Keep your mind on your driving
can the frequency of serious road accidents be reduced, particularly with regard to young drivers? Knowledge, skill and attitude are all part of learning. The first two are currently tested, but how can the third be improved? Surely, Pass Plus should be made mandatory and black box technology should be widely available?
GS, Crewe AYou
can’t legislate for testosterone levels in young men, unfortunately, but I’m disturbed by all the equipment now being fitted to cars to enable people to socialise with each other while driving. All these touchscreens have to affect attention levels. And something should be done to limit music noise levels, because you can’t wholly be aware of adjacent events if you can’t hear them.
Motoring’s recent story about the design and clarity of UK road signage prompts me to observe that, with the exception of motorways, road signs are increasingly being obscured by trees and bushes. Added to which, the effectiveness of a good many is compromised by the filth of traffic grime, moss and algae. Time for a campaign?
GK, via email AI’ve
covered this before. Drivers can avoid speeding convictions if they can prove that the limits were not properly posted because the signs were obscured.
BMW X3 2.0 xDrive has covered 48,500 miles from new and is still running on the original Pirelli Scorpion STR 235/55 R17 tyres, which I am about to replace. I remember reading that you recommended this tyre for the BMW X3 and can certainly endorse your comments. I have been a driver for more than 50 years and have never had a set of tyres last so long. AIt’s
partly because of your careful driving, partly because of the tyres.
October 12 you responded to a query about a car scraped while parked on private land. You recommended that the owner should ask the DVLA for the other keeper’s details. I found myself in virtually the same position last year. I got back to find my car damaged, with a note from a passer-by who described the driver, car and gave the registration number. I contacted the DVLA, which responded that the amount of damage did not justify giving me the name and address of the owner. There seems to be a fine line between what the Data Protection Act will allow and the rights of an injured party.
loophole in the Data Protection Act allows the DVLA to sell data to any member of the British Parking Association (BPA) which wants to penalise a driver for any parking “offence” on private land, without having to show “just cause”. Selling this data seems to be big business, but I don’t know how the DVLA was ever allowed to get into bed with the BPA. How was the clause in a parliamentary bill ever passed? Were all our MPs asleep? Or do some have financial interests in private parking enforcement? I would love to know.
Alas, poor auric
main dealer has confirmed that a new diesel particulate filter for my Fiat Sedici 1.9 Multijet diesel will cost £3,300, plus fitting. Is it cast in gold? What are your thoughts on a DPF being professionally cleaned as an alternative to replacement?
MG, via email AI
hear ceramex.com has developed a DPF cleaning process for trucks and it can restore 95 per cent efficiency. It might work for your car.
brand-new Toyota Auris hybrid has twice flattened its 12-volt battery in the first 300 miles, this after being left for three days after long runs (nothing was switched on). After the second failure the supplying dealer kept the car for 10 days, but found no fault. Toyota refuses to accept my request to reject the car. Surely it was unfit for purpose when handed to me?
SB, Cocking AI
bought a Toyota in 2004 and it instantly flattened its battery. The culprit was the interior light dimmer switch, which turned the light off but remained on an open circuit and drained the battery overnight. Switching off the interior light solved the problem. I hired a later model of the same Toyota this year and it, too, had the interior light permanently switched off. It seems to be a common fault.
was the passenger in a car. We were approaching a roundabout, with a choice of three lanes. An extra-long lorry and trailer chose the middle lane and we then went to the right. As it was clear we started off at the same time as the lorry, but its trailer cut across our lane and ripped the front bumper from my friend’s car. I blame the lorry driver, because he should have been in the inner lane.
OS, via email AI
don’t. Your friend is at least partially responsible because they should have held back behind the truck in order to give it room to negotiate the roundabout. It’s a simple matter of anticipation.
Boost, the chemist
handbook for my July 2002 Ford Focus suggests it is pointless to use petrol of a higher octane than 95. Presumably fuel constituents have changed considerably over the past 11 years, so is the handbook still correct?
JW, Wallingford AUsing
premium fuels such as Shell V-Power Nitro Plus will give you up to 10 per cent more power, keep the fuel system clean and provide more torque at lower revs, allowing you to change up earlier and achieve a small improvement in economy. Your handbook was written long before such fuels were developed.
looking for a Mazda5. From what I can see the 2.0i 150 petrol was built from 2012 onwards. Would it be silly to consider the 1.8i petrol instead? And what are your views on diesel models?
DO, via email AI
had a very good year with a Mazda5 1.6d TS2, with no hint of DPF problems, but I can’t predict whether any trouble might develop after three years or so. The 2.0i 150 petrol is much better than the 1.8i and has a chain cam, too. Careers advice: don’t let technology in cars take your focus away from the road lose control when braking or descending a snowy hill. I recommend Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons for all-year use.
…of our discontent
have a Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI CR140 SE with 225/45 R17 Michelin Sport 3 tyres. I am really disappointed with its poor tyre mileage – the fronts last only 12,500 miles if I am lucky. I also have the added issue of damaging the rims if I park too close to the kerb with the low-profile tyres. Should I switch to different rims and is it OK to stick with Michelin tyres? I’ve had good durability from Michelins on a Saab.
AW, Matlock AAnother
reader had this problem with a Superb and switched successfully to 16in wheels and 205/55 R16 tyres. That size gives you a huge choice, but Michelin Primacy 3 should be fine and you should get at least 20,000 miles from the fronts, together with a vastly improved ride. You have to inform your insurer, but be aware that some companies might try to penalise you for modifying the car. Sell the old wheels on eBay.
Till depth us do part
own a 2012 Citroën DS4 Sport with 225/40 R19 tyres. The price of replacement rubber seems very expensive. What would you advise?
HM, Great Yarmouth ASell
those ridiculous 19in bling wheels and replace them with 16in alloys and 205/55 R16 rubber from tyremen.co.uk. The price of new wheels and tyres will be less than that for 19in tyres alone. The new rubber will last twice as long and transform your car’s ride quality.
Clunk-click, every trip
recently purchased an ex-demo 2012 Audi Q5 with 2.0 diesel engine and S-tronic gearbox from a main dealer. I’m finding the gear changes are very noticeable at low speeds, and that the car feels unresponsive to the throttle when pulling away from stationary, then will surge slightly as the revs pick up. Overall, the drive quality is not as smooth as I would have expected. The dealer assures me this is normal for an S-tronic. AHesitancy
from standing starts is a characteristic of VW Group automatics. The
PR, Godalming car’s electronic control unit (ECU) restricts power if it detects that the brake pedal is being pressed and there is often a delay between releasing the brakes and this message getting through to the ECU. Also, some automatic four-wheel-drive systems detect a disparity between tyre circumferences as slippage. That confuses the system and leads to hesitation, jerks and wear.
new Audi S3 Sportback ticks every box for us – except for the ride. There is a Magnetic Ride Control option, but no Audi salesman seems to know if it makes the ride more comfortable for longer journeys. Do you?
MD, via email AI
first tried this, which alters the viscosity of the damping fluid using a magnetic system, on an Audi TT in 2007 and found that it made a stiffly sprung car more comfortable. Ask the dealer for a test drive of any of Audi’s MRC-equipped cars.
Take it or leave it?
diesel particulate filters a legal requirement? AThey
are, yes. According to the relevant government document, it is an offence to “use a vehicle modified in such a way that it no longer complies with the air pollutant emissions standards it was designed to meet”. Removal of a DPF will almost invariably contravene these requirements.
SW, via email