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