The truth can be hard to swallow

Don’t get us wrong, we love welcoming new clients into our shop. We love “new to us” vehicles as well, even though they can be challenging to deal with. Why challenging? Well, if we’ve never seen you or your car before, we have no service history, no knowledge of previous repairs. We don’t know what’s been recommended to you in the past or if you, the owner, are even aware of your vehicle’s overall condition.


When your car or truck rolls into our bays for the first time, we tend to spend a little more time on its vehicle inspection. Not to say that we don’t perform thorough inspections on vehicles belonging to our regular clients, it’s just that we know those clients. We know those cars. We have a better idea of what’s been repaired and maintained and what will need to be repaired or maintained in the future. We know their story.


We want to know the whole story (or as much as we can read into anyway) about your car. Truthfully, you as an owner need to know as much as you can as well. It’s your car, your investment. If something is seriously wrong, you need to know about it. Majority of our new clients claim to take very good care of their vehicles and tell us they’re in excellent shape.


Even so, the number of new customers’ vehicles we see in rough, yet reversible, condition is staggering. The repair costs for these vehicles is also troubling, as one neglected service after another gets compounded into one large repair estimate. This leads us to a question; How do these vehicles get to this state of disrepair? What is misleading these customers into believing their vehicle is in such great shape?


We often see this scenario with vehicles that frequent ‘rapid oil’ type maintenance facilities. Of course, these facilities have their place in the auto service industry, and they do perform inspections on their customers’ vehicles. However, the difference lies in their inspection itself, which is more focused on fluid and filter services rather than items that are safety hazards. Because they’re not in the business of fixing cars, their technicians are not trained or equipped to recognize and repair vehicles the way a ‘normal’ repair shop should. These technicians do not have the knowledge or experience to give their customers the ‘big picture’ about their car.


The fact is, you as a consumer are probably uneducated when it comes to the overall condition of your vehicle… but it’s not your fault. If you don’t know a service or repair needs to be performed on your car because it was never brought to your attention, you won’t do it. As far as we’re concerned, it’s in your best interest to know what condition your vehicle’s in, good or bad, so you can make better informed decisions about its required service and maintenance. The truth may be hard to swallow sometimes, but you need to hear it.

Online advice may not be the solution.

Back in the days of carburetors and leaded fuel, there was a little thing mechanics referred to as “Tim Horton’s Diagnostics” (Dunkin’ Donuts Diagnostics for our American readers). A group of friends would be sitting together drinking coffee and discussing life. One friend would talk about the problems they’d been having with their car… Another friend would speak up, saying, “The same thing happened to me, the problem was…”.


These conversations still take place today, and not just about vehicles. Everything from home improvement to health advice are frequent topics of discussion. However, rather than a trustworthy friend telling you about their personal experiences over a cup of joe, majority of advice is now taken from the internet, supplied by folks that you’ll probably never meet.


There are many experts online; doctors, lawyers, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, etc., who have credentials and experience in whatever field you are seeking information on and who are happy to offer advice on your individual situation. However, there are many cases where it is difficult to tell the difference between someone who knows what they’re talking about and someone who sounds like they know what they’re talking about…


As an example, let’s say you’ve been getting frequent headaches and have no idea why… You jump on the internet and type into your search engine “cause of headache”… For what it’s worth, Google yields about 52,700,000 results. Apparently, there are a lot of people out there that can give you advice on what’s causing your headache. Depending on your unique situation, there may be more than one solution to your problem. So who do you trust? The internet or a licensed physician?


As another example, let’s say your vehicle’s check engine light is on. Your car seems to be running fine, but out of curiosity you go online and search for “cause of check engine light” in your search engine… Google shows about 59,900 results… Not as many as the headache scenario but still quite a few. Depending on your unique situation, there may be more than one solution to your problem. So who do you trust? The internet or a licensed automotive technician?


(FYI; A check engine light can turn on for any one of over 1000 different reasons.)


The nice folks of the automotive repair profession tend to use medical analogies fairly frequently, and for good reasons. The automotive landscape has changed quite dramatically over the years. Vehicles today are built and equipped with many advanced computers, sensors and switches, and every sensor or switch is controlled by a computer, and every computer communicates with each other… Repairing vehicle problems isn’t quite as ‘cut-and-dry’ as it used to be. Automotive technicians, much like doctors, require years of classroom, hands-on, and continuous training to hone their skills and perfect their craft. A great technician, much like a great doctor, has processes and procedures they need to adhere to (commonly referred to as ‘diagnostics’) in order to properly identify and cure ailments properly without ‘band-aids’.


So why leave the problem solving to the internet? Is it the cost? Is it fear of the unknown? Maybe a lack of trust?

We welcome your comments.

Fixing your A/C may cost less than you think!

Imagine you walk out to your car on the hottest day of the year. You’ve had a long day and just want to go home, relax and maybe enjoy a cold refreshing beverage. You open your car door and a wall of hot air rushes out. You get in, start the engine, and crank up the air conditioning. As you start driving, you realize that there is no cold air blowing from your dash vents. The thought of a potentially expensive A/C repair crosses your mind as you roll down your windows…


In some cases, air conditioning repair can be costly… especially if the compressor, A/C lines, condenser or evaporator need to be replaced.


However, unbeknown to most folks, A/C systems in today’s modern vehicles leak out their refrigerant over time, causing the system to stop blowing cold air. In many cases, refilling the refrigerant restores a vehicle’s original “cool” factor without breaking the bank.


Having trouble beating the summer heat? Give Kevin’s a call. The fix may cost you less than you think!

Residence for Rodents Poses Fire Hazard for Clients


Every vehicle that comes into Kevin’s undergoes a multi-point courtesy inspection. It is a great benefit to those folks who don’t know much about cars… We have the ability to identify problems before they become problems, a notion that saves our clients a lot of time and money in the long run.

Today, we have an example of how an unrecognized concern could lead to something worse. This was the first time we’d ever seen this particular Hyundai Santa Fe. Opening the hood, the first thing that came to our attention was the mouse nest jammed under the plastic engine cover of the 2.7L V6. It appeared to have been there for a quite some time, and was full of dry leaves and grass. The nest was located above one of the engine’s exhaust manifolds, a component that can reach temperatures from 800°F to 1000°F (427°C to 538°C) with the engine running.  If any of this debris were to come loose and fall on the exhaust manifold, it could ignite and cause an engine fire. A lack of airflow through the engine cover could have caused an overheating scenario as well. Eeeew......

With the engine cover removed, we could plainly see that this nest was not something that appeared overnight… This had been here for quite a while, which poses a couple of questions… Who has been servicing this vehicle, and why hasn’t the client been informed of this?DSC_5275

Either way, this was something we had to take care of before any damage occurred. We simply disposed of the nest and vacuumed up the remnants. It only took us about 5 minutes to take care of, and will surely save our client some time and money in the long run.
Who’s inspecting your vehicle?

Mysterious Glowing Orb Spotted Floating over Ottawa

At about 9:00 am on April 15th, 2013, a mysterious glowing object appeared in the skies over Kevin’s Auto Care in Ottawa, Ontario. The object appeared to be fairly large in diameter and emitted an intense heat that could be felt at ground level. Staff at Kevin’s attempted to take photographs of the orb, which disappeared and re-appeared above the cloud cover.

It was later determined that the Sun had come out.

Brushing your teeth

The earliest known example of a toothbrush was one from the Tang Dynasty in China (619–907AD). For centuries, dentists and hygienists have recommended brushing your teeth at least two times per day to maintain your oral health. This seems reasonable, right? We’ve been hearing it from dental professionals for years; Brush your teeth twice a day and you reduce the chances of causing irreversible damage to your teeth.

To go with the toothbrush, you use toothpaste, which again, is centuries old, dating back as early as the 9th century. It has taken on different forms, but always had the same purpose; to be used in conjunction with a toothbrush to help clean your teeth.

Let’s say you visit your dentist for your regular checkup. While in conversation, they talk to you about a “New and Improved” toothbrush and toothpaste, one that the product’s manufacturer says you only have to use once every 2 days. Everyone is so busy nowadays, it’s a far more convenient than having to brush twice a day… and they’re no more expensive than regular toothbrushes and toothpaste! Think about all of the time you will save, only having to brush your teeth every second day. Even better, think about the money you’ll save on toothbrushes and toothpaste every year! An absolutely brilliant idea, right?

If you’re anything like us, you would feel a bit skeptical about such a product, and sounds like a “short-term gain, long-term loss” scenario. Some people may find it more convenient and will see a long term cost savings… but at what final cost? A root canal can be upwards of $800, a crown is around $1100, and dentures can cost as much as $5000! Most people will need to get that dental work performed anyways, but will changing the frequency of your brushings affect how soon you need to get the work done? Is this new product just a ploy to get people back to the dentist early to have these procedures performed?

This scenario has a lot in common with the way auto manufacturers have gone with their maintenance schedules. The old system of “Change your engine oil every 3 months or 5,000km (3,000mi)” has long been abandoned by auto makers. Nearly every brand has an “extended” service schedule, pushing the mileages on oil changes up to 8,000km, 12,000km, even 24,000km in some cases. Many services that were once a routine maintenance item have even been omitted from the factory service schedules, deemed by manufacturers as “lifetime” fluids or components. Marketing these changes has been relatively easy for service departments at dealerships; your new vehicle only requires servicing every X,000km, which means you’ll spend less money on maintenance. You won’t be inconvenienced as frequently either, as your vehicle requires servicing less times in a year!

But at what cost?

We have seen several examples of premature vehicle failures over the years, many of them a direct result of a service or maintenance that had either been carried out at the manufacturer’s extended intervals or had never been serviced as a result of a “lifetime” component that was omitted from the factory schedule. A recent example was that of a vehicle requiring a complete engine replacement due to extended oil change intervals. The vehicle only had 44,000km on it, and its factory warranty had expired. Fortunately, the owner had purchased an extended warranty contract and the engine work was covered (otherwise the job would have cost well over $10,000 in this scenario), but what if there was no warranty?

Short-term gain, long-term loss?

The folks here at Kevin’s are all of the opinion that every vehicle on the road has the ability to reach the 300,000km mark. In fact, we have several clients whose vehicles have surpassed that number and are still running great, without any major problems. Looking back on the service history of those vehicles, frequent maintenance (i.e., 5,000km oil changes, transmission services, coolant services, tune-ups etc.) had been carried out on all of them, and they’ve all spent less money keeping their cars on the road longer, rather than trading them in for a newer one every 4 or 5 years.

Auto manufacturers sell cars, and their maintenance schedules reflect that. They don’t want cars to reach 300,000km. In fact, it seems as if many of them want their vehicles to survive albeit barely past the warranty period. Then, when something catastrophic happens to the vehicle, they have the opportunity to sell a shiny new one with a full warranty… and the cycle continues.

If you’re planning on keeping your teeth longer, you should brush them twice a day. If you’re planning on keeping your car longer than 3 or 4 years, you may want to consider more frequent servicing. We prefer the “long-term gain” scenario.

Beat the winter tire rush…

Those of you who enjoy warm summer breezes and poolside lounging are probably aware that summer has officially come to an end. We apologize for this upsetting news, but you’ve probably already figured this out if you’ve recently attempted to catch some rays without a tanning bed.

October is a great month to get prepared for winter driving. It’s a fantastic opportunity to have your vehicle inspected for any hazards that may cause a breakdown in the dead of winter. Trust us, sitting on the side of the road at twenty-below waiting for a tow truck is not fun. We don’t wish that upon anyone.

That being said, are you the kind of person that likes to be prepared? If so, we encourage you to pay us a visit towards the end of October to have your vehicle inspected and have your winter tires installed.

We understand that, to some folks, this may be a bit early to install winter tires, but there is a method to our madness. Allow us to elaborate;

 – Installing your winter tires early guarantees your safety at the first snowfall.

 – You won’t have to run around in a panic trying to get your winter tires installed on the day of the first snowfall, because the chances of getting an appointment at a garage on that same day are slim to nil…

 – If your winter tires are deemed not suitable or are too worn to be run during the winter, the chances of there being winter tires available for purchase are greater than if you wait.

 – Winter tires have greater grip at temperatures below 7ºC than “All-Season” tires do. Temperatures start to drop towards the end of October, so it makes sense to switch to your winter tires at this time to give your vehicle added traction and stability.

 – If you have a winter tire discount on your insurance policy, the contract typically states that your vehicle must be equipped with winter tires between the months of November and March (this may vary depending on the insurance provider).

That being said, give us a call to book your Winter Tire change-over… early… You’ll be glad you did.

The blind guy in the back….

Kevin’s not blind, but he could probably rebuild a Quadrajet with his eyes closed

We are often asked if we work on carburetors… Of course we do… We have a blind guy in the back that rebuilds them…

All joking aside, the gentleman in the photo is Kevin (yes, that’s right, Kevin… as in “Kevin’s Auto Care”… He’s kind of a big deal…), shown rebuilding a Carter Thermoquad carburetor.

Kevin has been in the automotive trade since the mid 70s, and has extensive knowledge of vintage vehicle service and repairs. He currently has several clients who have been bringing him their vintage vehicles for servicing, mainly because no one else has the knowledge to do it.

Are you having difficulty finding a repair facility in Ottawa for your vintage vehicle? Give Kevin’s a call. We can fix it.

Oh, yeah…. just for the record, Kevin isn’t blind…


Seeing and Being Seen… And no, we’re not talking about your shiny new wheels…

Over the past couple of decades, there have been many advancements to the safety systems in the everyday automobile. Take for instance the headlightseat belt. Although well over fifty years old, the seat belt has improved dramatically over the years. New seat belts use seat sensors to calculate the weight of the occupant and use that information to vary the amount of tension placed upon the occupant in the event of a collision. Also consider the development of advanced traction control systems and crumple zones, and don’t forget air bags… they’re tucked away wherever the automotive engineers can hide them.

Even though modern day vehicles are much safer than those of the past, there are several safety systems that are just as important as seat belts, and very severely neglected.

We’re talking, of course, about the Lighting and Visibility systems in your vehicle, which allow you, the driver, to both see and be seen.

If you have an automotive mindset (as we all do at Kevin’s), seeing a vehicle with brake lights not working or watching an oncoming car with a headlight out is enough to drive you crazy.

Although the process of bulb replacement seems fairly simple to many people, in many cases there is significant disassembly required to access the bulb in question. Many newer vehicles require the removal of the battery, front wheels or front bumper to replace a headlight bulb.


Replacing light bulbs on a vehicle used to be a task most people could perform in their driveway. Today, bulb replacement often turns into a weekend driveway project on a newer vehicle, even if the bulb is fairly easy to access. Corrosion of bulb sockets or wiring is often found to be the cause of a light not working. If you’re not sure of what you’re doing, it could turn into a fairly costly endeavour…

We frequently see many newer vehicles in this state
of disrepair, which is one of the reasons why we check your vehicle’s
lighting at every visit, a part of our complimentary multi-point vehicle

If you’re not sure about how to replace a light bulb on your late-model car, please resist the urge to replace it yourself. Take it to a professional (like the guys at Kevin’s). You’ll be glad you did!

Cabin Air Filters; The most commonly neglected filter in your vehicle

Let’s face it… Most people don’t even know they exist.

Many newer vehicles are equipped with Cabin Air Filters, found in the Heating/A/C (HVAC) System. Cabin Air Filters filter out particles that can be harmful to your respiratory health. Dust, pollen, and other allergens get trapped in your vehicle’s cabin air filter when fresh air gets drawn in from outside the vehicle. Air is also filtered when it is re-circulated within your vehicle’s cabin.

A Cabin Air Filter also protects the vehicle’s HVAC system fan from debris, prolonging it’s useful lifespan and reducing the chances of a breakdown.


Shown above are 2 Cabin Air Filters… the one on the left should really look more like the one on the right. When a cabin air filter gets this dirty (like the one on the left), it restricts the amount of airflow through the HVAC system and puts excessive strain on the fan, which can lead to the premature demise of the fan. A dirty filter may also make it difficult to maintain a comfortable temperature in the vehicle’s cabin.

At Kevin’s, we recommend Cabin Air Filter replacement once a year or every 20,000km. If you are unsure if your vehicle is equipped with a Cabin Air Filter, call us at 613-226-1341. We’ll be more than happy to let you know.