Situation is fluid
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.