HONEST JOHN EXPERT ADVICE
The dealer you can trust is on hand to answer your questions on car problems and consumer issues
As a farmer all my life, I have owned Land Rovers, Daihatsus and, more recently, pick-ups. Now semi-retired, I need a fairly cheap, rugged seven-seater with four-wheel drive to transport children and grandchildren as well as tow a cattle trailer. I will only do a few thousand miles a year. Do you think that a Toyota Colorado would be reliable? CN
Toyota Colorados and Land Cruisers are rarely cheap because of their reputation for overall toughness. You could also consider a Mitsubishi Shogun or even a Shogun Sport. The Sport is effectively the company’s acclaimed L200 pick-up with an SUV body and they seem to last well. Alternatively, look at the SsangYong Rexton. You don’t mention a budget, but the latest Rexton costs from only £28,500 on the road.
RELAX, DON’T DO IT
I am thinking about replacing my 11-year-old VW Golf diesel estate with a new or nearly-new petrol hatchback. My initial thoughts are for either the Volvo V40 Momentum or another Golf. Which of these would be better? CV
The Volvo V40 with the low-power 2.0-litre 120 engine is very relaxed. An equivalent Golf would be a 1.5 TSI 130. However, a Kia Ceed 1.4T GDI 140 comes with a seven-year, 100,000mile warranty and you have to question why the Volvo and the VW are covered only for three years.
What are the best small automatic cars? I would consider new or used, other than that what should I look for? GE
Try the Kia Picanto with a seven-year warranty from new or Hyundai i10
Towing with a torque converter transmission heats up the fluid from the constant slippage, so yes, for towing any car benefits from a larger transmission oil cooler. On a Volvo they are modular, so the existing oil cooling system can be expanded.
I have a three-door Citroën Berlingo Multispace 1.8i that I bought new in 2000 and use predominantly for transporting my three large dogs. It is also used on frequent trips to take garden waste to the tip. As you can imagine, it is getting near the end of its life and I am struggling to find a suitable replacement. The latest Berlingo does not have a foldable bench seat nor a flat floor space in the rear. I hesitate to buy a windowless panel van as I would then not be permitted to use the tip without paying. What would you suggestion as a suitable replacement, costing up to £12,000? RT
The 2008-2018 version of the Berlingo Multispace (and similar Teepee from Citroen’s sister company
I want to buy my wife a replacement car with a 1.3- or 1.6-litre petrol engine, but salesmen say I should go for a 1.0-litre engine that has been geared to give good horsepower. Is it really true that the power is a result of the gearing and not the engine capacity? GR
A lot of car salesmen don’t know what they are talking about. Most 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol engines work better than 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines when they are turbocharged, because they give more torque at low rpm. The overall gearing of a small turbocharged engine should give between 25-30mph per 1,000rpm in top gear rather than the 20-25mph per 1,000rpm of a nonturbocharged 1.4- to 1.6-litre unit, which might be what the salesman was struggling to tell you. is no longer covered by its two-year warranty, should I try to insist that the wheel bearing is renewed at no cost? SD
In the UK a BMW is covered by a three-year warranty. You can check for a failing wheel bearing by jacking up the relevant wheel by half an inch and feeling for in and out movement of the wheel on the hub.
Peugeot) have tumble-folding rear seats that leave a flat space in the back. These seats are also removable. The latest Berlingo, Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life have proper flat-folding rear seats and the seven-seater versions have a huge amount of space inside.
I have owned a 2006 Volvo XC70 from new and it has done 104,000 miles. I am now driving less, but for the last few years have noticed that the oil consumption is very high: half a litre every 400 miles. The car had no problem passing its MoT and there is no oil visible on the drive, where it normally stands. Any thoughts? RS
It’s likely to be caused by failing valve stem oil seals. On some engines, replacing them can be done without removing the cylinder head but, even assuming that, you’ll be looking at about £600 for the job.
We have a 2005 Ford Focus that has covered more than 100,000 miles. I recently noticed some rust behind the offside wheel arch and some bubbling on the sill. I presume that it is not worth getting these repaired, especially since the timing belt needs replacing as well. We have been looking at a Peugeot 2008 to replace it, but the boot space seems a little smaller than the Focus and we need reasonable room for our dog and when we go camping. What petrol-engined, manual car can we get for £10,000? SB
I’d have another look at the 2008. The load area of your a 1968 F- reg Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R. It is in very good, rust-free condition. Can you advise? PI
That’s an unusual car with a RollsRoyce engine, probably worth between £5,000 and £10,000. The best thing to do is enter it into a classic car auction. If you contact the historics.co.uk auction house there is a chance you can get it into their sale on November 24 at Mercedes-Benz World, Weybridge. They will advise on what price you are likely to get. This is best for probate because then, as an executor, you can never be accused of showing any favour to a buyer.
Our Honda HR-V is almost three years old and will soon need new tyres to replace the current Michelin Primacy 3 rubber. Would more recent Primacy 4s be a suitable replacement? BC
I switched an HR-V to Michelin Cross Climates, which transformed the car. They improved the ride quality, were quieter, gave better steering feel, lasted just as well and I still got almost 60mpg (it was a 1.6i DTEC). You need to lower the pressures to about 2bar all round, however.
My daughter is looking at mid-price SUVs as she is moving to a hilly area of Yorkshire and has the requirements of a young family. Her budget is £15,000 and she are considering a Nissan Qashqai, Land Rover Freelander and a Volvo XC60 or XC90. What are the relative merits of each model? BD
Qashqais are very popular but not brilliantly reliable with the 1.2 engine or the CVT auto transmission. Most are 2WD, so no help in a hilly area. Freelander IIs are mostly 4WD, but have a few quirks. For £15,000 a Volvo XC60 will be getting old and an XC90 will be a couple of years older. It would be better to seek out a Suzuki Vitara S 1.4T Boosterjet 4x4 and fit it with all-weather tyres.