Time to log off
As a 73-year-old I have been looking at buying a new car. A Subaru Outback 3.6R suits my needs with all its safety features and ease of driving and space. I have looked at Audi, BMW, Mercedes, VW and most of the SUVs and found it interesting to see how much servicing costs vary. The BMW 2 Series interval is 24 months/ 30,000km, which seems a long time to have oil doing its job, cost undisclosed. On the Outback I drove, the interval is six months/ 12,500km, costing about $2600 over three years. I am a retired mechanic and I have serviced my Toyota RAV4 for the past nine years. After 160,000km, the all-up parts cost for oil, filters, two sets of tyres and battery is $2050. What turns me off the Outback is the excessive frequency and cost of servicing to keep your warranty. If the Outback is so good, why does Subaru reckon it needs so much servicing? Rob Edwards, email Subaru is well out of step on service support in Australia but the orders come from Japan. You will save money by going outside the dealer network for logbook servicing.
I am writing to ask your opinion on the Holden Captiva 7, the top-of-the-range LTZ. How does it compare to the Mazda CX-5 and the Hyundai Tucson or is there something else that is on the market that is superior? We have previously owned Mazda6s and this time decided that a medium-size SUV would be nice for a change as we intend to do some travelling. Rob Thomas, email I would not recommend a Captiva. At the moment, the CX-5 is best in class but the Tucson also gets The Tick.
Just asking for a female friend (65) who wants to upgrade her car now that her husband has died. She is looking at a Ford Kuga or something similar and I don’t think money is too much of a problem due to superannuation but she certainly doesn’t want to spend a huge amount. Christine Snow, email The Kuga is a good drive but, like Rob, you should get her to test drive the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson before making a decision.
VITARA’S GOOD VALUE
I would appreciate your thoughts on the new Suzuki Vitara. We currently have a 2010 SX4. Richard, email It’s roomy, well designed and nice to drive. I really don’t like the automatic gearbox, the doors sound a bit tinny but it’s good value. I would give it The Tick.
AMG GLEE CLUB
I have a 2007 Mercedes GL500 that has done more than 200,000km and I’m deciding on its replacement. We no longer need seven seats but would like to stay with a large SUV. The AMG ML63-GLE 63 would be an option. What about the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 as an alternative? It looks as if it has all the bells and whistles that the ML63 has, at about half the price. I know the fuel economy is not great, at about 19-20L/100km in the city, but it sounds great and looks mighty quick. David Collins, email The V8 in the SRT8 sounds great but the core quality is no match for a Mercedes. If you like driving, the new GLE 63 would be my pick.
BT-ING AROUND BUSH
Our Mazda BT-50 has been repaired for what seemed the umpteenth time on our round-Australia long-service trip. We wrote to you a few weeks ago about the crank angle sensor failing and the engine dying (not unknown in my model and the Ford Ranger). Mazda in Darwin fitted a new glow plug wiring loom after replacing the powertrain control module failed to fix the
problem. We finally got our tinnie wet and smashed some barra, driving 1100km in one hit to meet a mate east of Borroloola. The car went fine. We drove to Mt Isa, another 1100km, without incident. Mazda has covered our costs. Would I drive a Mazda into the northwest again? Nope. I was off the road for 35 days from the end of June to September. There are Mazda dealers in Carnarvon, Darwin and Mt Isa. I had to drive 850km from Kununurra to Darwin — where the dealer told me I had a problem that I’d already ID’d and that’s seemingly known to the makers.
Pete and Linda, email
I have a 2010 Audi A4 1.8 with 32,000km and it drives very well. This was the model that used excess oil. Audi, at no cost to us, rebuilt the engine with larger pistons. It runs great but I’m wondering, as it’s five years old, whether I should be looking to update rather than hold on to it. I am a senior lady doing local driving only.
Gay Rutherford, email That’s no great distance so it’s fine for a while yet. If you feel like a change — but to the same size and style of car — take a test drive in the latest Mercedes-Benz C200. It’s our current Car of the Year and a great choice.
... AND NOT SO WELL
I am having oil consumption issues with my 2009 Audi A5 2.0T quattro, which has travelled only 32,000km. I believe this is a worldwide issue. In a lawsuit against Volkswagen America in 2012 it was shown that more than 120,000 cars were faulty and Audi covered all repair costs. It is a design flaw with the piston rings, and will cost thousands to fix. Do you have any advice? I don’t know whether I can do anything under warranty.
Rick Simmons, email If you car is like Gay’s you probably have a case. No surprise that when I approached Audi Australia the company agreed to conduct and cover all costs for an oil consumption test. If the excessive oil consumption is in fact caused by a manufacturer fault, Audi will cover parts and labour cost.
In 2010 I bought a VW Golf TSI Comfortline for $46,000 with all the bells and whistles. The Golf has been serviced only by VW, as soon as it’s due. From day one, I have had nothing but ongoing dramas — gearbox, rattles and now the radio. It works intermittently, as does the reversing camera, and my phone no longer pairs. VW’s quote to have it fixed came in at $5860. There is absolutely no way I can afford this. VW agreed to cover half the cost of the unit but not the labour (the dealer will cover this) but the bill is still $2900. Can you help?
Sonia Sutherland, email Volkswagen Australia spokesman Karl Gehling says: “Our customer care team has been in touch and arranged a loan car for her while we get her car in to address the issues she has raised. We will cover the replacement costs of her audio unit and have confirmed this with the customer.”
PAUL GOVER GETS ANSWERS FOR YOU
Out of step: Subaru Outback (main) has short service intervals; Audi A4 (left), known for excess oil use