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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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