Summer is nearly upon us, and that means the season for summer road trips is here! Living in BC, we are fortunate to have so many incredible destinations within easy reach.  Previously we’ve shared our favourite road trips right here on Vancouver Island. This year, we have assembled a list of our favourite scenic drives through BC, along with some handy tips to keep your trip safe and enjoyable.

The Gold Rush Trail

Fraser Valley - Hells Gate


Following the routes of the gold seekers of the 1800s, the Gold Rush Trail travels from New Westminster to Prince George. Winding through the stunning Fraser Canyon and the iconic Cariboo, the route travels 1,900 km through BC’s interior.  Offering desert landscapes and rolling grasslands, there’s no better way to get in touch with your inner pioneer.  To truly make your trip complete, we highly recommend a visit to the historic gold mining town of Barkerville!

Our Travel Tips:

Pull Over:  Breathtaking views can lead to distracted driving. Save your canyon sightseeing for designated rest stops along the road, or consider taking turns with another licensed driver in the vehicle to give everyone a turn at the window.

Get an Emergency Safety Kit:  Rockslides, are not uncommon in BC’s interior, and driving through remote areas always comes with some risk.  Public Safety Canada recommends assembling an emergency safety kit that includes, food, water, a first aid kit and warning lights. For the full list, visit the Public Safety Get Prepared websiteFor more information, see our recommendation for the 10 items to keep in your car if you’re leaving civilization.


The Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast

Explore the beauty of BC’s coast with a 359 km route that jumps through the gulf islands.  Providing numerous options for hiking and fishing, this trip is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.  As an added bonus for us island folk, the Sunshine Coast route begins in Horseshoe bay and ends in Victoria!

Our Travel Tips:

Keep Items Secure: Storing that heavy camera in the backseat may be convenient for taking a quick snap of the ocean, but a sudden stop can transform any seemingly benign object into a dangerous projectile.  Keep heavy and loose items in the trunk of the car, or deep in the seat well where they can be contained.

Watch your Fuel Gauge: While you think you may know your vehicle’s mileage, road trips are a different beast. Using the air conditioner can increase fuel consumption by up to 20%, and if you’re planning on hauling any additional gear, be aware that extra weight and high temperatures will make your vehicle work harder.

In short, a summer road trip means you will be burning through your tank a lot faster than normal.  Checking your tire pressure and buying gas in the coolest part of the day are just a few our tips for getting better gas mileage. (And don’t forget to always take that ‘last chance’ to fill-up!)


The Okanagan Valley & Mountain Route

Okanagan Valley BC

Enjoy BC’s summer bounty with a tour through the orchards and vineyards of the Okanagan, followed by a breathtaking view of the mountains. Circling 1261km from Yoho National Park to Penticton, this route passes through some of BC’s best wineries and hot springs, so be sure to leave plenty of time for some rest and relaxation!

Our Travel Tips:

Protect yourself from the Heat:  Did you know you can get a sunburn from inside your car?  While windshields include a layer of plastic that acts as a barrier to UVA and UVB rays, the same can’t always be said for the rest of the windows in a vehicle. With shade in short supply in the valley, be sure to protect your skin from harmful rays using sunscreen, hats and sunglasses.

Consider getting a sunshield for your vehicle when it’s parked to help avoid the shock of climbing into a hot car after a rest stop.  And remember, kids & pets should never be left alone in a vehicle when it’s warm out.

Get a Tune Up before you go:  When planning a road trip, you should never forget about the family member who is getting you there – your car! Get your tires, battery and fluids checked before you leave, and be sure to tell your mechanic if you’re going to be driving in hot weather, or towing a boat and trailer, as you may require a different motor oil than usual.

To prevent a last minute panic, book your service 2 weeks before you leave. This gives everyone plenty of time to address any issues and make sure your car is good to go! Searle’s is currently running a Spring-Summer Maintenance Special. Get an oil, lube, and filter change, plus a comprehensive visual inspection and tire rotation for only $99.95.  (Plus you can enter to win an iRobot Roomba 650 – which is handy for keeping house clean while you’re gone.)

BC Road Trip

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5 Signs Your Brakes Need to be Replaced

car braking

You think a lot about our car’s engine, but how often do you think about what stops it?

Using the brake is second nature to any seasoned driver, but until you have to pull an emergency stop, it’s easy to overlook just how often your vehicle’s most important safety system is being engaged.

Like anything in your vehicle, brakes need maintenance.  Brake pads thin over time, making them less effective.  By keeping your brakes up to date can help you avoid costly repairs in the long run – not to mention collisions.

The good news is that even if you have never so much as looked under your car before, there are a few key indicators to let you know when it’s time to get your brakes looked at

Strange Noises Brakes

1. Strange Noises

Turn that radio down!  A high-pitched squeal or grinding noise is often the first sign your brake pads are in need of an adjustment or replacement.

Brake pads come equipped with a wear indicator – a metal plate designed to scratch the brake disc once the pads have worn down beyond a minimum thickness.  Accompanying this is a tell-tale screeching sound designed to get the driver’s attention. (In some cases, it’s purposely designed to sound like nails on a chalkboard, so good luck ignoring it for very long.)

Hear grinding? Now things are a bit more serious – that’s the sound of metal on metal.  When this happens, it means the brake pad’s fiction material has completely worn away, and the brake pad’s backing plate is now grinding directly on the rotor. Not only does this make stopping less effective (read: safe), but you will more than likely have to replace your rotors as well.

Keep an inexpensive job from becoming an expensive one. Get your brake pads replaced as soon as your hear a high pitched squeal.  And if you hear grinding, pull over and make an appointment to bring your vehicle in immediately!


brake warning light

2. Brake Warning Lights

Keep an eye on your dashboard! There are any number of reasons a brake warning light can turn on – including worn brake pads, a burnt out brake light bulb, low brake fluid, or one of those embarrassing moments where you started driving with e-brake on.

While some brakes rely on a mechanical wear indicator (as mentioned above), certain brake pads come equipped with an electrical sensor that signal when a brake pad’s wear level has been exceeded. In this case, a designated Brake Pad Warning Light will appear on the dashboard.


car braking

3. Brake Pedal Resistance

Brake fluid plays an important role in the function and maintenance of your brakes.  Each time the brake pedal is pressed, fluid transfers the force of your foot on the pedal to the brake pads. The more worn down the pads, the more fluid required to generate the necessary force to stop or slow-down.

Likewise, low brake fluid will impact the ability of your brakes to respond to inputs on the pedal.  It’s important to get your brake fluid levels checked regularly!

If you’re brake pedal is hitting the floor every time you stop, it may signal worn brake pads or an issue with the hydraulic system – such as air in the brake line, or a brake fluid leak. In this case, it’s best to bring your vehicle to a professional.

Steering Wheel Vibrating

4. Vibrations

If your steering wheel or brake pedal vibrates while braking, your brake rotors may be the source.  Warped rotors reduce the efficiency of brake pads, wearing them down faster. If you have noticed strange tremors while driving, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to get your brakes examined.

Occasionally, vibrating can be a sign of misaligned wheels, which can lead to serious (and expensive) problems down the road. Fortunately, Searles is currently running a Spring & Summer Maintenance Promotion that includes a tire rotation and comprehensive multi-point visual inspection.



5.  Pulling

Does it feels like a ghost is taking the wheel every time you hit the brakes?  When a vehicle veers to one side while stopping there’s a good chance something is wrong with the brake system.  Pulling can happen for a number of reasons, including stuck brake calipers, a collapsed brake hose or uneven brake pads.

It should be noted that pulling can also come as a result of worn tires, poor alignment or a problem in the vehicles suspension.

Whatever the reason, if you notice your car pulling, be sure to take your vehicle to a repair shop immediately.

At Searle’s Auto Repair, your safety is our goal. You can rest assured that all brake repairs and services will be performed by highly trained professionals who use only quality parts. All of our work is backed by our Peace of Mind Warranty.

Give us a call at 1-250-475-2000 or schedule an appointment online.



Learn More:

 All About Brakes: Staying Up On Brake Maintenance 

The Top 4 Automotive Repairs You Need a Professional For

The Top 5 Ways to Wreck Your Car