A major change
Stories of mechanical faults, gearbox noises and brake wear point to a very short lifespan of the cars being built today. Is this because the parts are being manufactured out of lighter materials than that used in previous years or are the car makers making the vehicles too complex? It seems you cannot guarantee a vehicle’s worthiness until it has proved itself after 10 years. My 52-year-old Morris Minor is still going strong.
RonMiddleton, email Your Morris Minor might seem wonderful but it is light years behind modern cars in so many ways, and requires far more maintenance— there are grease nipples on the suspension components, for a start— than today. People’s expectations are far higher today because cars are so reliable, much quieter, more refined and safer than in the 1960s. And they don’t need to start a trip with a fan belt, water, fuses, globes and carry a tool kit. AUTO FOR THE FOLK I was hoping you could enlighten me on the subject of efficiency of modern automatic gearboxes. It was not so long ago, before sequential and double-clutch automatic boxes, that you would lose up to 20 per cent of your engine’s power in an automatic box, compared to 5 per cent in a manual. Is this still the case with sequential and other modern-day gearboxes? What is the use of an auto box in a four-cylinder car shifting in a tenth of a second if it sucks up all the power and torque?
Paul Victor, email Modern automatics have lock-up clutches that cut losses dramatically, and not just on top gear. So they are much more efficient, in the operation and the way they are linked electronically to the engine. A double-clutch gearbox is basically fully mechanical with a special clutch system, so therefore the efficiency beats many manuals. TRAIL OFWOE My 2010 Nissan X-Trail, with 32,000km, needs the brake rotors skimmed. Nissan Australia insists this is fair wear and tear and is not under warranty. I have been told the best long-term solution is to have non-genuine Australian rotors fitted. I believe this will negate the warranty but, as Nissan won’t cover the repairs anyway, what do I have to lose?
Lots of modern vehicles need brake work earlier than their owners expect, because anti-lock brake systems work better with soft discs. Your solution sounds potentially like a good one. CHEAP JEEP I was about to buy a new Jeep Cherokee as it ticks all the boxes for me — looks, size, price, features — but after reading owner reviews online I am concerned they are very negative towards the vehicle. I have a budget of $30,000-$33,0000 and I really want to buy the Jeep. I love it and had my heart set on it but I now have my doubts. I expect it to be a bit thirsty and I know the new Grand and Wrangler have the new engine, but they are way beyond my budget.
Kathryn Brown, email I ama rep on the road and do about 25,000km year. I need space to carry gear around but not loads. The vehicles I am considering are a Ford Territory turbo diesel, Holden Commodore SS V8 Sportwagon and a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. If you have any other suggestions I amopen to them — although nothing French.
DeanSharp, email If you like driving, it has to be the Sportwagon. And by a big margin.
Old reliable: No, thankfully they don’t make them like this any more