Keep your tail up
I bought a VW Mk7 Golf GTI after much deliberation, essentially because it had independent rear suspension whereas the VW Polo, Ford Fiesta ST and Peugeot GTI have torsion-beam rear ends. I believe the torsion beam setup, while very good, in theory shouldn’t be as good as the multi-link independent suspension on my car. Previously I had a Ford Focus, which I found had excellent independent rear suspension, and a recent Carsguide article on the Peugeot by John Carey says the “torsion beam in theory is inferior to the Golf GTI multi-link suspension”. Others have commented on the Fiesta feeling a bit skittish at the rear on less than smooth surfaces. What has been your experience?
Barry Catford, email
Multi-link suspension is superior to a torsion beam as it gives greater side-to-side isolation and superior control. But it costs more. That’s why most small front-drive cars have a torsion beam in the rear. In a performance car of any sort I’d always look for a good independent rear end.
It is hard to understand why people adopt the method of driving autos with both feet, as your correspondent Ray Smith does. It is the most dangerous practice of driving. I once saw a driver get catapulted into the windscreen while using this method. Using both feet in an auto is the practice of a poor driver and the evidence shows when travelling behind one of these poor drivers, as the brake lights are on all the time. It is a dangerous practice that needs to be stopped.
Tom Jones, email
It’s not remotely dangerous if you know what you’re doing and actually cuts the reaction time in a potential crash as you don’t have to move one foot from the accelerator to the brake. And I say that as someone who has been a leftfoot braker since the early 1980s.
LOVE THAT HONDA
I bought a Honda CR-V in April 2002, so it’s now getting on a bit. All the work it has done has been service as a shopping cart, so finally it went on its first decent run. The trip was Townsville-Brisbane return, with some backcountry diversions on the way, using on average about 9.0L/100km. Problems? Not one and it just seemed to run better the longer and harder I pushed it. Suggestions from folks I know that I should trade it in are being ignored; after all, it still has only just over 78,000km on the clock.
Geoff Rath, email
GOOGLE MECHANIC FAIL
I’ve driven company cars for the past 40 years or so and never had trouble with my airconditioning. I bought a Mazda CX-7 in 2011 after I retired and it now shows 54,325km. I contacted my Mazda dealer because I believed the aircon compressor was not working. I was told to bring the car in and they would put it on their diagnostic machine — at $175 to advise the cost of repair. I looked up airconditioner faults on the web and, lo and behold, Mazda are well aware they have a problem with the compressor and there are a
lot of unhappy owners out there. I am not happy to take my car to the dealership, pay $175, and then what looks likely to be a further charge of about $2000.
Denis Wetherall, email
Checking for faults on the web is like doing a “Google doctor” when you don’t feel well. Karla Leach of Mazda Australia reports: “Geelong Mazda has diagnosed that an aircon hose needs replacing. The compressor is fine, contrary to the owner’s initial report. The retail cost for the customer is $564.”
FADED, NOT JADED
The headlights of my 2002 Nissan X-Trail have become opaque but the indicator lenses are fine. Would Nissan use different materials and why is the quality control not sorted? This has been a fantastic vehicle — apart from a blown head gasket at 285,000km not covered on warranty — and still drives like new. Is there a solution to the lights?
Henk Bos, email
You’re never going to get warranty cover at that mileage, but something as simple as a Rain-X restoration kit could revitalise the headlights. Nissan spokesman Peter Fadeyev says: “The headlight and side-indicator lights have different outer surface materials. The headlight has a polycarbonate exterior and can develop a misting effect after many years and typically results from extended UV exposure and the build-up of chemicals from close traffic conditions. It is a relatively straightforward repair and there are commercially available solutions.”
PICK UP THE LINGO
You commented recently about the use of the words truck and ute and I agree with you. The Australian utility was based on a modified car body-chassis with no truck origins — light, heavy or otherwise. When you get to the newer crop of utes, I prefer to call them that only when they are equipped with a flat bed. The current family trucks are certainly more truck than car so I can see nothing wrong with calling them light trucks. Long or shortwheelbase, single cab, super cab, crew cab, long or short box, they are handy for the smaller jobs and make picking up things easier. I think the proper and more descriptive name for these light trucks is pick-up trucks or just plain pick-ups as they do in Canada and America.
Richard Laban, email
Thanks for the feedback and an excellent summation.
PAIN IN THE NECK
I recently bought a new Hyundai Tucson Highlander and I am finding the driver’s headrest, even set back its furthest, is too for forward. It’s resulting in discomfort, neck and back pain. Do you have any tips on a solution? I know they are designed that way for safety but the discomfort is unbearable.
Adrian Seconnino, email
I also thought the headrest was too close during my Carsguide test. I referred to the owner’s manual, pp 2-17, and found it was not set correctly. You need to use a bit of muscle to free the spring loading but that could be the solution for you.
IT PAYS TO BE LOYAL
In my Ford Ranger, the oil light came on and the car went into limp mode. I took the car to a Ford dealership in Melbourne where they told me the car had low oil pressure but is out of warranty and gave me a quote for $4500, potentially more. I then took the car to a mechanic who worked for Ford for 10 years and now has his own business. He pulled the car apart and found that the oil pump drive sprocket had sheared off due to internal vane failure, damaging the oil feed piping, cam shaft, chain guides with metal in the sump. In other words, it’s a mess. My wife and I love our Ranger and have just had a baby. It’s our only mode of transport, so it would be great if you could help.
Trent Ellis, email
Stephen Kruk of Ford replies: “We got Trent to bring his vehicle back to a Ford dealer and they were able to diagnose the issue. The vehicle has been repaired at no charge because of his service loyalty.”
Rear view: VW Golf GTI, with multilink rear suspension
Loved one: A reader’s teenaged Honda CR-V doesn’t miss a beat and he won’t part with it any time soon