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Honest John's Motoring Agony Column 22-02-2020 Part 1

Published 20 February 2020

This week’s radiator grilling involves climate change, autonomous control, South London commuting, alternating currents. And in Part 2 we tot up French speeding tickets, confirm your rights, check out campervan conversions and keep on going to the very end.

As usual, emails to Honest John should be addressed to:  Please try to keep them as short as possible.

BMW M4 Goodwood Chicane

Blowing hot and cold

I bought my BMW M4 new almost 5 years ago, but in that time have only driven about 14,000 miles. Last summer, on a day where the ambient temperature was around 30C, I was on a 3-hour drive with the A/C initially set at 20C. At first all was fine but then, after 90 minutes or so, I noticed that the cabin temperature was gradually rising. Lowering the temperature setting had no effect. Very little, if any, cold air was coming through the dashboard vents and I was pretty hot and sweaty by the time I got to my destination. On the return journey a couple of days later, the ambient temperature was considerably lower and the A/C seemed to cope well. However, the problem recurred on the next very hot day as witnessed by my wife who was a passenger. I also think that I have a problem with the heating. On relatively cold days in the past, I've usually set the temperature at 20C and found that comfortable. Now I'm having to set 25C to achieve the same result and the 2 central air vents seem to be passing cool air into the cabin rather than warm as before. I booked the car in to my local BMW dealership for investigation but  they could find no fault, so were unable to carry out rectification. I was told that the test rig showed no faults and that the conditioning system achieved, then maintained, the set temperature. I am confused by this since I am convinced that the A/C has been malfunctioning on long, hot journeys. Can you offer any advice please or am I just imagining things?

JB, via email

No you won't be imagining anything. These systems can play up. I speak after having driven 200 mile in my long-term loan car with cold knees. The problem seems to be with climate control air conditioning where the cabin temp sensors get it wrong because there are numerous outlets for hot and cold air. I'd take it to an air conditioning specialist, some of which are listed here:

Citroen C5 Aircross 2019 Self -steering 1


I drive a semi-autonomous car, which I find very relaxing and comfortable on long motorway journeys with the auto pilot on. As you know, the clever thing about these autopilots is that they adjust your car’s speed to the official road speed. However, quite often as you as travelling at 70mph on the motorway, the car will suddenly brake to 40mph for no apparent reason. This is obviously because, in the past, roadworks necessitated the limit to be temporarily changed and this remains programmed into the system. Who is responsible for this anomaly and how can it be rectified?

CC, Brackley

This must be an old system because current systems use traffic sign recognition cameras to set the speed and do not rely solely on GPS. What you experienced is the reason why Automatic Speed Control that was experimented with about 10 years ago was not adopted. You could be travelling on a motorway at a legal 70mph when the motorway passed under a bridge on which the traffic was restricted to 40. Suddenly your brakes would slam on. Camera based traffic sign recognition systems are not perfect either because they can miss limit or de-limit signs. The technology is much improved but remains far from perfect.

VW T-Roc F34 Speed

Surbiton Mr James

My son is looking at Ford Focus diesel estate 2.0 Eco blue ST-line; Audi Q2 diesel estate 30S TDI Sport S-Tronic; VW T-Roc 2.0TDI SEL DSG; VW Golf 2.0 TDI GT estate DSG. He wants advice on the best of these as his next company car. Baby on the way and he's a big bloke so ease of entry/egress plus practicality are important. He says all will cost him around £150 per month in taxable benefit in kind. All his picks are diesel for some reason. He's only doing about 10k miles per year, mostly in London on a  commute from Surbiton to Putney. Any advice on these or better ideas gratefully received.

MT, Surbiton

I'd go for the T-Roc 2.0TDI because you sit higher, see further and feel safer. I think his wife will prefer it too. Easier to get the baby in and out. The Golf is just about to be replaced by the new Golf VIII. The Q2 is status over substance. The Focus is nice to drive, with an excellent 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission rather than a DSG, even though the Golf and T-Roc will have the not-too-bad DQ381 7-speed wet clutch DSG.

MB A Class 2005 Side FL

Alternating currently

The alternator of my 2010 Mercedes A160 failed last month. Since then it has been at the Mercedes dealer in Bolton as the part is on back-order. Despite repeated phone calls I have been unable to get an approximate date for when I might get the car back. Someone suggested an independent garage, but the car is not able to be driven. Although the car is nearly ten years old, I have had it from new, always looked after it and it has only done about 30,000 miles. I am not complaining about the job needing to be done as something would obviously go wrong with it eventually, but this delay seems incredible. Do you have any experience of this and do you know where it might be on back order from?

CE, Manchester

Key <Mercedes A Class 2010 alternators> into Google and begin your search that way. It will find used alternators for sale on eBay, etc. that a franchised Mercedes dealer would not contemplate fitting.

Toyota CHR 2020 F34 Oitavos Lead

Higher purpose

I’m looking for a medium sized used car with higher than usual seating, for ease of access. I have been attracted by the looks of the Toyota C-HR, but looks aren’t everything, are they? I haven’t noticed you ever mention this car, so any comments, please, bearing in mind my annual mileage will only be around 4,000?

JDH, via email

Test of the original C-HR here: Test of much improved C-HR 2.0 hybrid here: The obvious alternative is the Honda HR-V Sport 182, available as a manual or CVT auto, and both work well:


Cranial capacity

I disagree with your advice to forget a hoist and go for a ramp equipped vehicle. My wife uses both a manual and an electric wheelchair. Around 6 years ago we bought a Milford Person Lift from Autochair UK, first fitted to a Peugeot 5008 and now to my Mitsubishi Outlander. The benefits are that my wife can travel in comfort in the front alongside me as opposed to sitting in a wheelchair behind. The rest of the vehicle is available to carry either other passengers or other kit needed for my wife. The manual wheelchair and/or electric wheelchair is easily stored in the boot. The fitting is easily and relatively cheaply transferred to any vehicle, meaning I can use it in any vehicle I wish to buy.

PK, Leigh on Sea

Fair enough. Good arguments. If you're happy with a hoist, stick with one. The problem is that as you get older they can become more difficult to manage.

Nissan X-Trail 2015 Dash (3)

Signal failure

I have a 2015/65 Nissan X-Trail Tekna that has developed its own mindset by cutting out the radio signal on both FM and DAB from time to time for around 30 seconds to a minute. Sometimes, shutting down completely and rebooting. I travel up to Scotland from time to time via the M25, M11 and A1 where it happens about 10 times. I see from various Nissan forums that this is a common fault which Nissan does not seem to have an answer for. Are you aware of it and if so do you have any advice?

GR, via email

Quite a lot about this here: The closest to a reason was some sort of interference from an installation on the South Coast that is electromagnetically incompatible with the radios fitted to UK built Qashqais.

VW Golf R 2014 F34

Sticky situation

I purchased a second-hand 2015 VW Golf R manual with 45k miles about one month ago. I do most of my driving in heavy traffic and have noticed that when changing gears frequently at low speeds, or under rapid acceleration, the clutch pedal can often stick halfway down the throw and does not fully return. This doesn’t prevent the clutch from working properly and gearchanges can still be safely made, but it is very disconcerting. It also prevents the start stop system from working (this requires a full return of the clutch pedal). Once stuck, it stays stuck for the rest of the journey even after the engine is turned off, but it is possible to force the pedal up at any stage by putting my foot underneath (this clearly isn’t ideal). Any ideas what is causing this? Could it be that the pedal simply needs greasing in some way? Or could it be a failing master or slave cylinder, or, worse still, a failing clutch itself? I have heard talk of removing a clutch delay valve but I doubt if this is the problem in this case

DN, via email

I would guess that the dual mass flywheel is responsible. It's there to protect 1st and 2nd from severe torque reactions when dumping the clutch and if someone had been doing that before you bought the car then the DMF would have eventually started paying the price.

Peugeot 3008 LT 2019 Rear V-Power

Da do Ron Ron

I wonder if you could clarify something for me, please? You advise using Superunleaded, but my Suzuki Celario instruction book advises 95 RON and a sticker inside the filler compartment confirms this. 95 RON or Super, which should I use?

BF, Grimsby

95RON is the MINIMUM. 99RON is a lot better for the car and should bring a small improvement in economy.

VW Touareg R Line 2015 F34

Brawn again

Tomorrow, I’m thinking of trading in my 126,000-mile Mercedes B200 for a six-year-old VW Touareg with V6 engine that has done 90,000 miles and that impressed me greatly when I drove it. I have a good deal. I am well aware of the additional costs over my 2 litre Merc. Is there anything you know about this car that might put me off?

JR, Newmarket

Brawny and strong towers. Here's all we have: For the bad bits click on Good & Bad. You might be in for a chemical clean of both diesel particulate filters.

Ford Focus 2014 Side 

Flawed Focus

My wife owns 2014 Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost 125 automatic. The transmission developed a problem at 33,000 miles. A vehicle inspection report shows the fault as PO7A5 Transmission Friction Element #B Stuck on. She has received a quote of £1,200 + VAT From Oakdene Garage, Nottingham, which specialises in automatic gearbox repairs. She is concerned about the cost and successful outcome of repair. In the USA, Ford was ordered to repair Powershift gearboxes of Focus and Fiesta models from 2012 to 2017. So the problem existed before my wife’s car went on sale. In your opinion, is it possible to rectify this and in the UK would the Ford Motor Company  consider sharing the cost?

JP, Nottingham

I doubt that Ford UK will contribute. But you won't know unless you ask. They will not contribute to an independent repair. Only to a repair by one of their dealers.

Shell Go + App 

Power sharing

You recommend Shell V-Power in your column and I have used it for several years now, but recently I have noticed that the premium charged for V-Power can vary widely from one fuel station to the next, but you have no way of knowing this as it is not displayed on the board outside. Indeed if it is a modern station you only find out when you actually take the nozzle out from the pump and the price is displayed. Recently, I filled up at three Shell stations. The first had an advertised price of 123.9 but I discovered to my horror that V-Power was 145.9, a premium of 22p a litre. A few days later I called at one with an advertised price of 128.9 but V-Power was just 10p more at 138.9. Then, barely a mile away, from the first garage another had an advertised price of 124.9 but V Power was cheaper still at 132.9. This means that I cannot make any meaningful comparison between Shell stations from the information displayed outside. I have tried to raise the issue with Shell but they refuse to address my concern.

BC, via email

It's up to the franchises. But I agree, all prices of all grades should be displayed, as they are in Europe, even in Greece where V-Power can be 195 Euros a litre. You can mitigate the cost to some extent by getting the Shell Go+ App on your Smartphone. That "saves" me about £15 a month on the varying charges.

Jaguar XJR X350 Side Michelin

Some bearing on the matter 

I have been buying Jaguar XJs for as long as I can remember. I usually purchase with about 50,000 miles and run trouble-free up to about 150,000mls before the next one comes along. I have a very satisfactory Jaguar dealer doing the service work but, like others, have been told the transmission is “sealed for life”, which has left me puzzled and uncertain; so I will contact The other issue with my XJs are wheel bearings giving way from 100,000 miles onwards. The present car at 95,000mls has what sounds like a wheel bearing noise, although the  service department says there is nothing wrong. I have done a further 10,000 miles since discussing the noise with them; it has not become louder and no wheel has fallen off. Can you offer an explanation.

GR, via email

If you don't mind getting a bit cold and dirty, I ran a wheel bearing check you could try yourself in my column on Saturday. It is to jack the suspected wheel very slightly off the ground (just half an inch for safety), then wrestle with it to see if there is any movement in or out on the hub. If there is movement, then the wheel bearing has worn.

KOM Space Saver Spare Wheel Kit Tyremen

Flatly refused

The tyre sealant provided with my Audi A1 reaches its expiry date next month. The Audi branded replacement is very expensive and my car has no spare wheel. What is the best alternative brand?

PH, Doncaster

Having directly suffered from the uselessness of this stuff I do not recommend any of it: / My recommendation is a space-saver spare wheel, with the proviso that it has to be properly bolted down because a loose spare wheel in a crashing car can be lethal. Google: <Audi A1 Space Saver Spare Wheel Kits>  Buying new rather than from eBay, Tyremen are very good:  Remember that without a correct TPMS valve the car's TPMS system will show a fault.

Ford Fiesta Eco 125 Side

Little belter 

My Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost  owned since new is six years old with 33,000 miles. I have always had my services and MoTs done at a Ford dealer. My last service was at the end of September. Being aware of the advice you have given, I asked the dealer if I should consider having the timing belt + bits replaced. He said no. Ford states on the second page of the service checklist under the heading "Extended Period Maintenance" that this work should be done at 150,000 miles or 10 years, whichever is soonest. I don't know whether your advice is the same across all vehicles, or if it is model specific. What would your advice be in this case please? If Ford is publishing their timescale and I get Ford services at all times, would I be able to make a claim against Ford if anything failed inside the stated timescale? 

KS, via email

My general advice is fresh timing belt, tensioner, waterpump and aux belt every 5 years or 60k miles where the timing belt also turns the waterpump. History of Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost issues here: It's a belt in oil engine. PSA has had a few problems (just a few) of its Puretech belt in oil belts disintegrating. VW recommends a change in the belt in oil 1.0TSI at 40k miles. I don't have enough on the 1.0 Ecoboost to confirm or deny Ford's recommendations. I don't remember any failures so far.

Renault Captur 2020 Side Still 1 

New tech, or old?

At 70 next birthday, I am currently driving a 2011 1.5 diesel Qashqai with 62,000 miles and very suitable for me. Looking at the next 5 years, do I continue to run it, or swap for 1.3 petrol version, or wait for a possible hybrid/electric. I have been driving since 1967 and following your excellent column forever.

KK, Letchworth

I'd start thinking in terms of next gen 12v and 48v mild hybrids such as the forthcoming Renault Captur hybrid in April 2020:  There were a lot of pre-RDE1 pre-reg 19 plate cars sitting in compounds at bargain prices over September and October. I can't tell you how many are left. See:

Honda Civic 1.6i DTEC 2018 R34 Night 

Critical mass

I have had a test-drive in a Honda Civic manual, a Civic automatic, and a Ford Focus manual. The Civic is very refined: NVH, road noise, etc. are all well insulated. The ride is astonishingly well modulated. The engine is adequate. Manual gearbox is a little joy. The auto most accomplished. Indeed, the entire motor-car is most accomplished. So why does it not appeal to me? This perplexes me? It seemed to me the Civic feels bigger than it is. Larger than a BMW 3-Series, which is odd. Big turning circle. I would buy and run it contentedly but without enthusiasm. (My ancient BMW 320 TD SE Compact knocks spots off it for engagement and appeal.) The Focus was a little more involving. Choppier ride than I expected; noticeable after the Civic. Yet it did not seem to live up to its reputation as the "best driver's car in the class" I drove the 1.5 Ecoboost 150PS. It went well; very well, nearly as well as the 182PS Civic. I must try the 180 PS Focus.

PG, Lymington

Interesting comments. I get what you felt about the Civic. But both Civic and Focus are very tyre dependent. I thought the best Focus was the 1.5 3-cylinder 150HP Active estate on longer travel suspension with deeper profile tyre. I'd actually rather have an HR-V Sport 1.5T 182 CVT-7 than the Civic. But I'm very happy in my 8-speed automatic Citroen C5 Aircross 1.5 diesel that replaced the 3008. Big and soft, but with great steering and damping.

Click to Honest John’s Motoring Agony Column 22-2-2020 Part 2


stojom    on 22 February 2020

Re: Power sharing
Try petrol or for fuel price comparison in your area. Although not always up to date as it relies on users reports.

misar    on 22 February 2020

Re: Surbiton Mr James

The best advice for MT's son is take the train.

Edited by misar on 22/02/2020 at 10:48

glidermania    on 22 February 2020

Re: Surbiton Mr James

The best advice for MT's son is take the train.

Im surprised HJ didnt pick up on the fact the son only does 10k pa and is looking at diesels. Normally, HJ would be saying avoid diesels if driving that kind of mileage.

Drive a real auto    on 23 February 2020

The son is looking for a company car so no problem for him. Just don't be the next owner!

Honestjohn    on 23 February 2020

There is no direct line from Surbiton to Putney. He'd have to travel mainline to Wimbledon then get the District Line to Putney. (Though, I agree, that's not too arduous.)


misar    on 23 February 2020

Both Surbiton and Putney have an excellent semi-fast SWR service, just change at Clapham Junction. Even with the change the actual journey is around 30 min.

That's about same as a car on a good day, potentially much quicker in the rush hours. As a regular user of those services I can't think why anyone wants to sit in traffic jams twice a day unless they really need a car for other reasons. Anyway, think how much greener it is than a diesel monster!

misar    on 22 February 2020

Re: Power sharing

I noticed HJ's comment that V-Power can be 195 Euros a litre in Greece. Would be interesting to know if he still recommends it at that price!

Engineer Andy    on 24 February 2020

Re: Power sharing I noticed HJ's comment that V-Power can be 195 Euros a litre in Greece. Would be interesting to know if he still recommends it at that price!

I'd only recommend superunleaded if the car is used for urban work (especially if that's made up of short trips from cold), it's a second hand car without a complete ownership (driving) history that meant it did higher mileage/longer trips only or if it's a performance model.

Otherwise the engine and especially parts like the EGR and fuel injectors won't see much benefit from the extra detergents in the (branded) fuel, and the increase in either performance or mpg will be not above the percentage increase in the cost of buying the fuel.

For most people doing reasonable length journeys and that can use the full range of revs, whatever the recommended fuel is will be fine, as long as you know the car's history in full. A dose of injector cleaner every 6 months (far cheaper than SUL especially if bought when on sale - I get a 4-dose bottle of Redex from Halfords for £5, for example) is likely more than enough.

Not that different for diesels, though I'd use the superfuel if I was towing or on an older car to negate the large expense of component failures. Only the supermarkets sell superfuels that on the surface are reasonably priced, normally about 3-6% more expensive than their ordinary ones. The problem is that they often do not include the extra cleaning additives that the branded fuels use.

I only noticed at best a 5% boost in mpg from 40 to 42 average over a few tankfulls, costing me about £2 extra per fill-up at Sainsubury's but a whopping £6 at Shell due to the much larger price discrepancy. My car does 95% decent length trips and thus needs barely any TLC on the internal cleaning front, so I just periodically use the injector cleaner, which is a lot cheaper.

For others with cars doing harder work or not looked after, especially performance/much older cars, I can fully understand why superfuels are warranted.

I also use the PetrolPrices website (not as good as it used to be as many branded filling stations' prices are missing without stumping up for a higher level of membership if I recall correctly) which is good to compared supermarket filling station prices, and at least it can give a reasonable relative comparison between branded filling stations and areas generally even if their prices are not always up to date.

misar    on 25 February 2020

My post about HJ's recommendations was actually a joke but clearly you are not a frequent traveller to Europe. For information 195 Euros is about £160 per litre.

Chris C    on 22 February 2020

Alternating currently - A160 alternator appears to be originally made by Valeo who have a large aftermarket/direct trade sale network. I suspect that MB's aftermarket division and the garage aren't trying very hard - suggest you get your car collected by a good independent garage /electrical specialist and give the MB dealer the heave ho for future business - it's well out of warranty period.

another Andy    on 22 February 2020

"signal failure" I wonder if the problem always occurs in roughly the same places, if so then my guess is a software problem that happens when the radio changes frequency.

   on 23 February 2020

Re using Shell V-plus. I have a friend who works at a refinery and he maintains that all tankers, whether they be Shell, BP or supermarket tankers, all fill up from the same pumps. Of course additives can be added afterwards for "special fuels", but for 95 RON can anyone confirm that companies add any additives? I use the 95 RON and add Redex which I believe does make a difference and has a beneficial effect on the engine ie., smoother running and better acceleration, (haven't measured MPG) but it's all very subjective (except MPG if measured using same data). Shop around for Redex; I found a good "deal" on Amazon and it costs £1.50 per tank to use. I remember when one shot per gallon was free! The difference between using Shell V-Plus and 95 can be, where I live, as much as 25 pence!

SLO76    on 23 February 2020

“ I have had a test-drive in a Honda Civic manual, a Civic automatic, and a Ford Focus manual.”

The Civic will still be running when the Focus has long been turned into baked bean cans. I wouldn’t trust anything fitted with Ford’s 3cyl Ecoboost engines, they have a less than stellar reputation while Honda rarely get it wrong.

I get the reservations though, I don’t like the look of the current model at all.

Engineer Andy    on 24 February 2020

“ I have had a test-drive in a Honda Civic manual, a Civic automatic, and a Ford Focus manual.” The Civic will still be running when the Focus has long been turned into baked bean cans. I wouldn’t trust anything fitted with Ford’s 3cyl Ecoboost engines, they have a less than stellar reputation while Honda rarely get it wrong. I get the reservations though, I don’t like the look of the current model at all.

Whilst I'm not too keen on the current Civic's looks (the internals are a vast improvement on the previous model, except the touch screen ICE volume controls [IMHO dangerous]), the latest Focus is not exactly a looker itself, seemingly styled with the US market in mind (like the Civic).

Oh if only Mazda had some really peppy petrol engines (the SA-X is good, but not [yet at least] the revolution they portrayed it to be, and it's blimmin expensive) across the board available in the UK and a better post-sales dealer network...

HighlanderUK    on 5 March 2020

“ I have had a test-drive in a Honda Civic manual, a Civic automatic, and a Ford Focus manual.” The Civic will still be running when the Focus has long been turned into baked bean cans. I wouldn’t trust anything fitted with Ford’s 3cyl Ecoboost engines, they have a less than stellar reputation while Honda rarely get it wrong. I get the reservations though, I don’t like the look of the current model at all.

Whilst I'm not too keen on the current Civic's looks (the internals are a vast improvement on the previous model, except the touch screen ICE volume controls [IMHO dangerous]), the latest Focus is not exactly a looker itself, seemingly styled with the US market in mind (like the Civic).

Oh if only Mazda had some really peppy petrol engines (the SA-X is good, but not [yet at least] the revolution they portrayed it to be, and it's blimmin expensive) across the board available in the UK and a better post-sales dealer network...

Agree with the Civic's looks/dodgy controls, new Focus design is anything but US based, given neither Fiesta or Focus is sold there anymore, which has upset all the ST and RS owners, but i hate these tacked on tablet screens, and more and more of these eejit manufacturers are removing the HVAC manual controls we have now and adding them into the touch screen sub-menus, which is very dangerous to control while driving (especially on your own).

I had a CX-5 and ditched it last year mainly on the poor 165PS engine and unsafe overtaking with no power (or pep as you say), SA-X just needs an induction option to bring forth a peppy engine to drive sales, no wonder the 3 isn't selling well (other than the ugly hatchback), its due in part to the initial option of a 120PS petrol engine choice, at least now there is an expensive 180PS SA-X model, but hell, Mazda do very nice interiors, especially Stone leather.

jchinuk    on 23 February 2020

"I drive a semi-autonomous car, which I find very relaxing and comfortable on long motorway journeys with the auto pilot on." As I understand it "semi-autonomous" does NOT mean "auto-pilot", the latter only being permissible on public roads under approved test schemes?

Edited by jchinuk on 23/02/2020 at 16:54

pt530i    on 24 February 2020

Regarding the advice to test wheel bearings HJ is not entirely correct
Wheel bearings can be worn yet exhibit no play. The test is to rotate the wheel and listen. Any roughness indicates a bearing problem but you have to ensure there is no sound from rubbing brake discs
Although older cars used to have tapered wheel bearings which could be easily adjusted for play that is not the case with most modern cars.
Any play detected by rocking the wheel is just as likely to be worn track rod ends or balljoints. So the diagnosis really needs a bit more skill and experience than HJ suggests.

DrTeeth    on 24 February 2020

Once again. High octane petrol.
It will only provide a performance/economy benefit IF, and only IF, the car has knock sensors and can advance the timing until there is pinking and then retard it until it JUST stops.
Using it in a car without knock sensors with NOT improve performance/economy at all. The only benefit will be an improved detergent package. If you check the petrol companies web sites, their regular fuels will keep your engine clean. There are no definite promises for any benefits for the super diesel or petrol offerings.

Mr D Og    on 27 February 2020

The following is an extract from the Esso website:

What is the difference between regular and premium petrol?

As well as having a higher octane (which helps to reduce knocking-related performance losses in modern cars), our Synergy Supreme+ Unleaded fuel has extra additives which can benefit all petrol cars, even older ones. Making it our best ever protection for your engine.

Synergy Supreme+ Unleaded fuel has double the amount of detergent additive compared to our regular petrol, which helps give your engine a deeper clean. The cleaner your engine, the better it can perform and the more fuel efficient it is.

Synergy Supreme+ Unleaded fuel also contains molecules that help to reduce friction and prevent wear and tear in your engine.

Benefits for using super petrol rather than regular are more detergents therefore cleaner engine; and cleaner engine equals better performance and fuel efficiency; and less engine wear and tear. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the range of engines from so many different manufacturers, the petrol companies don't attempt to quantify the benefits!

Mr D Og    on 24 February 2020

The following is an extract from the Manufacturer's manual for my 2019 Skoda Superb:

Petrol additives (additives)
¦ The unleaded petrol in accordance with the prescribed standards meets all
the conditions for a smooth running engine. Therefore, we recommend that
you do not add any fuel additives to the petrol - there is a risk of engine damage
or damage to the exhaust system."

I prefer to take this advice rather than that of the anecdotal "evidence" offered by some in these columns, particularly as it might affect a warranty claim.

Avant    on 25 February 2020

I wouldn't personally have a Civic as you sit rather low in it - hence the feeling that the car is bigger than it really is.

Patrick Russell    on 26 February 2020


This is EXACTLY what the absolute latest Volvos do when you have the speed control set to "road sign". They supposedly read the signs but also use a database on the map - it's always out of date and the thing is extremely dangerous if you're going down the M1 (for example) passing traffic and enter an area where there were roadworks recently - as the car slams the brakes on.

This is just on a standard 2019 V60 without full autonomy too - just a standard car with the road sign active speed limiter.

The V60 is by far the most dangerous Volvo I have had (previously had v50 and v70) due to this, it's awful touch screen where you have to look at it to adjust the heater controls rather than work by feel, and the lane keeping thing that tries to kill cyclists if you overtake them on country roads. Thankfully the speed limiter and lane control can be switched off to IMPROVE the car's safety - the touch screen not though.

HighlanderUK    on 5 March 2020

RE Sticky Situation:

Possible snapped/damaged clutch return spring.

I had this in an old MK2 Focus, reversing out my parking space at work one night (sounded like a gunshot going off, i nearly wet myself), it was a pig to replace, near 2 hours labour for a part that cost less than £5 due to part of the dash being removed, but never had it happen again, many Ford/Mazda/Subaru cars later.

Local indy Ford dealer had to follow Ford repair guide as they had never had to replace one, so got some discount on costs, as they were learning as they went.

pedal can be pulled back into place with foot, but will feel spongey, but car perfectly drivable, worth checking for sure.

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