Dealer should be port of call

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE -

Q: I am an owner of a 2010 Toy­ota Hilux SR5 Dual Cab Turbo Diesel and have been tak­ing ad­van­tage of the fixed­cap ser­vic­ing of $170 per ser­vice, but while hav­ing a wheel align­ment car­ried out at a tyre out­let I was told that my hand­brake was only be­ing ad­justed at the lever and not the rear wheels. Is it bet­ter to search for a true 4x4 me­chanic?

Matt Jones, email.

A: Be­fore you do any­thing, air your con­cerns with the dealer. There is no need to find a spe­cial­ist 4x4 me­chanic.

Q: My daugh­ter’s 2001 Ford Laser auto has a re­cur­ring prob­lem, which no­body can so far put their fin­ger on.

It is quite dis­tress­ing, es­pe­cially when you are driv­ing in traf­fic or the car is stopped at the traf­fic lights.

The en­gine shud­ders when sta­tion­ary and feels like its go­ing to ‘‘conk out’’.

It seems to cor­rect it­self for a time, but might come back a week or two later. Re­cently when I was driv­ing the car at 100km/h the mo­tor lost power and the speed dropped right back to about 80km/h. Af­ter a few min­utes the en­gine seemed to right it­self and we con­tin­ued on our jour­ney with­out fur­ther in­ci­dent.

The me­chan­ics we have taken it to have not been able to find any­thing wrong and noth­ing shows up on a di­ag­nos­tic check.

Ross Gre­gory, Seville Grove, WA.

A: In­ter­mit­tent prob­lems can be very hard to di­ag­nose be­cause they rarely hap­pen when the me­chanic is present.

Same with the di­ag­nos­tic checks, noth­ing will show up if the en­gine is run­ning nor­mally when the checks are done.

I would be check­ing the var­i­ous en­gine sen­sors, their con­nec­tors and the wit­ting loom, look­ing for a cor­roded or poor con­nec­tion.

Q: I have an SV22 four­cylin­der Toy­ota Camry with 260,00-plus km on the orig­i­nal en­gine and I was think­ing of hav­ing it con­verted and tak­ing ad­van­tage of the re­main­ing $1500 gov­ern­ment sub­sidy.

Is it a good idea to do this so late in the life of an el­derly en­gine? Are there any is­sues likely to man­i­fest them­selves where an en­gine has spent all of its ex­ist­ing life on ULP?

It’s an older car now and I’m not sure spend­ing thou­sands to have the en­gine done up re­ally makes sense.

Paul Tar­rant, email.

A: It de­pends on how long you plan to keep the car and its con­di­tion. If it is in good con­di­tion and you plan to keep it for four to five years min­i­mum then it could be a worth­while thing to do, but if it’s not in great shape and you don’t plan to keep it then it cer­tainly wouldn’t be worth it.

The prob­lem is that it is an old car and you can’t pre­dict what prob­lems you might have in the near fu­ture. I wouldn’t do it.

Q: My 1999 six-cylin­der AU Ford Fair­lane Ghia has done just 100,000km and is in su­perb con­di­tion. I love it, but the fuel us­age around town is ter­ri­ble. Ac­cord­ing to the trip com­puter, it is av­er­ag­ing 19.5-litres per 100km around town and 12.5-13-litres/100km on a trip. I am not a lead foot, in fact friends tell me I drive like my grand­mother. My dealer can’t find any­thing wrong with the car. Hope you can help.

Mil­ton Meier, Bal­larat, Vic.

A: You should be get­ting around 13-14litres/100 km in town and 9-10litres/100km on a trip, so clearly all is not well.

The first thing to do is to en­sure the spark plugs, leads, air fil­ter and throt­tle body are all func­tion­ing cor­rectly, and re­place them if its sus­pected they’re not.

Have the dealer check the ex­haust back pres­sure, cat­alytic con­verter and oxy­gen sen­sors to make sure isn’t run­ning un­duly rich or have a re­stricted ex­haust.

Look at your driv­ing con­di­tions, for in­stance, do you mainly do short runs that might not al­low the en­gine to warm up prop­erly?

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