Shed a bit of light
WHY are the drivers of grey, silver and charcoal coloured cars so reluctant to use their lights? These cars are hard enough to see at the best of times, so in this dull, drizzly weather — for goodness sake — use the jolly things. It doesn’t cost anything to turn them on.
Patricia Woolcock Consider this your reminder. Thankfully, LED daytime running lamps are becoming more commonplace these days and, even though many people regard them as a prestige fashion item, they help with road safety.
SOFT BRAKING Can you please explain why European cars go through brakes so quickly?
Robin Cook, email
The brake calipers are soft to improve braking performance in cold weather, to cut squealing, and also to work better with ABS systems. The removal of asbestos from brake pads also has affected wear.
SECOND CHOICE My son is looking at buying a secondhand Subaru Forester. He has seen some for between $10,000 and $15,000 with an average 180,000km. Should he be concerned with the distance on the clock and is there anything else he should be aware of? Also, my daughter is looking at buying her first car. What do you think of a Holden Astra CD?
SueJohnson, email Those are both good choices. The Subaru should be tough and there are plenty of parts now at car dismantlers, while the Astra is solid but can be heavy on brakes.
TELL US THE PRICE I see that Carsguide has undergone quite a change in the past couple of months. I couldn’t find any sign of the car sales figures for April in last week’s guide and was wondering if it was an accidental omission? I believe sales were down last month.
David Taweel, email The changes to Carsguide are intended to appeal to more readers but the sales analysis has not been dropped. It runs as soon as possible after the official VFacts statistics are produced, on the third working day each month. Yes, sales were down last month compared with April, 2010.
BETTER REX I have just recently purchased a Subaru MY11 WRX sedan. It’s awesome and I love it but I have a couple of questions. Does it matter if I run on 95 RON or should I run it on 98? Can you suggest a brake specialist that won’t charge the earth to upgrade the brakes? They seem a little soft for a car with this horsepower. I know the STi comes with Brembo brakes but these cost a fortune. Can you recommend a good driving course that will teach me more about the car? Ie that a short-shift kit is available for this model at about $500. Are they a good upgrade and will I notice any difference?
Geoff Rothberg, email Mid-strength unleaded should be fine unless you thrash the car all the time. You can get a Brembo package more cheaply from a car dismantler and there are some good Subaru specialists around. The shift kit will definitely give more positive changes. As for driving courses, Carsguide has had good experiences with John Bowe and Murcotts.
WHICH4WD? I have about $15,000 to put towards a 4WD. Which do you think is better, a Toyota LandCruiser or a Nissan Patrol? Would something else suit? The vehicle will be used for family camping, fishing and hunting on the weekends when time is available, as well as running me to work daily, about a 16km round trip. I have researched the Toyota and the Nissan and am more confused than when I started looking and reading about them. I know I can get a ’98 Patrol for the price of a ’90 or ’94 LandCruiser. How do they compare for running costs and maintenance? Should I get a diesel or a dual-fuel option?
Paul Hanna, email The LandCruiser is better and that’s why it costs more. If you genuinely plan a lot of off-road work then the Patrol is tough and reliable. Diesel is great for towing and heavy off-road work, and probably your best bet.