Cooler is good in­sur­ance

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE PAUL GOVER -

Q: I’ve started tow­ing a car­a­van withmy 2006 au­to­matic Nis­san XTrail and was won­der­ing if I should have a trans­mis­sion oil cooler fit­ted. The X-trail has a braked tow­ing ca­pac­ity of 2000kg and my car­a­van weighs 1300kg and has brakes. So far I’ve only done small trips of around 300km, but next year I want to go from Bris­bane to Vic­to­ria to see the Great Ocean Road.

Pre­vi­ously I have been told that if I was go­ing to tow heavy stuff I should get an af­ter­mar­ket cooler to cool the trans­mis­sion fluid. Do you think it is nec­es­sary? Peter van Sloten, email. A: It de­pends on the weight you’re go­ing to tow and the ter­rain you’ll be trav­el­ling over. Your car­a­van is well within the X-trail’s weight lim­its, but re­mem­ber the weight is the fully loaded weight, not just the weight of the car­a­van. If the car­a­van weighs 1300kg fully loaded and if the roads you will be trav­el­ling on are rel­a­tively flat, then you should be able to get away with­out a cooler. But a cooler is good in­sur­ance against over­heat­ing the trans­mis­sion, and

Imag­ine my sur­prise when a few days later I ex­pe­ri­enced to­tal brake fail­ure

over­heat­ing it is a good way to kill it.

Q: It seems to me that the phrase ‘‘char­ac­ter­is­tic of the model’’ is the car man­u­fac­turer’s favourite re­ply when quizzed about a prob­lem. I have been in the trade since 1968 I find it a copout. It sug­gests that a car­maker knows about a prob­lem but doesn’t know how to fix it. I took de­liv­ery of a 2008 no-name car in Au­gust and im­me­di­ately no­ticed that the brake pedal felt vague and spongy and tended to creep to the floor if mod­er­ate sus­tained force was ap­plied af­ter the ve­hi­cle had come to a stop. Imag­ine my sur­prise when a few days later I ex­pe­ri­enced to­tal brake fail­ure. The dealer at­tempted to find the cause and re­placed a cou­ple of ma­jor com­po­nents in the brake sys­tem, but with­out fix­ing it. The man­u­fac­turer in­di­cated that the brake pedal feel and creep was ‘‘char­ac­ter­is­tic of the model’’ and not a prob­lem. My in­quiries have dis­cov­ered that there have been at least three un­ex­plained to­tal brake fail­ures on this par­tic­u­lar model. To main­tain good­will the deal­er­ship is re­plac­ing my ve­hi­cle and, be­lieve it or not, the re­place­ment has a vague spongy pedal that tends to creep if mod­er­ate pedal force is main­tained af­ter com­ing to a stop. Your thoughts re­gard­ing this mat­ter would be ap­pre­ci­ated.

Joe Bloomer, email.

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