HONEST JOHN EXPERT ADVICE
The dealer you can trust is on hand to answer your questions on car problems and consumer issues
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.