HON­EST JOHN EX­PERT AD­VICE

The dealer you can trust is on hand to an­swer your ques­tions on car prob­lems and con­sumer is­sues

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - OPEN ROAD -

MINE OF IN­FOR­MA­TION

You ad­vise Ford Fo­cus and VW own­ers to change their cars’ tim­ing belts at 60,000 miles or five years. Does this ad­vice ap­ply to all makes? The main­te­nance guide for my 2012 Citroën C5 2.0 HDi 160, which has done 85,000 miles, says the belt should be changed at 100,000 miles or 10 years, which­ever comes first, and that was con­firmed by my dealer. What should I do? RD

If the dealer will guar­an­tee in writ­ing that the tim­ing belt will not snap or come off and wreck your en­gine be­fore 100,000 miles, take his ad­vice. If he won’t, take mine.

KOREA AD­VI­SORY SER­VICE

I have mo­bil­ity prob­lems due to arthri­tis, so I re­quire a used car with easy ac­cess and an au­to­matic gear­box, cost­ing up to £8,000. Any ideas? TJ

I’d look at the Hyundai ix20 or Kia Venga, both with a 1.6-litre en­gine.

SCARCE STO­RIES

Some years ago we bought a Pero­dua Myvi, which has proved very good. Now the dealer says spares are be­com­ing dif­fi­cult to find. Where can we ob­tain parts should the need arise? The car was, I be­lieve, based on the Dai­hatsu Sirion bodyshell with a 1.3-litre petrol en­gine as used in the Toy­ota Yaris. MG

You’ve an­swered your own ques­tion. Use those av­enues to search for the ap­pro­pri­ate parts. Yaris 1.3 run­ning gear is com­mon. Things such as light re­flec­tors are less com­mon. An in­ter­net search should lead you to a suit­able af­ter­mar­ket sup­plier.

EASY DE­CI­SION

I would like to buy a new Honda Jazz or a Skoda Fabia es­tate but I can’t de­cide

It’s worth con­sid­er­ing a Peu­geot 308 1.2 Puretech 130 EAT6, which has an ex­cel­lent com­pact torque con­verter au­to­matic gear­box. Ditto the Mazda3 2.0 Sky­ac­tiv G, with a six-speed torque con­verter auto.

UNSPRUNG WAIT

Our 5,000-mile Audi Q3 Sport has very stiff sus­pen­sion. Can you of­fer any ad­vice on how to make it softer? CG

First, make sure the sup­ply­ing dealer has re­moved the coil spring tran­sit blocks from the sus­pen­sion. If it’s not that caus­ing the harsh ride, then it is the wheels and tyres. The larger the wheels and the wider and lower pro­file the tyres, the more harsh the ride will be be­cause there is less rub­ber be­tween the rims and the road to pro­vide a cush­ion­ing ef­fect.

Is it pos­si­ble that the ra­di­a­tor fan is not switch­ing on? If so, the rea­son for that could be a stuck sen­sor/sender switch in the cylin­der block. It has hap­pened to me on older VWs.

PALLAS COUP

I’ve been of­fered a good Citroën DS at an ad­van­ta­geous price. How do you rate this car as an ap­pre­ci­at­ing clas­sic? AG

It’s al­ready a clas­sic. I love the DS, but it prob­a­bly has more po­ten­tial prob­lem ar­eas than any other his­toric car. The one ev­ery­one wants is the late-model fuel-in­jected DS23 Pallas.

GOLF CLUB

I have a 1983 VW Golf Mk1 1.5, one of the last off the pro­duc­tion line, which is in rea­son­able con­di­tion (apart from a badly dented rear door). What’s the best way to sell it and is worth spend­ing a bit more money to re­place the rear door? BR

The Mk1 Golf con­tin­ued in pro­duc­tion as the City Golf in South Africa for many years af­ter Eu­ro­pean pro­duc­tion ended, although few (if any) would have made it to the UK. Try www.clubgti.com/fo­rums/in­dex. php?fo­rums/vag-cars-for-sale.48. If you are con­tem­plat­ing sell­ing at auc­tion in­stead, then it’s best to re­pair or re­place the rear door.

YEAR OF THE CAT

With re­tire­ment loom­ing, I am re­luc­tantly think­ing of sell­ing my beloved 1996 Jaguar XK8. It has done 112,000 miles and is still in good con­di­tion. What is it worth and where is the best place to sell it? DF

At the mo­ment I think you’re look­ing at a value of about £6,000. You could try a clas­sic car auc­tion such as his­torics.co.uk on Novem­ber 24. Al­ter­na­tively, look at Brightwells, H&H or Sil­ver­stone Auc­tions.

THREE-POINTED STIR?

I am look­ing at buy­ing an R129-se­ries Mer­cedes 500SL V8. I have the choice of ei­ther an early 1998 R-reg ex­am­ple with the M119 en­gine and 77,000 miles, or a 2000 W-reg with the N113 en­gine that has done 86,000 miles. Un­til re­cently I was led to be­lieve that the older M119 was the bet­ter en­gine, but hav­ing read some ar­ti­cles on­line it does not seem clear which is bet­ter. As I know you like your Mercs, I would value your opin­ion on which car to choose. SB

The main prob­lem with R129s is the com­plex­ity of their elec­tron­ics, so the newer the car you buy the slightly less likely you are to have trou­ble. The other po­ten­tial prob­lem area is the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. A brass bear­ing could wear out and cause havoc – and they cost an arm and a leg to fix. This is not a prob­lem with five-speed au­to­mat­ics from late 1998.

DEAL OR NO DEAL?

I have a 2015 Citroën C4 with the 1.2 Puretech 130 en­gine and a man­ual gear­box. I am think­ing of chang­ing to a new C3 Air­cross with the same en­gine. Citroën is of­fer­ing me at­trac­tive mon­e­tary in­cen­tives, but is there a down­side to mak­ing this change? GS

I’m a fan of the 1.2 Puretech 130 with six-speed man­ual gear­box, too. You have to make sure the C3 Air­cross comes with this com­bi­na­tion – the 1.2 Puretech 110 with a five-speed gear­box is not nearly as good. The al­ter­na­tive is a Peu­geot 2008 1.2 Puretech 130 six-speed with Grip Con­trol that works well in snow.

GAME SET FOR MATCH

I am con­sid­er­ing fit­ting Miche­lin Cross Cli­mate tyres to our VW Polo Match 1.2 TSI. How do they com­pare for wear with other premium ra­di­als? And do they need to be run at dif­fer­ent pres­sures from those rec­om­mended in the hand­book for the orig­i­nal tyres? DP

On the ba­sis of the wear over 10,000 miles on my Honda HR-V, they looked like last­ing 22,000-25,000 miles. They are best run fairly soft. I used 30psi all round (set when the tyres are cold, of course). They can’t have had much ef­fect on fuel econ­omy as the HR-V av­er­aged nearly 60mpg.

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