Keep your tail up

Herald Sun - Motoring - - ROADSIDE ASSIST -

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.

PEDAL PREF­ER­ENCE

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

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