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Got Car Questions? We’ve Got Answers

Car expert Ryan Peterson, manager of automotive services for CAA Club Group, answers questions from our readers

A grey keyboard with 3 blue keys; one with a search icon, one with a car icon and one with a checkmark.

Credit: iStock

What's the difference between a premium tire and a less expensive tire, and is the premium tire worth the extra cost?

Ryan Peterson: The importance of good tires can’t be overstated. I’m a big believer in premium tires. They are the direct link between you and the road. Premium tires typically last much longer than regular tires, so the cost per kilometre driven—over the lifetime of the tire—can end up being comparable. 

So, if it’s a question of total cost, you’ll come out about the same. Premium tires are also much quieter and they can improve fuel economy by a significant amount. In a way, they pay for themselves over their lifespan. But let’s talk about traction because this is where premium tires demonstrate their true value. Performance on compromised surfaces (ice, snow, rain etc.) is noticeably superior to regular tires. That includes stopping distances too, where a few metres can make a big difference.

We don't hear as much about hybrid cars these days. Would you recommend buying one?

RP: With all the fully electric vehicle (EV) options today, hybrids now seem to be like jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. In terms of maintenance, hybrids have all the drawbacks of both internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and EVs—but few of the upsides. You have to pay for regular ICE maintenance and you have a battery to take care of too. 

Hybrids only save fuel at slow city speeds, so they’re great for ride-share drivers or, possibly, people who do a lot more city driving than highway driving. It takes a lot of fuel savings to pay for the upfront premium costs of a hybrid. I usually tell people to buy an EV if their driving style warrants the purchase—check out CAA’s EV Buyer’s Guide for more information. And if an EV isn’t right for you, then a reliable ICE vehicle with excellent fuel economy is your best bet.

What are some questions to ask when buying a used vehicle?

RP: Here are some things to consider:

SUPPLY CHAIN
We are in unprecedented territory here. There’s such a massive shortage of raw materials and labour that it’s filtering down to the car market. And because of this, we’re seeing used-car prices soar. So, this is a great time to sell a used vehicle—but only if you can get a replacement.

AFFORDABILITY
The market has also cooled off a lot in the last couple of months because of inflation. Not very many people can afford to buy a used car with cash. And with interest rates jumping the way they are, the market is starting to level out now because nobody can afford the loan to buy the car.

STRATEGY
CAA Members can call us to determine the value of their current vehicle. We have tools to monitor the market to get an idea. Just because it’s worth X number of dollars today doesn’t mean in a month or two it will be worth the same amount. It can be higher, it can be lower. In the meantime, keep it repaired and in good shape because we don’t know when prices are going to return to a reasonable amount.

Do you have car questions of your own?

Get in touch! Email autoadvice@caasco.ca or call 1-866-464-6448.

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