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October 20, 2008


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James Phieffer

A good point, but I wanted to mention one thing. As a professional driver, it should be noted that while there are various cab-heating devices available, they have tended to be rather expensive until recently (the increasing cost of fuel having now made their costs much more reasonable). Also, many if not most of the trucks you see on the highway are fleet owned. The drivers are employees, and have no say in the equipping of the trucks. So it isn't the drivers who are to blame.
I always preferred to sleep without the noise of the engine, and would often sleep in a cab that was around or below freezing for that reason. But sometimes you can't, and during the heat of summer, with the limited air flow available while still ensuring your personal security, air conditioning is a must.
The reality is, if we want to eliminate idling trucks, we need to see the province use the means at its disposal to make equipping trucks with generators or auxiliary heating/air conditioning units mandatory and cost effective. This should be a more important matter than it currently is, as it would contribute to cleaner air, lower fuel use, better rested and safer drivers, and a healthier workplace for those drivers.
Its net impact would be much greater than the idea of governing truck speeds (without doing the same to cars). That idea, of course, was sponsored by the same companies who refuse to spend the money on the auxiliary power units (the Ontario Trucking Association).
You should ask them about that.


I was at a Chevy dealership waiting to pickup my car when the service manager got a call from a customer.

That customer wanted a remote starter installed. The service manager was quite clear that they would not do it, as it would likely cause damage to the car. He iterated that they remove many of them due to the problems they cause. He assured the customer that it would not void his warranty if it was done somewhere else (i.e. Canadian Tire), but that it was a principle thing that his shop would not install devices that do more harm than good.

The customer was quite insistent that he wanted the dealership to do the install, I guess because he wanted to ensure it was "done right". The service manager was quite insistent that there was "no such thing". It got to the point that I heard the service manger state, "I don't care that you're willing to pay me more than Canadian Tire will charge, I will not do it."

That conservation has stayed with me, even though my car stays in the driveway overnight, and there are times where it would be handy to have the car pre-warmed (especially when the windows are coated in that thick ice that scrapers can't get through).

When a mechanic is willing to turn down extra money out of principle, there must be a good reason for it!

Alan Adams

That's what I say to yours and many others who say diesel will come some day as soon as people forget the cars of the 80's that had diesel and were so noisy.

EVERY day people are reminded what diesel is like, all they need do is be near any truck or bus on the road and they certainly hear and unless they have a horrible cold and their schoz isn't working, then they sure smell it too. Maybe if they are blind then they won't see the dirt they spew out either.

Also have you seen a diesel in a lower priced car lately? Nope, only in expensive ones! Maybe they are cheaper to run if you can afford them!

In my humble (?) opinion THAT is why people won't buy diesel


The interesting thing here is that Chevrolet is now selling some vehicles with factory-installed remote starters! Needless to say, I have been all over them for this crazy decision, and I applaud that service manager for refusing to go along with them.

John Betmanis

Don't get me started on remote starters! Several years ago my daughter got one for Christmas and asked me to install it for her. After a couple of days working on the thing out in the cold driveway, it still didn't work right. What was worse, this cheapie Wal-Mart device required stripping numerous wires in the harness and twisting connecting wires to them and the instructions were terrible. The car ended up with intermittent starting problems, interior lights that stayed on all the time so the bulbs had to be removed, and the starter feature never did work right. This is the only time in my life I've failed at installing any sort of electrical device in a car, and I've done plenty. So, if you really have to have one of these, get it at an auto electronics place that sells and installs them and takes full responsibility.

Now, as far as letting a car warm up a bit before driving off in the middle of winter, you have to use your common sense. You don't want to be driving with all the windows covered with ice except for a little hole you've managed to chip out just in front of your face and the inside frosting up faster than you can scrape because the heater is still blowing frigid air. In my experience, after starting the car, it takes just as long to scrape the windows whether you start chipping right away or go back inside for another cup of coffee and then scrape when the ice comes off easily. Either way, the engine idles for the same length of time. To me it's more about safety; comfort is just a bonus.

Keith Brown

Right on Jim. Thanks for this perspective. There are so many gadgets & toys on vehicles to spoil the spoiled driver that the big picture responsibility gets missed. Everyone needs to rethink their actions on how we drive, what we drive and what extra unnecessary devices we include that affect other people, the machinery we buy & drive and the environment. Oh Canada...Canadians should be able to adapt to the cold.


I find that having heated seats in my car completely negates any desire that I would have had for getting into a warmed-up car on a cold day. The seat heaters are warm very quickly (often before I am around the block) and were part of a cheap option package (couple hundred dollars) on my VW.


Belated response to Mr. Adams who clearly has not driven a modern Diesel automobile! My 2003 Jetta TDi Wagon is clean as a whistle, and with the ultra-low sulphur fuel, doesn't even smell much. True, it is noisy, but it is now three full generations of Diesel technology out of date. Try the new Jetta Diesel sedan or wagon - quite reasonably priced starting around $25,000 - and you'll be stunned at how good they are.

Longer-term, there may be some emissions issues that will take some working on. But already, modern Diesels with urea injection or other clean-burning technology meet or surpass all standards, and still get 20 percent better fuel consumption than comparable gasoline engines. They're torquey too, so performance is spectacular.

Want to win at Le Mans these days? Gotta have a Diesel...

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