Factor fun into the equation
I have a 2009 Mazda3 MPS and I’ve held onto it because I was originally told Mazda was bringing out an updated turbo version of the Mazda3. As this is no longer eventuating, I’m keen to know what you think is a viable alternative. I’ve been looking at the Subaru WRX, Renault Megane, Hyundai Veloster and the Volkswagen Golf R. Can you suggest what the best is out of the group or is there something else that I should look at? Michael Kornitschuk, email The Veloster is not sharp enough after an MPS, the Megane RS is very good and gets The Tick, the WRX is fine but getting a bit long in the tooth, and I’d always take the Golf GTI over the R. So you should drive the Megane and Golf, do your sums, and pick the one you enjoy most.
BEST TILL LAST
I am thinking of buying a new Holden Commodore SV6 before they go out of production later this year. Do you think GM will release one last special-edition Commodore SV6 before then and do you still think the current Commodore is the best built?
John Whitlock, email
So far as I am aware, there will be nothing special on the SV6. I still rate the current Commodore as the best of the bunch, and a long-term winner of The Tick, but don’t wait because lots of collectors are already swooping on the final Australian-made Holdens.
Re the articles on high readings of temperatures by concerned drivers, especially manuals towing. Lugging will limit the amount of coolant through the radiator and this slows down the transfer of heat from the engine. With an auto, pull the auto to a lower gear to keep the revs up.
Kevin Sweeney, email Interesting tip, but not sure it will make much difference.
WIDEN YOUR NET
For years whenever I traded a car and/or bought a new (used) car I used the Redbook.com.au website to get a rough valuation of my trade-in vehicle and the going price of the car I am buying. It has always been accurate to within a $1000 or so depending on mileage, condition, service history, etc. Lately the dealers are only offering about half the lowest trade-in valuation yet are charging $5000-plus on the highest selling price of the vehicle they are selling with incomplete service history. Low trade-in prices would indicate a glut of trade-ins but high used-car prices would indicate a shortage of stock. So how do we get a realistic value of trade-ins and purchases now as car dealers appear to want to buy for peanuts and sell for a small fortune? Phil Hiddle, Delacombe VIC The internet has changed used-car buying and selling and the traditional guides have trouble keeping up. The best way to shop is to go online to find comparable vehicles and check realworld prices.
JUST ADD WATER
Re anti-freeze coolant and ethylene glycol being flammable, it’s something I did not know. Some years ago I was speaking to a chap who had been a mechanic at the South Pole, involved with heavy machinery and I said they must have used neat antifreeze. But he said you cannot do that as antifreeze only works when mixed with water.
Doug Brockfield, Milawa VIC Hmmm. I’ve used undiluted coolant in the past, but only in hot weather, so that’s an interesting tip.
IT’S A NO-JOH
You can run petrol cars, I believe, on separated water, so why aren’t we doing this? Years ago I saw a huge yank tank with a V8 engine which ran 300 miles on so many ounces of salt water. Salt water has a faster reaction to the electricity used to separate the water. When the water is burnt, it explodes in the combustion chamber and goes back to water to be re-used. Urine is also good for it.
Troy Henry, email
I have never seen any proof of these crazy claims. The late Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen once touted a project in his home state of Queensland, but that was a long time ago.
DON’T BREAK SEAL
I own a late 2007 Toyota Aurion bought new and it has done 68,000 kilometres. I have raised the question with my Toyota dealer as to when the sixspeed auto transmission needs to be serviced and was told the transmission fluid does not need to be changed for the life of the vehicle if it is driven normally. The car manual says “Change automatic transmission fluid only as necessary”. The car is driven normally and my auto transmission works smoothly, but with the age of my car and mileage should I still request an auto transmission service? Dennis, email
A lot of gearboxes are now sealed for life and there is no reason to expect any troubles with your Toyota. I’d save the money.
MAKE KOREA MOVE
I drive a 2008 Toyota Camry and am now finding it to be a little on the bulky side, so am considering buying the new-model Corolla sedan or a car of equivalent size. I have owned the Camry since new and have done only 58,000km so my travel distance is not great. Can you comment on the Corolla or advise an alternative? Mike Davey, email
The Corolla is still a good car, and deserves The Tick, but there is better buying in the Kia Cerato and Hyundai i30 which drive better for Australia and have a longer warranty. There will be great deals soon on the i30 with an all-new model about to arrive from Korea.
BRUMBY HAS BOLTED
I am looking for a small second-hand manual utility about the size of a Subaru Brumby. My husband says there are no such vehicles produced. As I am well into my 70s and only want it to duck into town and take rubbish to the tip I don’t want the large monstrosities that are available, so are there lesser-known vehicles to suit my requirements? Jen Ray, email
As a former Brumby owner who now drives a 2003 HiLux, for exactly the same jobs as you, I can recommend one of the earlier Toyota utes. If you go back a few years the utes were smaller but try for maximum safety in a second-hand pick. The only thing in the Brumby size in recent times is the Proton Jumbuck, but the quality was ordinary and the safety poor.
Good sport: Renault’s Megane RS would be an excellent choice; Toyota Aurion, below