Out of the blue
An elderly relative keeps commenting on and asking why so many cars have bluish headlights. ‘‘That’s the way new car headlights are these days’’ doesn’t wash — do you have a more technical answer?
Patricia Woolcock, email
The gas in the globes gives the bluish tint. Most cars use halogen but the new highintensity systems have switched to xenon, which is brighter white for the drive but throws a blue tinge. You should prepare for another change as LEDs take over at the top end of automotive lighting, although they should just be bright white.
CIRCLE A WAGON Recently I drove through Europe in two different hire cars, a Ford Focus wagon and a Toyota Corolla wagon. I loved the small car size but also the sports wagon-sized boot. Are these types of cars or similar brands available here? There seems to be no mention of the small wagons on Ford’s or Toyota’s websites. Is my only option a Subaru for a small/ medium wagon? The Ford Mondeo wagon, for example, seems out of my price range.
Tim Dark hill, email
In Australia, most people prefer compact SUVs such as the Ford Kuga and Toyota RAV4. So the Corolla and Focus wagons don’t make it here. Hyundai does a very good i30 wagon that should suit your needs and budget.
LATER, RON I have difficulty understanding the rating of the RON for petrols as listed by various service stations. When I go into Shell or Caltex there are ULP + Ethanol 91, ULP 95 and Premium 98. But when I go into an independent operator such as Volume Plus there are ULP + Ethanol 95, ULP (no Ethanol) 95 and Premium + Ethanol 100. Can you explain the variations?
Warren Burke, email
Oil companies blend in different ways. You only need to worry about the octane rating and the price, as they do the same job but ethanol provides a relatively cheap boost to octane. GET IN EARLY I finally have taken delivery of my new Hyundai i30 Elite but have some questions. If I am nowhere near the 1500km mark at one month, what is the correct procedure for the first service? Can I go over that onemonth period and get the kilometres up a bit more before the first service? What is the advantage of having the side mirrors that show the cars quite a distance away? Can I replace the driver’s side mirror with an ‘‘ordinary’’ mirror without voiding the warranty on the car?
Robyn Knorr, email
Don’t go too far over on the time because you need to get an early check and resolve any issues from delivery— check on things like paint and trim. The wide-view mirrors take some adjustment but give a better view all-round. You could change the glass without a major drama.
TYRE TIME I just took delivery of a new MY14 Holden Cruze SRI and was surprised that it has come with Continental Contact Sport 3 tyres rather than the Holden-developed Potenzas which everyone has been talking about. Are you aware of a change of tyre by Holden for the Cruze and do you think I should stick with the Contis or pursue it further? Also, the Cruze came without rear park sensors, which is standard across the range. I rang the dealer and they were surprised and will have to order a new bar with sensors. Do you know whether the bar would be painted at the factory or would it be delivered to the dealer and the bar sent to the painters (you’d hope for the same colour match and quality)?
Nick Athiniotis, email
All car companies have multiple tyre suppliers. Continental makes great tyres but you should chase the Bridgestones. Be careful on the parking sensors, because there could also be a wiring drama and it should be something for Holden to resolve, not a patchup at the dealership. TO MARKET Which seven-seater SUV would suit me? I need to replace my 2001 Volvo V70 due to transmission problems. I have up to $30,000 to spend, need seven seats, and would like similar boot space to the V70 as I do market stalls and carry stock, kids etc. I’m thinking a pre-loved Hyundai Santa Fe, Holden Captiva or Kia Sorento. I want something that won’t guzzle fuel.
Gabby Reis, email
The Santa Fe is the best choice and, if you travel a lot, a turbo diesel will give you the best economy.
THE BIG TRIP I will retire in mid-2014 and my wife and I are going to travel around Australia over two years. We will buy a 25-foot caravan — what is the best vehicle to two it? We are looking at the Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara, Range Rover Sports and Jeep Cherokee. There is not a great deal of difference with pricing so that’s not an issue but we’re keen to get the best option for us taking everything into account. We do not intend doing any off-road.
Colin Favre, email
The Land Cruiser Sahara is the best choice for The Big Trip, because it’s a proven performer and Toyota has the best back-up in the bush. You need to be sensible and that means a Land Cruiser diesel.