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My Canadian Experience
Getting my car serviced

Was heading back from the supermarket and noted that my low oil light had come on.  Well I was just heading for Shoppers Drug Mart and then back to the house so I wasn't too worried about it.

That said it occurred to me that as I had purchased my car in January 2005 and as it was now August 2006 that I hadn't had an oil change or a service done on the car.  I thus went to check my car manual to see what the service intervals were like and I noted they recommended that you changed your oil at least every 10,000k and that you had a car service at least every year <gulp>

I then checked my oil and found it below the low level <even bigger gulp>.

And so I headed for the Buick dealer that had fixed my lock system the previous year and discussed this with them. They gave me a check sheet...

They recommend you get your oil changed every 3 months or 5000km.  The Lube, Oil and Filter service is $29.95 and that includes a 15 point check and oil filter replacement. The mechanic who dealt with me stressed you should never go more than 12 months without having Lube, Oil & Filter Service. I had done around 27,000km since the last service.

They also have a semi-annual service and a full annual service. The pages above detail what you get for your money.  As I understand it the semi-annual check is $29.95 and the full annual check is $49.95. So I have also booked the car in for tomorrow afternoon for a full annual check.

I really don't know why I didn't think of doing all this before.  I know back in Scotland I would always take my car in every 6,000 miles for a  full service.  Perhaps it was due to me noting I had a service light on the dashboard and just assumed it would come on when I needed a service.

Anyway.. pleased to note that this is now all in hand and will check things out more frequently now that I know. Having done the oil change for me they also washed my car :-)

And now we get to the painful bit... the next day while going in for the service I got a wee phone call just to let me know that I needed both front lower control arm bushings replaced and I also needed to replace the right front hub and bearing and that little lot plus the service came to $1019.39 <gulp>

I also decided to join the CAA (Canadian Automobile Assocation) and took out there Plus membership. Essentially the Basic membership just gives you a tow up to 10km whereas the Plus service is up to 200km.  As I plan to motor down to the USA later this year I figured it was worth the extra.  Also noted that CAA roadside assistance is also available in the USA. They also provide free maps as part of the service.

This week has seen me out having a Roast Beef dinner with Nola and Harold and also a Lamb BBQ, the same one I went to last year courtesy of the Ontario Sheep Farmers Association.  I also implemented the security advise that the police constable gave me about getting better lock latches installed on all doors and keying them all so that all doors can be opened with one key.  I also replaced the front door lock with a manual combination lock.

The general advice I've had about alarm systems is that they won't really make much difference as if someone wants to break in they will.  All it really does is help to prevent people spending a couple of hours in your house as even if the alarm goes off they'll still figure they have a couple of minutes to steal the most obvious stuff.  So the good security locks just means it will be noisier and take longer to break in which will likely deter most burglars.  I guess it's a gamble either way as by telling folk you have an alarm system it also advertises that you likely have something worth stealing :-)

When Nola and Harold visited me this week Nola brought in two large ring binders with Photostat copies of the Biographical Records of the County of Kent.  She has offered to type in some of them for me and so I started working through them ticking all the Scots descendants and I was amazed that they came to at least 160.  At a rough estimate that meant that at least a quarter of all these biographical records were of Scots descendents.  That was pretty amazing to me as I really wasn't aware that the Scots made up such a high percentage of the local population.  I note that the actual publication was done in 1904 and as a service the local library will produce a copy of it for you which is how Nola got this set.

It also occurred to me that if the County of Kent had done this type of publication then surely other counties had done the same in Canada and other parts of the world. It's a bit of a pity that I couldn't get folk around the world that read my weekly newsletter to go out and see if they can find anything similar and perhaps transcribe the records for me and send them by email.  We could really get some excellent material that way.

August is looking like an expensive month as I again spend some more money.  I decided that the air conditioning system, central air, needed an inspection but I'd never got around to it so when Sears phoned to offer a free inspection I took the opportunity to get one done.  Was quite staggered at the amount of dirt that had accumulated in the central air system.  Also the last official inspection of the furnace was logged as 1998. I figured my health was more important than money so went with a complete cleaning and maintenance service and also decided to install a humidifier. This little lot cost $1439.48. 

They bring around a truck with compressors that apparently suck out all the muck in the system and also sanitize the system.

Actually I have no real knowledge of these types of systems as I never had central air in Scotland so all this is rather new to me.  The engineer that arrived put down mirrors so I could see into the ducting and yuk was all I could think of. So this should all make things cleaner, healthier, more efficient and should save me a bit of money on my electric bill. But most important, I think I will be healthier as a result.

Did You Know: Your duct system is a breeding ground for mold, fungi, bacteria, germs and microscopic dust mites. Every time your heating or air conditioning system comes on, these particles become airborne. As our homes become “tighter” and HVAC systems become more energy efficient, pollutants are trapped inside your home. If you suffer from allergies, asthma, sinusitis, dry coughs, sore throats, chronic breathing problems, itchy watery eyes, headaches, it may be a result of poor air quality.

Humidifiers - During our long winter, dry heated air can lower the humidity level in your home. The results? Itchy skin, scratchy throat, annoying coughs and even nosebleeds. Not to mention static electricity, squeaky floors, wilting houseplants or a piano that sounds a bit off-key.

Anyway, on 31st August they appeared to commence the work. The first person to arrive was the man to do the furnace maintenance and fit the humidifier.  He was not a happy punter as he couldn't fit the humidifier and would have to get some metal work done to install it.  He reckoned this would cost another $50 and it would take a couple of weeks.  He then took me to task for not having a hose... like how was he meant to clean my air conditioning and furnace if I didn't have a hose. I suggested that he might obtain one and he suggested I might buy one!  In the end he phoned his office and got permission to purchase a hose :-)

And so this is him hosing down my air conditioning unit

And this is my furnace stripped down to be cleaned

He also informed me that the duct cleaning side likely wouldn't arrive until between 3 - 4pm instead of between 12.00 to 1.00 so it will be interesting to see how long they take to do the duct cleaning. At least this furnace chap arrived on time.  He did mention this was his last call today. It took him around 1.5 hours to clean the system and he figured it had never been cleaned.

Here is the check list of things that were done and observed...

As an aside... while he was here I got in an email asking where they might be able to purchase a spurtel. A spurtle is a wooden stick that you stir porridge with.  I had a quick look on the web and found a few places selling them but none looked like the one my family have been using all these years.  Here's a picture of mine...

I also got in a Tom Tom 901 GPS navigation system for the car which will hopefully mean I can find my way around the US and Canada :-)

I haven't got around to fitting it in the car yet but am looking forward to trying it out.

And so I am now waiting for the duct people to arrive and the previous chap said they'd likely take two hours when they arrive so we'll see how they get on :-)

And they arrived at 4:30pm telling me there were huge hold ups on the 401 highway which were. The younger one is Joe Regan and the more senior chap is Ralph Donald.

Essentially they air blast any dust downwards. They then seal all the returns and then use the suction pump to suck up all the dust. They then wash and sanitize the returns and the system. Takes about 2 hours to do this. And here is the check list they left behind...

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