Practical Veloster has panache, too
I’m reluctantly looking to move on from my 2015 Mazda MX-5 1.5-litre. I’ve had a few back troubles lately and I’m finding it difficult to get in and out. Also, the missus thinks it’s not practical given we also have a seven-year-old and there is not much boot space and I have to agree with her for once. I’m looking at a Hyundai Veloster turbo, which I really like. We only need to get three people in the car and the back seats are probably only practical for little kids or short people as I almost hit my head when I get in the back. What are your thoughts on the Veloster? Should I look at something else? I’m really looking for a car that’s sporty, small and relatively fuel efficient as I do mostly city driving, with a minimal cost when trading in the MX-5. Mal Talbot, email The Veloster is not as sharp to drive as the MX-5 but it has a sporty feel with the turbo engine and my sevenyear-old
I want to find out about changing my Nissan Navara D40 timing chain. Various answers on the net say from 100,000-300,000km or more. Do they need changing? I’ve done 103,000km. I’m told the job costs about $4000.
enjoyed being in the back, especially with the extra door on the passenger’s side — which looks silly but is surprisingly practical.
I am considering buying a Subaru Forester as I’m keen to start doing some off-road driving and the size suits my needs, particularly for around-town driving. I am only interested in a manual transmission and want to spend about $25,000 so am hoping to find a good second-hand option. Subarus seem to be reliable cars and have a long history of allwheel drive but should I be considering other options? Cate Duggan, email A Forester is great for the city but not the right choice for serious off-road use. It’s more of a crossover, fine for gravel and sandy tracks but not for serious rock crawling or giant mud holes. You would be better served by a Suzuki Grand Vitara if you want to get seriously away from the bitumen.
When I was in the motorcycle trade I was always told to match the yellow dot on the tyre to the air valve on the wheel to minimise wheel weights when balancing, as the yellow dot marked the lightest part of the tyre. But I have noticed with car tyres that when fitting they don’t seem to worry about matching the dot with the air valve as much. Would this result in using more weights for balancing or should I demand that the tyre be refitted correctly? Phil Hiddle, email You are right and Terry Smith, a second-generation tyre expert, has extra detail: “Fitting it that way is not as critical with car and 4WD tyres as it is with bike tyres. The reason is a narrow bike tyre is only affected by a static out-of-balance, or the heavy spot on one side, and you simply put a weight on the opposite side to stop the vibration. With wider car and 4WD tyres we now get static and dynamic out-of-balance and the dynamic issue needs to be diagnosed electronically by a balancing machine.”
When I took my Ford Territory in for its first service the dealer called to say the wiper blades needed changing. I told them to get lost and changed the blades myself 10 years later. Mark Findlay, email Some dealerships have been chasing extra money-makers for a long time.
Re the diesel Ford Territory. We bought a new one, which was great until the engine broke down with less than 72,000km on the speedo and less than four years old. The cost to repair was more than $5000 and Ford, in their “generosity”, came to the party with an offer of less than $1000 to help repair it. Colin Glennie, email We’re still fans of the Territory despite your experience and the age of the diesel engine.
Your comments that SUVs are favoured by the elderly with dodgy knees and hips are correct but their popularity is also due to the fact that a lot of owners regularly have to ferry grandchildren. Children under six have to be in an approved child seat in Victoria and these are complex to fit — the initial fitting is usually done by an expert so are generally just left in place. Even the younger and fitter parents find bending down to strap a child into a car seat difficult, which also accounts for the popularity in wealthier suburbs of large SUVs, whose owners have no intention of taking them off bitumen roads. Charles Clarke, email
I have a 2005 Toyota Prado, bought new. It has travelled only 113,000km. It has always been garaged and serviced regularly with all services conducted by Toyota dealers. I recently noticed the dashboard was beginning to crack around the front airbag and I note, from previous comments in your column and a review of the internet, this appears to be a common fault with the Prado. I have asked both the dealer and Toyota Australia customer service to consider replacing the dash as it would appear to be a design fault. Unfortunately both have declined to assist. Richard Tucker, email I have had success with other Prado owners and will definitely be taking your case directly to the people at Toyota Australia who have helped in the past.
Re your Which Car story on buying a convertible. I am also in my 60s and have also wanted a change to a convertible. In your article you did not mention the Mercedes SLK. I have just bought one, after looking for a couple of years, and I flew to Melbourne and drove the car home to Sydney. There are so many models with various engines, also many colours to choose from, and most have been pampered and never driven in anger. You can spend a little to a fair amount on choice, many have good options and most are in superb condition and are very reliable provided they are serviced. Peter Hoycard, email The SLK is a fun little car, like a grown-up Mazda MX-5, but the people who asked about a convertible also wanted the potential to carry extra passengers at times.
I have been looking for a late-model six-cylinder petrol SUV. I don’t want a diesel, despite the dealers’ efforts to sell me one, and my reasons are a whole other letter. I quite like the look of the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, which seems good value for money and is well optioned, but I have heard some negative opinions of them. Should I be concerned? Paul Butler, email Jeep has taken a battering in recent years for poor quality and the Cherokee is still not recommended by Carsguide, unless your primary motivation is serious off-road driving. Even without a diesel, you can get great performance and economy from the latest generation of turbo fourcylinder petrol engines instead of an old-fashioned six.
Sporty feel: Hyundai Veloster, left; and Mercedes SLK