With the rise of on-line shopping in every product category there has been an equally large jump in the number of “snake oil” vendors, people selling products online that come with incredible claims of quality and performance. Unfortunately, many consumers who make snap purchases without engaging in any research are often disappointed with the end results once they receive and use the products.
To avoid suffering the consequences of “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) decisions, consumers should buy from either a trusted source or get as much information as they can before spending any money. That’s especially true when it comes to choosing any of the multitude of products designed for vehicles, whether it’s an additive, an oil, a performance enhancer, or even a windshield fluid. Before you buy anything you hope to use on your vehicle, you should talk to an automotive professional like the experts at Vinnie’s Mr. Fixit in Guelph.
“One of the most common complaints we get when the weather gets cooler is from customers who come in saying their car is really hard on gas,” said Vince Klimkosz, owner of the three area locations of Vinnie’s Mr. Fisit. “They complain of poor fuel economy. We sell a professional line of fuel system cleaners you can’t buy from any store. It’s a professional strength product that cleans the injectors, the fuel system, and cleans out carbon deposits.”
While he does endorse the fuel system product, Klimkosz said that reductions to fuel economy are inevitable in the winter regardless of what additives you may be considering pouring into your fuel tank.
“Vehicles simply use more fuel when it’s cooler. It’s like a battery. When ambient temperatures go below 18 to 20 degrees, a vehicle computer will have to compensate and give the engine more fuel to keep it running. Vehicles use more fuel in the wintertime, it’s just the way it is. There is nothing you can do to change that.”
Another automotive product that seems like borderline snake oil is high priced windshield washer fluid. As long as the fluid remains in a liquid state in extremely low temperatures it really doesn’t matter what kind you buy according to Klimkosz.
“Some of the fancy windshield washer fluids have de-icers and other additives mixed in. Some of them may work better than others, but I haven’t really seen anything better than the old blue jugs of minus-40 washer fluid. Really, just getting out with a quality ice scraper is the best way to ensure your windows are clean and free of ice.”
According to Klimkosz, there are many fads related to automotive service and product innovations that come and go. For example, there was a time many automotive dealerships and repair shops were promoting the use of nitrogen in tires rather than simple air.
“The air we breathe is almost 80 percent nitrogen, so why not just put air in the tires,” he said. “Not many consumers could tell the difference if they were riding on air or on tires filled with nitrogen. For a time car buyers were encouraged to go to the dealerships for free top-ups. Now a lot of dealers are getting rid of the units because no one really uses them anymore.”
Another popular product category come wintertime is silicone-based windshield fluids like Rain-X, which is a synthetic hydrophobic surface-applied product that causes water to bead up and run off surfaces.
“Some of these products are good and they do help channel the water off your windshield,” said Klimkosz. “It’s just a treatment. Eventually it goes away and you have to continually reapply throughout the winter.”
One of the products Klimkosz said is worth considering is upgrading to LED headlights. These lights offer a brighter, whiter light which can help drivers who struggle in dark, rainy conditions. Before considering a changeover, you might want to check on the labour involved in swapping out bulbs, as some newer cars require the removal of the front bumper to access the lighting area.
If you have any other questions about automotive products or services, feel free to drop into any of the three area locations of Vinnie’s Mr. Fixit.
Call the new location at 86 Dawson Street at 519 821 8188. Or visit them online here.