Unkindest cut: cost of new keys
Never keep both car keys in the same location or together — and if you lose one get another cut immediately. My son bought a new Subaru Impreza in 2015 and, on an overseas trip, he put both keys in his bag, which was subsequently stolen. The vehicle was in a basement garage at his unit block and it should have been no problem to call a specialist locksmith to get one cut on the site. But no. Tried two locksmiths and one could unlock the car and steering but could not cut or program a key. It had to be dragged out on dolly wheels, then taken to a dealership. In the end we had to replace door locks and keys, a combination meter, a key kit, an integrated unit plus labour. The cost was $3471 and we will never buy another Subaru. Mark Cullen, email This is not the first time we’ve heard of this problem, although the Subaru costs seem high. Company spokesman David Rowley responds: “We will be contacting the customer directly, due to the extenuating circumstances, to try to get a fair and reasonable outcome. We’re also evaluating the creation of an emergency kit of these components to lower the customer costs on the rare occasion that such an event occurs.” Damien Attard, email I receive emails almost every week from Carsguide readers who have problems with their Jeeps and our attitude is shaped by their experiences. If there wasn’t a problem, Fiat Chrysler Australia would not be spending millions totally revamping its customer support and dealer management.
I bought a new VW Golf Comfortline on the last day of 2015 and it’s given me absolute hell. The ignition key got stuck and wouldn’t come out, so back to the dealer after only two weeks. Then the entertainment system stuffed up. I took it back and twice they said they fixed it. Then the whole car just died while driving home from work. No display on any screen, no entertainment unit, no speed display, no engine. In the four months I’ve had it, it’s been in the shop for about two months. To date, it’s still there. David Bassett, email I will pass your complaint directly to Volkswagen HQ. New CEO Michael Bartsch is promising much more support for owners.
As an avid reader of the Carsguide I am surprised you have not been advocating that manufacturers fit dash cams at the factory on all vehicles to record position, time, date and speed. These are a great help in the event of an accident or being pulled up for speeding when you were not speeding. They also make drivers better road users because they know that they are being recorded. Brian Jackson, email What you are suggesting would create huge problems with personal privacy as well as legal implications for car makers. I can’t see it happening any time soon.
BEE IN HIS BONNET
I’m enjoying my older Mazda Bravo but I’ve been testing newer four-wheel drives with an eye to the future. I find the unnecessarily large bonnets on today’s fourwheel drives are a hindrance to accurate steering by obscuring difficult road conditions close to your front. This seemingly US convention of “mine is bigger than yours” has put me right off cars like the Ford Ranger and Everest. Is there any relief in sight? John Sherwin, email There is some American-led styling on SUVs but bigger and higher bonnets — even on something as compact as a Mini — are a result of the safety regulations on pedestrian impact protection. The bonnet is now being designed as a “safety net” to cushion a pedestrian bowled over by a vehicle.
Regarding the Carsguide reader with a smelly Toyota Camry and a suspicion of rich running. I had the same with an earlier V6 Camry and the smell is a byproduct of the catalytic converter doing its job. It indicates that unburnt fuel is entering the exhaust system and is being converted to something less polluting. In my case the cause was a defective air flow meter. Toyota wanted almost $1000 for a new one. A trip to the wreckers did the job. Ern Reeders, email Thanks for the advice, which I’m sure will help John Davies with his car.
IT’S A CONSTANT...
As a retired motor industry employee I follow the issues and quirks about different models. Bit I’m irked when I read your comments about constantly variable transmissions. My 2008 Nissan X-Trail Ti has done 110,000km trouble-free. It is fitted with such a transmission and I have absolutely no problems. On recommendation I had the CVT oil changed at 50,000km and 100,000km — not cheap as I used genuine Nissan CVT oil, and it seemed to rejuvenate the trans. It is a lot quieter and does not flare when it has to work a bit. I would recommend that the oil change be considered. It is worth the cost. Gerald Fahey, email Good advice but some CVTs are beyond such a fix, as the problems seem to be in the core programming.
Regarding the CVT debate, my wife’s 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer and my 2009 Nissan X-Trail have CVTs. Both have travelled about 70,000km. The Lancer drives beautifully but the X-Trail seems to have a mind of its own. It can be sluggish on takeoff, sometimes loses power about when a normal gearbox would change from first to second, and often over-revs. I find that when it over-revs, if I quickly take my foot off and let the revs drop then accelerate again it fixes that particular part of the problem. Bob Haywood, email That sounds like a new-age story for the “Good news, bad news” file.
A DIFFERENT SPIN
I was interested to read so many negative owner comments for the BMW 1 Series in Graham Smith’s used-car article. We are victims of our own perceived success and the overpaid wages we receive. The average income here is 40 per cent higher than the US. With that, we have to show off with expensive badge, posing at the expense of our own car industry. This will soon cost Australia $30 billion a year in imports, something our grandchildren will not thank us for. The fastest two things about these German cars is their depreciation and rising servicing and repair costs. Murray Roberts, email It’s not BMWs that have killed the local car industry, it’s the flood of affordable imported SUVs that have taken over as Australian family car favourites.