If your car has developed a fault, or for consumer advice, turn to Honest John by emailing [email protected]
I have been shopping for an ex-demonstrator Volvo XC40 T3 automatic. As well as offering a very low trade-in price for my old V70, my main dealer will not negotiate discounts on the asking price for the newer car. I thought it was a cardinal rule that the buyer should not pay the sticker price, so have things changed or is the Volvo dealer trying to take advantage of me? MP
The oldest rule is supply and demand. If demand greatly exceeds supply, as is the case with the exceedingly popular XC40, then there is no need for a retailer to discount to bolster sales.
The key fobs of several cars, all different makes, regularly activate our doorbell. Does this mean that the fobs all operate on the same frequency? If so, what are the security implications? AG
It’s likely that your door bell electronics to not conform to the EU Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive (EMC) 2014/30/EU, so you need to change it for one that does. It is also worth repeating the advice to store your car keys away from the front door and preferably in a metal box, which blocks electromagnetic signals that can be boosted electronically and retransmitted by hand-held devices from a distance of up to 10 metres from the key, so the car "thinks" the key is inside and can be opened, started and driven away. Some proximity keys can be switched off, so their signals cannot be boosted. Bespoke signal-blocking cases can be purchased from accessory shops, but sweet tins and suchlike can also work.
Will Wiltshire wilt?
Swindon has a skilled workforce that will be redundant when Honda’s UK manufacturing ceases in a couple of years. Is there a British car manufacturer that could design a hybrid/plug in-electric car, which could be built in Swindon, and compete with Japan? Should we resurrect the British Motor Corporation (BMC)? CH
No, there isn't. Britain lost its motor industry through a mix of hopelessly bad management, the British class system, a downtrodden and truculent workforce, poor build quality and investors preferring property to industry. But because demand for residential land in the Oxford area is high, and the Honda plant is huge, modern and capable of producing 250,000 cars a year, there is a rumour that BMW might shift its Mini plant from Oxford to Swindon.
A recent reply to JE suggested putting an automatic gearbox into neutral if stopped for more than 10 seconds. Surely one should do that anyway? JR
Most people don’t. They just sit on the brakes in “drive”, possibly blinding drivers behind with their high-intensity brake lights...
Hedge fund manager
Our front-wheel-drive Škoda Yeti will soon need new front tyres. I’d like to fit Michelin all-weather tyres all round, but would it be safe to fit two first to replace the fronts but rotate the wheels so the new ones are on the back? MR
In my opinion they must be fitted to all four wheels. If they are just on the front you will get better traction, but could lose rear grip in slippery conditions. Just on the back is better, but then you could still lose frontal grip and plough straight on into a hedge, or worse.
I have a 1989 Citroën 2CV Dolly that has done only 32,000 miles. It has had a new chassis and roof and is in good condition. Can you tell me how best to sell it? JF
Probably a classic car auction, because the appeal of 2CVs is much wider than just Citroën fans. Use Google to find a suitable sale in your area.
I need to dispose of my late brother-in-law’s Mercedes E300 Avantgarde TD auto, first registered in 1997 and with more than 250,000 miles on the clock. The bodywork needs attention, so what are my options and how much is it worth? DR
That makes it a W210, possibly the most rust-prone Mercedes ever made due to a cut back in body preparation. If seriously rusted (and that can happen to W210s) then it might be no more than a parts donor car. I don't see more than £500, at best. It might be worth trying www.motorwise.com to obtain a scrap value.
You wrote that if a car had an early MoT, but failed, it could not still legally be driven on its old MoT. It depends, however: if it fails due to a “dangerous” fault the car cannot be driven and the national database is updated to indicate as much. If it fails due to a “major” fault it still can be driven if still covered by the previous MoT, but you could still be stopped by the police and prosecuted if they find that the car is unroadworthy. SS
Wasn’t that what I wrote? If any fault is deemed dangerous the car cannot be driven away, even though its old MoT is still current.
My daughter has a 30-month-old Nissan Juke with 17,000 miles. Two weeks ago the driver’s door handle came off. She took it to the garage where she bought the car and they said that as she hasn't had the car serviced, it's not covered. My daughter was told when she bought the car that a service wasn't required until 20,000 miles. She pointed out that the door handle wouldn't have been checked at a service and they agreed. It will cost £300 to fix the handle, which seems rather excessive. ET
In my view every car needs a service at least every year or every 10,000 miles, so this has been severely neglected. I agree that failure of a door handle probably had nothing to do with the car being regularly checked, but it might have done. If you want to take this further, sue the supplying dealer in small claims for the cost of a door handle that should not have simply pulled off a fairly young car under any circumstances.
I own a 2008 Volkswagen Golf 1.9 TDI Match DSG automatic with 75,000 miles. It has been running pretty smoothly thus far. I bought it at 68,000 miles and beforehand it had mostly been used on motorways. What are the main servicing requirements? IB
On top of regular maintenance, it needs a timing belt, tensioner, water pump and auxiliary belt every five years or 60,000 miles. Unless they were replaced before you bought the car, they could be on borrowed time. It will have a DQ250 six-speed wet clutch DSG, which needs a fluid change every three years or 38,000 miles.
My husband is looking to downsize from his Ford Mondeo. He has been looking at a Honda Jazz SE 1.3i-VTEC automatic. We only do 3,000-4,000 miles a year. Is this a good choice? JG
It’s a very good choice; spacious and practical with a low, flat load deck. It’s also very economical, but slow. The Jazz Sport 1.5i VTEC 130 is much livelier and also very economical.
The odd couple
I own a 2011 Land Rover Freelander 2 TD4 S, with which I am very happy. I recently considered swapping the tyre off the spare wheel to replace one of the front partially worn fronts. The car was fitted new with alloy wheels, tyre size 215/75 R16 107H. When I looked more closely at the spare I found this to be an unused 235/65 R17 on a very heavy steel rim. Is it legal to run with different diameter wheels on the same axle? GB
This is a space-saver emergency spare. You can run up to 50mph as long as you remember that roadholding and braking will be compromised, especially in the wet. Change back to a full-size road wheel and tyre as soon as you can to prevent damage to the 4WD system.
I have a 2011 VW Tiguan that requires a £5,000 repair. Do you have any thoughts on a replacement four-wheel-drive hybrid automatic of similar size? Unfortunately VW does not yet do a hybrid Tiguan. ES
One option that comes to mind is the MINI Countryman PHEV, which shares its xDrive powertrain with the BMW Active Tourer 225xe. There's also the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
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