Sit­u­a­tion is fluid

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Roadside Assist - PAUL GOVER GETS AN­SWERS FOR YOU

I would like your ad­vice on brake ser­vic­ing, as I have a Volvo S60 turbo diesel which has 14,000km on the clock and is com­ing up to its two-year ser­vice. As with many other man­u­fac­tur­ers, Volvo rec­om­mends top-up or re­place­ment of the brake fluid ev­ery two years. But with a pre­vi­ous car I found this in­volved bleed­ing of the com­pete sys­tem for $150. Is this pro­ce­dure re­ally nec­es­sary or is it just another way of bol­ster­ing ser­vic­ing rev­enue? I would have thought syn­thetic oils and flu­ids mean this isn’t nec­es­sary ev­ery two years. Mike Har­ring­ton, email

Brake fluid is ‘hy­dro­scopic’, which means it ab­sorbs mois­ture. So, over time, the boil­ing tem­per­a­ture of the fluid drops and that’s a safety haz­ard. So the whole sys­tem needs to be ei­ther bled or purged, also to re­move air bub­bles that can also de­velop and hurt the brak­ing per­for­mance.

OC­TAVIA’S THE ONE

You gave us won­der­ful ad­vice a cou­ple of years ago about the Hyundai Ac­cent and now we’re look­ing at a rel­a­tively-new sta­tion wagon as we’re ex­pect­ing our first child. We are con­sid­er­ing a Holden Cruze, Hyundai i40, Skoda Fabia/Oc­tavia or VW Golf/Pas­sat. We’re happy to spend $25,000-$27,000 for one up to two years’ old. Michael Staedler, email

Con­grat­u­la­tions on the new fam­ily, which you should put into an Oc­tavia. It’s a roomy fam­ily wagon, it’s great value and gets The Tick from me.

HARD YARDS

Re Euro­pean cars hav­ing softer brake disc pads: Our 2005 Golf diesel man­ual is about to clock up 130,000km of mostly ur­ban driv­ing and is still on its orig­i­nal brake pads. We won’t get 182,000km, as one reader did in his Honda Civic, but I’m not com­plain­ing. Disc pad hard­ness aside, how you drive the ve­hi­cle goes a long way to de­ter­min­ing how long the pads will last and a man­ual ve­hi­cle should give bet­ter pad wear. Paul Mer­hu­lik, email

Softer brake ma­te­ri­als are com­ing to all cars, which is why Bendix de­vel­oped its Euro+ pads. You’re right about driv­ing style hav­ing a huge in­flu­ence on brake wear.

PAINT IDEA HAS CRACKS

Would it not be eas­ier, and bet­ter cus­tomer re­la­tions, for Ford Aus­tralia to im­port its Tran­sit vans in un­der­coat, charge a lower base price, and then add the cost of spray­ing a cus­tomer’s body colour choice to that? A cus­tomer then could de­cide who does the end spray job, with good feel­ings all around and speed­ier de­liv­ery. Mar­i­lyn Irons, email

The idea has flaws, from the dif­fi­culty in re­mov­ing a part-fin­ished car from pro­duc­tion to po­ten­tial un­der­coat dam­age in ship­ment to the even­tual war­ranty cov­er­age. It sounds good on pa­per but is im­prac­ti­cal.

KOREA CHOICES

You have re­cently made two neg­a­tive ref­er­ences to the Holden Cap­tiva 7. Hav­ing just bought a new LS, pri­mar­ily on the ba­sis of the price, five-year war­ranty and three-year free ser­vice, this neg­a­tive view is a con­cern. I have been un­aware of prob­lems, par­tic­u­larly with the cur­rent model, so would you please elab­o­rate? Clive Maker, email

The nega­tives are in com­par­i­son with its classy

ri­vals, in­clud­ing the Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35 that — as with the Cap­tiva — come from Korea. I’ve had read­ers com­plain­ing about qual­ity and me­chan­i­cal prob­lems but the main short­com­ing is ba­si­cally its per­for­mance against the ri­vals.

You say: “We ac­tu­ally think the Kore­ans now make bet­ter cars than most of the Ja­panese brands.” This is a big call. On what ba­sis is that rea­son­ing put for­ward? Are you say­ing the qual­ity, re­li­a­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity of the Korean prod­uct com­po­nen­try is su­pe­rior? Or is it a com­par­i­son of the on­road driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and gen­eral am­bi­ence and/or qual­ity of the in­te­rior of the ve­hi­cle? Ob­vi­ously the Korean prod­ucts have im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly, so hope­fully all as­pects are con­sid­ered when opin­ions are ex­pressed. Eric Waples, email

When the Ja­panese brands slashed de­vel­op­ment spend­ing through the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, the Kore­ans spent more to im­prove their cabin qual­ity, en­gines, gear­boxes and ev­ery­thing else. Kia and Hyundai now also have spe­cial­ist en­gi­neers who tune their sus­pen­sions just for Aus­tralia. They also lead on war­ranty and ser­vice costs, for a com­pelling over­all pack­age on cars like the Hyundai i30 and Kia Pro­ceed.

I take is­sue with your com­ment about the Kore­ans’ su­pe­ri­or­ity. A trip to the Simp­son Desert would dis­ap­point you, with a big majority of ve­hi­cles be­ing Ja­panese. Toy­ota and Nis­san pre­vail. My last seven ve­hi­cles have been Toy­ota with trou­ble-free per­for­mance. No way will I be chang­ing. Tony Newell, email

For your spe­cific needs, in­clud­ing se­ri­ous out­back travel, I would also go for a Toy­ota. But the dis­cus­sion was about reg­u­lar com­pact fam­ily cars and in that class the Kore­ans are ahead of all but the Mazda3.

GREAT HAUL-ROUNDER

We have just re­turned from a 2600km, three-month trip into Queens­land for a win­ter break, tow­ing our 20-foot car­a­van with our 2.0-litre Ford Mon­deo turbo diesel. For the reader who wanted a car that can tow for three weeks a year and for the rest of the year carry out or­di­nary mo­tor­ing, the Mon­deo is just the car. Ours will tow our van at the speed limit with com­fort us­ing cruise con­trol. I’m not try­ing to con­vince peo­ple to buy Ford but it does the job. Brian Lam­bert, email

Ex­actly. A turbo diesel in a classy mid-sized car is sur­pris­ingly ca­pa­ble and a good al­ter­na­tive for those who in­stantly turn to a Toy­ota LandCruise­r for tow­ing.

GLOBE-ALL WARN­ING

I have a Hyundai i30 and agree with the owner who reck­oned the high beam is almost use­less. They use cheap halo­gen bulbs which are some­what dif­fer­ent to the HID low beams in colour. I have re­placed the high beam with a “blue” bulb, which has helped a lit­tle. I am strongly con­sid­er­ing re­place­ment with LED bulbs with sim­i­lar lu­men out­put to the HID low beam, which come in plug-and-play kit form. The cost quoted ranges from $60 to $90 a pair de­liv­ered, de­pend­ing on brand and power out­put. The only pos­si­ble prob­lem is that the bulbs have cool­ing fans at­tached to the back of the bulb which might not fit inside the head­light fit­ting with the rub­ber seal­ing cap in place. Greg Johnstone, email

A globe up­grade is al­ways good with a qual­ity brand like Philips. How­ever, I would re­ally do the home­work be­fore try­ing an HID con­ver­sion as fac­tory units in­volve a lot of en­gi­neer­ing work.

Volvo S60

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