Keep your mind on your driv­ing

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Front Page -

Youth club


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.

Hedge fund


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.

Wi­gan ath­letic


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.

DL, Wi­gan

Scratch 22


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.

FR, Nor­wich

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 ce­r­ has de­vel­oped a DPF clean­ing process for trucks and it can re­store 95 per cent ef­fi­ciency. It might work for your car.

Flat broke?


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.

Lorry plea


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.

Chain re­ac­tion


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 tyre­ 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.

Mag­netic feel


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

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