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 -

BACK TO THE FEA­TURE

I re­cently pur­chased a Honda Jazz, which has a laser-guided au­to­matic brak­ing sys­tem for emer­gen­cies. All well and good, but I have been in­formed by a lo­cal bodyshop that a BMW with the same sys­tem locked up when a lorry re­versed into it. Ap­par­ently the sys­tem as­sumed that the BMW was go­ing for­wards and ap­plied the brakes hard, so the driver couldn’t re­verse to es­cape the col­li­sion. Can this be true? ME

I’ve never heard of this hap­pen­ing be­fore but I guess that, in the­ory, it could. We’ll see if any other read­ers re­port the same thing.

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL GRID

We have had a Ford Fo­cus for al­most 17 years and it has been ex­cel­lent. We do lots of small jour­neys and two to three Eu­ro­pean trips a year, so what would be a good re­place­ment? JS

A plug-in hy­brid elec­tric ve­hi­cle (PHEV) makes the most sense, so look at the Kia Niro, Toy­ota Prius, VW Golf GTE or Mit­subishi Out­lander. Def­i­nitely not a diesel.

HANGER STRAIT

I have had my 2004 Toy­ota RAV4 from new. It has been very re­li­able, but has de­vel­oped a tick­ing noise from the left rear wheel. One dealer has quoted £120 just to look at it. Any ideas? AH

The rear off­side hub ABS re­luc­tor ring and rear ABS sen­sor might be a bit loose. Or part of the sus­pen­sion might oc­ca­sion­ally touch part of the ex­haust sys­tem be­cause an ex­haust hanger has weak­ened.

TO B, OR NOT TO B?

My son wants me to find a Mer­cedes B-class with a diesel en­gine and an

I think a Toy­ota Verso 1.8i Valve­matic Mul­tidrive S will be your best bet.

MAKES NO CENTS

When I bought my Mer­cedes B-class it came with a three-year free ser­vic­ing deal, paid for by Mer­cedes rather than the deal­er­ship. The dealer is now try­ing to per­suade me to take out a fur­ther two-year ser­vice plan with them,

DIRTY ROT­TEN SCAN­DALS

Our lo­cal coun­cil wants to im­pose a bor­ough-wide 20mph zone. At that speed, our 2016 1.3 petrol Honda Jazz does fewer than 1,500rpm in all gears higher than sec­ond. You re­cently said that diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ters do not work below 1,500rpm, so would the pro­posed 20mph zone have the un­in­tended ef­fect of mak­ing air qual­ity worse? RK

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines are most ef­fi­cient at higher speeds. Driv­ers would sim­ply have to use lower gears, but it’s go­ing to take them more time to com­plete their jour­neys through towns at 20mph than it would at 30mph, so all ve­hi­cles ex­cept EVs and hy­brids will have their en­gines run­ning for longer. That can’t be good.

It’s a waste of money and po­ten­tially harm­ful to the car. I’ve had read­ers sign up for three-year ser­vice deals and get just one oil ser­vice in that time. My ad­vice is to pay as you go and tell the dealer to change the oil and fil­ter at least every 10,000 miles or 12 months, which­ever comes first. I re­cently had a fully syn­thetic oil and fil­ter change for £50. We need more in­de­pen­dent lube sta­tions, which would drive down the cost.

KEEP ON RUNNIN’

I of­ten read in your col­umn about the prob­lems with diesel en­gines used for short jour­neys. I used to do about 12,000 miles a year, but since re­tir­ing I only do 21 miles a week, each jour­ney of three miles. I do not want to sell my diese­lengined Toy­ota Aven­sis, as it is well equipped and re­li­able. Is there any­thing I can do be­sides sell­ing it, or tak­ing it for a 25-mile run each month? CC

That isn’t enough. If you re­peat­edly drive short dis­tances from cold starts in a diesel, you can po­ten­tially end up in trou­ble. The emis­sions equip­ment they carry de­mands high mileage and heat: runs of at least 50 miles twice a week, prefer­ably more.

MES­SEN­GER SHOT...

To the reader who wanted a 2.0-litre non-turbo petrol SUV, how about the Subaru Forester or XV? Both are ex­cel­lent ve­hi­cles. I must also take is­sue with your con­stant crit­i­cism of VW’s DSG gear­boxes. I have had six Sko­das, all with DSG, and never had a prob­lem with any, whether DQ200 or DQ250. Surely they can’t be that bad? CK

It’s not my “con­stant crit­i­cism” of VW DQ200 DSGs – it’s the daily bar­rage of com­plaints from read­ers. But you have a fair point about Subaru petrol 2.0 flat fours.

THE JOY OF SIX

We re­cently bought a Vaux­hall As­tra Sport Tourer 1.4 Turbo SRI. I have wanted a petrol au­to­matic car for some time and this one drives well. But what type of au­to­matic gear­box is it fit­ted with? NW

It has a six-speed torque con­verter unit – it is the most de­pend­able type of au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

WRITE TO HON­EST JOHN hon­es­tad­[email protected]­graph.co.uk

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