Charge of the Kombi, buzz of the fans

Herald Sun - Motoring - - ROADSIDE ASSIST -

Thanks for the Detroit cov­er­age. I see Volk­swa­gen has at last wo­ken up to the retro scene with the Buzz af­ter that pa­thetic at­tempt with the New Beetle. The new Kombi is a rip­per in its shape, just the right com­bi­na­tion of orig­i­nal and new. Only prob­lem is, be­ing elec­tric, it’s use­less for Oz. It should be petrol and/or diesel and then there would be a queue at the show­rooms, me for one. Tony, email

The first come­back Beetle was badly flawed be­cause its body was dropped over the Golf plat­form but the sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion car was much bet­ter. The Kombi needs to be elec­tric as Volk­swa­gen bat­tles to over­come the world­wide fall­out from the Diesel-gate scan­dal.

POWER POINTS

Re the BMW i3. I thought it a good primer for the gen­eral pub­lic on the fu­ture of elec­tric ve­hi­cles but I was ex­tremely sur­prised that there was not a sin­gle word on the bat­tery-elec­tric ve­hi­cle that most peo­ple are likely to see on our roads al­ready. It’s the Tesla, ob­vi­ously. Are you sav­ing this up for a fu­ture ar­ti­cle once the Model X ar­rives here? I’m not a Tesla owner yet, al­though I am on the wait­ing list for a Model 3. Gra­ham Hardy, email

We’ve writ­ten many times about Tesla but it’s still a very costly car in the lux­ury class. To get trac­tion in Aus­tralia, elec­tric cars need to be an af­ford­able al­ter­na­tive to ex­ist­ing petrol-pow­ered run­abouts.

CARP ON DIOX­IDE

Re the i3. You say coal-fired power sta­tions are the bad guys but you ap­pear to be well be­hind the cur­rent science which shows that CO2 is not the ma­jor driver of cli­mate change as there has been no in­crease in tem­per­a­ture for 18 years de­spite the rapid rise in at­mo­spheric CO2. In any case, go­ing green by mak­ing elec­tric cars could be counter-pro­duc­tive. There is the cost of mak­ing them in coun­tries that do not have the same stan­dards as Aus­tralia, then you have to ship them here and, when the bat­ter­ies have had their day, dis­pos­ing of them poses enor­mous en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ards. Any puny ef­fect by hu­man­ity to re­duce its car­bon foot­print is more than off­set by na­ture. There are up to 62,000 bush­fires a year in Aus­tralia and world­wide there are over 20,000 fires — from all sources — burn­ing at any given time. There are up to 80 vol­canic eruptions ev­ery year. When Kraka­toa erupted in 1883 it put so much par­tic­u­late in the at­mos­phere that it low­ered tem­per­a­tures around the globe for more than a year. It will cost tens of bil­lions to ad­dress cli­mate change for vir­tu­ally no re­turn on in­vest­ment. Re­new­ables are not suit­able for base-load power. Alan Bar­ron, email

Re­ally? I ex­pect a flood of re­sponses from Cars­guide read­ers who don’t agree.

CAM FOL­LOWER

Re the dash­cam be­ing dis­abled at a deal­er­ship. This hap­pened to me in a Toy­ota deal­er­ship in north Queens­land on hol­i­days. I only dis­cov­ered it was not work­ing the next day, too far away to com­plain, and thought it had just died and so bought a re­place­ment. Then, when I got back to Mel­bourne, I found the SD card was not record­ing but a new card worked. Also, my last record­ing was when driv­ing into the deal­er­ship. Bob Mayes, email

I’ll check on the le­gal­ity, from both sides, of a dash­cam run­ning in a deal­er­ship. But if they don’t tell you they’re dis­abling it, that’s a prob­lem.

NO POWER, NO SHIFT

I am writ­ing out of frus­tra­tion with my Ford Fo­cus Sport. The Pow­er­sh­fit trans­mis­sion has failed on three oc­ca­sions. The last time was very dan­ger­ous as I had the whole fam­ily in the car driv­ing home. The car had only just had a fresh set of clutches in­stalled. I have now had the clutches re­placed on six oc­ca­sions — surely this can’t con­tinue? Is there no rea­son why Ford Aus­tralia can’t in­struct the dealer to ac­tu­ally re­place the trans­mis­sion? I have not had any sat­is­fac­tion with the dealer or Ford Aus­tralia and can’t even sell my car as I would have an obli­ga­tion to ad­vise the new owner of the de­fects. Carl Foti, email

I have pushed hard with Ford Aus­tralia. Cus­tomer ser­vice boss Steve Kruk replies: “We are go­ing to of­fer a ‘like-for like’ ex­change for Mr Foti for only a $4000 cus­tomer con­tri­bu­tion. Given the age of his ve­hi­cle we think this is a great of­fer for as we are sig­nif­i­cantly dis­count­ing the ve­hi­cle and pumping up his trade value (to com­pen­sate) for his in­con­ve­nience.”

TANK TRAPS

With a tech­ni­cal back­ground in air­craft en­gines and fuel sys­tems, I am con­tin­u­ally amused by mo­torists who fill up only when their petrol gauge gets close to empty. At pilot sem­i­nars, aero club events, air-shows etc, I al­ways in­cluded fuel man­age­ment in my pre­sen­ta­tions. With re­spect to fuel qual­ity and stor­age, all fu­els — av­gas, au­to­mo­tive petrol and tur­bine fuel — ac­cu­mu­late minute amounts of wa­ter. An ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wa­ter in your petrol tank or at your favourite servo’s stor­age tanks is not nor­mally an is­sue as it will set­tle slowly to the bot­tom of the tank. But the lower your fuel level when you re­fill, the greater risk you have of stir­ring up wa­ter and for­eign par­ti­cles in your tank. Also, to re­duce the chance of get­ting con­tam­i­nated petrol from the servo, re­frain from fill­ing when there is a de­liv­ery tanker there, stir­ring up what is in the un­der­ground tanks.

Les Lyons, email

A good sug­ges­tion, given the num­ber of read­ers com­plain­ing re­cently about poor fuel qual­ity.

LOCK IT IN

Re lost keys for a 2004 Corolla, it is not es­sen­tial to go to the dealer. Most peo­ple seem to be con­vinced by the deal­ers that only they can pro­vide this ser­vice, which is not en­tirely true. Most rep­utable lock­smiths can clone ad­di­tional transpon­der keys for most of the pop­u­lar brands. How­ever, if all keys are lost there are many spe­cial­ist au­to­mo­tive lock­smiths in the cap­i­tals and some re­gional ar­eas who can help. Among them is Ul­ti­mate Lock­smiths in Syd­ney on 0400 060 001, which is run by a fel­low who com­pleted his ap­pren­tice­ship with a com­pany I was em­ployed by. He and his staff are masters in this field and could do the job for con­sid­er­ably less than the dealer, us­ing parts that are com­pletely com­pat­i­ble with the gen­uine thing. Colin Sneesby, email Thanks for the tip and I’ll keep the de­tails on file for other key-loss vic­tims.

PULL THE PARK BRAKE

I drive an Audi A3 with a push-but­ton park­ing brake. In years gone by, if I had a fail­ure of the car’s nor­mal brak­ing sys­tem I would have had the op­tion of us­ing the me­chan­i­cal hand­brake as a last re­sort. I would like some in­for­ma­tion on the op­er­a­tion of the push­but­ton park brake, with the P on top, and if could it be op­er­ated at some speed. Would it cause dam­age or could there be un­in­tended con­se­quences?

Robin McKen­zie, email Audi spokesman Shaun Cleary replies: “If you pull and hold the P but­ton while the ve­hi­cle is mov­ing it will ini­ti­ate an emer­gency brake ap­pli­ca­tion with the brakes ap­plied hy­drauli­cally at all four wheels. To pre­vent the emer­gency brak­ing func­tion from be­ing used ac­ci­den­tally, a warn­ing buzzer sounds when the P but­ton is op­er­ated. The brakes are re­leased im­me­di­ately when you re­lease the P but­ton or press the ac­cel­er­a­tor.”

Audi A3: Use park brake in an emer­gency

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