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Herald Sun - Motoring - - ROADSIDE ASSIST -

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.

BET­TER OP­TIONS

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.

SU­PER CHOICE

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

OIL’S WELL

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.

RA­DIO DRAMA

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

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