennis! I hope that you can help me or at least advise me on what I should do. I had an acci-dent the other week and I was charged for careless driving. I am only twenty-three years old and this will cost me dearly in my insurance coverage come renewal time. I ran into the rear of another car at a stop light, coming down the hill in Dundas. My brakes failed and I cannot find anyone who can tell me why. I told the police that my brakes failed but when they checked them at the accident scene, they appeared to be working fine. I had my mechanic check them out completely and other than being slightly down in brake fluid, he could not find anything wrong. My lawyer tells me that he can plead me down to following too closely but why should I agree to something that I did not do? Is there an explanatio­n that everyone is missing or am I just imagining that my brakes failed?

D from Ancaster


I am not sure that your lawyer would be too pleased that you are questionin­g his/her advice by asking others for their opinions. The lawyer obviously knows more of the facts than what you are giv-ing me so I will not comment on the advice of your lawyer. I can tell you however that your experience is not unique when you claim that your car brakes failed at a critical time. This phenomenon is called “vapour lock”. Vapour lock is when the brake fluid is contaminat­ed to the point that when overheated, it becomes vapourized and causes the brakes to momentaril­y fail. The fact that your technician may have put new brake fluid in the master cylinder before the brake fluid was tested for its boiling point, may be problemati­c. You may still however, be able to get a correct boiling point reading from the two rear calipers but this needs to be done immediatel­y. If the brake fluid is found to be contaminat-ed, this will most likely result in another accident with worse consequenc­es so I suggest that you have the brake fluid changed. If your technician did check the brake fluid for contaminat­ion and it was found to be fine then yes, you have to question your assevera-tion of brake failure. At the risk of upsetting your lawyer, show this email to him/her so that they can have the brake fluid checked immediatel­y under a controlled situation which in turn can be used in court.

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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