Car Blog

2016-2017 SASC Winter Driver Training

This article was originally published in December 2013. We are republishing it as the 2016-2017 program has now been scheduled. It has been updated with a new element/exercise so if you’ve taken part before you may want to give it a try again to freshen up your skills. Here are the updated links for this year’s program:

Registration: Register Here
More Information: Click here

This weekend, the Southern Alberta Solosport Club (SASC) held their first Winter Driving Training of the year and we were invited to check it out. While winter driving training is not mandatory for one to receive their driver’s license in Canada, it really ought to be. The skills that are taught at the event through various exercises are critical for safe winter driving and even the most experienced drivers come away learning something new.

Have you ever been caught on slick roads where no matter how far you crank your steering wheel your car just wants to continue going straight? What should you do if you lose control of your vehicle? If it looks like you cannot stop in time before running into someone, what should you do? These questions and many more will be answered as you go through each of these scenarios.

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Meet Arianny Celeste At Driven 2016 in Calgary

arianny-celeste-calgary is excited to announce that Arianny Celeste, long time UFC Octagon girl, will our featured guest at Driven 2016 being held at the Olympic Oval on May 7th. You may also know her from Overhaulin’ where she was a co-host, or you may have seen her grace the cover of Playboy. She will be at the show from 2-5pm so if you’re interested in meeting her, make sure you get down to the show early and come to our booth/stage. She will be signing autographs, selling posters/calendars and of course taking photos with her fans!

Driven 2016 is already sold out for exhibitors, and we’ve got some big plans again for our booth so we’re excited to have Arianny be a part of it and look forward to everyone that will make it down. Starting this year, the show will be ending a bit earlier so be sure to get down early to ensure you have enough time to see everything and check out all the vehicles (over 450!) at the show. To save time, be sure to pre-purchase tickets on the Driven 2016 website. Improvements have been made for the entry process for pre-purchased tickets to avoid the major congestion the show experienced last year due to the big crowds but I can’t say it often enough, come down early!

Why People Still Buy Cars with Manual Transmissions


We live in an age where almost everything is automated, as machines carry out tasks with more efficiency and precision than humans. So, when everything is taken care of so conveniently, is there even a reason to do things manually anymore?

Manual transmissions have been on a steady decline for a while now in terms of sales numbers. In fact, only five per cent of new cars sold in Canada had manual transmissions (as of July 2013). Even sports cars with manual transmissions are not doing as well – and we are talking about Porsches, Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston Martins here!

But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t drivers who search high and low for a ride that come with a gear stick. Here are their reasons to do so:

Reason #1: Performance

One of the main reasons to choose a manual transmission over an automatic one is superior acceleration. Manual transmissions don’t weigh as much, have shorter gearing and require less power to function because they don’t do any gear shifting themselves. If you are a beginner, this may not benefit you right away, but if you are an experienced driver, then a manual transmission can provide you with the performance boost you are looking for.

Double-clutch automatic and semi-automatic transmissions are an exception to this since they shift at the speed no living human being can match, but they are still rare. So, unless you procure one of those, then the manual transmission is still the best option.

Reason #2: Driver Engagement

There’s no doubt that driving stick can be a challenge for beginners, especially since most of us are accustomed to automatic transmissions. The challenge is learning how to use the clutch pedal in harmony with the gear shift to switch between gears, and while it’s not always easy, it’s very rewarding when you get to connect with your car on that level. Braking is also easier since manual transmissions don’t come with torque converters, which cause more torque to be transmitted to the wheels once the car is on the move.

Having this level of control makes manual driving more engaging because drivers get to feel “at one” with their cars.

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Optima Batteries Brings Ultimate Street Cars to SEMA 2015


The Optima Invitational, or Optima Ultimate Street Series, or whatever they’re calling it these days, invites owners of any and all vehicles to join in a multi-stage performance test in a bid to be crowned the ultimate street car (and driver). Cars are split into classes based on age and weight, and follow pretty standard rules – mandating street tires, limiting aftermarket aero and, of course, making sure everything is safe – as they tackle up to 4 challenges during 1 of 8 qualifying rounds across America. From Pike’s Peak to Michigan International, drivers from all over the country are able to show up and try their luck in road rally, road course, autocross or speed stop, as well as receive points for how streetable their car is. The top performers at each qualifying round, as well as the winners of each event and some lucky “Spirit of the Event” cars get invited to the final showdown at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, held immediately after SEMA.

Unfortunately for us, the majority of cars had already rolled out before we could get shots, but we got to see some great cars at their booth inside the hall. Check out the gallery for all the pics that we managed to get!

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Why Car Dealer Margins are Thinner Than You Think


Car dealers don’t make as much money as some shoppers tend to think. According to recent data, a dealer’s margin is roughly 8.7 per cent per vehicle, which means that a car that costs $20,000 would allow a dealer to make only $1,740 – and this excludes overhead costs and other expenses.

Yet many consumers are convinced that car dealers are ripping them off, as mentioned in our previous article. A J.D. Power and Associates study shows that 36 per cent of car buyers think that dealers earn an average of $3,000 per new car sold and 26 per cent believe that the amount is between $1,500 and $3,000. In truth, however, it’s only slightly above $1,000.

So, what is it that makes those margins so thin? And how exactly are dealers able to profit from selling vehicles in general? Well, let’s figure it out right here…

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Help Two Canadians Get To SEMA – Tuner Battlegrounds 2015


Help a couple Winnipegers (Winnipegians?) Al and Alex make it to SEMA in the 2015 Tuner Battlegrounds Competition. They are both just one battle away from making it to SEMA with their builds.

Please vote at the links below. Voting is quick and only takes a few seconds. Click the link, log in with Facebook and click the gold star. You can vote daily, once every 24 hours.

Sharing the vote links on Facebook with friends and family is also a huge help!

Vote for Al’s 350Z —–>
Vote for Alex’s BRZ —->

Thank you!

How To Get A Lower Price On Your Next Car: A Step-by-Step Guide


Negotiating the price of a car can be nerve-wrecking – but only if you don’t know how to do it. According to J.D. Power and Associates, 36 per cent of car shoppers believe that dealers earn an average of $3,000 per new vehicle sold, while 26 per cent think that the margin is between $1,500 and $3,000. In reality, it’s just a little over $1,000. That’s why you have to be tactful when asking a dealer to lower the price.
The best way to succeed when negotiating with a dealer is to understand how car pricing works. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to obtain this information and use it to convince a dealer to lower the price.

Step #1: Choose Your Vehicle
In order to negotiate the price of any product, you need to know exactly what it is first. When buying a new car, you should know its year, make, model, trim level and options, if you want your negotiations to go smoothly. In the case of options you may need to be flexible since some of them could be unavailable, particularly if you are buying a car closer to the end of the year. It’s worth having more than one car in mind if you want to increase your chances of getting specific features for a good price.

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Motor Monday: Harley’s LiveWire

If you were in Inglewood this past weekend you may have noticed some hubbub around Kane’s Harley Davidson dealership. That’s because Harley is on the 2nd year of their LiveWire Experience tour and Calgary was lucky enough to be on the agenda. The LiveWire Experience tour is a show and tell (and ride!) for Harley’s new LiveWire electric motorcycle concept, taking feedback from current and potential Harley customers in order to craft the production version of the bike, as well as giving people likely their first opportunity to ride an electric bike. Last year Harley Davidson took comments from 15,000 customers and gave out 6,800 test rides in 30 American cities. This year they’re going international, with tour stops in Europe, Asia and right here in Canada.

The bike itself isn’t the first of its kind but it’s definitely something unique, and not just because it comes from the last company you’d expect to make it. Aside from the text-less badges, the only clue you’d have that the LiveWire could be a Harley is the belt connecting the transmission to the rear wheel. In place of the cornerstone air-cooled V-Twin engine you’ve got a longitudinally mounted, 55 kilowatt, three phase electric motor pushing 72 horsepower through a transmission which lost its clutch and gears. Of course this means you don’t get the distinctive Harley brap, but people will still know what you’re riding just by listening. With the motor mounted sideways, power needs to be redirected 90 degrees via a bevel gear. This gear gives the LiveWire a sound they liken to a jet engine. Just, you know, quieter… and more futuristic. While the power number is in line with a modern sport touring bike, the delivery is instantaneous and nothing like any bike you’ve likely ridden. Aside from that, it rides like any other street bike. To further pull this Harley into the iPhone age, they’ve replaced standard gauges with a full colour touchscreen like you’d find in a modern car. The screen is used for standard monitoring of charge, range and trip, along with selecting drive mode between maximum power and maximum range. All of this, combined with a naked street look, comes together to form not just a great bike, but a significant step from the norm for Harley Davidson.

The goal of the LiveWire is very clearly to appeal to a customer segment which currently has little to no interest in Harley Davidson, and I think they’ve done a great job. It’s the first Harley I’ve ever been interested in, and it should do a great job of altering the perception of Harley Davidson as a company who can’t (or won’t) move forward. It’s a bold move, let’s see if it pays off. That is, of course, contingent on them actually producing and selling this bike. Harley Davidson have said a production version is at least 2 years out but would happen this decade. Despite the high quality of the LiveWire we saw this weekend, there’s still work to be done. A similarly powered Zero SR with Power Tank will get more than double the LiveWire’s range and starts at about $21,000 CAD. Harley has already said $20,000 is what customers want to pay but that they can’t be profitable at that point. Well, I know a lot of people will be willing to pay a bit extra for the Harley name, but there needs to be some big improvements to range before they’ll be able to justify it.

But maybe pricing them to sell isn’t the goal. Maybe the goal is to prove that Harley isn’t what we all think they are, or that electric motorcycles aren’t just for niche manufacturers, or maybe the engineers in Wisconsin just wanted to have some fun. I think I’d like any or all of those are true.

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Motor Monday: Hacking Cars for Fun and Profit

Every three years the US Copyright Office holds hearings on whether certain technologies or activities should be exempt from the infamous Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A relevant example would be “jailbreaking” smartphones. If the Copyright Office hadn’t upheld the exemption for jailbreaking phones, that activity would now be illegal and a lot of people would be very upset. Well there are currently multiple hearings regarding the rights of people to hack and tune their cars, and the security industry isn’t too happy about it. A modern car has dozens of computers monitoring and controlling every aspect of the vehicle from engine to brakes and climate control to stereo. If something on your car can be measured, odds are good that there’s a sensor taking readings and sending the data back to a computer which makes a decision based on what it’s told. Now what if an entity other than the car had control of those systems? Well it’s a potential disaster, and that’s the argument OEMs are making as they push to protect their software from being reverse engineered by the public.

The hearings going on right now center around who can hack their cars, and what they can do with the information they find. Manufacturers argue that they currently have their own security teams looking at their code, as well as third party partners running independent tests, so there’s nothing to be gained by continuing to allow public researchers to tinker. In fact, they claim it will cause more harm than good. If researchers find a vulnerability and then disclose it publicly, now it’s in the hands of bad actors who can exploit it and cause problems. I guess they’re ignoring the fact that the bad guys don’t care whether hacking cars is illegal or not, and that a vulnerability in the hands of the public is safer than one only owned by a malicious party. The OEMs also argue that somebody at home could change the software controlling their brakes and cause a collision. Well, I can go out, pull brakes off a crashed car and have an uncertified idiot (me) use unregulated tools (my hands) to install them before going driving on the public roadways. What happens ifwhen I screw up and hurt somebody? Well I can only tell you that it’s a hell of a lot easier to see if software has been improperly altered than it is to see if the brakes on a totaled car were installed properly.

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