Honest John’s Motoring Agony Column 18-05-2019 Part 1 | Motoring News – Honest John

Answers about Skoda brakes, Fiesta gearshifts, Golf carts, Mercedes SLKs, and in part 2: automatic ‘accidents’, Volvo preservation, service scams, Peugeot 3008s, BMW Z3s and a lot more.

As usual, emails to Honest John should be addressed to: letters@honestjohn.co.uk  Please try to keep them as short as possible.

Skoda Octavia V RS F34 White)


I took delivery of a 2015 Skoda Octavia vRS last week and love it, but a brake warning light came as it was delivered and has appeared intermittently over the last week. It has been on permanently for the last day or so, so I took the car to Skoda this morning to get it checked out and the verdict is that the front discs are badly heat scored and lipped and need to be replaced. The pads are 80% worn and I know that both of these are consumable items, but the supplying dealer, assured me that any rust would clear after a good drive (it did) and that the pre-delivery RAC inspection would pick up any issues. The upshot is that I stand to be out of pocket to the tune of £500 and feel a bit aggrieved at this. Am I entitled to recompense from the supplying dealer for the new discs? There should be no doubt that this level of wear could not have been as a result of my ownership given I have covered less than 100 miles.

MH, via email

You bet. If the dealer does not replace the discs and pads FoC take it to Small Claims. See: /faq/consumer-rights/ Any argy-bargy take it to Small Claims: https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money

Ford Fiesta 2018 3-door Side

Flawed Fiesta

A few months ago I bought a low-mileage, 9-month old, new model Fiesta 1.1 Zetec from the Ford franchise in Bolton. On driving the car from the showroom, after about 2 miles, it developed a serious gear-shift fault that meant I could not change gears. This happened on a busy A road out of Bolton, but I was eventually able to being the car to a stuttering halt at the entrance to The Britannia Hotel, partially blocking the entrance, but the safest place to halt on that busy main road. The car was then recovered by the AA, returned to the showroom and I demanded rejection of the car and an immediate refund, which I eventually got in full. I was subsequently informed by the Ford dealer that this was, apparently, an occasional problem on the new Fiesta, so I lodged a complaint directly with Ford on the basis that it had supplied to the market a vehicle “not fit for purpose, and possibly life endangering”. Imagine if this fault had happened in the fast lane of a motorway. Ford Customer Relations has shown little/no interest in this case, even arguing that “as the vehicle is no longer registered to me, there is nothing that they are prepared to do” and denying any inherent gearbox fault on this model. In a recent telephone conversation they suggested that I contacted the Motor Ombudsman if I felt that I needed to, but, as far as they are concerned, “the matter is closed”. I am currently awaiting a response from the Ombudsman. Do you have any suggestions, please?

GH, Bolton

We logged this and subsequently received a 2nd complaint of the same thing: /carbycar/ford/fiesta-2017/good/ The Motor Ombudsman only acts on transgressions of the SMMT code of conduct. If you regard it as a safety fault, then you need to report it to the DVSA. See: https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-recalls-and-faults/report-a-serious-safety-defect /

Honda HR-V LT Load 1 (1)

Club class

It’s time to change my car. I’ve been driving Volvo S40s for over 20 years and, much as I like Volvo, boot space in the V40 is totally inadequate, but I don’t want a bigger car. I’m retired well over 10 years and still play golf 2 to 3 times a week, so I’m looking for a new or (nearly new) car with a good-sized boot. I don’t want to have to fold down any back seats to accommodate my golf clubs and trolley. I’m quite impressed by both the Honda HR-V SE and Nissan Qashqai Acenta Premium. My annual mileage is 6,000 – 7,000. I’ve always driven cars with manual transmission but “thinking ahead” suggests I seriously consider an automatic transmission this time. I’d appreciate any guidance you can offer. Why do car reviews never seem to consider “boot space” v “golfer’s requirements”?

DA, via email

We try to give the width of the golf bag space behind the rear wheel arches in our road tests. Definitely, the Honda HR-V and if you want one with a bit more performance there’s now a 182HP turbo Sport: /road-tests/honda/honda-hr-v-sport-2019-road-test/ Qashqai CVT not reliable, but its CVT has now been replaced by Renault’s EDC, tested in the similar Kadjar here: /road-tests/renault/renault-kadjar-ii-2019-range-road-tes/

MB SLK R174 Side Roof Opening

Late life crisis

Having reached 60 and driven sensible company cars, I feel I would like to buy a used sports car for occasional and weekend use, possibly spending up to £10,000. I know that the Mazda MX-5 is probably the best of the bunch, but as a result there are a lot of them about and I would like something different. I would be grateful for your advice on the Mercedes SLK? I like the idea of the retractable hard top, giving the option of open top driving and a more secure roof when closed. Ideally, I would like petrol and manual gear box but welcome your advice as to which engine size and transmission type is best.

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JR, via email

An R174 Mercedes SLK isn’t really a ‘sports car’. More a 2-seater roadster. But it livens up considerably with one of the V6 engines. Vital to buy one on reasonable profile rear tyres or the ride quality is so bad it sets off the SRS airbag warning on speed humps. More here including two links to road tests: /carbycar/mercedes-benz/slk-r171-2004/

KIA Picanto 2017 F34

The best and the rest

I would value your advice on options to consider for a low-mileage small automatic up to 3 years old with no more than 20,000 miles, a rough idea of target prices, and also models to avoid?

RB, via email

The best very small are the KIA Picanto 1.2 4-speed torque converter auto and the Hyundai i10 1.2 4-speed torque converter auto. From about £8,500 for a 2017. A bit bigger, the Suzuki Swift 1.0T 6-speed torque converter auto. From about £13,000 for a 2018. Suzuki Baleno 1.0T 6-speed torque converter auto. From about £9,400 for a 2016. Mazda 2 1.5 6-speed torque converter auto. From about £9,700 for a 2015. Ford has now ditched its disastrous dry clutch Powershift DCTs in favour of 6-speed torque converter in the Fiesta and 8-speed torque converter in the Focus. One reader says he managed to buy a new Fiesta 1.0T EcoBoost 100 6-speed auto for £15k. Avoid anything automated manual such as Citroen C1, Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo, VW Up, Skoda Citigo and SEAT MII. And avoid 1.2/1.4 litre VWs, Audis, SEATs or Skodas with DQ200 7-speed dry clutch DSG transmissions, though we are not hearing of problems with the DQ200 when mated to the 1.0TSI engine.


Gardener’s question time

We have 2001 Jaguar XK8 Convertible with 90,000 miles that has been standing in the garden since it arrived home from its last MoT in May 2014. The gearbox seized after the two-mile journey home after a very expensive MoT. Obviously, the car is not in a very good state, but must be of some use to somebody, especially as we have a spare set of four good wheels with tyres and a spare convertible roof stored inside that could go with the car. It will have to be trailered and we live on the Isle of Wight. Any suggestions of where to advertise or who to contact that may be interested? 

YY, Newport, Isle of Wight

Try the Jaguar Drivers Club. http://www.jaguardriver.co.uk/html/

Citroen Berlingo Multispace 2008 F34 

This week’s van mail

My daughter and son in law have a small business and need a full-sized van to transport goods. They have a limited budget of £6,000. What  would be the best approach for them to get a reasonably reliable machine ?

JM, via email

There are big LCV auctions, every Thursday at BCA Blackbushe. Or maybe look for an ex police van at West Oxfordshire Motor Auctions, Witney or Brightwells of Leominster. Remember when bidding, that auction commission is added to the winning bid, then 20% VAT. (If they are VAT registered, they can claim that back as VAT input tax.) It might actually make more sense to skip vans and go for a utility MPV like a Citroen Berlingo Multispace, Peugeot Partner Tepee, FIAT Doblo Family, VW Caddy Life, etc. Usually cheaper to insure than vans because the underwriting risk is lower.


The Nissan link

I understand the constraints that are imposed on you. However HJ does tell us to avoid certain CVT gear boxes and actually states the manufacturer, vehicle model and engine, etc. to avoid. Does HJ get slapped wrists for this ? I hope not.

JT, via email

I’m not the only one to criticise Nissan. Check out what Carlos Ghosn had to say on the BBC News feed. Actually, Nissan has replaced the CVT in its Qashqai with Renault’s EDC and now has a much improved CVT in its latest Micra (they invited me on the launch so I’m not blackballed): /road-tests/nissan/nissan-micra-10-ig-t-100-and-dig-t-117-2019-road-test/

Porsche Cayman S 2012 Side Green

Job centre

In December 2019, my 2012 Porsche Cayman passed its annual MoT, with no advisories (at ProTyres, Exeter, a trusted tyre and MoT specialist which I understand is used by many local franchised dealers). In late January, a scheduled minor service was completed on the car (at a local Porsche specialist). At the end of the service I was informed that the handbrake needed adjustment and that the exhaust bolts were corroded and needed replacement. The price for these two tasks was estimated at between £300-£500, plus VAT, depending on how many hours it needed for the bolt removal. This raises some questions in my mind, but mainly that if these issues weren’t raised in the MoT, do they really need to be undertaken, or is it a case of the specialist ‘drumming up’ business? Secondly, do you think that the estimated charge is reasonable for such work?

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RH, via email

Without crawling around under the car it’s impossible to judge whether the work and the charges are justified. Presumably this is an independent Porsche specialist. These guys live and breathe by being cheaper and doing a better job than Porsche dealers. As soon as they start ripping people off they lose the reason why customers go to them.

Suzuki Vitara 2019 Side Blue

In-diesel exposure

We have a Toyota RAV-4 4-door that we want to replace as it is nearing the end of its economic life. We really like the easy access seating and high-up view and want to replace it with something similar. We are looking to spend about £15k (no point in spending much more at our age) and would go for another RAV-4 but those in our price range all appear to be diesel, which looks to be going out of favour everywhere. Is there another option with similar seating etc., or do we just go for the diesel and accept the slowly extending restrictions and general disapproval on its use?

BW, via email

Suzuki Vitara S 1.4T Boosterjet AllGrip. Choose 6-speed manual or 6-speed torque converter auto: /road-tests/suzuki/suzuki-vitara-10t-allgrip-2019-road-test/


Hoister catcher

We have to choose a Motability Scheme car to carry a hoist  
for my wife’s battery powered Scooter. The size of vehicle needed. and Motability permitted features, has led us to consider: A SEAT Alhambra SEL 2.0 diesel or a Ford Grand Tourneo Connect Titanium 1.5 diesel. We are concerned as we are led to believe that diesel engines are being banned from city centres. Is this the case and if so which cars could you recommend as an alternative to the above?

MH, Kidwelly

You can get both of these with petrol engines: the Alhambra with a 1.4/1.5TSI engine and DQ381 or DQ500 7-speed wet clutch DSG. The Ford with a 1.5 EcoBoost engine and 6-speed or 8-speed torque converter auto. You will need to remove the rearmost seats of the Grand Tourneo Connect because, with the seats folded. it has a high load deck.

BMW 3  Series GT Side Silverjpg

Fast lady 

My wife does about 14k miles a year likes fairly sporty performance and covets a moderately prestige brand. She also wants AWD and a hatch or estate, although not excluding an SUV. Her current car is a September 2016 BMW 330d GT xDrive, and previously an AUDI S4 avant. She liked both cars but doesn’t like the local BMW dealership. In view of the diesel “outcry”, should she be looking at petrol only or hold off changing to await new hybrids coming to the market. All electric isn’t a feasible option. Advice on petrol, diesel or hybrid would be appreciated as well as suggestions of cars to consider.

RB, via email 

Audi has just announced a 347HP/700Nm diesel mild hybrid SQ5. I didn’t see any prices. You can have optional air suspension and a ‘Vorsprung’ version. But I’d be inclined to stick with the excellent 330d GT xDrive until there is a better choice of petrol self-charging hybrids. Currently, the new Honda CV-V hybrid is the best of them, but is obviously nothing like as powerful as a 330d: /road-tests/honda/honda-cr-v-hybrid-2019-road-test/


Cherish the thought

I have a personal plate on my diesel car which I intend to change for a new petrol car in the coming months. I want to transfer my personal plate to a new car at the time of purchase. Depending the offer, I may part-exchange it at the garage where I buy the new car, or maybe try to sell it privately. Could you please advise the best way to deal with the personal number plate transfer from one car to another, perhaps ‘on-line’ or by post? 

MH, Bristol

The best thing to do is take the plate off your present car and put it onto a retention certificate. (Means buying a set of date-related plates for your present car before you part-exchange it.) Then, once the new car is in your possession, transfer the cherished reg to it. There is a transfer cost involved, but this is the safest way. Do not trust a dealer to do it for you because if they get anything wrong, you (not them) are liable for the consequences. You might even lose the right to use the reg. See: https://www.gov.uk/personalised-vehicle-registration-numbers / And: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-to-transfer-or-retain-a-vehicle-registration-number /

Nissan Leaf 2016 Side Red 

Leafed standing

We have been driving a Nissan Leaf for over 3 years. We do around 12,000 miles a year and the majority of the time we charge the car at home. At most, we use public chargers once every fortnight. However, these are very unreliable. 11-12-2018 and 19-1-2019: Sainsbury’s Car Park, Godalming. Charging stopped after a couple of minutes, may have overcharged car according to Nissan. I was unable to select forward or reverse on both occasions. Reported problem to Pod Point twice. 27-12-2018: Gunwharf Quays Car Park, Portsmouth. Unable to stop the charger. Called Polar who re-booted charger and we could then disconnect from the charger. 24-2-2019: Car Park, Billingshurst. Phone app not working. I called Charge Your Car and was told the app was broken and they were unable to communicate with the charger as it was also broken.

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NM, via email

Unfortunately, electric cars are not meeting their promise for some people. One Telegraph reader was quoted an outrageous £7,800 for a new 30kWh battery for a Leaf (which is more than the standard £180 / kWh rate). And, as George Fowler appositely wrote in The Daily Star on 15th February: “The desperate plight of people who go electric because it’s the right thing to do is made worse by the fact that there are only 13,000 charge points in the whole of the UK, of which 2,100 are in London. The remaining 84% of us have to make do with 10,900 single car chargers That means if the remaining 35 million odd people who run cars in the rest of the UK each went electric they’d have a 4,000-1 chance of charging up their car after they left home.” He had found Diesel Range Rovers parked in his local electric car charging bays, and the range of a Jaguar iPace reduced from 250+ miles to just 154 miles in cold winter conditions.


Unfolding story 

The offside door mirror of my 2014 Honda Jazz will not retract. It goes part-way, then stops. Do you have any ideas what might be the cause? Recently, I had a Honda recall for passenger air bag. Since then the door mirror has not worked. Can it be connected?

SR, via email

Seems ridiculous, but it might be a mirror spider’s nest partially jamming the works inside the mirror pod. Spiders like door mirrors because they can hide safely inside the pods and spin their webs between the pods and the door frame.

Renault Kadjar Side Blue (1)


I have a 2017 Renault Kadjar petrol automatic with 3,700 miles. Twice in the past 250 miles, whilst at speed in heavy traffic, it has suffered two serious engine management failures. On the first occasion the Spanner, Stop and Toxic Fume warnings came on, quickly followed by the ESP warning. On the second occasion, the same sequence of warnings, plus the Engine Failure Hazard. Each time, all power was lost and, although the engine continued to run, it would not respond to the accelerator. On switching the engine off and then back on, the fault appeared to have cleared. The car has been with two Renault service agents, who carried out diagnostic tests, but offer no explanation for the issue, or any assurance it will not reoccur. Renault’s response is to keep using the car until it happens again, or pay for further diagnostic tests at a cost of £150 per hour. The car was not purchased from a Renault dealer. I consider the car unsafe to drive. Have you any knowledge of similar problems, or any suggestions how I might pursue the matter.

FvH, via email

Is this a 1.2TCe EDC? The 1.2TCe engine has been having some piston oil ring problems. If too much oil got through, then that might have promoted the first incident. Is the engine using oil? You write, “the car was not purchased from a Renault dealer.” Yet you also write it has only 3,700 miles. The combination of these circumstances might mean it is not Renault’s responsibility, but if it was purchased within 6 months then it is the legal responsibility of the dealer who sold it to you. See: /faq/consumer-rights/


All torque

I want to buy a car with a torque converter automatic transmission. I heard that this type is better for long life than a DSG, DCT, EDC, CVT, etc. Then I looked for TQ auto cars, which are Hyundai i20 1.4 MPI 4 speed auto, Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost 6-speed auto. And I don’t know if a Honda Jazz has CVT or TQ automatic. These cars are new for the second hand, and year 2016-2018 model. But, in this case, these cars are a little bit small. If I want to take a 2013-2015 years C-Class car (a little bit large) for similar prices, which cars can you suggest to me with full auto transmission?  

EE, Turkey

All Mazda automatics are 6-speed torque converter. Most Citroens and Peugeots have been EAT6 or EAT8 torque converter automatic for the past few years. All BMWs except for the latest 2-Series Active Tourer are torque converter. All Mercedes from C-Class up are torque converter (A Class and B Class are DCT). The new Ford Focus is 8-speed torque converter. The current Fiesta from late 2017 is 6-speed torque converter. The Suzuki Vitara, Swift, Baleno and latest SX4 S-Cross are 6-speed torque converter.

Click to Honest John’s Motoring Agony Column 18-05-2019 Part 2



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