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Honest John's Motoring Agony Column 11-01-2020 Part 2

Published 08 January 2020

In Honest John’s Motoring Agony Column 11-01-2020 Part 2, we take an IQ test, investigate cat-napping, block a drain check out Maseratis and get involved in considerably more.

Click back to Honest John’s Motoring Agonies 11-01-2020 Part 1

IQ test

I have owned a Toyota IQ2 with 998cc engine and CVT from new and it is now coming up to 10 years old. It has 65,000 miles on the clock, serviced every year at our local Toyota dealer and has never given a minutes problem. Due to its reliability and practicality as a town car, we would like to keep it for another trouble-free 10 years and to this end (and noting the advice regarding changing oil in automatic gearboxes) I ask the Toyota service manager each year, should the oil in the CVT be changed? Each year I am advised: no servicing is required, the CVT unit is sealed for life and hence no oil change is required, the CVT in the IQ is very reliable and they have had very few, if any, problems with it. What would Honest Johns advice be on the subject?

JMT, via email

It's true that Toyota CVTs have generally been very reliable, and the IQ has been a paragon of reliability, but "sealed for life" means sealed for the design life of the car, which is 7 years. Honda recommends a regular change of fluid in its CVTs, so I would talk to a member of about this and see what he has to say.

Toyota Auris 2017 F34

Auris of vulnerability

Morning John. 10 weeks ago, the catalytic converter was stolen from my Toyota Auris in a ‘park and ride’ in Cambridge. There is apparently a worldwide shortage of replacement cats, and I still haven’t got my car back. I now feel much less inclined to leave it unattended, when I get it back. It's a superb car, ticks most of the boxes, and I will be sorry to see it go. As a replacement, I’ve considered an electric car, (no cat of course) but my garage is sited away from the house, and hasn’t got power to plug in the car, anyway. What petrol cars should I consider, with a less vulnerable cat? My last 4 cars were supposed to be my final car, (2 Mercs, and 2 Toyotas, and as I’m now 70, this next purchase could very well see me out in my driving career. Love your column, mate.

CK, via email

These thefts are common from Toyota Prius, Honda Jazz and Toyota Auris. The thieves use electric hacksaws to cut them off. There are devices to protect cat converters from this type of theft: or Google <catalytic converter theft prevention>

Jeep Grand Cherokee 1999 F34

Key issue

I have owned a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD since new and have been very happy with it. My problem is electrical. I have taken it to various local garages and they have brought in ‘experts’ (at my expense) but a solution has not been found. I have a battery charger at home because, from fully charged to unable to start the car, takes about 7-10 days. I have to say it is not used very often as we have a small car for daily use. The car is kept in a locked garage (the vehicle itself is not locked). The only modification has been the fitment of a tow bar with electrics. Do you have any suggestions on the reason and any action I can take?

RL, via email

The reason could be something as simple as the Bluetooth searching for its paired phone because the car has not been locked and the Bluetooth system thereby did not shut down. It might be the interior light ‘see you out’ switch that turns on the light when you switch the engine off, then turns it off after you get out. These switches can remain live, draining a battery overnight, so switch the light off completely at the light so it does not come on when you open a door.

Maserati 3200GT Historics Maurice 's Car

Masser of the Universe 

Hope all is going well with you and yours. I stumbled across this wonderful-looking Maserati on line. My immediate question, full of suspicion: why is it so cheap? Any thoughts?

JT, Dedham

A friend of mine had one, slightly older with the 3200 biturbo engine and automatic transmission. He sold it at Historics auction in 2012, for about £9,000. There are certain specific and very expensive things that can go wrong: Maserati 3200GT Good&Bad  Maserati 4.2V8GT Good&Bad  

VW Up 2016 Facelift

Slipping Up

I bought a new VW Up ‘Beats’, manual on 30 June 2018 from a VW dealer and it had its first service completed 12 months later with no problems were reported. It is used as a second car as I also have a diesel-powered SUV that I use for longer journeys and for towing my caravan. In the past few days, whilst driving the Up, I have noticed a smell as if the clutch is burning, when accelerating and also when ascending gradients on the motorway. The car has done a total of 4,800 miles, mainly on rural and suburban roads, with occasional return journeys of 60 miles or so on motorways. I am the sole driver of both cars. I have a level driveway and there are no severe hills on my usual routes. Before reporting the suspected fault, I would be grateful for your opinions and advice.

GD, Preston

I'm afraid it's a fairly standard problem with the Up, Mii and Citigo: Volkswagen Up Good&Bad And, as with every other VAG car, VAG only warrants clutches for 6 months. You might be able to get some goodwill, but I have had reports that VW Customer Care is now automated on an algorithm so what you get depends on how your case meets pre-programmed criteria.

Suzuki Baleno 2015 Side

Dodgy ticker?

At the beginning of May 2019 I purchased a Suzuki Baleno powered by the three-cylinder 1-litre engine from a Suzuki dealer. Whilst overall I am very pleased with the car, especially petrol consumption (average 54.4mpg), it has an annoying rattle, ticking or vibration noise when the car is decelerating or stationary which I am told is an idiosyncrasy of the vehicle and to cover it I should turn up the radio. Have you heard of this? Also, I have recently found a sticker beneath the offside door mirror containing a line of letters and numbers including RHD, a QR code and beneath this a further line of numbers and letters and again beneath this the date 15-08-2018 and a time. Do you think this related to the dater of manufacturer of the vehicle and it has been standing somewhere for almost 9 months before sale? I have also noted that Suzuki has stopped selling the Baleno in the UK.

JS, via email

I have not noticed the noise driving Baleno and Swift 1.0T Boosterjects with both manual and automatic transmissions (so therefore all varieties), and we have received no other complaints. Yes, the sticker will indicate 15-8-2018 build otherwise how could it have got there on a later registered car? That is normal in the motor industry. And yes, the Baleno has been dropped from Suzuki's UK range.

Ford S-MAX 2015 Side Blue

5 + 2

My Volvo XC60 lease finishes in March, although a no-fault rear ender a couple of weeks ago might write it off sooner. We’ve ordered a VW Golf electric to replace it (a super deal was around). This means we need to swap our 2017 Renault Megane Estate as it just isn’t big enough for family duties (we were outgrowing the Volvo). So I’m after a recommendation: 7 seats (back 2 for occasional use), 12.5k-15k miles a year, must be good to drive, won’t do short journeys. We live in a rural area so a bit of extra ride height is useful along with sensible tyres, but I don’t need 4wd and it doesn’t have to go into cities. Up to £15k but closer to £10k better. I was thinking 2015 2.0 diesel S-Max (last of previous shape) or Grand Scenic 2016 onwards, or maybe a 2012 era XC90 (but the running costs concern me). Any thoughts? 

MD, Staffs 

Try to find a Ford S-Max 2.0SCTI Ecoboost 200 or 240. However, up to the 2015 facelift, these came with the 6-speed dual wet clutch Powershift transmission that can be trouble if its oil and filter are  replaced every 3 years or 36,000 miles, so you need to check the records that has been done. The facelift model comes with a 6-speed torque converter auto and, from late 2018, with an 8-speed torque converter.

VW DSG DQ200 Transmission 2 

Trans mission

I have just paid £3,500 for a new DSG system for my 2013 VW Golf, which has low mileage and is regularly serviced. I note that there has been concern for some years about this system. Why has there been no recall? Is there enough evidence to demand compensation? The garage that undertook the work keeps itself going on replacing them.

MCB, Wadhurst

Because VW is part of VAG and it does not recall cars for faults with poor quality components; only when compelled to by the German KBA or other regulatory bodies. All I can do is continue to record every failure of inadequate DQ200 dry clutch transmissions in the hope that VAG, like Ford, will eventually replace them with decent torque converter transmissions. There is far less of a problem with the wet clutch DQ250, DQ3812 and DQ500. See:

Nissan Juke 2014 F34

Jukes of hazard

A few weeks ago, driving back from Scotland, the CVT automatic gearbox on my Nissan Juke failed. Although my Juke is 7 years old, it has only done 16,000 miles, so I was rather stunned by this sudden failure. A Nissan dealer checked it and offered two solutions: a brand-new gearbox for over £7,000, or a reconditioned one for over £4,000.  I was staggered by both options and, as the car is out of warranty, I contacted Nissan UK about a possible goodwill discount. All they offered me was sympathy. This was disappointing to say the least, as the Juke is the fourth Nissan I have owned and they have previously all been pretty reliable. Digging around, I found a good number of reports on the Internet of early model Jukes having serious CVT gearbox issues. Apparently, Nissan had to extend the 3 warranty to 10 years in America, but kept the UK warranty at a paltry 3 years. I’m surprised that these failures are not common knowledge and seem to have had hardly any coverage in the motoring press, so I wonder just how widespread these gearbox failures really are, or if I can do anything more than just grumble about it?

FM, via email

We have been covering it for years, here:  And have talked to senior engineers at Nissan about it. The latest generation of Nissan CVTs are much improved, but we put Nissan CVTs in the same category as VAG dry clutch DSGs and Ford/Getrag dry clutch Powershifts (which Ford has now abandoned).

Texaco Service Station

Texas tea 

I am moving away from BP as they have stopped the nectar scheme. There isn’t an Esso nearby, so am considering Texaco. Can you tell me please is Texaco as good as BP for quality and the additives they put in?

LH, via email

Texaco came up with the original 98RON Cleansystem 3 that, back in the 1980s, was guaranteed to keep a fuel system clean. No longer Cleansystem 3 or guaranteed but should be okay. Meanwhile I'm doing very well on Shell V-Power with Shell's new Shell Go + smartphone app that saves me about £12 a month. 

MB A Class Mk 1 F34 700

“A to ??”

My wife and I have been driving an original shape Mercedes A-Class for the past 5 years and it has been excellent. Unfortunately, I have a foot injury which makes the clutch difficult to use and we are hoping to exchange it for an automatic car. The original model of the A-Class seems to be scarce, and our local Mercedes garage has been unable to come up with an automatic used model. (Our previous car, also excellent, was a C180 automatic, which we ran for 20 years.) We have considered the Honda Jazz, the Toyota Yaris and the Smart FourFour. Which, if any of these, would you recommend? And are there others we should consider? We want to buy used, rather than new.

HJ, via email

The Honda Jazz 1.4iVTEC CVT-7 from 2011 to 2015 will probably suit you. Very versatile. Very reliable. You could also get a hybrid from 2008 to around 2013. Toyota Yaris hybrids are more common, less versatile but very reliable. Used prices are strong. The current Smart ForFour has a Renault Efficient Dual Clutch transmission that is okay (and a million time better than the awful automated manual that used to be fitted to Smarts). It's a bit smaller, but many people like its upright front seating and, by folding the rear seats, you can create a cavernous space in the centre of the car.

Renault Captur F34 Copy

Captuv audience

I’m looking to buy a used SUV or MPV. I would like up to a 1.5 engine. I quite like the Renault Captur. Is this a good buy?

BDB, via email

Good looking and fashionable. The original had washable seat covers. test here: Renault Captur 2013 Road Test  Rest here: New Captur with a more powerful 1,332cc petrol engine has now arrived: Renault Captur 2020 Road Test 

Traffic Lightmare

Traffic lightmare

I have always had a red/green deficiency, which can be a nuisance. I thought these days the emphasis is to give equal opportunities to able and disabled people. This week I entered a car park owned by one of those parking companies that display a mass of rules and went to use their machine to pay. It said to start press green key and then press an up arrow. Besides the fact that there were four up arrows to choose from I cannot tell which is green. I tried various options but none worked. In the end I had to give up. Why use colours when 10% of men and about 4% of women are colour-blind? Surely they could do something else like give each button a number or devise something else that would enable us all to be able to use these machines?

NW, Exmouth

The reason is to deliberately make the process difficult in order to entrap drivers into pressing the wrong buttons. Hopefully Sir Greg Knight's statutory Parking Control Code of Practice will put an end to this sort of thing but, despite Royal Assent in March, it hasn't happened yet.


Blue Velvet?

Is all Ad-Blue the same, or does one have to exercise caution in choice of AdBlue? I drive a Jaguar XE AWD 2.0D (180 BHP): a fabulous car with which I am well pleased after 2.5 years ownership. I get the impression, the way AdBlue is marketed, that it is all the same, but my car handbook tells me to use only AdBlue meeting a specific Jaguar standard. Jaguar obviously wants me to pay the greatly inflated price of having the Jaguar logo on the container but, equally, I do not want to damage/shorten the life of the exhaust gas treatment system. I think back to the days when anti-freeze was all marketed as the same, but if you used the wrong antifreeze in an aluminium engine you ceased to have an engine after a very short period of time.

WS, Limvady

The AdBlue you buy at service stations is always the same universal stuff for everything. (You can’t use the pump because that’s for trucks and has a different filler.) Jaguar pretends that is isn't. But the only reason I can think of for that is to avoid contaminated AdBlue because it crystallises very quickly. Jaguar calls theirs ‘Diesel Emissions Fluid’ and charges a fortune for it.

 Click back to Honest John’s Motoring Agonies 11-01-2020 Part 1




glidermania    on 10 January 2020

Texas Tea - "Im moving away from BP (fuel) because they stopped Nectar points. Is Texaco (which also doesnt give nectar points) fuel as good?"

LOL, are some people serious or just deluded idiots?

greenock mist    on 11 January 2020


“Try to find a Ford S-Max 2.0SCTI Ecoboost 200 or 240. However, up to the 2015 facelift, these came with the 6-speed dual wet clutch Powershift transmission that can be trouble if its oil and filter are replaced every 3 years or 36,000 miles, so you need to check the records that has been done.”

Not replaced, surely?

Edited by greenock mist on 11/01/2020 at 07:20

St Eve    on 11 January 2020

Traffic lightmare. Good to see someone else recognises this problem. I am red/green colour blind and have been banging on for years to anyone who would listen as to what a disability it is. It prevented me from following my military father into the forces; denied me careers in the merchant navy, ATC, police force and prevented me learning to fly.

Why is it when I watch televised rugby, Wales v.Ireland, they are all wearing the same coloured strip...?

Many of my rechargeable DIY tools have coloured lights indicating charging progress or errors (my wife has to read these for me. As for driving, thank God red traffic lights are always at the top. In short, it is a real disability - but unfortunately not recognised by the people who issue blue badges!

DeadBat    on 11 January 2020

I appreciate that being colour blind presents challenges in some situations, however I don't think this deserves a blue badge.

I don't mean any disrespect and I'm not trying to say that you have easy in life, but blue badge should be for people with physical disabilities. For these people simple shopping trip can be a struggle.

Engineer Andy    on 12 January 2020

I appreciate that being colour blind presents challenges in some situations, however I don't think this deserves a blue badge.

I don't mean any disrespect and I'm not trying to say that you have easy in life, but blue badge should be for people with physical disabilities. For these people simple shopping trip can be a struggle.

To be honest, Blue Badges are given out to too many people already. I've seen on many occasions cars owned by the supposedly 'disabled' (mostly OAPs) but whom the choice of car rather puts that into doubt, e.g. a BMW i8, a very low-slung hypercar with gull-wing doors that even I would struggle to get in an out of easily.

I've got a bad back - so maybe I should have a blue badge? Perhaps there should be two schemes, one for older people generally, who would get the benefit from being able to park in dedicated spaces closer to shops (similar to parent and young child [not any child]), and genuinely disabled people who get the best ones closest to the shop front door.

VengaPete    on 12 January 2020

My wife has just got a Badge as she has developed a physical limitation. We've also changed to an auto car as the limitation affects clutch control (I won't go down the left foot brake rabbit hole on here though)

After finding many disabled spaces in use by seemingly able bodied folks we have researched and found:-
Some folks are not on the Badge (ie: using incorrectly - its for the person not the car)
Rules have changed recently and a big thing has been made about "hidden" disabilities
It generally isn't policed anywhere near as well as it should be

So while its great in theory, in practice maybe it now needs a bit more work with the inevitable increase that will occur due to the new rules.

jchinuk    on 12 January 2020

Re : Auris of vulnerability

As all petrol cars have catalytic converters, the real questions why Toyotas and Hondas are so vulnerable to these thefts? What are VAG, Ford, BMW, etc. doing right?

VengaPete    on 12 January 2020

I think its more the Hybrids?
The science seems to be that Hybrids are generally cleaner and make the cat worth stealing for its trade in value as the precious metals haven't been to badly contaminated.
As Toyota Hybrids are probably the most common out there at present then they are getting the headlines.
It also appears that they made it ridiculously easy for " Mr Thief" to take his cordless saw and chop it out by placing it in an easy to access place when the car is jacked up on a trolley jack
Similarly with Honda, the first gen Jazz is apparently really easy to access although Honda (and now Toyota) are placing the cats in the engine bay and /or covering with a shield to make it less attractive to opportunist thieves. Somewhat ironically my old Nisan circa 2001 had this designed in already (it was in the engine bay)

I guess the bigger question here is who is buying them?
If its a UK place, maybe legislation needs to be in place for handling second hand cats (if it is already then something is obviously not working)

If it's an offshore thing then I guess CAT thefts will continue until all manufacturers stick them in engine bays to make it much harder.

Heidfirst    on 12 January 2020

I guess the bigger question here is who is buying them?

If its a UK place, maybe legislation needs to be in place for handling second hand cats (if it is already then something is obviously not working)

If it's an offshore thing then I guess CAT thefts will continue until all manufacturers stick them in engine bays to make it much harder.

afaik there is legislation in place that should prevent scrapyards etc. buying them. I suppose a dodgy backyard garage etc. might buy one as a replacement but I suspect that they are either being exported (same as other stolen car parts) or they are being processed/metal recovered again in some backyard operation.

Penumbra    on 13 January 2020

Blue badge and disabled parking spaces abuse really "grinds my gears" I have a disabled space painted outside my house which can be used by any badge holder (it's not just mine) and I've lost count of the amount of times I've come home to find the space occupied by a non-qualifying user. It's the selfishness of some people; usually along the lines of I'll only be a minute, I'm just popping into the shop etc.Because of lack of parking in my street, I end parking 2 or 3 roads away and wheel-chairing my way home from there.
Interestingly enough, when I enquired about a badge from my local authority, I was told and I quote "you basically have to be blind or dying before we issue blue badges in this area"

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