If your car has developed a fault, turn to Honest John by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Our local authority is putting speed humps everywhere. Not only are they an eyesore, but they don’t consult with residents – they just go ahead with the work. Is there anything residents can do to oppose this madness? RC
Collect evidence from local tyre fitters of the damage speed cushions do to the hidden inner shoulders of car tyres. Where the humps are right across the road, collect evidence of subsidence of the road surface and damage via tremors to adjacent buildings. Sometimes the pounding leads roads to collapse into underground tunnels. Take photographs. Use Freedom of Information to find out how much the humps have cost to install. Money that would have been far better spend filling in potholes and resurfacing roads...
Stupid, high, dear
I am ordering a new BMW X3 X-line 2.0i and am thinking of upgrading the standard wheels to 20-inch rims with run-flat tyres. How will this affect the ride and will there be increased road noise? BS
Road noise will increase, the ride will become firmer, vulnerability of tyres and rims to potholes will become much greater, the tyres will wear faster and the cost of replacement will be higher. I’d stick to 17s or 18s.
B be king
With a contribution, I hope to be able to lease a car through Motability. I don’t want anything particularly large, so which Mercedes-Benz would offer me the best value? GM
Advance payments range from £699 for an A160 petrol to £11,970 for a Vito Tourer. But a B-class 2.1d 200 Exclusive auto probably makes the best sense.
I have a 2005 Skoda Octavia TDI. Could you clarify the emissions legislation situation if I am touring in France, eg cities such as Clermont-Ferrand or Paris? My wife has a disabled badge. Does that affect things? JP
Venga leaves arsenal
I have had a Kia Venga for five years and am now looking to replace it - but its successor, the Stonic, does not fit the bill for interior space and ease of getting grandchildren in and out. Have you any suggestions for Venga alternatives? MT
If you like the Venga (or the Hyundai ix20), I'd get a new one sooner rather than later. Kia kept it in its arsenal far longer than usual, in deference to its small but solid fan base. If you miss your chance, go for a Honda Jazz 1.5i VTEC, either six-speed manual or CVT-7. (MT bought a Venga and obtained a £2,000 discount.)
Last Twingo in Paris
My wife has a June 2016 Smart ForFour with 5,000 miles from new which was diagnosed with a broken turbocharger. Since then it has been stored at the dealership because Mercedes says that there is a worldwide backlog on turbo supplies. Is this true? MP
It’s basically a Renault Twingo - and made on the same production line. The 900cc three-cylinder turbo is a Renault engine that is also fitted to Clios and Capturs, plus Dacia Sanderos and Logans. In other words, there is significant demand, so that might be correct.
Maths and myths
Might it be the case that the number of complaints about a particular car might in some way be linked to the number that are purchased? RT
Of course the number of complaints is related to the numbers sold. It is also related to people’s expectations, especially when they buy into a myth.
Coeur de Lion
I might buy a two-year-old, 10,000-mile Peugeot 308 SW with a 1.2 Puretech engine and EAT6 auto gearbox for £13,750 from a main dealer. Is the automatic gearbox trouble-free? MB
So far there have been no reported problems with the 1.2 Puretech 110 and 130 or the EAT6 automatic gearbox.
I purchased a one-family-owned 1996 Jaguar 4.0 Sovereign with only 28,000 miles. I have had it fully serviced and all fluids changed apart from the gearbox. As this fluid is now 22 years old, should I change it despite the autobox performing perfectly? KR
Yes, but it’s difficult to get the old fluid out of the torque converter and the new fluid in. This has to be changed by a dialysis process at the right temperature and pressure by a member of fedauto.co.uk. You can check the condition of the fluid by looking at what’s on the transmission dipstick. If it’s transparent pink, it’s in good condition. If it’s reddish pink it needs changing. If it’s black, it’s terminal.
After 25 years of driving Mercedes SL roadsters, my wife can no longer get in and out of the car. I intend to get a higher Mercedes convertible and am looking at a current E200. Is that a good choice? CG
It’s slow, and not much higher. Try one before taking the plunge. The highest convertible I can think of is the Range Rover Evoque, which is much better with a petrol engine than it is with a diesel.
To fulfil a lifelong ambition, I might buy a 2006 Aston Martin Vantage convertible with a sequential gearbox. What advice would you offer? DM
There are two ways to look at Aston Martins. One is as an investment, because even this model has been going up in value fairly considerably. The other is as a money pit, because few cars cost as much to run.
Telegraph Cars ran an article claiming that eating when driving could be deemed careless driving if the eyes are taken off the road to wipe butter off trousers, for example. Surely, the same has to apply to smoking a pipe or a cigarette, where vision is obscured by haze and there’s a risk of flaming tobacco falling on to the driver’s trousers? Not only is smoking bad for the driver, it could be bad for passengers and pedestrians. It should be banned in all cars. RM
I’ve been writing exactly that in the Telegraph for 23 years. I’m with you all the way on this particular issue. So far, smoking in cars is only banned in company vehicles or where children are present.
I hit an unseen pothole and damaged one of my Honda Insight’s seven-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels. Where would I find a good, used replacement? FG
It’s a matter of using a parts finder/consolidator service that electronically catalogues used parts throughout the country. Try this directory: www.honestjohn.co.uk/useful-websites/parts-accessories-car-care-tools-tyres.
I have a modern car with all the associated driver aids and electronic gizmos. But, with another winter coming, why is it that manufacturers are still unable to stop the screen washers jets freezing in cold weather? Surely some form of heating could be incorporated? JD
There have been heated screen-wash nozzles in the past.
I’m looking for a new car through Carwow, and the cash and finance (PCP) deals are the same. Surely there should be a difference as some type of interest/cost would be associated with a finance plan? RB
That isn’t always the case. It actually depends on the finance and where the dealer is making his money.
My Volvo S80 diesel’s emissions warning light has come on. I do 10,000 miles a year with a mixture of short and long journeys. Any ideas? BS
Too much soot in the diesel particulate filter, because you are not regularly driving the car far enough. It probably means a forced regeneration by the dealer. After this, keep your revs up to 2,000 for the first 10 miles when driving about, even if that means locking the auto in third.
In low temperatures, if I keep my tyres at the manufacturer’s recommended pressures, I assume they will be overinflated. Are recommended pressures given for a specific outside air temperature? If the tyres are overinflated like this during freezing conditions, I’m concerned that roadholding would adversely be affected. GM
Cold pressures are a few psi lower than they are when the air in the tyres heats up. That said, the compound of summer tyres is more prone to stiffen in temperatures below 7degC, which gives the impression that the ride has become harder.
Fill up a Forester
In cold weather, using my Subaru Forester only for short journeys, I keep the battery up to strength by intermittently recharging with a float charger. Is it wise to do this on a regular basis or could it eventually damage the battery? CS
Wise, but a few frequent 20-mile runs will also help the car.
I seem to recall that if I am not notified of an intention to prosecute within 14 days of the alleged offence, the case is invalid. Is this in fact so, and must the this be governed by the date on the letter, or receipt in the post within 14 days? The latter is difficult to prove, I guess. PB
This only applies to the registered keeper, not the driver. The NIP has to be sent (doesn't have to arrive) within 14 days of the alleged offence.
Reluctant to change?
Have you heard adverse comments about the automatic gearboxes fitted to the Jaguar XE/XF and the cars’ general reliability? One review claimed the gearbox could be very hesitant to the point of being dangerous at roundabouts. I have had three X-types and, despite some of the press comments, found them excellent. What do you think? CL
Jaguar’s eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is generally excellent.
Freedom of choice
I have a 2016 BMW 2-series with 3.4mm left on the rear run-flat tyres. When they need to be replaced, should I go to my BMW dealer or could I get a better price with an independent supplier? AB
Go independent and ring around different tyre retailers. They all get discounts on different tyres at different times.
How would the figures stack up for a manufacturer to take back its own cars, strip them then rebuild and sell them as reconditioned? There would be less material and more labour input: good on both counts. I just get bothered by more and more new cars being built, taking more materials from the environment. KW
It makes no sense. Due to the labour and logistics costs, doing so would work out about five times more expensive than scrapping the old cars and building new ones.
I am a 6ft 7in 20-stone driver with a Ford Mondeo estate, but find access difficult (though it has ample space once I’m inside). Are there any better options within the Motability range? AL
A Renault Kadjar SUV has low sills and large, wide-opening front doors. Normally an MPV is far better than an SUV, so maybe a Citroën C4 Picasso (now renamed C4 Space Tourer).
Our Mk3 Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI SE estate is everything we want it to be, but just a little too big. We’d like another, smaller estate with a similar level of comfort, refinement and features. We don’t want an SUV or a hatchback. IR
Skoda offers a Fabia estate that is on the old, pre-MQBa floorpan. Renault doesn't sell the Clio Sport Tourer in the UK. but does market the Dacia Logan MCV on the Clio platform.
Does Volkswagen make an automatic Polo? WC
Yes, but it has the troublesome DQ200 seven-speed dry-clutch DSG. It's least likely to have problems with the smallest 1.0-litre engine, which with DSG has a starting price of £17,280.
A wish called Honda
I do not need all-wheel drive, just ground clearance, but should I buy petrol or diesel? I would love to buy the HR-V as I trust Honda cars implicitly, but they do not do a diesel auto. JP
If you want 59mpg because of your huge mileage, get an HR-V 1.6i DTEC - but you can't have automatic as well. If you want auto, get a C-HR hybrid that should do 50mpg-plus.
I live in the depths of Somerset and the March snow rendered my BMW 240i convertible useless: I couldn't even get it off the drive for days. I love the car, but is there anything I could do to ensure mobility? Should I fit different tyres become winter arrives? BW
If it's on 17-inch wheels you can get Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 225/45 R17 or 205/50 R17 tyres. If it's on 18-inch wheels you can get Michelin Pilot Alpin 225/40 R18s. You can't get Cross Climates in those sizes. And neither cold-weather tyres nor all-weather tyres come as run-flats.
I have a copy of a Standard 8 and Standard 10 service manual from the 1960s, in near-perfect condition. (My father-in law taught me car maintenance through it.) Do you know of a club that might be interested? I will gladly post it anywhere if it can be of use. The memories it wrought in me are still vibrant and I would like it to go to a good home. MS
Thank you. Try www.standardmotorclub.org.uk, which caters for the Standard 8 and 10 along with most other Standard models.
Flush with success
My 2016 Land Rover Discovery SDV6 3.0 diesel has covered 24,000 miles and is being serviced soon by a main dealer. They offered me an “engine flush” for £25 and I am wondering what this involves. Can you explain? RT
These engines have been having main bearing trouble. If you have not been on a 10,000-mile oil and filter change regime, the dealer might be concerned about oil contamination.
I bought a 2012 BMW 328i fitted with run-flat tyres and I find the ride intolerable on anything but a perfect surface. I know the suspension is firm, but would fitting deeper tyres make a real difference? BF
I was pleasantly surprised by the ride of the 328i on 225/45 R18 run-flats. If you’re on 19s or 20s, then 18s are probably the best answer. Going to smaller 17- or 16-inch wheels to fit deeper profile tyres might mean discarding run-flats, with the disadvantage of having to buy a spare wheel. (Tyre repair kits usually don’t work.)
Kodiaq high land
I have a Skoda Octavia SEL estate, purchased in June 2017 and now with 5,020 miles. I want to part-exchange it for a Skoda Kodiaq SEL 4x4. My two options are to buy it now for a June delivery on an 18 plate, or wait and order it in June or July for a September delivery on a 68 plate. I was offered a cost to switch of £15,000 for the June delivery but only £14,250 for a September delivery. Do you think that a drop of £750 is reasonable over that period? JW
Your Octavia is declining in value all the time, and so will the Kodiaq from the day you buy it, so that evens out. However, the price of a new Kodiaq is likely to rise by September.
I’ve been offered a Kia Sorento at a really good price, but it’s white. I’ve always thought of white as being a naff colour. What do you think from a future trade-in point perspective? JC
It’s a great colour that doesn’t show dirt as badly as you might think. It’s also cooler in summer.
Following the very cold spring weather, I became convinced that fully electric cars are not a reliable choice. An internal combustion engine provides plenty of heat to warm the car. With electric cars, however, the energy source for heat can only come from the battery. Moreover, battery storage capacity drops with temperature. The result is that the mileage range for an electric vehicle will be reduced in cold weather. This may not be a problem in California, but there are plenty of cold places on the planet. RL
Range drops by 20-30 per cent when using the heater or air-con. One solution is heated seats that require much less energy than warming the entire cabin.