Honest John's Motoring Agony Column 17-11-2018 Part 1

Published 15 November 2018

This week’s bag of mails covers service plan scams, hotter hatchbacks, keeping it in the family and in Part 2 a threesome, an all-purpose engine, a missing link and much more.

As usual, emails to Honest John should be addressed to: letters@honestjohn.co.uk  Please try to keep them as short as possible.

Range Rover Evoque 5-door 2016 Side 

Deranged Rover

I bought a new Range Rover Evoque last September on a 3 year PCP contract and a Service Pack was added in to the agreement for £775. I just went to book the first annual service and my local dealership has told me that: I only need a service every 2 years on this car; therefore in the duration of this contract I will only need one service, not the 3 it is supposed to cover. I was sold the high mileage service pack version (25,000 a year) at a higher cost, despite being limited under the contract to 13,000 per year. Under the circumstances, I believe I was mis-sold the service pack and it should be cancelled and a refund of £775 made. I will only have to pay about £365 for the one service I will require during the contract, so £775 does not represent a fair charge.  

LR, via email

If the cost of this is not refunded immediately, without question, issue Small Claims proceedings against whoever sold you this ridiculously inappropriate and overpriced product. Warn them that is what you intend to do before you do it. However, if it’s a diesel, used mainly for relatively short distances you may find the service indicator demands an oil service every 5,000 – 8,000 miles.

Suzuki Swift Sport 2018 Pair

Hit parade

My Son's Kia cee’d was hit from behind and is deemed too expensive to repair. He has decided to go the finance route and get a new car. He is 33 and 6'2" and would like a young man's car rather than a dad's car. He'd like a change from the cee’d, which has been brilliant, and is considering a Fiesta or possibly a Polo, but is not really au fait with makes and abilities. Is there anything that you'd particularly recommend? I'd like him to have something with a good star rating for safety and reliability 

MD, via email

A Fiesta ST is the car of choice, but it gets quite expensive when you add the equipment you want, whereas Suzuki has been offering its less powerful but very fully equipped Swift Sport 1.4 Boosterjet discounted to £16,500 which is a lot less than the Ford with an equivalent spec: /road-tests/suzuki/suzuki-swift-sport-2018-road-test/ Suzukis have a very high reliability score.

Toyota Yaris 1.3TR 2008 Side 


My husband and I, both aged 71, have a 2009 Toyota Yaris with 75,000 miles. The only work we have had done is a rear wheel bearing. I would like to buy a newer 2013/2014 car, but those who allegedly know better do not see the point. Should we run this one until it starts to cost us, or bite the bullet given that we may not want to drive after our 80th birthdays?

MN, via email

My mother's Yaris is a 2001Y. Still running well at minimum costs. So as long as there’s no rot in the inner sills there should be plenty of life left in yours.

KIA Cee 'd SW 2013 Side Facint Right 

Exceeding expectations 

I am thinking of  buying a KIA cee’d estate, 2011/2017, but am baffled by all the abbreviations of all the sorts of the cars. Is there a  website  where I could go to find out, please

AS, via email

It's called a cee'd SW, or 'Sportswagon'. There are a number of different trim levels graded 1 – 4 and a top level ‘First Edition’. This explains: /road-tests/kia/kia-ceed-sw-2012-road-test/ The 2012 was all diesel, either 1.4CRDI or 1.6CRDI, but subsequently a range of petrol engines also became available: /carbycar/kia/ceed-sw-2012/

Vauxhall Combo Life 2018 Side Doors Open

Practically perfect 

At 85 years old I am finding the ride from runflat tyres on my Mercedes B-Class somewhat firm. I am looking for a car with a more comfortable ride, but also with a low boot sill as I need to carry a folding wheel chair for my disabled wife. I have seen a Citroen Berlingo, which appears to meet my requirements but, to save trawling around showrooms, would appreciate your recommendations. I only drive 7,000miles a year and would prefer an automatic. I believe Vauxhall is about to launch a new MPV. 

DJ, via email

Vauxhall has launched the 'Combo Life', which is a Vauxhall badged version of the new Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Rifter. Tested here with 1.5 100PS diesel engine and manual transmission: /road-tests/vauxhall/vauxhall-combo-life-2018-road-test/ Rifter 1.5HDI 130 8-speed auto tested here: /road-tests/peugeot/peugeot-rifter-2018-road-test/ A 1.2 Putetech 130 petrol engine with the same 8-speed automatic transmission will arrive next year.

Jaguar XF 2009 F34 Speed

Mixed message 

I own a August 2013 Jaguar XF 3-litre diesel that has done 29,000 miles. A couple of weeks ago I got a warning “1,200 miles to a service”. This seemed incorrect both on time: only 9 months since the last service, and mileage: only 7,000 miles since service. The documentation said servicing varied with driving style, but my driving is very normal. I had just returned from a tour of Ireland, so long motorway drives were recent. The next week, it said “service now”. As it was due an MoT I booked it in for a service and test. Three days before the service was due I noticed a large puddle of black thin oil on my garage floor. Upon checking the level electronically (no dipstick) I found the oil level was over-full. The handbook warned me not to drive, so I took it straight for its service. I subsequently learned this oil level increase is due to excess diesel fuel being injected into the engine for increased heat for particulate filter regeneration and if the engine is stopped in the process the excess fuel runs down the cylinder walls and contaminates the oil. There was no warning of a filter regeneration. Surely, this design fault can lead to excessive wear and even engine failure? Luckily mine was spotted in time. However, this leads to a lot of questions: Has JLR produced an engine that is not fit for the job? Does JLR admit this is a design feature that could have engine failure consequences? Has there been any offer of a recall or replacement by JLR? If not, has there been any collective legal action against JLR.

PM, Virginia Water

At least now you understand what I've been telling readers repeatedly over the past few years. Never ever switch off a diesel engine mid active regeneration or the sump will fill with post-injected diesel that was supposed to fire off the DPF regen. Manufacturers of diesel-engined vehicles should install a light to warn drivers that the DPF is actively regenerating and to keep the engine running or keep driving the car for another 10 - 15 minutes until regen is complete, but they don’t do that because to do so would alert people to a significant inconvenience of running a diesel engined car. What JLR does instead in Jaguars, Land Rovers and Range Rovers is fit the oil contamination warning you saw that comes up as a service indicator. If complied with, though a little late, that should prevent a complete disaster, but does not prevent the cause of the disaster.

KIA Stonic 2017 Grey With Orange Roof Side

Terminator Two

We’re looking to replace my wife’s VW Golf SV, which is on a PCP scheme where we now owe less than 50% with just less than 1 year to go, so could hand it back. The current outstanding amount is £4k more than the We Buy Any Car valuation. Our local VW garage isn’t optimistic that it will have any residual value in 12 months’ time, hence the thought of changing now. My wife would like a small SUV type vehicle similar in size to the first generation RAV-4 she had 20 years ago while still having a high-up driving position. New or nearly new would be acceptable. A petrol manual is a must. Anticipated mileage is 7,000 per year. The budget for the right car is £15k to £20k.

PR, via email

Maybe a KIA Stonic: /road-tests/kia/kia-stonic-2017-road-test/ Mazda CX-3: /road-tests/mazda/mazda-cx-3-2018-road-test/ Citroen C3 Aircross: /road-tests/citroen/citroen-c3-aircross-2017-road-test/ Peugeot 2008 1.2 Puretech 130: /road-tests/peugeot/peugeot-2008-puretech-110-eat6-2016-road-test/

Honda CR-V 2018 7-seat Side Mountains

Top swap? 

I own a(Photo Honda CR-V  2018 side mountains 2016 Honda CR-V EX I-DTEC 4WD auto with 30,000 and am looking to change the car in the next few months. I have looked at the Jaguar F-Pace and E-Pace, but find they are quite pricey with similar spec to my own. Also I have looked at the Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson and KIA Sportage and they all seem to have good spec at a reasonable price. What is your opinion of these cars or would you go for something else? I would also consider a petrol or hybrid

JA, via email

KIA Sorento excellent, but getting expensive: /road-tests/kia/kia-sorento-22-crdi-gt-line-s-2018-road-test/

Same goes for Hyundai Santa Fe: /road-tests/hyundai/hyundai-santa-fe-premium-se-2019-road-test/

New petrol only CR-V and CR-V hybrid about to arrive: /road-tests/honda/honda-cr-v-15-vtec-turbo-2018-road-test/

Or you could consider a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: /road-tests/mitsubishi/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-2019-road-test/

Surprisingly good, yet usually overlooked, the Renault Koleos 2.0DCI 4WD Signature: /our-cars/renault-koleos/

Ford B-Max 2012 Side Open

B-Max me up, Scotty?

My brother-in-law is offering me one of his ex-rep’s cars and I do not know enough about the B-Max. It’s a 2013 model with 19,000 miles, only used for driving around Manchester and Stockport, hence low mileage. I assume he has another car for personal use. Diesel engine, I think 1500cc, full service history, something I know he insists on for himself, and for £5,000. It sounds good to me and I'm inclined to say yes, but will I be disappointed after my Mondeo (I've had several). 

CR, Ravenglass

See: /carbycar/ford/b-max-2011/ (Especially the good/bad section). Ford dropped the B-Max a couple of years ago.

Volkswagen Golf 20133-door Side

Turbo trouble

My wife has a 2014 VW Golf 1.4TSI that has covered 34,000 miles. It has had normal use, consisting largely of a 25 mile commute each way for the first half of its life. Recently, the EPC and Engine Management warning lights came on. Our very good local garage checked and advised that it needed a new wastegate actuator on the turbo and then the system needed resetting. He advised that this was a well-known problem and VW has contributed to the cost of the work in the past. He advised us to go to the VW dealer, which we did. They quoted £448 for the work, said they didn’t know about the problem being common and that VW would not contribute. The next day, after they had done the work they rang to say the turbo needed replacing at about £1,500 and advised that we should complain to VW and seek a financial involvement from VW as this really should not happen. My wife refused to authorise them to do the work. She complained to VW and they have escalated it to a Customer Relationship Manager who will ring back in a few days. Our local garage advised the actuator would be part of a new turbo and we should not pay for it twice. What should we do please? 

BF, Tunstall, Suffolk

The Golf VII has not been the paragon of reliability that VW buyers expect: /carbycar/volkswagen/golf-vii-2013/good/ If it's been on a service plan, the failure might be due to the oil not being changed frequently enough and/or carbonising of the engine oil in the turbo oil feed and oil return pipes that starves the bearing of oil which is usually caused by switching off the engine when the turbo is too hot. These piped need to be replaced wen the turbo is replaced or the same will happen again. Yes, the actuator is part of the turbo so if the turbo is replaced the actuator will be too. I think VW will cough up.

BMW 330D Touring 2012 Side


I have a really nice, albeit high-mileage 2015 F31 BMW 320d M Sport Touring. I usually put my key on the passenger seat and so, when I got out last week to pay a parking meter, I left the key there and when I closed the door and got out, all the doors automatically locked. I was shocked to see my key inside with all doors firmly locked. How could this happen? Fortunately I had left the sunroof on tilt and after 2 hours managed with a piece of strong wire to hook and retrieve my key through the small slit. Has anyone heard of this thing happening? 

JC, Droitwich Spa

Quite common with these ridiculous keyless systems. We have to remember to take the keys out of the cars when photographing them. What could have happened in your case might have been the engine shut down on stop/start, then you forgot to shut it off completely so when you got out of the car it thought you were still inside and activated the anti-hijack locks.

Click to Honest John’s Motoring Agony Column 17-11-2018 Part 2


Palcouk    on 16 November 2018

A disaster waiting to happen, on so many levels :(

doi209    on 17 November 2018

in my 2017 F20 BMW, after stop/start has been activated, releasing the foot brake restarts the engine. To get out of the car in the circumstances described is not possible.

Phil Marriner    on 17 November 2018

Regards. Lock out. Managed to lock my keys in the boot of a Golf+ I owned and drove for best part of 9 years & 154k after a day's work. Luckily the keys to the works pool car were in my desk so I drove that home and went back to work with my spare keys the next day! It's easily done, even after owning the car 8.5 years!

ajs    on 17 November 2018

Our Citroen won’t lock if the key is still inside. Spent ages trying to lock it one day with key in my pocket. Eventually realised my wife’s bag was still inside with the other key. Also has a very loud alarm if you step out with key in pocket and engine on.

I did once open boot of my previous Alfa Mito with key fob, put key down inside, got what I needed out then shut boot. Never realised the button to open boot didn’t also unlock it (unlike my Honda at the time or current Citroen) until that moment. It was a real pain organising getting hold of the spare key to get back in! Thought that was just an Alfa quirk.

Edited by ajs on 17/11/2018 at 21:18

jchinuk    on 18 November 2018

Re : Lock-Out, I find most of my clothing (I'm assuming JC does not drive naked) has an innovation called 'pockets'. My keys, both car and home, remain these 'pockets' unless I am using them, which prevents such problems.

aufdermaur    on 20 November 2018

such unnecessary pedantry.....I regularly leave my keys in the ignition, a bad habit from my food delivery days. Luckily I am yet to be locked out of my car, even more so not to have had my car stolen yet. Pockets are fine as long as you remember to put the keys in them in the first place.

Ann Knowles    on 20 November 2018

Drop my keys in the boot whilst closing. The car was locked, so I thought oh dear. However the boot did not lock, so I able to retrieve my keys. KIA Optima GT a brilliant car

Edited by Ann Knowles on 20/11/2018 at 11:43

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