Squeaks get less press

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

EV­ERY week my email is jammed by peo­ple with car trou­bles. Some have some­thing sim­ple, such as squeaky brakes or weird tyre wear, but there are oth­ers with ma­jor dra­mas.

Just this week I’ve had a Volk­swa­gen owner who needed a new en­gine and a Range Rover tragic, owner of nearly a dozen of the top-end SUVs, who is head­ing for an all-new re­place­ment off the back of more than 20 fruit­less trips to the re­pair shop with his $100,000-plus pick.

Each prob­lem re­minds me that cars are com­plex. And even the best can go wrong.

But the cars of to­day are so much bet­ter than the cars of just 20 years ago that it’s al­most be­yond be­lief.

The only truly bad car I’ve test-driven this year is the Ch­ery J1. The qual­ity of the Chi­nese tod­dler is worse than the orig­i­nal Korean ar­rivals in Aus­tralia and, if I can pick the dif­fer­ence on day one, then it’s go­ing to be bad news once it’s got a few years and some se­ri­ous kilo­me­tres on it.

Flick the cal­en­dar back and things were much worse. I still have night­mares about the press pre­view of the orig­i­nal Holden Camira. The first ‘‘ global’’ car to land in Aus­tralia seemed like a good idea but that was be­fore the gear­stick fell out in my hand. And the bon­net flew up for no rea­son. And the dash­board squeaked and groaned and flexed and wob­bled.

Ev­ery mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist has some sort of Jaguar hor­ror story. Mine is the lux­ury XJ that dumped all its oil on the brand-new floor of my garage.

Then there was the Range Rover that dropped both of its ex­ter­nal mir­rors— for no ap­par­ent rea­son— as I over­took through the shock blast of a B-dou­ble truck.

In re­cent years, though, the fail­ures have been few and far be­tween. Yes, I’ve had com­plaints about the op­er­a­tion of a va­ri­ety of DSG gear­boxes in a va­ri­ety of VWs, but ev­ery car has come through its Cars­guide test with­out fail­ing.

Which brings me to the HSV Com­modore I was once driv­ing down the Hume High­way to Mel­bourne.

Ev­ery­thing was fine through the per­for­mance runs and cor­ner­ing tri­als, so I was drib­bling home at a steady 100km/h when the en­gine failed. No bang, no crash, just a com­plete ab­sence of power that was even­tu­ally traced to a fault on the crankshaft.

The real kicker to the story is that I was forced to take a tow to the near­est town from a mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist friend who was mak­ing the same trip. And he was driv­ing . . . a Jaguar.

PAUL GOVER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au


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