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Honest John’s Motoring Agony Column 26-08-2017 Part 2

Published 25 August 2017

Click back to Honest John’s Motoring Agonies 26-08-2017 Part 1


Z Cars

I am looking to buy a used BMW Z4 convertible, around 10 years old with either a 2.5 or 3.0-litre engine and manual transmission.  What's a good price and what, if any, are the problems.

PC, Hull

Here you are: /used-prices/BMW/Z4/2007// And our take on the car: /carbycar/bmw/z4-2003/ The classic Z4 is the Z4M coupe. They are appreciating:/carbycar/bmw/z4-coupe-2006/


Current thinking

Have the electric carmakers lost the plot? Most private cars live in the street, not in garages. How on earth can the batteries be recharged without running an illegal cable across the pavement? Charging points at garages are a joke, when it takes hours to recharge one. Imagine going for recharge and all points are already connected and a queue is forming. It just doesn't add up. Petrol or diesel refills take only a few minutes. Batteries take hours. Until battery recharging technology catches up with the times, it's definitely a non-starter. Incidentally I am now on my second hybrid. Gets rid of all the problems in one go.

WM, Doncaster

Well, the Government according to the Rt Hon Michael Gove is telling you that you won't be able to buy a new petrol or diesel powered car after 2040, so you'd better get used to the idea. They probably aren't going to let people carry on using older petrol or diesel cars past 2050 either. Though you can still have a petrol electric hybrid. Makes no sense to me because there is no way that 30,000,000 petrol and diesel vehicles can be replaced with electric vehicles and even hybrids in the available timeframe. They talk about saving 40,000 lives a year, but most of these people would have died from something else anyway, probably starvation because the World cannot support millions more nonagenarians and centenarians. Pension funds definitely can't.


VW Passat GTE F32 White 

Passing out

I have a 2010 VW Passat diesel and would like to replace it with a newer model. I found a brand new one at a very good price but am concerned about future taxes on diesel cars. Should I be concerned?

MS, via email

A brand new Passat will be at least EU6b; maybe even EU6c if it has SCR and AdBlue and an advanced particle filter, so no immediate worries. So far, the plans are to prohibit non-EU6 from some city centres by autumn 2019. If Europe wants to pursue policies like those of The Paris Agreement then the only way is for diesel engines to predominate. Europe simply cannot build and power enough electric cars, PHEVs and hybrids to bring CO2 levels any lower. (CO2 is not to be confused with NOx.) There are more than 30,000,000 vehicles in the UK. Last year 2,700,000 new vehicles were sold. Of those, only 10,000 were electric. So the idea of banning sales of all petrol and diesel powered vehicles by 2040 is more than slightly pie in the sky. (You can now buy a very efficient Passat GTE petrol plug in hybrid and Passats with low CO2 1.4TSI petrol engines.)



Last year I purchased a new KIA Venga 3. Wanting to keep the engine in good condition and to get best performance, I have only purchased unleaded 97 RON petrol. An article on the RAC website says that Ultimate fuels are a waste of money except for high performance vehicles. As you are often an advocate of the better fuels, I’d appreciate your thoughts.

KA, Abbots Langley

A superfuel like Shell V-Power is higher octane, which means the engine gives more torque at low rpm and that allows shorter upshifts that save fuel. In addition, the additives in super keep the fuel system such as the valves cleaner which is particularly important in DI engines where fuel is injected directly into the combustion chambers rather than via the valves. Same goes for superdiesel, which has higher cetane that has the same effect as higher octane. Having used Superunleaded since it first appeared on the forecourts more than 20 years ago I can confirm its benefits absolutely.


Peugeot 308 2017 R34 White Mountains

Full frontal

My past three cars all had Daytime Running Lights, which I believe is an excellent addition to modern cars. However, there appear to be many drivers who do not seem to realise that DRLs are forward lights only. Consequently, when driving in poor visibility conditions, which are not dark enough to automatically switch on tail lights, these drivers are almost invisible to following vehicles. I contacted the manufacturer of one of my pervious cars, a Jaguar XF, to ask if it was possible to set the computer so that tail lights came on with DRLs. The answer was 'no'. So unless manufacturers wake up to the risk, we have to rely on drivers to know that tail lights need to be specifically selected in rain, mist, etc; Perhaps car salespeople should emphasise this when they give cursory tuition to new owners.

RF, via email

Peugeot has cottoned on to this and all new 308s and 3008s have DRLs that light up at the back as well as at the front.


Hon Civic S 2004 700 

Typing error

My niece has an elderly 2004 Honda Civic Type S with 135,000 miles. She recently had to replace the exhaust and silencer, which probably cost more than the car is worth, but she had no choice as there is no way she could afford to replace the car at present and she needs it to get to and from work. As the repair is ‘fait accompli’, is there any likely problem that this model is subject to that she should look out for and try to avoid in future? 

A.L. East Grinstead  

These are useful cars, with a detuned 160PS version of Honda's 2.0 VTEC engine from the Civic Type R and S2000. But one component that can fail is that variable valve control solenoid gets dirty and needs cleaning. The fault code is P1009. It's a bit difficult to get at.


“Does this make sensor?”

I have a 2009 Peugeot 207 with 18,000 miles. It went to the garage to fix a sensor and they discovered an oil leak in the gearbox. The garage has today started to replace the seal in the gearbox and has rung to say that the car needs a new clutch because the springs are about to go. I have suggested that Peugeot should be responsible for some of this work, but my garage has approached them and obviously they have refuted my claim. Is this unusual with such low mileage? I have to have the car fixed even if I do eventually replace it. They are quoting £960 to do the work. Would you consider this to be reasonable? When I bought this car four and a half years ago I asked if you thought it was a good buy and at that time you recommended that I buy it. Until now it has only had very minor spends, such as wipers, etc.

JG, via email

Whether it's 2009/59 or 2010/59 it's more than 6 years old and outside any Sale of Goods liability by the manufacturer or the supplier (6 years is the limit for a high cost consumer durable like a car). An oil seal can fail at any time in a car's life. But because the garage already had the transmission out to fix it, they wisely inspected the clutch and suggested you replace that too. I would have suggested that the clutch be routinely replaced anyway, because most of the cost is in the dismantling and the re-assembling, so fitting a new clutch while the engine and transmission are separated adds little more to the job than the cost of the clutch. 


MB-E-Class -Cabrio -2017-20-inch -wheel -type -2 (1)

19-inch winge

Can you please tell me if there are any reviews on the 2016 E220d AMG line convertible? I brought this brand new in September 2016 with 19-inch alloys. I have only done 8,700 miles in it and both front tyres have worn on the outside edges and both tyres have split. I never bump it up and down kerbs. Yes, I have grazed the alloys on the kerb but never actually hit the kerb. As I drive it off the drop down kerb from the drive the tyres make a slapping noise. When calling Mercedes and telling them, they said it was normal. This was before I discovered the splits. I have booked it in next week regarding the issue, I just wanted to get heads up as do not want to be mugged off as I am a woman. Please can you help?

SS, via email

We recently tested the new one here: /road-tests/mercedes-benz/mercedes-benz-e-class-cabrio-2017-road-test/ and commented on the ridiculous wheels and tyres that are totally unsuited to the UK's worse than Third World roads. Your tyre wear is fairly normal for what I guess are 40 profile fronts and 35 profile rears. The car needs to be on smaller wheels with deeper profile tyres. The "slapping noise" you describe has been a problem with four wheel drive Mercedes Benz GLCs and C43 AMGs. Not heard of it with the old model E-Class.


“Do you choose to accept your emission?”

I have received a letter jointly sent by Skoda UK and DVLA stating I can now get my Skoda Octavia 1.6TDI “fixed” with regard to the emissions cheat device. But with a BBC Watchdog report stating that a great number of cars had had problems afterwards with the vehicles going into a crawl mode, what should I do? Is it a legal requirement to have the work carried out and will it effect a MoT? Your Advice please.

DJ, Banbury 

Not a legal requirement. Not something that is tested for in the MoT. The fix was tested and approved by the KBA in Germany for well maintained, average mileage used cars in good condition. It doesn't work on high mileage cars with worn injectors, worn EGR valve stems and partially clogged DPFs and that's where the complaints are coming from. However, VAG's EA189 1.6TDI is notorious for EGR failure and VAG is starting to pick up the tab for replacing EGRs that have failed at relatively low mileages anyway.


 Toy Cor 02 T Side 700

The future’s looking leak

A friend put her 2002 Toyota Corolla into a Toyota dealership for a scheduled service. When she went to collect the car she was told that her car had a leak from the petrol tank and the dealership refused to give the car back because they would be responsible for releasing a car in a dangerous condition. They said that her only options were for them to replace the petrol tank with new (uneconomical in relation to the car's value), or they could call for a taxi to take her home or buy a car from them there and then. While there had been no indication to her that the car had a fuel leak she was persuaded to buy a car from them. I'm putting my car into the same dealership to have an airbag changed as part of a national recall. Does a car dealership have the right to 'confiscate' your car?

BE, via email

A garage may not release a car in a dangerous condition because then it can be held liable for any potential consequences, but if the owner signs a disclaimer stating that he/she is aware of the danger, will have it repaired elsewhere and takes full responsibility then he/she can take the car away. She should report the incident to Trading Standards. No reason not to take your car to the dealership for the recall. Just refuse any further work. If you give me full details of the fuel tank incident: the name and address of your friend, the registration of her Corolla, the registration of the replacement car, the costs involved, the name and address of the dealership and any other details that you feel may be relevant I will take it up with Toyota.


Exceedingly jerky

I have a 2013 KIA cee’d 1.6 GDI 3 5-door DCT. In low gear in traffic the car has short jerks; also, when I want to reverse the car, sometimes it does not move by itself and when I put my foot on the accelerator it shoots backwards, which could be dangerous. What do you think is the reason for this and would I be better off going to a gearbox garage or to the KIA dealer to solve these problems? I live between Harrow and Watford. I would appreciate your opinion.

GT, via email 

Back to the KIA dealer because the car is still under its 7 year warranty. Probably needs a change of transmission fluid (which is a maintenance item so you will probably have to pay for it). Learn to left foot brake. Then, in the circumstances you describe, you can stop the car instantly.


Sub Forest II 51 Reg 700  

No charge

My 17-year old normally aspirated Subaru Forester is running well, but I have noticed that if the coolant level is at "Full" and then I get the engine really hot by driving 100 miles or so the expansion tank is brim full and has overflowed. Then, once everything has cooled, the level drops below minimum. What might be going on?    

KK, via email

Could be that the thermostat is stuck. Or might be an airlock. Or might be both. To purge an airlock, from cold, take off the coolant expansion tank cap, turn the car's heater to maximum heat, start the engine, then run it up to temperature with the bonnet open until the coolant starts to bubble and geyser out of the tank. Then quickly (using a towel to protect yourself), screw the cap back on. Take care not to catch a sleeve (or the towel) in any moving parts.


Final curtail 

In an envelope marked "final reminder" I have received a letter about the VAG EA198 NOx emissions fix. Due to reading unfavourable reports about this having affected cars subsequent performance I ignored the first letter received. The latest letter assures me that independent testers have confirmed that no negative issues have been found. Who am I to believe? If I choose to not have this service now, will I not be able to choose to have it at a later date if I am reassured by subsequent reports? Also, if I don’t have this service, will the cars resale potential be adversely affected?

RF, via email

By "independent testers" they mean the German KBA which tested and approved the fix on hundreds of used cars. But, of course, these 'used cars' weren't high mileage, badly maintained cars already on their last legs. They were average mileage, good condition, dealer maintained cars and, as such, they were fully capable of handling the fix, which involves an additional injection cycle. If you have any doubt about the state of your car prior to the fix, don't have the fix. If you do book the fix and the dealer carries it out, then that shifts liability for any problems the fix might cause to the dealer, providing, of course, the car was properly maintained and was in reasonable condition and mileage prior to the fix.


Vauxhall Astra 1.6CDTI Side 

Automatic reaction 

Since 1992 I have owned four Vauxhall Astras, petrol and diesel, manual and automatic, and have been very pleased with them up until now. My latest automatic car, registration LV10 PZP, was purchased used from the local Vauxhall dealer in September 2013. Last month, the car was over-revving and would not change gear. I took it to my local independent garage who has serviced my family’s cars since 1969 and his diagnostic test indicated faulty pressure valves. He contacted his gearbox specialist who collected it and took it to his workshop where he found a multitude of faults. His estimate for repair was £4,000 plus VAT. I spoke to the dealer I bought the car from, who would not have repaired it, but would have replaced the gearbox at a cost of £4,000 to £5,000.  As the car was approximately valued at £3,500, it was effectively a write-off so I decided to get rid of it and look for another automatic car of any make. After testing quite a few cars, I eventually bought another Astra, PE14 LVR for £7,899. LV10 PZP had only done 31,709 miles which I and a number of experts consider to be a very low mileage for a gearbox to fail. I have always had my car serviced when due and in any case according to the Vauxhall dealer, there is no service interval for this gearbox. I truly believe that Vauxhall should make a contribution of £2,000 towards the new car that I have had to purchase or alternatively give a 7 year or 50,000 miles guarantee on the gearbox, whichever is less, from this date. This is a fair and just suggestion considering the low mileage of LV10 PZP at the time of the gearbox failure. The mileage of my new car when I purchased it was 11,592 miles. 

KM, via email 

An extended warranty is a reasonable request. But unfortunately the various Sale of Goods Acts, the latest Consumer Rights Act 2015 and all other legislation and case law give a "reasonable life" of an expensive consumer durable such as a car of 6 years, after which neither the supplier nor the manufacturer is liable for any faults that may develop unless they are fundamental or there is an official vehicle safety recall or the manufacturer institutes a voluntary recall. See: /faq/consumer-rights/

Click back to Honest John’s Motoring Agonies 26-08-2017 Part 1



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