A shift in opin­ion

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Ask Smithy -

I BOUGHT a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van with the Sprintshift gear­box and no­ticed it would not al­ways go into auto. A Mercedes me­chanic said the pump was bro­ken and the in­jec­tors were on the way out. The dealer said he would fix the pump and fit re­con­di­tioned in­jec­tors. Should I get an un­der­tak­ing that they’re OK?

Bar­rie H, email

The Sprintshift gear­box is an au­to­mated shift man­ual unit, so I’d have the ECU con­trol­ling the gear­box checked. I’d also seek some form of guar­an­tee from the dealer cov­er­ing the in­jec­tors and per­haps find out where they are com­ing from.


AF­TER own­ing Hold­ens for 40-plus years we are now happy Kia own­ers, hav­ing bought a 2010 Sorento and a 2011 Optima. We are pleased with the ve­hi­cles but both have cracked wind­screens — the Optima’s cracked on the way home from the dealer the day we took de­liv­ery of it. Our friends also have cracked a wind­screen in their Sorento, which makes us won­der if there is some­thing wrong with the Kia glass. I have tried con­tact­ing Kia twice to ask about any is­sues with the glass in their wind­screens, but have had no re­sponse. In the pre­vi­ous 40 years, we have never had a cracked wind­screen, so you can un­der­stand our ques­tion­ing. Ap­par­ently there is also a se­ri­ous lack of re­place­ment wind­screens in Aus­tralia, so we are hop­ing we do not re­ceive an un­road­wor­thy cer­tifi­cate on ei­ther ve­hi­cle. Are you aware of any prob­lems with Kia wind­screens?

KayeBoyd, email

Kia told us you of­ten drive on un­made roads, which may ex­plain why the wind­screens cracked. A com­pany spokesman told us it has sold only one Optima wind­screen in the time it has been on sale, and that there are wind­screens in stock. There are two wind­screens used in the Sorento— Kia has stock of only one but can get the other very quickly. Kia says you can take the car to your dealer and have it checked for any pos­si­ble qual­ity is­sues.


MY 2008 Nis­san Ti­ida has oc­ca­sional start­ing prob­lems. It turns over but won’t start. My Nis­san dealer says that if the cal­cium bat­tery is be­low a cer­tain volt­age it will not al­low the mo­tor to start. The dealer used a surge charger but it still won’t start at times. Is it the bat­tery or is the im­mo­biliser not dis­en­gag­ing when I turn the key? It cranks so I don’t think the bat­tery is at fault.

Bradley White, email

The bat­tery is a pid­dly lit­tle one. If it drops be­low 9.2 volts there’s not enough grunt and the en­gine will turn with­out start­ing, as the dealer ex­plained. Buy a bet­ter bat­tery that will hold a de­cent charge.


OC­CA­SION­ALLY, when chang­ing from first to sec­ond gear in my 2008 Mazda3 SP23, there is a heavy clunk and grind­ing sounds. At first I thought it might be me not push­ing the clutch in far enough, but it oc­curs even now that I make sure I de­press it fully. It hap­pens once or twice a week and has hap­pened since the car was new. It goes into gear all right but I’m wor­ried about caus­ing dam­age. My dealer has checked it at ev­ery ser­vice but can­not find a prob­lem and has asked me to drop it in if it hap­pens when I’m in the area. I don’t think this will be a pro­duc­tive course of ac­tion. The car is still un­der war­ranty. Should I be con­cerned with this prob­lem and the fact that the dealer can­not find the cause?

Chris, email

It’s ob­vi­ously con­cern­ing you, so you should get it re­solved. I suspect the dealer has driven around the block and when it has not hap­pened he has de­clared it checked out. Not all deal­ers are prop­erly equipped to in­ves­ti­gate prob­lems and re­solve them. If it doesn’t show up on their di­ag­nos­tic equip­ment or fails to hap­pen all the time then they can be stumped. You could try an in­de­pen­dent me­chanic who spe­cialises in Maz­das or, if you pre­fer to stick with your dealer, sit down and find out what ac­tion they’ve al­ready taken to find the prob­lem and then map out a plan of at­tack.


Do you know of any­one who can con­vert my 2007 Nis­san Pathfinder to LPG? One fit­ter told me no kit is made for it.

Chy Kith, email

You can’t find a kit be­cause there are prob­lems with the Pathfinder V6. The cat­alytic con­vert­ers are very close to the en­gine and par­ti­cles can be blown back into the en­gine from the con­verter and dam­age the en­gine. Most of the kits de­vel­oped for the Pathfinder have been re­moved from the mar­ket be­cause of the prob­lems with the cats. It’s not worth the risk to con­vert it.

Non-goer: Ti­ida’s start­ing prob­lem may be fixed with a bet­ter bat­tery

It’s a gas: Ex­cept in the V6 Pathfinder

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