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Frequently Asked Service Questions

Q: What is a VIN?

A: your VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, is the unique serial number of your vehicle. Using this number you can pull the vehicle's history, identify the exact vehicle build and order specific parts and accessories.
It can easily be found at the front of the driver's side windshield, or on a sticker inside the driver's side door.

Q: Where is my block heater cord located?

A: It depends.
Traditionally the engine block heater would be beside the battery and you would need to pull the engine block heater cord out from the engine and let it hang out from under the hood. However, in newer trucks, the engine block heater plugin is by the headlight. Conversley, in some newer SUVs, it is located in the front bumper.
If you still aren’t able to find your engine block heater cord, there is a possibility that your vehicle doesn’t have one. For many vehicles, an engine block heater is an option that can be added to the vehicle and is not a standard feature -- even in Alberta. That being said, if you provide your VIN to your local dealership, they should be able to both help you determine if your vehicle has one, and troubleshoot where it should be.

Q: How can OnStar help me if I am in an accident?

A: OnStar offers a suite of connected services including a few that can help if you are in an accident. To gain access to these services, however, you will need a vehicle that is both equipped with OnStar technology and has the correct software to work with the current platform.
If your vehicle is compatible with OnStar (a GM exclusive product), you can gain peace of mind knowing that with the click of a button you can have access to an emergency-certified advisor. Even when you can’t click the button, they can be there for you with the Automatic Crash Response which uses built-in sensors to automatically connect an OnStar Advisor to your vehicle.
With Crisis Assist, OnStar can provide you with updates, special routing, and even keep you connected to loved ones during natural disasters and severe weather. Roadside Assistance can help when you are stranded, run out of gas or need a tow truck.
Simply put, OnStar has the power to keep you safer on the road and can provide the resources you want when emergencies happen.

Is it safe to “boost” my battery?

A: Yes and no.
If you know what you are doing and have the wires properly grounded, boosting a battery that is functioning should be easy to do. However, if there is anything amiss with the battery, or you have not properly grounded the wires, you have the potential to cause an electrical shortage. Because new vehicles have so many electrical components this could cause issues with one of the many computers that power your vehicle, such as the one that controls the infotainment system or power windows.

Q: How long do batteries last?

A: It depends. The climate you live in, how often you start your vehicle, and how you use your vehicle can all affect how long your battery lasts. If your start noticing signs like your headlights dim and your heater motor slows down, or your engine is having a hard time turning over or will not start, it may be time to consider getting a new battery.

What are the benefits of winter tires?

A: When the temperature gets below 7 C, you need a tire that is going to provide you with both traction and somewhat flexible contact with the snow and ice-covered ground. Winter tires offer more siping than their all-season and all-weather counterparts and are made of a rubber composition that stays softer at colder temperatures. This can provide you with increased stopping power and traction in the colder months.

Q: How long do tires last?

A: Tires are actually given a kilometre rating. That being said, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of your tires. These include:

  • Getting your tires rotated frequently (approximately every 10,000 to 12,000 kilometres.
  • Ensuring your tires are properly inflated.
  • Driving on the right tires for the weather - the same properties that make a winter tire optimal in winter conditions will actually prematurely wear the tire in warmer weather.
  • Parking in the shade. Too much sunshine can cause increased wear.

Q: What is the oil life monitor monitoring?

A: Contrary to popular belief, the oil life monitor does not gauge how much oil is in the vehicle. It is simply a measurement of the useable life of the oil.
When you first pour oil into your vehicle, it is a golden yellow colour. If when you check your oil - which is recommended any time you fill-up with gas - it is dark, this can indicate your oil needs to be changed even if the oil life monitor says your oil has plenty of life left.
At Western GMC Buick, we offer a free oil change for life program which requires your oil life to be above 20% in addition to you following the maintenance guide for your vehicle. This is to say that we don’t recommend you let your oil life monitor get below 20%.

Q: Why should I follow the Oil Life Monitor?

A: The oil in your vehicle has a very important job; it is used as a heat absorber and a lubricant for the engine. Over time, the oil wears down which reduces its ability to accomplish either task. Even worse, if you completely run out of oil you can cause an incredible amount of damage to your engine.
It is important to keep in mind that the oil life monitor is a computer system, and was designed for the climate of California. California’s warmer weather and reduced idle time can, in many cases, inflate the oil life of your vehicle here in Alberta. For this reason, we recommend that you use the oil life monitor as a guide but also remain diligent about checking your oil and keeping an eye on the colour. This, combined with your oil life monitor reading, will give you a good amount of insight into when it is time to change your oil.

Q: When should you get a tuneup?

A: Your owner’s manual may provide a kilometre interval for when to get a tune-up, however, if you are experiencing any of the following, it may be time to get a tune-up regardless of what the odometer says.

  • Warning lights, engine misfire.
  • Poor fuel mileage.
  • Stalling, hesitating or knocking.
  • Slow acceleration.
  • Lacking zip or power.

Also, consider getting a tune-up if your vehicle experiences excessive idling time while warming up your vehicle in the cold Canadian winters.

Q: What is checked or cleaned during a tune-up?

A: On newer vehicles, or those without carburetors, Spark plugs, air filters, MAF sensors, the battery, fuel filter, and the PCV will be checked. Additionally, the vehicle will undergo a fuel system treatment (induction flush) and the vales and injection tips will be cleaned. An emission system check will also be conducted.

Q: Why do I need to get my vehicle towed into the dealership if I lose both keys?

A: Keys for newer vehicles (2008 and newer) have a programable chip in the key. The process for the vehicle to learn a new key requires a working key, so if a working key is not available, the vehicle must be present so that a technician can dial into the vehicle's computer and get it to accept a new key. This is why it is important to keep your key in a safe place.

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