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Honest John Motoring Agony Column 15-10-2016 Part 2

Published 14 October 2016

Click back to Honest John Motoring Agony Column 15-10-2016 Part 1


Where there’s a WiLL 

I like older cars and don't expect perfection when I buy them. I always insist on a new or recent MoT. I recently bought an oddball Toyota  WiLL (based on a Yaris). It came with a brand new MoT. There was an advisory (anti roll bar links worn. I took the car in to my local Toyota dealer to get a service and the anti roll bar links replaced. When collecting the car the dealer was concerned about the brakes ( (front pads down to 1mm and rear shoes 80% worn). They also strongly suggested new front tyres (inner and outer treads down to 2mm) and highlighted a failed battery test and a cracked alternator belt. Am I being naive to think that the advisory should have at least included the brakes? I am sure the main dealer is probably being over cautious (fine by me), but the brakes will end up being around £250. Had they shown up on the MoT I would certainly have  negotiated the price. What is the position regarding a situation like this? I have always thought that an MoT meant that the car was at least safe. The Toyota dealer asked me to sign a waiver before driving away so he certainly didn't think it was. The car goes back next week to get all the faults sorted but I would appreciate knowing what responsibility the testing garage has to accurately advise on safety issues.

TL, Dorset

An MoT is basically a safety check of a list of items. The inspector might not be able to see the pads, but he can check the visible discs. It is anyway solely the opinion of the tester. Remember, he only has half an hour to do the entire job. There is no dismantling.


The lessor evil

We are considering (leasing) an Audi. When we spoke to our local Audi dealership they were very interested in encouraging us to take a PCP (personal contract plan). Which is the better deal for us? We will be wanting to return the car at the end of the 3 year period.

DvD, via email

With a PCP you pay a deposit and make a monthly payment and have a pre-determined price at which you can buy the car at the end of the contract. With a lease you pay a deposit and make a monthly payment and if you want to buy the car at the end of the contract you make a deal then, but there is no guarantee you can buy it at all. With both types of deal there are severe penalties for returning a car with excess miles or with any damage. There can be VAT advantages to a business lease.


Honda HRV Cross Climate Back (1)

Softly softie

Earlier this year I purchased a 2013 Honda CR-V Petrol Automatic with which I am very pleased indeed, driving fewer than 4,000 MPY. However, after eight years with a soft-suspension Laguna Auto Estate, I find the ride quite firm over bumps and poor road surfaces.  Would you recommend replacing the 17-inch Continental Cross Contact tyres with something that would give a softer ride – perhaps the Michelin Cross Climate or whatever?

WS, Ormskirk

Cross Climates do give a softer ride. I had 215/55 R17 Cross Climates on an HR-V, but they are not available your size. I was also impressed by 205/50 R17 Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons on a Peugeot 2008 All Grip and these are now available from Blackcircles in your size of 225/65. Also pay attention to the pressures. Check them when cold because they increase by 3-4PSI when the tyres are hot. 65 profile tyres can be horrible to drive on when over-pressured.


Doing the loco-motion

I have a 2013 VW Polo 1.2TDI Bluemotion that has done 75,000 miles and was taken to the garage for its usual service. I have had the car from new and always serviced at the agreed intervals. The car was returned same day and the following day I drove the car to work and noticed that it didn't feel as responsive pulling away from lights or at a roundabout. I travel nearly 800 miles a week so know the car quite well. I didn't think anything of it until I was in Halifax (which is quite hilly) and the car really struggled to pull up a slope from a roundabout. It was if the turbo was not kicking in as normal. Anyway I have a Bluetooth connection (VW equipment) and noticed that it was in German, which then got me thinking that VW garage has changed or updated the software in the car. The car has been serviced before and the Bluetooth has always been in English following the service. So I rang VW (about a week since the car had its service) and was told to bring the car in. I was told that the car had indeed had the emissions software update, which explains the Bluetooth language. (It took me 3 hours to change this back to English, trying to guess the menus). I told the technical team that the car used to be quite 'perky' from lights and roundabouts but now the car lacked power and only really picked up at around 2,000 rpm. The guys looked at it and had it for the full the day and returned the car noting that there was not an issue (rather a high bite point on the clutch) but nothing usual and I was told to come back if any problems. It has nearly been 4 weeks and there has been no change. The car struggles below 2,000 rpm. It is fine on motorway and cruising at 70mph and accelerates between 50-60mph fine (please note I appreciate that this is only 75kw engine). Sometimes, when I pull out, there is little to no power and the turbo does very little, though this has only happened three/four times in the 4 weeks and nearly 3,000 miles of driving. Again VW has tested all the engine and turbo and found no issues, so to me this does seem like a software issue. I use Shell diesel (not V-Power), the car has been regularly serviced by the dealer and 90% of my driving is on motorways. Since the software update I have not noticed any difference in fuel efficiency it's more or less the same before the car went for its service. I am interested to know what are your thoughts and if you are aware of any other issues on the 1.2TDI Bluemotion engine issue since the update.

LN, via email

So far I've received thirteen complaints of similar problems to yours in Tiguan 2.0TDIs after the fix. I suspect they have strangled the fuelling. Yours is the first report of problems with the 1.2TDI that never had a lot of torque anyway. They have to fix it, or buy back your car.


FIAT 500 Twin Air 4 Side 700 

Delayed reaction

I just learned that the tariff cost of the first service of my FIAT 500 TwinAir is £ 360 (set by FIAT), which seems very expensive? Any comments and do you recommend any particular dealership within  the Surrey/Sussex vicinity ??

DC, via email

This was the first service of a car now 2 years old, so the quotation was for a 2 year service that will include spark plugs, change of brake fluid, cabin pollen filter as well as oil and filter change. I have mine serviced every year at Parkside, Hounslow: http://www.fiatparkside.com/contact. Honest and reasonable. You don't say if this is a first service.


The older regeneration

My Meriva 1.3 diesel was in to Vauxhall to be looked at for an engine noise and rattle but the mechanic couldn't replicate the rattle and mechanic and could not say 'for sure' what the noise was. I said could it be under fuelling and he jumped in with lots of other possibilities. He said it could be caused by the way I am driving because fuel injectors nowadays learn how a person drives and whether they are light footed or heavy footed. They then inject the fuel according to who is driving the vehicle. When I said I thought the injector just injected fuel according to how far down the accelerator pedal was pushed he assured me that this was not the case. I have been told to check my oil, which I have done, because "when the DPF (diesel particle filter) gets blocked or the soot in the filter reaches a set limit (about 45%) the vehicle's ECU will initiate post-combustion fuel injection to increase the exhaust temperature and trigger regeneration. If the regeneration is unsuccessful due to an insufficient driving cycle, the extra fuel injected into the cylinders will not burn and will drain into the sump.  As a result, oil quality will deteriorate and the level will rise. It is important that you check that the oil level does not increase above the maximum level on the dipstick as diesel engines can run on their own oil if the level is excessive often to the point of destruction.” What exactly is rattling if the cause is under fuelling please?

JF, via email

The rattling is a form of 'pinking' due to the wrong fuel/air ratio. Owners of VW Tiguans are experiencing a similar rattle after the emissions defeat remap. I think it's due to underfuelling. If you are using ordinary diesel, try switching to super diesel. This has a higher cetane rating, so burns better at low revs and there is a chance it will eliminate the rattle (as well as do your engine a lot of good). Shell V-Power, BP Ultimate, Texaco Excellium, etc.


MGBs Racing 

Lost and found department

Hi I'm trying to find my old MGB, registered SCK 648L. I keep looking for it all the time but no joy. This car was my pride and joy and I would love to find it.

SC, via email

You can find out if it is still registered here: https://www.gov.uk/get-vehicle-information-from-dvla/

You can request the registered keeper here: https://www.gov.uk/request-information-from-dvla/ (But you have to have a reason, such as the car with the registration damaged your property.)

You can find out if it is insured here: http://www.askmid.com

You can check the MoT history here: https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history 

Final port of call is the relevant car club, which you can Google. For a 72L reg this would be the MG Owners Club. For older MGs the MG Car Club.


Polos apart

My wife drives a 2006 VW Polo 1.1, 3-door. She loves her car, but we are thinking of giving it to our daughter who works in London and buying a new or nearly new Polo. My wife drives under 3,000 miles a year. She would like to buy a 5-door car this time. Which VW POLO version would you advice or something similar? Also, where would be the best place to look to buy one?

PH, Harrogate

Either the post-2008 Polo has not been one of the more reliable cars or people's expectations have far exceeded its abilities. But you don't say new or used or how much money you can spend. There will be an all-new Polo late next year after the all new SEAT Ibiza arrives. The best current engine is the 1.0 115PS 3-cylinder turbo petrol. Cheapest way to buy is via a broker such as drivethedeal.com 

Click back to Honest John Motoring Agony Column 15-10-2016 Part 1






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