Allstate video demonstrating how quickly and easily a car can be stripped of its parts.

It doesn’t take long for thieves to strip a car for parts to sell on the black market. As a way to remind drivers of this, Allstate Insurance Co. launched a 14-state tour in April of this year to show just how fast a car can be stolen and stripped.

The insurance company tested the live chop shop demonstration at lunchtime for a crowd of more than 100 Allstate employees and media at its headquarters in Northbrook. The “Stripped In Seconds” campaign involved Sterling Auto Body Employees armed with common hand tools and a timer. The demonstration, a lesson in theft prevention, shows what happens inside a chop shop as the auto body employees race against the clock to rip the car to pieces, turning it into a pile of parts sold for big bucks.

During the demonstration, the Sterling Auto Body Employees hustled to dismantle a white Honda Civic in just under six minutes. Signs were then placed on the parts to show how much money thieves can typically get for the parts. The bumper is valued at $250 on the black market, the quarter panels go for about $400 while the headlights were valued at $165.

These days cars aren’t being stolen to take on fancy joy rides. They are taken apart to sell the parts. The stolen car’s parts are usually sold for more than the value of the vehicle. A car thief can make more money these days stealing cars and trucks and stripping them down than trying to find someone to buy a stolen vehicle. Every part is a potential financial windfall. Body panels, electrical components, wheels, tires and mechanical parts including engines and transmissions are the reasons for most of the auto thefts in both Canada and the US.

Allstate says most stolen vehicles are historically reliable rides that stay on the road longer. A dependable car’s parts don’t end up as salvage, so spare parts can be more difficult to find, creating a black market for thieves. The Honda Civic, Dodge Caravan and Oldsmobile Cutlass are the top targets in Illinois for thieves, according to Allstate. The company added that a car is stolen in the United States every 33 seconds, citing the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Suburban police departments say auto theft is more prevalent in Chicago, but stress it happens everywhere. The Illinois State Police reported that 628 vehicles were stolen in 2008 in DuPage County, 459 in Lake County and 155 in McHenry County. Cook County saw 24,554 auto thefts during 2008.

To protect your ride always lock your vehicle and take the keys. One out of every five vehicles stolen had the keys in it, and almost half of all vehicles stolen were unlocked. Most chop shop car thieves rely on you leaving the doors unlock and the keys in the ignition. A thief driving a stolen vehicle is less likely to be caught when they have the keys to your vehicle. They can sell a stolen vehicle to any number of both large and small salvage companies when they have the keys and the ownership that you conveniently left them in your stolen vehicle. Most salvage yards don’t usually ask questions when a vehicle with so many salvageable parts rolls into their yard. All salvage yard sales reps worry about selling not where the part came from.

What is being done by the police to protect consumers here in Canada and in the US? Literally nothing. Two factors have exacerbated the problem: Border officials on both side of the Canada US border don’t routinely check shipping containers to see if the contents inside are stolen, and police auto theft squads have weakened over time. Police are increasingly powerless to stop the black market cross border transporting of salvage parts procured from stolen vehicles.

Ten years ago in Ontario Canada the Provincial Auto Theft Team (PATT) had 48 officers attached to it, 23 of them dedicated full time. In 2009 it was down to 15. PATT was established in 1995 as a joint task force involving the OPP, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and local police forces, to stop auto theft rings. But the border services, along with Toronto, York and Peel police, has since left the team. Toronto’s auto theft squad used to have around 30 officers assigned to it. Toronto with a population of 2.48 million people (5.5 million in the GTA - Greater Toronto Area) has just 10 officers assigned full time to auto theft. York Regional Police has 11 officers attached to its auto squad. Peel has eight. Durham has just one.

“People think this is a victimless crime,” says Stephen Boyd, an investigator with the Ontario Provincial Police, “that the insurance companies pay out for the cars and no one gets hurt. But it’s not.”

The problem is the volume of stolen car parts entering Canada

Shipping a container with stolen cars or car parts under the current legislation is relatively easy. Before a container can be exported, a customs declaration must be completed identifying, among other things, the shipper, the contents of the container and the destination. The problem lies in customs agents inspecting containers entering Canada. The shear volume makes it impossible to open and inspect every container that enters Canada. Because of this a number of containers with stolen car parts enter Canada every day. Border agents only investigate a container that is suspected of carrying stolen car parts when the paperwork looks suspect or when they act on a tip by either US or Canadian authorities.

Stealing, driving or shipping a stolen vehicle in Canada, if caught, results in a charge under the Criminal Code of possession of stolen property over $5,000 or with theft over $5,000. Repeat offenders and those charged with multiple thefts rarely face jail time. Police say they are consistently arresting the same cast of characters.

“They’re just the foot soldiers,” says Paul Lasalle, a York auto squad detective. The “big players,” are the freight forwarders who either knowingly or unknowingly allow stolen vehicles and cars parts to be placed in their containers and transported cross border

The problem (with arresting a freight forwarder) is proving knowledge, Police must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person knows what is in the container..

Police and the Insurance Bureau have long been calling for tougher legislation. They’ve been asking for legislation that would make altering a vehicle identification number an offense, and those convicted of trafficking in stolen car and car parts get mandatory prison sentences. A bill that would allow the Canada Border Services Agency to prevent cross-border movement of property obtained through crime would seriously impact the black market industry. The one solution with the most immediate effect would be for the Canada Border Services Agency to hold for inspection all containers with declared contents of cars and used or salvage auto parts. A quick inspection and comparison with the corresponding customs declaration could identify suspect stolen cars and car parts. Will that ever happen? Not likely. The shear volume of stolen cars and car parts entering and leaving Canada today makes it practically impossible.

There is a very easy solution that you, the consumer, can take to protect yourself. If you want assurances that the salvage auto parts you are buying are not stolen only buy salvage auto parts from your local wreckers. If you call and order from only local suppliers odds are the salvage auto parts you buy are from scrap cars and not stolen stripped vehicles. Your local salvage supplier is a part of your community and in order to stay in business they will need to remain honest. Your local supplier are people you grew up with, people you went to school with or went to church with. They will not cheat or deceive you. Also, if you buy from a salvage supplier that is Canadian owned and operated your hard earned money stays in Canada. If you buy from US salvage suppliers your money is going directly to the US. If you buy from a US supplier there is always the possibility that the salvage auto parts you buy could be stolen. If you live in the US the same prudence applies. Only buy from local suppliers. Your money stays locally and chances are you won’t be buying stolen parts from Canada or Mexico.

Ask the supplier of the salvage parts questions each and every time you are shopping for used parts. Buy only parts that are already in stock. That way you save both time and money. If a part isn’t in stock you could be made to wait and you could be required to fork over more money than the part is worth as shipping costs are always added to the cost of every part sold. It might not state the actual shipping cost on the invoice as the cost is usually worked into the price. Local parts are a lot cheaper because they are free of long haul shipping fees.

Another very important thing to remember is to shop around. If the first supplier you called or visited doesn’t have what you are looking for in stock chances are another supplier in your area will.

If the part you need isn’t in stock anywhere locally and you really need the part ask the supplier who is going to have it brought in for you to state in writing exactly where the part is coming from and always require that the serial number of the vehicle it is coming from be put on the invoice. By doing so the supplier becomes liable if it is determined some time in the future that the part came from a stolen vehicle that was stripped of its parts and sold on the black market. Paperwork like an invoice with information as to who sold you the part, where the part came from and the serial number of the vehicle it came from is you best protection against being charged by your local law enforcement agency for possession of stolen car parts. That invoice is your proof that you bought the part in good faith and that you had no intention on buying any stolen auto parts. That invoice makes your supplier accountable. It keeps the honest suppliers in business and puts the dishonest ones out of business. Bottom line, buy only locally, buy only parts that are in stock (shop around by phone if not in stock) and demand a detailed invoice every time you buy used auto parts.

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Identity theft is a form of fraud in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person’s name. An identity thief typically impersonates someone else in order to conceal their own true identity. If a US company bought a Canadian company and continued to use the original Canadian company’s identifying marks like name, logo and motto, wouldn’t that be considered to be identity theft? They are after all using the Canadian company’s good name, credit history, Canadian clientele and Canadian identity to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that company’s name. Pretending to be a Canadian company in order to conceal their US identity.

Foreign ownership of companies of Canada has long been a controversial political issue in Canada. Concerns regarding foreign ownership generally regard ownership by individuals or companies based in the United States, though foreign ownership occurs from entities and individuals based in other countries as well. Some estimates state that more than 50% of the petroleum and gas industry and more than 50% of all manufacturing in Canada is foreign-owned and foreign-controlled.

Of note is that Canada’s largest companies by value, and largest employers, tend to be foreign-owned in a way that is more typical of a developing nation than a G8 member. The best example is the automotive sector, one of Canada’s most important industries. It is dominated by American, German, and Japanese giants. Although this situation is not unique to Canada in the global context, it is unique among G-8 nations, and many other relatively small nations also have national automotive companies such as South Korea’s Kia and Hyundai.

When Canadians go shopping are they buying at Canadian owned and operated companies or foreign owned and operated companies? When Canadians make a purchase where is their hard earned money going? More than likely the money is going out of the country. When Canadians shop and buy at major department stores throughout Canada their money is more than likely going to the United States. The tax revenue the US government collects from that money goes to finance US wars abroad, US CIA covert operations like kidnapping, sabotage, political assassinations and torture of people opposed to the US foreign policies and wars of aggressions. US tax dollars from Canadians purchases in Canada, from stores they thought were Canadian owned, is helping the US government finance their wars of aggressions against Iraq and Afghanistan. Its helping the US government build and stockpile more advanced and deadly weapons that will kill more civilians, mostly women and children, than foreign combat troops. All those who were opposed to the US attacking Iraq were actually supporting and financing the US unlawful attack against Iraq, by buying from US owned and operated department stores and companies in Canada.

If you had an informed choice where would you shop? Would you support Canadian owned and operated businesses or US and foreign owned and operated businesses? To help you be more informed the following is a list of companies, stores and businesses that are no longer Canadian. Many on this list, to this day, use misleading and false advertising to deceive Canadians into shopping and buying from them by implying that they are Canadian owned and operated, when they are not. According to our Canadian legal system such misleading practices are illegal. The use of the name Canada or Canadian by any foreign country is illegal.

Flag of Canada protected by The Trade-marks Act

The arms and the flag of Canada are protected by The Trade-marks Act (Statutes of Canada Chapter T-13) against unauthorized use for commercial purposes.

“9. (1) No person shall adopt in connection with a business, as a trade mark or otherwise, any mark consisting of, or so nearly resembling as to be likely to be mistaken for…… e) the arms, crest or flag adopted and used at any time by Canada or by any province or municipal corporation in Canada in respect of which the Registrar has at the request of the Government of Canada or of the province or municipal corporation concerned, given public notice of its adoption and use…”

“Canada” Wordmark

The “Canada” wordmark is the global identifier of the Government of Canada and is protected under the Trade-marks Act.

Use of Canadian symbols abroad as an element of a foreign trademark

Under Article 6.ter of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Stockholm text, 1967),

“(1)(a) The countries of the Union agree to refuse or to invalidate the registration, and to prohibit by appropriate measures the use, without authorization by the competent authorities, either as trademarks or as elements of trademarks, of armorial bearings, flags, and other State emblems, of the countries of the Union, official signs and hallmarks indicating control and warranty adopted by them, and any imitation from a heraldic point of view.”

“(9) The countries of the Union undertake to prohibit the unauthorized use in trade of the State armorial bearings of the other countries of the Union when the use is of such a nature as to be misleading as to the origin of the goods.”

Pursuant to paragraph 3 of Article 6.ter Canada has notified to the World Intellectual Property Organization its wish to protect the Canadian flag, coat of arms and 11-point red maple leaf emblem against unauthorized use.

Foreign owned companies among Canada’s current largest companies

* General Motors Canada, Canada’s largest automotive manufacturer, 60% owned by the US government
* Wal-Mart Canada, wholly owned by Wal-Mart of the US
* Toyota Canada Inc. owned by Japan’s Toyota
* Ford Motor Company of Canada, owned by the American Ford company
* Imperial Oil, controlled by ExxonMobil, which owns 69.8% of its stock.
* Chrysler Canada now owned by the Italian company, Fiat
* Shell Canada, owned by Royal Dutch Shell.
* British Petroleum Canada, owned by British Petroleum
* Mitsui and Company, part of the Japanese Mitsui empire
* Honda Canada Inc., owned by Honda of Japan
* Ultramar fuels, owned by US-based Valero
* Costco, whose Canadian operations are the 7th largest private company in Canada as of 2006, is entirely a US owned company - Kirkland Corporation
* Labatt Brewing Company purchased by Belgian brewer Interbrew in 1995
* Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada’s largest retailer, and North America’s oldest corporation (est. 1670), sold to U.S. investor Jerry Zucker in 2006.
* Zellers, “truly Canadian” identity is truly not Canadian as it is the mass merchandise retail division of the Hudson’s Bay Company
* ING Bank of Canada, the largest foreign bank in Canada, formed by the purchase of several small Canadian companies, controlled by the Dutch ING Group
* Sears Canada, one the largest retailers (created by buying old Simpson’s stores), is controlled by the US Sears Holdings Corporation
* IBM Canada, owned by IBM
* Safeway Canada supermarkets, owned by Safeway Inc.
* Cargill Ltd. owned by Cargill of Minnesota
* McDonald’s Canada, owned by McDonald’s
* Pratt & Whitney Canada owned by US United Technologies Corporation
* Nissan Canada, owned by Nissan Motors of Japan
* Parmalat Canada owned by Parmalat of Italy
* LKQ Keystone Automotive, a leader in providing aftermarket vehicle collision replacement parts and OEM salvage auto parts is owned and operated by Chicago based LKQ Corporation.

Former major Canadian Companies acquired by foreign owners

* MacMillan Bloedel, B.C. forestry giant acquired by Weyerhaeuser for US$2.45 billion in 1999
* JDS Fitel $8.9-billion merger with U-S.-based Uniphase to form JDS Uniphase, in 1999. Company headquarters move from Ottawa to San Jose.
* Eaton’s, at one time Canada’s largest retailer, with a history going back to 1869, purchased by Sears in 1999, and closed in 2000
* Seagram distillery and entertainment conglomerate, sold to Vivendi Universal and Pernod Ricard in 2000
* Corel, a software and programming company, taken over by Vector Capital in August 2003.
* PetroKazakhstan a Calgary-based company exploring in Central Asia (specifically formed to build the Trans-Afghan natural gas pipeline - the main reason why the US attacked Afghanistan), was purchased by the Chinese state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation in 2005
* CP Ships Ltd., acquired by the parent company of Hapag-Lloyd Container Line, TUI AG, in an all-cash transaction worth $2.3 billion US in 2005
* Stelco Steel - With sixty percent of Canada’s steel being produced in Hamilton by Stelco and Dofasco, Stelco was bought by U.S. Steel for $1.9 billion in 2007.
* Dofasco, Canada’s largest steel maker acquired by Luxembourg-based Arcelor, January 2006.
* Molson Brewries, (including Molson Canadian brand of beer) one of the oldest companies in Canada merged with US Coors, in 2005. “I am Canadian” beer is now I am US beer deceivingly marketed as Canadian
* Terasen Inc., previously BC Gas (a public utility company), sold to American-owned energy giant Kinder Morgan for $6.9 billion. The deal was approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission despite 8,000 letters of protest, 2005. Terasen was subsequently sold to Newfoundland-based Fortis Inc. in 2007.
* Canadian Pacific hotels the owner of many of Canada’s most historic hotel properties (operating under the name Fairmont Hotels and Resorts since 1999) sold to Colony Capital, LLC of California and Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia for $3.9 billion, in January 2006.
* Noranda (mining company) & Falconbridge Ltd., purchased by Swiss mining company Xstrata in 2006. Noranda had earlier been a target of state-owned China Metals Corp., but had backed out in 2005 amid public concern in Canada of Chinese state control of such a major company.
* ATI Technologies, Canada’s graphics chip maker, acquired by Advanced Micro Devices, July 2006.
* Alcan purchased by Rio Tinto in 2007.
* Addax Petroleum, one of Canada’s 9 fortune 2000 2009 oil and gas companies was acquired by sinopec of China for C$8.27 billion in June 2009 and approved by the Chinese government on August 12, 2009.
* Creo Inc., a world leader in digital printing software acquired by Eastman Kodak
* Zenon Environmental Inc., a successful and innovative technology company spawned in Hamilton—sold to General Electric Co.
* Tim Hortons, sold to US Wendy’s International in 1995, later to be sold to the public an IPO in 2005.
* CN Rail, the historic Canadian railway, now estimated to be 2/3 US owned.
* Gulf Canada Resources, which had formerly been part of US-based Gulf Oil, but had since become independent, was purchased by US-based Conoco in a deal worth $6.7 billion in 2002.
* Moore Wallace sold to U.S.-based R.R. Donnelley and Sons for $4.9 billion.
* Masonite, bought out by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
* ID Biomedical, Canadian vaccine maker acquired by Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline for $1.8 billion.
* Vincor International Ltd., Canada’s top wine maker and distributor, purchased for $1.4 billion by Constellation Brands Inc. of Fairport, NY, USA
* Bauer, Cooper, and Hespeler, historic hockey equipment manufacturers bought by Nike in 1994
* CCM (The Hockey Company), acquired by Reebok in 2004
* Alberta Oil Sands - Under the terms of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the US is guaranteed a percentage of Canada’s oil. (Canada currently produces 2.6 million bpd of oil and exports 1.6 million, or about 60 percent of it, to the US.) American investment controls between 40 and 50 percent of Alberta’s oil. Although oil sands occur in more than 70 countries, the bulk is found in Canada in four regions: Athabasca, Wabasca, Cold Lake, Peace River; together covering an area of some 77,000 km2”. In fact, the reserve considered to be technically recoverable is estimated at 280-300 Gb (billions of barrels), larger than the Saudi Arabia oil reserves [optimistically] estimated at 240 Gb. The total reserves for Alberta, including oil not recoverable using current technology, are estimated at 1,700-2,500 Gb. Alberta’s oil sands comprise one of the world’s two largest sources of bitumen; the other is in Venezuela.

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With the economy the way it is most people can’t afford to buy a new car or truck. These days most people do only immediate and necessary repairs to their vehicles. Most can’t afford too many added expenses to their already tight budget. Even though times are tough most people still want to drive around in a vehicle that looks good. What choices do they have? One is to buy a new vehicle but that means a big debt for years. The least expensive and most affordable choice is to fix it up - restore it. There are many different things that you can have done to your debt free vehicle that will make it look new again. Although these little repairs and additions will cost a little money it is well worth it.

By now you must have heard about the Canadian “Retire Your Ride” program. For a few hundred dollars you are encouraged to retire your ride. You are told that by doing so you are saving the environment as you will be removing your old polluting vehicle from our roads. What you aren’t told is the real reason for this program. They want you to give up your vehicle for a few hundred dollars. A vehicle they know you own out right. A vehicle that you no longer make monthly payments towards. They want to you give up your cheap mode of transportation and your financial freedom. They want you to go in debt again. They want you to buy a brand new, drastically overpriced gas guzzlers that spews out as much pollution as your current vehicle. They don’t want you to know that you can turn your old ride into a more fuel efficient and low emission vehicle for thousands of dollars less than a brand new vehicle.

By spending a fraction of the cost of a new vehicle you can restore your debt free vehicle to its original condition. You can buy aftermarket body parts for a fraction of the price of a new vehicle. In Canada, the leaders in providing auto body parts, at a very competitive price, includes Pro Body Parts and Cross Canada. You can take those “new” aftermarket auto body parts to any auto body shop, or have them order them for you, and they can restore your vehicle. They can make your car or truck look like the day you bought it.

Instead of high monthly payments and higher insurance premiums that your are guaranteed to get with retiring your ride and being forced to buy a new, overpriced new car or truck it makes more economical sense to restore your ride, don’t retire it.

Right now you own your old car or truck. That means its 100% yours. That means you are not in debt to any bank or credit company or to any lender. So far the cost to you to keep your vehicle is $0. Now if you were to take you car or truck in and retire it you no longer have a ride. You no longer own a vehicle. What new vehicle you can buy for the $300 they give you for retiring your working ride? There are absolutely none! Immediately you are stranded unless you are willing to take the bus or pay for an expensive cab ride to and from work, to and from the grocery store, to and from the daycare, to and from your children’s school. They tricked you. Now you are forced into buying or leasing a brand new over priced vehicle. That is if you are deemed eligible to get a loan for a brand new vehicle, a loan that is based on your earnings. So if you have a low paying job good luck getting any bank to give you a loan for a brand new car or truck. Because of the sticker price these days for a new car or truck you must show the bank or financing company that you are able to pay at least an extra $300 a month towards car payments. Add on at least another $150 a month for full insurance coverage that the banks will require for the duration of the loan. Add $100 per hour for regular vehicle maintenance costs that the dealerships require you to pay until you’ve paid off the loan in full or fulfilled your leasing agreement. Then there is the cost of fuel - currently hovering around $1 per liter. Add the cost to have a new vehicle (a least $600 per month) and you will come to realize very quickly that you cannot afford the new vehicle. You’ll wish you kept your older vehicle that you owned, debt free.

What do you really get for retiring your ride? You get, on average, just $300. In order to get that amount, the vehicle you are retiring must be in working condition. $300 for a working vehicle is a rip off. If you retire your ride you also add an unaffordable debt to your already tight budget and all the headaches that goes with trying to keep up with you monthly commitment for your new ride.

Is it worth it? For you, a big fat no. For them it means they’ve unloaded another overpriced vehicle, a vehicle that will have the very same mechanical problems as your debt free vehicle. Your debt free vehicle needs oil changes, new tires and brake changes, so will a brand new vehicle. Your debt free vehicle needs fuel, so does any brand new vehicle. Your debt free vehicle will need maintenance and repairs, so will a brand new vehicle. The difference between keeping your vehicle and buying a new vehicle is that for a brand new vehicle repairs and maintenance will cost a whole lot more.

Your most economically and environmentally viable solution is Restore Your Vehicle, Don’t Retire It. A new fender or hood or bumper from Canadian owned and operated auto body parts distributors like Pro Body Parts and Cross Canada, to replace the rusted or dented ones, is the first step to restoring your older vehicle. Once you have new metal on your older vehicle you can have a fresh coat of paint applied to it. A fresh coat of paint with a few coats of clear coat will make any older vehicle look like new. Now that you have it looking like new its time for an engine tune up - oil change, new spark plugs, new spark plug wires, new air filter, new oil filter, new fuel filter and even a new exhaust, new distributor, MAP sensor, O2 sensors, and MAFF sensor. Replacing any of these parts will immediately lower your carbon emissions and better your vehicle’s fuel mileage. The last step will be to install a FuelReducer mpg+. A FuelReducer mpg+ will not only reduce your fuel consumption, which means increasing your vehicle’s fuel mileage, it will also lower your emissions.

Does “Retire your Ride” make any sense now?

When you are ready to restore your ride it makes good economic sense to buy your mechanical and auto body parts from Canadian owned and operated suppliers. When you buy from Canadian suppliers the money stays in Canada. When you buy from US suppliers the money goes to the United States. When you buy Canadian you are helping the Canadian economy grow stronger. When the Canadian economy is strong there are more job opportunities for Canadians.

Don’t be fooled by companies claiming to be Canadian. US companies have been buying Canadian companies at a record pace since Stephen Harper became minority Prime Minster of Canada and the results are Canadian jobs being lost and the standard of living for Canadian employees being slashed in order for the US head offices to rake in more profits. When US companies buy Canadian companies there are always big job loses. Lately US companies have been buying very successful Canadian companies just to close them down - killing their Canadian competition - perfect examples are the Hamilton Ontario Steel mills. When US companies buy Canadian companies they immediately ignore Canadian Labor Laws, robbing Canadian employees of their rightful earnings, benefits and pensions.

When you restore you ride you win. Think about it. You own your vehicle outright. You are debt free, at least as far as your transportation is concerned. Why would you give up your perfectly good working vehicle for a few hundred dollars just so that they can put you in debt for years by buying their overpriced, gas guzzling, high maintenance new car or truck you can’t afford in the first place? Keep it, restore it and save your money. And remember support Canadian owned and operated companies for all your automotive repairs, both mechanical and auto body.