Growing its services beyond roadside assistance, BCAA has opened a new building at the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre to provide auto servicing.
The Penticton location is the second to launch through BCAA with more auto service centres slated around the province. The first BCAA auto service centre opened in Kelowna in October 2014.
“The one key thing about our shops is that we are open to the general public, it’s not just a member based service here,” said general manager Stu Miller.
“BCAA’s goal is to be as transparent as possible. We invite our customers inside of the shop, and our technicians actually talk to our customers about what’s required on their vehicle – they explain why each part would need replacing – there’s no hiding. We work behind glass walls to be transparent 100 per cent of the time.”
Having opened in the early fall season, technicians at the new location are keeping busy by preparing drivers for the looming winter months.
“There are many aspects of a vehicle that need to be prepped for the colder months and our technicians are fully up to date with what needs to be done,” Miller said. “Our technicians are red seal trained technicians, so they are able to winterize vehicles without a problem.”
Miller said winter tires are essential during all cooler months, even when there’s no ice or snow on the roads.
“Your basic all-season tire stops performing below seven degrees Celsius. So if the temperature drops down to one degree, the rubber compound inside that tire becomes hard, and as soon as it becomes hard you’re not going to have a lot of traction.”
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure applies new rules to drivers in the province every year on Oct. 1, requiring all vehicles to be equipped with winter tires before travelling on many highways.
“Oct. 1 is typically when we start to see a decline in temperatures,” Miller said. “Especially going up the mountain passes, that’s when those temperatures drop quite a bit, and there’s a higher possibility of snow, sleet or frost on those roads.”
The Ministry has defined winter tires as those labelled with either the Mountain Snowflake symbol or the Mud and Snow symbol, and must be in good condition with a minimum tread depth of 3.5 millimetres.
It’s also important for drivers to carry an emergency kit inside of their vehicles, he said, which should include a flashlight, blanket, water and food.
While the auto service centre is open to all drivers, members of BCAA are subject to a few extra perks – a 10 per cent discount on parts and labour, and two-year, limited warranty on parts opposed to one year.
“A membership pays for itself fairly quickly,” Miller said. “If somebody comes in needing an $800 job, it makes sense for them to explore getting a basic membership, because that $800 job will essentially pay for that membership.”
The new Penticton location spans 7,500 square feet, holds 10 hoists and employs 12 staff. One dock features a state-of-the-art alignment machine, “which we can essentially perform any kind of alignment on any type of vehicle.”