Prepare for the worst
But hope your vehicle doesn't need it

by P.J. Harston
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 08/96) - When your vehicle goes scrunch-scrunch-scrunch instead of vroooom, it's past due for the yearly trip to the auto doctor.

Trucks and cars, much like people, need special care and attention during the North's cold, winter months.

And while Yellowknifers should know better, they still leave winterization until the last minute, almost daring the thermometer to take a sudden, drastic dip.

"It's so busy this week, we hired an extra mechanic so we can keep up with our appointments," said Harry Ely, part owner of White Bear Chrysler.

"People always get excited after the first big snowfall, or when it starts to get cold," he said.

Gary Doering, service manager at Kingland Ford, said he figures it'll just get busier.

"Wait 'til it gets to forty below, then we'll see some real numbers."

Doering said Northerners are not only notorious for leaving vehicle care to the last minute, they also well known for forgetting about it all together.

"The best time to get it done is in September. Then it's over and out of the way -- you don't have to think about it again until next year," he said.

But Lori Simmons, manager at Grizzly Tire and Service said it's only human nature.

"People procrastinate. They leave things until the last minute, and in terms of getting vehicles ready for winter, sometimes the weather just changes too fast," she said.

While business right now is moderate, Simmons said it's just a matter of time before the weather takes a turn and drivers are stuck out in the cold.

"All of the sudden you find out the heater isn't working, or you forgot to plug it in overnight," she said.

When you get up the next morning, it doesn't matter if your tires are square or not, you're still not going anywhere fast, except in the passenger seat of a tow truck.

If you haven't booked an appointment for your vehicle yet, you'd better do it soon. Some repair centres are booked solid for the next two weeks or longer.