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Honest John's Motoring Agony Column 03-08-2019 Part 2

Published 01 August 2019

Click back to Honest John’s Motoring Agonies 03-08-2019 Part 1

Little belter 

I’ve just bought a 2005 FIAT Panda 1.2 with just under 32k on the clock. The timing belt is past the recommended 10yr replacement mark but is that necessary at such low mileage?

SM Somerset  

Very overdue because the waterpumps are prone to failure. Change timing belt, tensioner, waterpump and aux belt. About £400 inc. VAT at a FIAT dealer, so don't pay more.

Honda CR-V 2016 Side

Hondaring a warranty

I own a 2016 Honda CRV 1.6iDTEC which is nearly 3 years old with 24,000 miles. I have a service plan for another 2 years. Is it really worth £450 for an extended warranty?

GK, via email

These have not enjoyed the usual Honda reliability. So yes, worth buying a warranty as long as it covers you for the sorts of things listed here: /carbycar/honda/cr-v-2012/good/

Ford Focus ST Line 2018 Front Speed Blue

Autofoxed

Could you give me information about the transmissions of Ford vehicles. For Ford Focus (2016 - 2019 model years) 1.5 L Ti-VCT 123PS 6-speed automatic. In this combination, is the engine turbo? And transmission unit fully automatic (not dual clutch)? 1.0 L Ecoboost 125 PS 8-speed automatic. In this combination, is the transmission unit fully automatic? For Ford Fiesta (2015 – 2019) model years); 1.6 and 1.4 engine cars are sold. Which are fully automatic (not dual clutch)?

BA, Turkey 

2013-2017 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoosts had the 6-speed Getrag Powershift dual clutch. Best Avoided. New model Fiestas from 2017 have a 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission. OK. 2012 - 2018 Focus 1.0 Ecoboost and 1.6 TI-VCT had the same disastrous 6-speed Getrag Powershift as the Fiesta. Avoid. But 2012 - 2018 Focus 1.6 EcoBoost and 1.5 EcoBoost had 6-speed torque converter autos. From 2018, new model Focus have an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission. Very good. All EcoBoosts are turbocharged, hens the name "Boost".

Continental Eco Contact 6 Tread Patterns (1)

In depth study

Do you think tyre manufacturers and distributors should include tread depth in their specifications? I recently had fitted what I thought was a set of mid-range tyres (Firestone Roadhawk) at a Halfords Autocentre for my old Audi A3 and subsequently found that their tread depth is only 6mm, i.e. 4.4mm of useable tread. That’s more than 30% less usable tread compared with what I thought was the norm of 8mm. Firestone actually leaves its name off the tyres and just calls them "Roadhawk" so are probably ashamed of them. When I entered the exact tyre number on the Firestone website it did not recognise it.

DH, Chudleigh

I was at a presentation by Continental tyres when this came up. The initial tread depth is not the criterion. It's how many miles the tyre will do until it gets down to the legal limit. (But in any case, best practice to replace at 2-3mm.) So not how much you get, but how long it lasts.

 

Short fall 

I recently received my annual car insurance renewal invitation from LV=, which had gone up about £20. Whilst not unhappy, I still checked a price comparison site just to ensure this was a good deal. To my surprise, the cheapest quote was from, you guessed it, LV= and was for exactly the same premium, to the penny, as my renewal. In a world where insurance companies generally receive bad press it's refreshing to be able to highlight at least one which doesn't follow the old "brand new customers only" mantra.

KL, Devon

That is good to know. Thank you. I have twice received press releases from comparethemarket.com asserting that UK car insurance premiums are falling. With no change in circumstances, this was not the case for me, nor for my mum, nor for any reader (including you) who has recently written to me.

Volkswagen Golf GTD ACC Sensor

Non-sensor

My 2013 VW Golf 1.4 SE was showing an "ACC Disabled" alert and the Stop/Start function was not working. When I took the car to my local Volkswagen Dealership they informed me that my radar sensor had been removed, i.e. stolen. They also told me that they had seen a number of similar cases and that this model is vulnerable because the sensor is simple to remove. Apparently, newer models have the sensor behind the VW badge and it is more secure. The dealer's quote for replacing, fitting and calibrating the sensor is £1,729.32. It is simply outrageous that such an expensive piece of equipment should be attached to the car by a few easily accessible screws, covered by a bit of plastic trim. I was planning to replace my car with another Golf in the near future but I think I will now look elsewhere.

WW, via email

Thank you for the tip-off. Another reason for repositioning is that the under-bumper location made them vulnerable to getting smashed by a towbar reversing into them, for example. In theory, the stolen sensor should have no value because they have ‘Component Protection’ that should require a dealer visit to re-programme them on any car they are fitted to (though maybe the scallys have found a way round this). As far as I can ascertain, the change of position was in 2017. (Quite a lot of 'used' VW ACC sensors are advertised on eBay: https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=VW+Golf+VII+ACC+Sensors&_sacat=0)

Vauxhall Astra K 2015 F34 

Small torque

Are Peugeot 308 1.6 diesel EAT6 and Vauxhall Astra 1.4T AT6 transmissions same? Can you evaluate for me, please.

EE, Turkey

They are the same type of transmission: both torque converter. Peugeot's is Aisin Warner; Vauxhall's is a GM 6T30 Hydramatic, though that may change when the new Peugeot engined Astras are launched later this month.

 

Chokers to the left

We have been having DPF problems with our Toyota RAV-4 diesel for the last two years and want to change our car for a petrol 4x4 (to get out of the steep road we live in during the winter). Second-hand and below £15,000 if possible. We thought of Mazda CX5 but the 4x4s all seem to be diesel. Can you suggest any makes that would fit the bill?

DL, Farnham

Mazda doesn't do a petrol CX5 4x4, only front wheel drive. You can get a CX-3 2.0 150HP Skyactiv G with 4WD. But your best bet is probably a Honda CR-V 2.0iVTEC, though this came in 2WD and 4WD, so you need to make sure it is 4WD. Further alternatives are a RAV-4 2.0i Valvematic Multidrive S 4WD CVT auto or a RAV-4 hybrid 4WD epicyclic CVT auto

Skoda Citigo Black Edition F34

Spy in the cab

I bought a 2014 Skoda Citigo for my two grandsons, aged 17 and 18. Both are learner drivers. Their mother prefers them to have their own insurance with both being able to earn a No Claims Bonus (black box/or boxes are acceptable). Can you please advise what is the most sensible and economic way of going about this insurance, along with possible Insurance Companies we should contact.

KB, via email 

You can't have two insurance policies on the same car, so it's one as the policyholder with the other as a named driver. Or they have to have separate cars. Beware of insurance that is cheap for learner drivers but can increase 5 times as soon as they pass their tests because of the increased risk this represents. Yes, a Telematics 'black box' insurance makes the most sense because it keeps a permanent check on their driving. Try: https://www.gocompare.com/car-insurance/telematics-car-insurance/  ; https://www.moneysupermarket.com/car-insurance/how-does-black-box-insurance-work/  ; https://www.confused.com/car-insurance/black-box/telematics-explained /

 

Faults information 

My 2009 SEAT Ibiza 1.4 SE is telling me that the outside temperature is minus 23 degrees and no petrol is registering, yet there is over a third of a tank. The petrol warning light is not on. No other warning lights are on the dash either. Any information would be appreciated.

LT, via email

They may be separate problems with the outside temp sensor and the fuel tank float sensor, or they may be problems in the dashboard head unit. Specialists in dashboards are cartronix.co.uk ; clusterrepairs.co.uk ; and ecutesting.com / But probably better to check the temp sensor and fuel sensor first by calling in a local <car electrical specialist> (http://www.yell.com)

Peugeot 108 GT F34 3-dr For ColSmall change 

Is the Peugeot 108 automatic a piloted manual like the VW Up and awful? Are the Picanto and i10 the only small cars with proper auto gear boxes?

NT, via email

The 108, C1, Aygo, Up, Mii and Citigo automatics are robotised manuals, yes. Not recommended. The only city cars with torque converter boxes are KIA Picantos and Hyundai i10s. But Smart ForTwos and ForFours and Renault Twingos now have an acceptable EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) transmission.

 

Public enemy

I wrote to you a short while ago regarding a Parking Ticket at a Pub. Thank you for your prompt reply. I did appeal but no luck, so I paid up as you suggested. I took the matter up with the Landlord. He insisted that he made nothing from any Parking Ticket issued. If I understood it all correctly, the Landlord rents the Pub but Smart Parking runs the Carpark.

TE, via email

Probably not the landlord's fault that he has no control over the car parking. But, happily, Sir Greg Knight's Private Parking Control bill gained Royal Assent in March and a Code of Practice to control private parking operators should be in place later this Summer.

SEAT Aona 2017 F34 Red

Different but the same

Following your advice, my wife had a test drive in a VW T-Cross and liked it. This was in a  first edition, but had 19-inch wheels which I know you don’t like. As an alternative she has also been out in a Seat Arona FR Sport. This has 18-inch wheels and similar spec to the T-Cross SEL. Is it worth paying more for the VW in short supply when the SEAT with VW components is available widely? Carwow and Drivethedeal haven’t got much off the T-Cross.

PA, via email

The trouble is that a SEAT Arona doesn't look anything like as classy as a VW T-Cross in 'Champagne', which is why I snapped it in that colour, and also the very attractive metallic blue in my road test:  /road-tests/volkswagen/volkswagen-t-cross-2019-road-test/  I feel sorry for Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos being forced to give the Arona a downmarket look so the T-Cross could sell at a higher price. But I think there's a chance that will result in an even greater difference in used values when you come to sell.

Alfa Romeo Giulia F34 Silver 

Flawed Fordor 

I'm currently looking for a new 4-door saloon, a segment that includes the omnipresent Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class. However, I am particularly attracted to the Alfa Romeo Giulia but am concerned about reliability and residuals. Any thoughts? 

AB, via email

Gorgeous car. Sensational to drive. The 2.0 280HP petrol is enough. But, despite the 5 year warranty, it's had a few issues: /carbycar/alfa-romeo/giulia-2016/good/  It’s a completely different kind of car, but the new Toyota Camry hybrid is also worth considering.

 

Not Yet again

My daughter has driven a Skoda Yeti 4x4 for some years and is now looking for a replacement. She lives in the country where the car lives outside, uses it mainly for local trips, transporting her two children, three dogs (2 labradors plus one spaniel) and the occasional extra child. It needs to be a workhorse and robust. Have you any suggestions? Should she stick with a Yeti, or could you suggest something else? She is happy to purchase a low mileage pre-owned car, or new, if she can find an inexpensive car.

CP, via email

Production of the Yeti ended 18 months ago and the replacement is the Karoq, some versions of which have four wheel drive and removable rear seats: /carbycar/skoda/karoq-2017/history/

Dacia Duster 2018 F34 Copper

Everyone derides a Duster

Living in South Yorkshire, we have challenging road conditions in the winter. My daughter is thinking of purchasing a Dacia Duster 4x4 for school runs and for commuting to and from work. Her main reason is the initial cost seems a lot lower than other vehicles. But I believe there are others she should consider that might give her better overall value for money and in the long term a higher re-sale value. Your thoughts/comments would be appreciated

DH, via email

Dacia doesn't do a petrol 4WD at the moment, but I tested one extensively a couple of years ago: /road-tests/dacia/dacia-duster-laureate-tce-125-2016-road-test/ Test of the new one here, but 2WD only and the 1.6SCe engine rather than the new  1.3TCe: /road-tests/dacia/dacia-duster-2018-road-test/ There will be a 1.5dCi (which I actually drove when testing the petrol version. More at: /carbycar/dacia/duster-2018/history/ I don't think the 2nd generation 1.6SCe 4x4 petrol ever actually reached the UK.

Peugeot Rifter 2018 Load 4 (1)

Star spangled vanner 

Unfortunately the vertical opening of the tail gate of the Skoda Kamiq is not high enough. I need 83cms to allow my scooter access into the boot. any more ideas?

PH, via email

In that case a new Citroen Berlingo/Peugeot Rifter. There will be one with 'Grip Control coming soon, which is actually better than 4WD in snow. And there is an adapted 4WD version. Test of Rifter: /road-tests/peugeot/peugeot-rifter-2018-road-test/

  

Automatic gear change

I have been driving a manual Skoda Fabia for a number of years but am being advised to change to an automatic (my present Skoda is a 6-year old Fabia with 30,000 miles - all  driven by me). Do you have any advice (or warning) about a new automatic Fabia (there seems to be a waiting period of 1-3 months)? I haven't had any experience of driving an automatic but I am assured it is very easy. Any comments would be much appreciated. 

AP, via email

I only ever advise people to drive automatics two-footed: left foot for the brake; right foot for the accelerator. Then you can stop very quickly and don't run the risk of 'pedal confusion' which in an automatic often leads drivers to hit the accelerator instead of the brake and run someone over and kill them. If you can't train yourself to drive two-footed, don't get an automatic. The DQ200 dry clutch 7-speed DSG fitted to the Fabia isn't very good anyway and tends to have a short life. Far better a torque converter auto as in a Mazda 2, Mazda CX-2, Suzuki Swift, Suzuki Baleno, Citroen C3, Citroen C3 Aircross, Peugeot 208, Peugeot 2008 or, smaller, KIA Picanto, Hyundai i10 or the latest Ford Fiesta.

 

Slippery slope

I am contemplating changing my Nissan Juke for a Arona SUV. I have found that there is too much slippage in changing gears on the Juke and I would therefore like to know if you believe the Arona automatic transmission is superior.

DL, via email

The Arona has a DQ200 7-speed dry clutch DSG that has been problematic in the past, though this has to be taken in proportion. 25 million VAG DSGs have been sold. It seems to work best with the 1.0TSI engine.

Peugeot 2008 Side Country Roadjpg 

You don’t say

In November 2017 we bought a used Peugeot 2008 from a Peugeot dealer. Our V5 shows that the vehicle has one former keeper: Peugeot Contract Hire. Back in February 2019 I had a minor front end (driver's side) collision with a cyclist. A trip to a local and reputable body repair centre estimated that repairs would be at the most £1,000, probably nearer to £700. We decided not to go through our insurers. I finally got around to taking the car in today and was surprised to get a call later saying that the damage seen on removing the front bumper was inconsistent with the collision that I had described. The bodyshop has concluded that the car had been damaged previously and was only subjected to a poor cosmetic repair. They confirmed that the bumper had been resprayed in part and that the number plate had been replaced (very poorly, as the bodyshop asked if I had done it myself). They also confirmed that there was significant damage to the passenger front side behind the bumper, probably due to a tow bar or something similar. This find has pushed the repair costs up considerably. My question is do we have any redress against Peugeot UK who must have arranged for this shoddy repair and then sold the car, hoping that the damage would never be discovered.

RD, via email

You do against the supplying dealer and there was some recent case law on this. First a link to your rights: /faq/consumer-rights/ Second, the section of this that covers the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2008: The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002, is derived from EU Directive 1999/44/EU which became Clauses 48A to 48F inclusive of the Sale of Goods Act in April 2003. This reverses the burden of proof so that if goods go faulty within six months after purchase it is deemed they were faulty at the time of purchase and the trader has the onus of proving that the item is not defective due to a manufacturing defect. See: www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2002/20023045.htm/ This gives more teeth to the judgement in Bowes v J Richardson & Son. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations May 2008 (CPRs) incorporate The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 and contain a general prohibition against unfair commercial practices and, in particular, prohibitions against misleading actions, misleading omissions and aggressive commercial practices. The Regulations are enforceable through the civil and criminal courts and create a criminal offence of misleading omissions that would not previously have been an offence if the consumer had not asked the right questions. So, if a salesman knows a car has, for example, been badly damaged and repaired and does not tell the customer, he could later be held liable if the customer subsequently discovered that the car had been damaged and repaired. (Case law follows this in the FAQ.)

lick back to Honest John’s Motoring Agonies 03-08-2019 Part 1 

 

 

Comments

daveyjp    on 2 August 2019

HJ shouldn't give any advice on private parking tickets if it includes paying up.

Absolutely no need if you appeal properly.

FiestaOwner    on 3 August 2019

RE: Short fall

It's likely that LV= identified the poster as an existing customer using the details he entered online (ie. email, car reg number, house address, name). Once they (or rather their computer) had identified him (or her) as an existing customer, they would automatically get offered the exist renewal quote.

I have experienced a similar thing. When I enter my details into my insurance company's website (at renewal time). It recognises me as an existing customer and won't quote, instead it tells me to phone up the insurer for a price. I already have a renewal quote through the post at this point.

Furrybiker    on 4 August 2019

Last year I shopped around using the usual comparison sites. I was offered a cheaper premium, through the site, from my current insurers.

When I tried to take up the offer I had to contact them directly, after a short negotiation they honoured the reduced rate.

However this was not LV=.. It seems that not all insurers are so venal!

Engineer Andy    on 5 August 2019

I think that some insurers think you won't move, especially if you're a long-standing customer, and thus put their quotes up. I noticed this with mine (esure) after I'd been with them for 10 years.

The problem is that if I leave and go with a cheaper alternative (they are THAT much cheaper, mostly a max of £30pa), I'll have a lower amount of coverage (most will insist on higher excesses and lower amounts of coverage of belongings with no upgrade available), and I get preferential treatment if I want to change my policy mid-year - as a long-standing customer, I don't get charged the £25 admin fee for doing so (e.g. for upping the mileage when changing jobs, or when I changed the alloy wheels [even if that was changing down a size and using the manufacturers alloys inline with the manual in that case]).

Besides, many firms will, after you change, ramp up the price a LOT on the first renewal date, as the RAC did with my first car, upping it by 33%. I couldn't change because I was still a relatively new driver and only had 1 years NCB at the time, and besides, they still were cheaper than the others, but the shock of that and the subsequent next 3 increases (from £330 to £650) was huge, given I wasn't earning that much at the time. This was in the late 90s when premiums were low realtive (including accounting for inflation) to today's for younger drivers.

Saying that, whilst I now only pay about £250 - £300 for my current Mazda3 1.6 petrol, this was an almost identical quote(even from my current insurer) than for new cars I was looking to buy about 2.5 years ago, including a VW Scirocco 2.0 (180PS) GT petrol, which DID stagger me.

FiestaOwner    on 3 August 2019

Re: Spy in the cab

Can you have a "black box insurance" when there is more than one driver on the car?

One of the grandsons could be an awful driver and the other very good. How would the black box (or the insurance company) know which grandson was driving? How would they know which grandson to offer the lower premiums to? And of course, which one to penalise.

Honestjohn    on 5 August 2019

In response to FiestaOwner's question about insurance black box transponders, everyone who drives the car will be driving it on the same insurance policy regardless of who is actually the policy holder so they monitor the car whoever is driving it. The bad driver will therefore drive up the insurance premium.

HJ

FiestaOwner    on 3 August 2019

Re: You don’t say

A few points on this one:

1) It couldn't have been a poor cosmetic repair, as you weren't aware of it for the 21 months you owned the car.

2) I would have thought you'd have had much chance of getting redress for accident damage after this amount of time.

3) The salesman probably wouldn't have known the car had been damaged. The last car I traded in was transferred to a different branch, in the same dealer group. The salesman selling it wouldn't have known about anything I had disclosed to the other salesman (the one I traded it into).

4) Peugeot UK wouldn't have arranged for this repair (they wouldn't have known about it). It would have been done by the previous driver's insurance company, or the driver arranged for it themselves without going through their insurance.

5) How do you prove the damage was there when you bought it? The supplying dealer could claim it happened after you bought it.


Not meaning to sound negative but if you go down the "legal" route, I think the preceding points would be raised. How would you respond to them?

FiestaOwner    on 3 August 2019

2) I would have thought you'd have had much chance of getting redress for accident damage after this amount of time.

Sorry typo in point 2 above. It should read:-

2) I WOULDN'T have thought you'd have had much chance of getting redress for accident damage after this amount of time.

Edited by FiestaOwner on 03/08/2019 at 10:23

Mike H    on 3 August 2019

Re: Automatic gear Change

The old "Left foot braking" chestnut again! What puzzles me is why HJ thinks that someone who has been using the right foot for the brake and throttle all their life is suddenly going to get confused and hit the throttle instead of the brake? I accept that this type of accident he's trying to avoid can happen, but I don't accept left foot braking will help - it will never be second nature to someone who's been driving perhaps 60+ years, and anyone mentally confused is probably still going to hit the wrong pedal when the chips are down. I have the greatest respect for HJ, but I can never accept that trying to learn left foot braking as an older driver makes any kind of sense.

GingerTom    on 3 August 2019

Oh here we go again. I applaud HJ for attempting to make our roads safer but we always have those who refuse to accept that anything other than their own lazy ways are right or better. Left foot braking is actually very easy to adopt if you just try the same way as heel & toe and double de-clutching - skills that were once taught but now ignored to get people through the test. Sadly few want to learn new skills and make the roads safer. That's fine but please don't criticise those that do.

Mike H    on 3 August 2019

Oh here we go again. I applaud HJ for attempting to make our roads safer but we always have those who refuse to accept that anything other than their own lazy ways are right or better. Left foot braking is actually very easy to adopt if you just try the same way as heel & toe and double de-clutching - skills that were once taught but now ignored to get people through the test. Sadly few want to learn new skills and make the roads safer. That's fine but please don't criticise those that do.

I don't have a problem with new ways at all, and I'm not criticising those that try, persevere,and master it. I'm simply suggesting that it's always the older drivers, sometimes in their 80s, that are being advised by HJ to learn left foot braking. It's unlikely that a significant number will ever master the technique, and potentially cause further accidents by attempting it. I'm nowhere near that age, and i tried it on our old Saab a few years ago, but it is extremely difficult to master the technique, resulting usually in the brakes being applied unnecessarily hard due to difficulty in moderating the pressure required. And twice recently HJ has suggested it to people who want an auto because they have problems with their left leg......madness.

Drive a real auto    on 3 August 2019

Oh here we go again. I applaud HJ for attempting to make our roads safer but we always have those who refuse to accept that anything other than their own lazy ways are right or better. Left foot braking is actually very easy to adopt if you just try the same way as heel & toe and double de-clutching - skills that were once taught but now ignored to get people through the test. Sadly few want to learn new skills and make the roads safer. That's fine but please don't criticise those that do.

I don't have a problem with new ways at all, and I'm not criticising those that try, persevere,and master it. I'm simply suggesting that it's always the older drivers, sometimes in their 80s, that are being advised by HJ to learn left foot braking. It's unlikely that a significant number will ever master the technique, and potentially cause further accidents by attempting it. I'm nowhere near that age, and i tried it on our old Saab a few years ago, but it is extremely difficult to master the technique, resulting usually in the brakes being applied unnecessarily hard due to difficulty in moderating the pressure required. And twice recently HJ has suggested it to people who want an auto because they have problems with their left leg......madness.

I take your point, but it is not hard to master. Yes, the first few times I braked hard as the clutch foot has to learn sensitivity but it makes sense. Right foot Go, left foot Stop.

In a manual car I just switch to the old way for three pedal control.

And I don't think being old means automatically being stupid ( I'll find out for myself one day). You are raising a number of speculative hypotheses, but even if these are correct, I'd rather that someone had a jerky halt than killed someone.

Slow Eddie    on 3 August 2019

I'd echo everything you say, MIke H. It's also strange that HJ continues to bang on about left-foot braking for drivers of automatics, but is unable to explain why this presumed pedal confusion doesn't afflict drivers of manuals. Furthermore, an individual's "handedness",or prioritising the left or right side of the body, takes varying forms, and it's foolish of some on here to make facile generalisations about how easy it is to "learn new skills".

Engineer Andy    on 5 August 2019

Oh here we go again. I applaud HJ for attempting to make our roads safer but we always have those who refuse to accept that anything other than their own lazy ways are right or better. Left foot braking is actually very easy to adopt if you just try the same way as heel & toe and double de-clutching - skills that were once taught but now ignored to get people through the test. Sadly few want to learn new skills and make the roads safer. That's fine but please don't criticise those that do.

I don't have a problem with new ways at all, and I'm not criticising those that try, persevere,and master it. I'm simply suggesting that it's always the older drivers, sometimes in their 80s, that are being advised by HJ to learn left foot braking. It's unlikely that a significant number will ever master the technique, and potentially cause further accidents by attempting it. I'm nowhere near that age, and i tried it on our old Saab a few years ago, but it is extremely difficult to master the technique, resulting usually in the brakes being applied unnecessarily hard due to difficulty in moderating the pressure required. And twice recently HJ has suggested it to people who want an auto because they have problems with their left leg......madness.

That was my chief concern as well - with standard use, the right foot has a lot more 'finesse' than the left as its constantly used to feather the throttle and the brake, whereas the left tends to be a push down full or not at all. Its the same reason why many people cannot get used to using a joystick and button layout on a computer or arcade game (never mind an aircraft) when they've asked to switch over which hands they use - muscle memory and all that.

When I test drove an auto car for the first time (in my mid 40s) a couple of years ago, I found that trying left foot braking was difficult, especially when in normal driving - at most, I'd only use it for slow speed manouvring/parking, where, it seems, most of the (fatal) accidents with autos and older people occur.

When trying it out, I managed it, but I found, like you, I was 'stabbing' at the brakes with my left foot, rather like when fully depressing the clutch (my left foot also tried to press the phantom clutch on more than one occasion as well when slowing to a stop at juntions!). Maybe I'd get used to it more with further practice and use, but I'm not an OAP 'old dog' trying to learn new tricks.

I agree that it would be far better (and safer) to either try and learn and changeover before old age when doing so would be far more difficult, or to stick with manual gearboxes as my parents (in their mid 70s) are doing. At that age, I would liken learning this new driving technique to learning how to play tennis with your other hand - you may be able to do it, but the longer you leaving changing, the harder it'll be to successfully do so.

jchinuk    on 4 August 2019

I always assume it is a coded message"Give up driving". Many correspondents seem to be in their later years, perhaps the real question should be do you really need your car?

Honestjohn    on 5 August 2019

In response to Mike H, left foot braking prevented a nasty crash a couple of weekends ago, I was tentatively emerging from a country side road at a blind junction (made completely blind by vegetation so the only way was to emerge very slowly) when an idiot in a LandRover Defender on the wider road shot past at about 60mph. Had I not left foot braked and stopped instantly it would have taken the front off the car I was driving.

HJ

Engineer Andy    on 5 August 2019

HJ - when did you first learn to left foot brake? As per my other comments above on the matter, I'm wondering if learning at middle age or before is advantageous, given it is generally harder to learn new things, especially ones that will go (physically) against what you've been exclusively been doing for many years before.

Even I as someone in my mid 40s found it quite hard when I tried it, admitedly for the first time and on a test drive (on my own, though it was for about 45-60 mins in total).

When I spoke to my OAP parents about this for their next car (they've always owned manual cars, but now have increasing difficulty with mobility, and where use of the clutch may become more difficult) and they didn't like the idea of left-foot braking at all, and said they'd rather not drive than go for an auto and learn at that late stage. The 'not being able to teach and old dog new tricks' (for the most part) argument?

I will likely get an auto (for the first time) for my next car, but then I'm fully prepared to learn the left-foot braking technique (at least for slow speed manouvring) as I'll likely have another 30-40 years of driving left in me, rather than around 10 when it would only be driven for about 3k miles pa.

Mattbh    on 6 August 2019

In response to Mike H, left foot braking prevented a nasty crash a couple of weekends ago, I was tentatively emerging from a country side road at a blind junction (made completely blind by vegetation so the only way was to emerge very slowly) when an idiot in a LandRover Defender on the wider road shot past at about 60mph. Had I not left foot braked and stopped instantly it would have taken the front off the car I was driving.

HJ

I infer that in order to very slowly creep out whilst simultaneously covering the brake with your left foot that you must have been driving an automatic HJ?

In which case it would appear to me that had you been driving a manual that an accident would have been inevitable?

Whilst you may well have an argument to suggest left foot braking can fractionally reduce reaction times - assuming your left foot is already covering the brake pedal. Personally, I think re-teaching people to brake with their left foot - regardless of age - may actually cause more accidents whilst they perfect their newfound 'skill' - but we are all of course entitled to our opinion.

However, I would respectfully suggest that anyone who has reached a point in life where they are essentially not able to tell the difference between 'brake' and 'accelerator' in an emergency, is no longer fit to drive and should give up their license or have it revoked.

Sunny M    on 6 August 2019

All automatics I have driven all creep when you take your foot off the brake pedal. In this instance, my right foot would have been over the brake pedal as I would have been creeping until I could see it was safe to go. Thus I would have stopped in the same time as left footed braking.

Rob Whitmarsh    on 3 August 2019

On the Alfa Giulia, HJ is right, mine is a lovely thing and I can't think of much else that's as pleasurable to drive. I suspect HJ might have meant to suggest the 200hp version though, I've had 6.3 AMG Mercedes, and the Alfa's performance is no disappointment at all, yes, the 280hp one is nice, but not hugely faster and a lot more expensive with a significantly less comfortable ride, especially around town, and the road tax will be a lot higher, as they're £40,000 plus. Reliable? Well, I've had two Alfas for a total of almost 6 years, and neither ever broke down or gave significant problems, my current one at 2 years old is still awaiting its first warranty claim, so go for it, if you enjoy driving, you won't regret it!

Drive a real auto    on 3 August 2019

I've got a 280hp Alfa Romeo Guilia Veloce.

As Rob says, amazingly fun to drive. I smile all the time in mine .The standard Guilia does 146MPH with 200 BHP. The 280BHP Veloce does 149 (go figure) but does have a lot more to give in real-world driving. It's an auto so I do left-foot brake.

Once it is run-in the performance is incredilbe and I say that as a Maserati owner (but that's another painful story). I've got the 18inch wheels and the ride is very good. Far more controlled and smoother than my previous Merc C Class which was so boring to drive. I understand that the QF is sprung more like a race car.

You can get a Veloce for under £40,000 if you stay off the options list: the MY19 update added a lot of standard stuff.

So in summary:

1) It's an Alfa Romeo;

2) you can afford it;

3)What else matters?

Edited by Drive a real auto on 03/08/2019 at 14:12

SteveLee    on 4 August 2019

"Grip Control coming soon, which is actually better than 4WD in snow."

Wow - a traction control system that magically makes tyres grippier - must be voodoo - or you could be talking out your behind...

Honestjohn    on 5 August 2019

There is a video here of a Peugeot 2008 fitted with Grip Control and Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons all weather tyres ascending the 14 degree ski slope at Tamworth Snowdome: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/peugeot/peugeot-2008-2013-road-test/?section=video

SteveLee    on 9 August 2019

So what does that prove? Two tyres have not got more grip than four tyres, grip control may be an excellent system but it's not "better than 4WD" which is a nonsense statement, electronics can maximise the grip you do have - but they can't generate grip out of nowhere. two otherwise identical cars, the one with four wheel drive will climb steeper gradients than one with two wheel drive - end of.

Engineer Andy    on 5 August 2019

"Grip Control coming soon, which is actually better than 4WD in snow." Wow - a traction control system that magically makes tyres grippier - must be voodoo - or you could be talking out your behind...

It's an enhanced tranction control system that these cars are fitted with. Don't forget that quite a lot of proper 4x4s use a slow speed version for hill decents in poor traction conditions.

I'm sure HJ and his colleagues have tested cars fitted with it sufficiently to know whether it works or not, which it seems to. Only time will tell whether its a reliable feature for the long term - hopefully so, especially as it could be a much needed boon for Vauxhall if they adopt it with the PSA engines, given how Vauxhalls tend to be bland as regards adopting of new tech. It wasn't so bad when that meant boring but reliable, hardy cars.

Let's hope (especially for their workers sake) things improve in that regard (as Pugs seem to) after the recent PSA takeover and soont-be fully implementation of PSA architecture in Vauxhall cars.

Anyhoo (no voodoo here [no John Cadogan]), I'll sticj with decent all-season tyres for the moment, which appear to do me and my non traction-controlled, 13yo Mazda3 just fine.

Ian S Mccarthy    on 7 August 2019

"Grip Control coming soon, which is actually better than 4WD in snow." Wow - a traction control system that magically makes tyres grippier - must be voodoo - or you could be talking out your behind...

I bought a Tesla model 3 last year and did some research on 4wd versus 2wd. 2wd with microsecond control of traction actually gave BETTER traction than most 4wd. Snow tires give MUCH better control than all weather tires with 4wd (the latter get you moving but don't give you directional stability or braking). I live on top of a mountain in the CAtoctins and we get several feet of snow in the winter. Practice proved both conclusions thankfully.

Engineer Andy    on 10 August 2019

"Grip Control coming soon, which is actually better than 4WD in snow." Wow - a traction control system that magically makes tyres grippier - must be voodoo - or you could be talking out your behind...

I bought a Tesla model 3 last year and did some research on 4wd versus 2wd. 2wd with microsecond control of traction actually gave BETTER traction than most 4wd. Snow tires give MUCH better control than all weather tires with 4wd (the latter get you moving but don't give you directional stability or braking). I live on top of a mountain in the CAtoctins and we get several feet of snow in the winter. Practice proved both conclusions thankfully.

Ian - in the UK (where this website is based), almost all new cars come with summer tyres fitted as standard, and increasingly lower profile ones, even on 'standard' (i.e. non-high performance) cars for styling purposes.

As a result, many of them have very poor traction in relatively minor amounts of snowfall (apart from the North of the UK, we only really get about a week or two of snow a year on average, and its not that heavy/bad either), but work fine for the most part the rest of the year.

What a lot of people over here don't realise is the large difference in traction, handling and stopping power available by changing over to all-season tyres on bog-standard cars in cold (below 7degC), and especially wet and icy weather, compared to summer tyres, never mind in the snow. The thinking now is that, especially as all-season tyres have significantly improved in the last 5 years, they are well worth it for people living in the middle parts of the UK at least, and more rural/remote parts outside of the North.

I live in a flat and thus don't have any space to store a set of tyres (summer/winter) and very few tyre shops provide a facicilty to store them for the months they aren't needed, and those that do charge quite a bit. As such, all season tyres are worth it, especially now that the price premium over summer tyres of equal quality is far lower than it was a few years ago.

It's a different kettle of fish for high performance cars with very low profile tyres, where there's far less availability of all-season tyres, so the summer/winter tyre option maybe be better, especially as it's likely the car owner can afford that and the storage costs (if they don't have the space at home of don't want to store them). Obviously if, like you, people live in the few areas of the UK that does get regular and decent amounts of snow and icy conditions up North, then winter tyres can be essential, though on higher profile tyres from a decent make, all-season tyres (especially those with the three peak symbol) often can do fine if you own a bog standard car and live in more urban areas that are less susceptible to problems caused by snowfall.

Jamesetyefirst    on 4 August 2019

It's only advice , if you don't wish to follow such advice , then don't. It won't stop the world going round , I brake left footed all the time and have done so ever since I read HJ's advice , it works for me ,so that''s fine.

gordonbennet    on 5 August 2019

Hondaring a warranty

Yes get that extended warranty, my sons 13 plate (4 years old at the time) CRV was a Honda approved used, the aircon failed, comp if i remember correctly, and a rear wheel bearing shortly after, mid 30k miles total.

Aircon repair would have been up around £1500, wheel bearing...as is the modern way a complete hub, ridiculous but all too common now...around the £400 mark.

Then you have to think of brake calipers and the fact they won't have been stripped cleaned lubed during normal servicing unless you requested such and paid for it.

HandCart    on 5 August 2019

Re: Hondaring a warranty

(before I'd even read gordonbennet's comment) I'd clicked the link through to the Good & Bad section on the Honda CRV, and was staggered at the long litany of problems with a HONDA, yet has still been awarded an overall 4-out-of-5 rating.

More like some VAG product. Crikey, the choice of trustworthy brands/models dwindles ever further...
:-/

Engineer Andy    on 5 August 2019

The model you're referring to was out for 6 years, and if you remove the diesel from the equation (especially if they are realted to use with short trips from cold, which isn't recommended), then its not so bad.

I suspect that it looks worse than it is because there's quite a few minor issues reported by the likely older, (righly, given the price) more demanding buyers, and thus will likely complain more, whereas the VAG cars with problems tend to have more people with the same problems, e.g. the DSG auto box. People buying the 'premium' (engineering-wise) Japanese makes expect high levels of reliability and tend not to put up with problems.

I would say though that Honda have had their problems in the last few years, perhaps trying (incorrectly) to 'keep up with the Joneses' (or is that the Jansens?) from Germany in adding in new tech to their cars, including the engines.

I think they may have (IMHO) tried to catch up rather too quickly on the small capacity petrol turbos after leaving it late to start down that road, although it's weird as regards their diesels, which previously were very reliable and highly praised by HJ many times, including for resilience towards usage in short trip urban driving, at least compared to other makes.

Marcus T.    on 14 August 2019

My CRV is a 2014 diesel. 100% reliable without a single fault or non service part replaced. Hopefully it will be as reliable as my 2009 CRV in which I covered 100K miles without any faults. My sister has a 2006 CRV which has sofar done 140K miles and has only required two new calipers in twelve years. Even my neighbour bought one on my recommendation.I will stick with CRV's

Alan Herbert    on 5 August 2019

Re: Short Fall

I too would like to echo KL's experience with LV=. For the last three years since I first insured my car with them I have always checked the mailed out renewal price with comparison sites, not with LV='s site directly. The sites have always shown LV= to be the cheapest for me taking into account all the 'add ons' and to be the same as my renewal quotation, or near enough. This has paid off for them as they now have a 'loyal customer'. Previously, I invariably changed my insurance company each year or had to ring up and point out the difference and then get them to change it after listening to "Ah! let's see what we can do" or "Oh! there seems to be some sort of mistake/computer error". That was really annoying.

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