A mat­ter of tim­ing belts

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Ask Smithy -

JUST won­der­ing if your read­ers have ex­pe­ri­enced the WE en­gines in the Mazda BT-50 and Ford Rangers break­ing tim­ing belts ear­lier than the re­place­ment in­ter­vals of 120,000km. I have a small work­shop and have seen three that have bro­ken, caus­ing con­sid­er­able and costly dam­age to valves and rocker gear. Carl Humphries, email

We haven’t heard of such belt fail­ures but it would be good to hear from any of our read­ers who have suf­fered the prob­lem. It sounds like a se­ri­ous one. BAT­TERY FLAT Re­cently, my 2006 VE Holden Calais would not start. The RACV got me started and checked the bat­tery. It was found to be OK and sim­ply needed recharg­ing. I bought the car new and this is the third time this sud­den loss of charge has oc­curred. With this in mind, I re­turned to the dealer to ask if there was a fault that would cause this to hap­pen. They replied that they knew of none but would check the car for me. They did this and, when I col­lected my ve­hi­cle, they in­formed me that they had down­loaded a soft­ware up­grade and it had fixed the prob­lem. Such a soft­ware up­grade must have been de­vel­oped in re­sponse to this prob­lem be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by oth­ers. If they knew of the ex­is­tence of the prob­lem, then why not in­form own­ers in­stead of hav­ing them ex­pe­ri­ence the in­con­ve­nience of a car that won’t start?

Rhett Grif­fiths, email. There was a prob­lem with the early Calais and a soft­ware fix was de­vel­oped to fix it. It wouldn’t have been a sud­den loss of bat­tery charge, but a steady drain that ul­ti­mately meant there wasn’t suf­fi­cient charge to start the car. I would have ex­pected the fix to be au­to­mat­i­cally in­stalled when your car went to the dealer for its reg­u­lar ser­vic­ing. It cer­tainly should have been if you had com­plained about the pre­vi­ous times the bat­tery went flat. GO­ING FOR BRAKE I re­cently bought a 2009 Ford Mon­deo Zetec diesel. It’s a lovely car but the brakes grab when they are ap­plied in bumper-to-bumper traf­fic, which has never hap­pened in pre­vi­ous ve­hi­cles I have owned. The dealer tells me every­thing is OK and that it is com­mon with the Mon­deo and other Euro­pean cars. Is that so, or are they hav­ing a lend of me?

Brian Gillham, email

It’s not my ex­pe­ri­ence that the brakes on Euro­pean cars, or Fords, grab, as you say yours does. Take it to an independent and rep­utable brake ser­vice out­let and have it as­sess it for you. If the staff agree with you, take it back to the dealer and re­quest that the prob­lem be fixed.

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