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Honest John's Motoring Agony Column 26-01-2019 Part 2

Published 23 January 2019

Click back to Honest John’s Motoring Agonies 26-01-2019 Part 1

Loads better 

I really like the Citroen Berlingo and have enjoyed a number over the years as hired vehicles. They really cannot be beaten for versatility, practicality and price. However, having an inbuilt fear of French reliability, I am reluctant to buy one for myself. The VW Caddy is more expensive and I’m seriously adverse to VW products at the moment. A Ford Tourneo Connect seems to fit the bill, so what do you think of its reliability and running cost? Is there any good Japanese equivalent? I loved the old Honda Element. It’s pity they were never sold here officially. Toyota Proace Verso bigger and much more expensive.

MF, via email

There's also a Ford Tourneo Courier 1.0 Ecoboost 100 at just £14,815. We tested the Tourneo Connect. Not much feedback on it: /road-tests/ford/ford-tourneo-connect-2014-road-test/  There's also the FIAT Doblo Family combi going for less than £12,000. The new Berlingo is a bit more expensive, and we don’t get the Dacia Lodgy in the UK. (The Toyota ProAce Verso is actually a Citroen Space Tourer with Toyota badges and warranty.)

Renault Captur F34 Copy

Renault Catch-up

I bought my Renault Captur (4th one) on 5th September 2018 with an 18,000-mile service interval. At 10,500 miles the engine, spanner and oil lights came on causing me great distress. The RAC man said I was ok to drive my patient back to Bath. Platinum Bath are now saying the servicing had altered to 10,000 4 weeks ago. Have I a case against Renault for mis-selling? I would never have bought another Captur with low mileage servicing. Renault Cardiff sold me the vehicle (owned by Renault). Renault is refusing to pay for an oil change (£120). An early reply would be appreciated.

CW, via email

Though you are a very high mileage driver, we still recommend oil services at least every 12 months or 10,000 miles whichever comes first regardless of the official service schedule.


Luxury tax

I have just taxed my 2017 car at the first anniversary, and discovered it was registered as ‘over £40,000’, resulting in annual road tax in of £440. I was surprised at this so consulted the supplying dealer, who insists the registration value was correct in including delivery charges (which was the sole element that took it beyond the £40,000). Looking at What Car and Parkers Guide, it seems delivery charges should be excluded, and the DVLA advice is unclear. If those charges were excluded, I would pay £130 for the year. Can you clarify please? 

PW, West Midlands

Delivery charges are included. First year tax and registration tax are excluded. If the list price goes up between order and delivery, the VED is based on the list price + delivery charge on the original order, not the increased price.

Skoda Yeti 60 Reg Bbsh Retouched

Skoda Wettie

I have a 2014 Skoda Yeti, which I bought new with a factory fitted panoramic sunroof. This has developed a fault causing water ingress from the sunroof on the driver’s side, down behind the bodywork and into the drivers' footwell and rear passenger footwell. This first occurred after a period of heavy snow followed by hard frost earlier this year.  My Skoda dealer (who has serviced it from new) tells me the sunroof cassette needs replacing and offered me a ‘discounted' price around £1,500 to do this.   am baffled as to how the sunroof can become faulty when the car is only 4 years old and the sunroof has hardly been opened. I spent weeks talking to Skoda Customer Services who were looking into my complaint, only to be offered exactly the same discount as was offered to me in the first place. Also I cannot see any obvious point of entry for rain to get in. I Googled the issue and have found that the sunroof has caused issues with other Yeti owners. Now I am torn between paying a lot of money to have the repair which will have a minimal guarantee and may presumably fail too, or cutting my losses and part-exchanging the car for something else. Have you come across this fault before?  Do you have any advice or suggestions please?

GG, via email 

One previous complaint here: /carbycar/skoda/yeti-2009/good/ Might not actually be the sunroof cassette. Might merely be twisted drains down the A Pillars from the sunroof rain channel. That's worth investigating before forking out big money. In theory the supplying dealer could be held liable for a fundamental fault with the car, but there's no guarantee you would win a Small Claims action: /faq/consumer-rights/


Wiry little critters

I have just had to pay £750 for a new wiring loom to be fitted to my Skoda Rapid. This is as a consequence of “rodent gnawing” of wires in the engine compartment and the evidence of acorns uncovered leads me to think Squirrel. Living in a flat, I have a dedicated, open parking space. This is not a rural spot, although there is one oak tree close by. Please, is there any application, physical or otherwise I can apply to avoid a repetition?

CP, via email

If you Google <Protection against rodent damage to vehicle wiring> you will find lots of advice about this. Mothballs used to be effective before they were outlawed by the EC. There may be an ultra-sonic device that can help. Robert Dyas shops now have whole sections devoted to anti rodent measures.

Volvo XC40 T3 2018 Side WPG

Bigger is better

I believe, rightly or wrongly, that a 3-litre engine will have an easier life than a 2-litre engine, in the same model of car, assuming the same mileage and style of driving. When the same engine in the same car is tuned to give more power (say the T4 and the T5 in a Volvo XC40), which would have the easier life - again assuming the same mileage of about 5,000 a year and the same moderate style of driving?

DC, via email

The more torque the engine produces then, with suitable gearing, the easier life the engine has. The T4 and T5 are the same engines in different states of tune. There's not much difference in fuel economy between a 1.5 litre 3-cylinder T3 front wheel drive manual and a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder T5 all-wheel drive auto, so that tends to prove your point. See: /road-tests/volvo/volvo-xc40-t3-momentum-2018-road-test/And: /road-tests/volvo/volvo-xc40-t5-2018-road-test/


Strapped for cash 

I have a 2011 Jaguar XF with 63,000 miles. Following my last service the garage recommended replacing the timing belt (£625) and the fuel pump belt (£499). What are your views regarding the necessity and the cost?

DO, via email 

If it's a 2.2 or 3.0 litre diesel then yes, the timing belt, tensioner, waterpump and aux belt are due for routine replacement because if the belt snaps of comes off your engine will probably self-destruct. 

Jaguar XE R34 Rape Seed Fields In Background

Keeping it covered

I own a June 2015 Jaguar XE Portfolio diesel, which I bought used from a Jaguar dealer in October 2016. The manufacturer’s warranty and dealer’s extended warranty recently expired and I would appreciate your advice on what to consider for future protection, and with whom. There appear to be many companies in this market but, as you will appreciate, I am looking for a company with a solid track record. I am 83 and do about 5,000 miles a year. Any information you can offer would be greatly appreciated

AM, via email

We are associated with MotorEasy, but you could also go with WarrantyWise. Your problem is the gap between the Jaguar warranty ending and your new warranty starting. Because warranty cover has not been continuous, you will not be fully covered for certain things for 3 months in case you are taking out the warranty to cover an existing fault. We do recommend you extend the warranty on any JLR product. You could even consider JLR's own warranty.


No place like Hyme

Earlier in the year you advised me that the purchase contract for our Hymer motorhome was with the supplying UK dealer. As we were getting nowhere with him I arranged to meet a senior technical adviser from Hymer at the NEC Motorhome show in October. He said he had the solution to the catalogue of problems (from new in Sept 2016), ranging from water ingress in two areas to ill-fitting replacement habitation door (main door frame structurally wrong I think). I underlined that their UK dealer had made things worse on two repair visits. He e-mailed me this week saying he wants me personally to drive the motorhome to the Hymer factory in Germany so the 'mistakes' can be rectified. He says we can stay in a holiday flat and have a free car whilst repairs are effected. What on earth can I do? I want the vehicle replaced under section 24 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, but fear the hassle, legal fees and court costs involved. Any advice would be appreciated.

IM, via email 

Presumably he has made an offer in writing? If so, and you refuse to take the offer, the supplier can use your refusal in his defence. What have you got to lose by taking the trip?


Coded message

You advised PG that his national insurance number was a requirement for and insurer to verify the number of points he had. Not only is this incorrect, the insurer could potentially get in trouble with the regulator for demanding it. They are supposed to advise the customer to visit the government website to get a code, as you advised in your second paragraph. The first page you see on accessing this site explicitly says “You should only use this service to view or share your own driving licence.”
JC, Bristol

You can’t get the code or the print-out from the DVLA site without your NI number and your postcode. It’s an insurance requirement, in order to obtain any record of driving offence convictions from the DVLA. I have to do this 20 times a year for some car launches. See: /

VW Golf SV F34 Lake 3 Copy

Sports Van

Having written off my 7-year old Golf Plus after 63,000 careful miles (petrol into diesel = ruined engine), I am offered a 2017/67 VW Golf SV with 9,000 miles as a replacement; this through the local VW franchised dealer. What should I look out for on the mech/tech side for, as an 80-year-old, I have rather been left behind when it comes to vehicle inspections and the like.

TL, via email

We like the Golf SV; just don't like the Golf SV 1.4TSI with the DQ200 7-speed dry clutch DSG. Test here: /road-tests/volkswagen/volkswagen-golf-sv-2014-road-test/ Everything else here: /carbycar/volkswagen/golf-sv-2014/


Staking a Claim

Earlier this year I successful made a Small Claim against a spiv car dealer in Canterbury County Court. The District Judge's summary after the hearing may be of interest to your readers. She said 1) A third party warranty given by the dealer (eg. Autoguard) does not absolve or reduce the dealer's obligations to the buyer. 2) When the buyer has made a valid complaint (within time and properly recorded, etc.) about the vehicle, the onus is on the dealer to disprove the complaint. 3) And, as an aside, a judge may take into consideration the distance between the buyer and the dealer (in this case Southend on Sea in Essex and Canterbury, Kent).

PT, via email

Many thanks. I'll use that. It's exactly what I've been telling readers for 20 years. But I always appreciate support. See: /faq/consumer-rights/

Porsche Boxster 986 Side 700

The hooded menace

Your reader KN asked you about a problem with the hood of his Porsche Boxster, the cloth slipping outside the plastic frame during closure. The cloth is tensioned at this point by an elasticated fabric strip that commonly stretches or breaks. The strap is secured at one end by a screw through one of  a series of holes in the strap. The tension can be adjusting by moving the screw to the next hole. If the strap is broken, a replacement can easily be made and sewn in place very cheaply with material from any haberdashery store. The strap is accessed by releasing the hood liner Velcro securing straps with the hood in the half-closed position. 

MF, Hinchley Wood

Very many thanks. You're actually the second reader with this cunning fix, now installed in the Boxster 986 entry in our Classics section.


Misreading information 

I was interested to read in your recent column ‘Car dealers just want to get rich’. On further reading it looks like a customer has bought a used car and taken issue with the tyres. Your response to this appears to be that all car dealers are evil money hungry liars and cheats that have no consideration for their customers, only for the money in their wallets. I feel this accusation is not only untrue, but irresponsible and potentially damaging to customer confidence during an already highly challenging period for the UK motor trade. I’m sure that there are some bad apples in the basket when it comes to car dealers (as I’m sure there are in journalism), but feel very disappointed that you feel the need to tar all with the same brush. Having been at the sharp end for over 16 years I can confirm that the vast majority that I deal with in the motor trade have customer care at the top of their agendas and are constantly fighting to provide the best level of service and prepare their vehicles to the highest standards against a backdrop of decreasing margins and profitability. Rather than the mercenaries you portray, these are normal people with mortgages and families whose already tough jobs are made just that little bit more difficult by the perpetuation of an out of date stereotype. I also feel that it's acceptable for a business providing goods and services to make a profit, if anyone feels differently I would ask them if they would work for free? If they are in a position that affords them to do so, lucky them. I am not. As for the reader with an issue with their tyres, I have always found there are two sides to every story and will be very surprised if a Mercedes retailer has released a vehicle with genuinely illegal tyres and refused make things right (these sorts of things are subject to some very stringent and unforgiving regulations, for good reason), but am glad they have found a resolution that works for them. I would hope that perhaps you might think about the consequences of your words more carefully in future.

RW, via email

Not only have you misquoted me, you have read a lot into what I wrote that I did not write at all. Begs the question where you got it all from. I was in the car trade off and on for 60 years and I have dealt with around 850,000 letters, emails and Asks from readers, a significant proportion of which were complaints of their treatment by dealers and also by manufacturers. I accept that a few car dealers are honest, decent people. I accept that a few manufacturers might also be. But I know the truth, and in fact the statement I actually made was not "sensationalist" in any way. 

FIAT Tipo 12 SW 2016 R34 1


In my search for a small-ish estate car, the FIAT Tipo seems an attractive choice, on paper. But, is this car “platform-shared” with any other manufacturer, or is it a unique FIAT product?

DJ, via email

We reckon the Tipo is good value for money: /carbycar/fiat/tipo-2016/ (The original Tipo certainly was.) It's not the best car dynamically in the Focus/Golf/Ceed class, which some car magazines and websites bitch about. But it's also considerably cheaper. 


Pressure drop

You kindly advised me to change the wheels and tyres of my 2012 Mercedes B-Class from 17-inch and run-flat tyres to 16-inch with Michelin Cross Climate tyres. I have now 'splashed out ' and done this. I am running the tyres at 36{SI, which is recommended by Mercedes. Do you feel the pressure should be lower for an even more comfortable ride? The car is almost a different vehicle and kerb scraping has ceased. Many thanks.

RP, via email

Much lower. I'd run at 30PSI cold pressures. These rise to 32-33PSI as the air inside them heats up in use. But if you start at 36 cold pressures you'll be driving at 38PSI a lot of the time, which is far too much pressure for Cross Climates because it prevents them from flexing sufficiently.

Subaru Forester 2013 F34

Kids and country

My daughter drives a diesel 2011/61 Zafira B with 88,000 miles, but would love to acquire a 4-wheel drive vehicle for life in the sticks (mid Wales). With 3 teenagers plus dogs to accommodate and a very tight budget the options are limited. She does not like my Dacia (bought on your advice and very satisfactory, thank you) but thinks a Skoda Yeti might do. She does a high mileage ferrying the children to sport. Any other ideas/advice what we might look for would be welcome, as well as your oft repeated views on wheel and tyres. She will have whatever she can get for the Zafira + about £10,000 from me.

RA, Pant

At least 80% of Yetis are not 4-wheel drive. And they have a daunting record of complaints: /carbycar/skoda/yeti-2009/good/ Nissan Qashqais don't come out very well either: /carbycar/nissan/qashqai-2007/good/ Honda CR-Vs can be a bit better. And there's a lot of loyalty behind Subaru Forester petrol models (not the diesels).


In Accordance with her wishes

I am writing on behalf of a friend whose husband has had a severe stroke and is now in a nursing home. She needs to sell his beloved car as she doesn't drive. It is quite old, but she thinks it may still have a reasonable value and needs advice as to approximate value and the best way to sell it so she doesn't get ripped off. It is a 2000W registered Honda Accord Coupe with a 3-litre V6 engine and leather seats. For its age It has a low mileage of 64,000 and it has just passed an MoT. Is there anywhere that you could recommend she could go to get a fair price as she just doesn't know where to start.

AR, Solihull

It's quite a rare car these days and needs to go to someone who will appreciate it. Try:

Click back to Honest John’s Motoring Agonies 26-01-2019 Part 1


Chrisjm    on 25 January 2019

Misreading Information

An out of date stereotype? In my experience of working in an around the retail motortrade for many years and being on the other side of the fence when buying and having my own cars serviced, it is a stereotype which is constantly reinforced from small scale independants to large franchised groups and all points in between.

Edited by Chrisjm on 25/01/2019 at 21:38

glidermania    on 25 January 2019

Misreading Information An out of date stereotype? In my experience of working in an around the retail motortrade for many years and being on the other side of the fence when buying and having my own cars serviced, it is a stereotype which is constantly reinforced from small scale independants to large franchised groups and all points in between.

Must admit, when I read HJ's original reply to the reader with the tyre issues, I thought he was taking the michael. But hey, no customer ever exagerated the situation, do they?

GingerTom    on 26 January 2019

I want to know why he bought a nearly new car with 3 illegal tyres. Was he the usual idiot customer who doesn't check first? If a car has tyres worn out that quickly how has the rest of the car been treated?

glidermania    on 25 January 2019

Misreading Information An out of date stereotype? In my experience of working in an around the retail motortrade for many years and being on the other side of the fence when buying and having my own cars serviced, it is a stereotype which is constantly reinforced from small scale independants to large franchised groups and all points in between.

Must admit, when I read HJ's original reply to the reader with the tyre issues, I thought he was taking the michael. But hey, no customer ever exagerated the situation, do they?

Captain-Cretin    on 26 January 2019

I have to agree with HJ, I am not a dealer, but I did have to look after the 7 car "fleet" our family business ran for 25 years.

Even franchised dealers would try it on, and if one of the women drivers took a car in, they would get hammered with BS and expensive repair/replacement quotes.

My sister is a classic case, franchised VW dealer told her she needed new front discs on a 1 y/o, low mileage Sharan, so she paid up.
Next year told her the same, and the year after, and the year after that.
At this point I took over, and had the car checked by an independent garage; it was still running the original factory fitted discs.

Toyata Previa wiper rubber replacements were £6 each, dealer told my mother they only sold the wiper as an entire piece - £80 each. I went back in with her and I could SEE the box of wiper rubbers behind the counter.
The same dealer also sold her a car with the wrong load rating tyres fitted, and a broken/bodged hand brake.

Another Toyota franchised dealer lied about FSH on a car we were viewing, insisted it was FSH even though he couldnt produce ANY paperwork, and even after we pointed out we already KNEW the car only had partial SH, as the dealerships own website listed it as partial SH !!

3rd Toyota dealership damaged a sparkplug lead, and tried to cover up the miss-fire it caused by bodging the sparkplug gaps, so it ran fine when cold, and only started miss-firing after we had driven most of the way home.

Dont even get me started on the THREE nearest Mitsubishi dealers.

If you find a good dealer/garage - cherish them

doi209    on 26 January 2019

Misreading information:
"I was in the car trade off and on for 60 years". You are very young looking for your age or you started young.

Is this another HJ exaggeration ? Recently it was 'hundreds of cars' over 25 years and then another recent reply stating you ran a Mondeo for 9 years.

I read your column for the interesting questions others make, but I have to ignore your claims of experience. I am not a troll, simply recognising BS.

doi209    on 26 January 2019

Misreading information:
"I was in the car trade off and on for 60 years". You are very young looking for your age or you started young.

Is this another HJ exaggeration ? Recently it was 'hundreds of cars' over 25 years and then another recent reply stating you ran a Mondeo for 9 years.

I read your column for the interesting questions others make, but I have to ignore your claims of experience. I am not a troll, simply recognising BS.

Engineer Andy    on 26 January 2019

You are conflating different things:

  • He was a motor trader for many decades (don't forget that many people his age started work at 16 and many worked in family's/friends Dads workplaces as juniors/apprentices or just hung out as they were interested in the job/line of work even before then);
  • He's TEST DRIVEN hundreds of cars in that time and as a journalist;
  • He ran a Mondeo as HIS OWN CAR for a long time.

doi209    on 26 January 2019

Sorry Andy,

point 1 - 'I was in the car trade off and on for 60 years' Do people really start trading cars that young ? As a trainee at 16, that would still make him 76. I refer to my original comment about looking young after 60 years experience. Can the experience be taken for what has been said ?

point 2 - the quote of 100's of cars over 25 years related to a fuelling issues topic . I very much doubt if anybody has fuelling issues when test driving cars. Therefore experience cannot be taken for what has been said.

point 3 - 9 years as a Mondeo driver. For someone who had driven 100's of cars over 25 years, possibly the Mondeo was stuck on the drive most of the time.

I stick by my original comments. Treat the claims of experience with a big pinch of salt.

Engineer Andy    on 27 January 2019

...and I thought I was a 'glass half empty' kinda guy...

Honestjohn    on 27 January 2019

First job in the trade polishing cars at 'Sports Motors' on Orpington High Street in 1959 at age 11. So slight exaggeration. Bought my first car age 15. It was an Isetta 300 for £18. Hundreds of cars over 25 years is literally true because I used to buy and sell them as well as borrow them from manufacturers for road tests, etc. The auction bought 10 month old 1908 Mondeo 2.0LX ran for 9 years with outstanding reliability and passed on to my ex-wife until some idiot drove into it and wrote it off. So would you kindly STFU.


doi209    on 27 January 2019

So the fuelling issues response cannot be justified.

Also not the sort of language you should put on your own website to your own readers.

As they say, HJ, when losing an argument, start swearing. :-)

Edited by doi209 on 27/01/2019 at 22:07

Buddyduke    on 1 February 2019

1908 Mondeo 2.0LX ran for 9 years = 1917. I didn't know they made Mondeo's in 1908, did you use it during the war 1914-1918?

Slow Eddie    on 27 January 2019

On point 1 (just to correct you youngsters), in the 60s work could start at 15!
But on points 2 & 3 I'm with you all the way, doi209.

jchinuk    on 27 January 2019

Re : Wiry little critters Just to point out that grey squirrels are not just found in rural areas, the little b*****s get everywhere.

gordonbennet    on 28 January 2019

Aye, and some of us started work a lot earlier than 15, evenings and weekends and all school holidays, not forgetting the small armies of intrepid paper boys.

SteveLee    on 28 January 2019

I'm surprised HJ didn't defend the Berlingo - they're no less reliable than any other European car, but at least you're not paying through the nose for the less than Japanese reliability.

Brit_in_Germany    on 1 February 2019

On the squirrel front, one of the solutions here against pine martens is to build a square wooden frame and nail chicken wire over this. The frame is then placed under the car. The idea is that the little critters will not walk over the wire and so access to the engine bay becomes more difficult.

p.s. - good to see a keyboard warrior crash and burn. As the saying goes, if you are in a hole, stop digging.

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