If your car has developed a fault, or for consumer advice, turn to Honest John by emailing [email protected]
Six falls sick
My 45,000-mile 2014 Audi SQ5 3.0 V6 TDI has been serviced by main dealers at 12-monthly intervals, including oil and filter changes, and I always use the best quality diesel fuel. A recent engine breakdown was diagnosed as total loss of compression on number two cylinder caused by failure of the valve seat; the repair cost would be more than £3,000. The sump gasket failed in 2018, which I paid for, but it failed again in 2019 and 2020, and was treated as a warranty repair. Finally, the front engine plate gasket failed in 2020 and the cost to reseal it was £1,300. I appreciate that the car is out of warranty, but surely one should expect an engine with relatively low mileage to perform better than this? PP
The car is outside the six-year Sale of Goods limit for faulty manufacture that is supported by statutory and case law. That said, in May 2018 the German federal motor transport authority (KBA) ordered an EU-wide recall of 52,831 examples of the Porsche Macan EU6 3.0 V6 TDI, which is the same basic car as the SQ5, after finding they had been fitted with “impermissible defeat devices” that led to increased emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides. Subsequently, a UK recall was issued in February 2019. This was also carried out on Audi Q5 3.0 V6 TDIs and the owner of another SQ5 reported problems subsequently. If issues are a consequence of any emissions-related software update, any faults should be covered.
I purchased a new BMW X3 M40d in Carbon Black in December 2019. It was used for a couple of months, washed and dried and then garaged due to lockdown. In July I washed the car with water to remove the accumulation of dust and a few days later gave it a full wash and valet. After drying the car I noticed it still had water marks on the bodywork. I rewashed it a couple of times and the problem remains. My BMW dealer suggested that perhaps I had washed the car on a hot sunny day, thereby allowing the water to bake on the surface. Alternatively, they suggested that either the rain or tap water might have been acidic or alkaline. They suggested that the whole car might need to be machine polished and this could cost up to £600. It would not be covered by the warranty. This is my second BMW in Carbon Black and I had no such problems before, so I feel that that BMW should take responsibility. Have you ever come across this? BM
When I traded cars actively (also in the Surrey area), I learned what you’ve learned: don’t deal in black cars. The local water is full of limescale. So if I washed a black car prior to a customer coming to take a look, even after drying with a chamois, it left streaks. I would have to polish it as well. The answer, in Surrey at least, is to wash your car only when it’s raining. The soft rainwater rinses the surface of the car and you get no streaks. To sort your problem out yourself, wash the car, clean the surface with Autoglym paint surface cleaner, then wax the car with Autoglym Hi Def Wax. Other paint cleaners and waxes might be just as good.
I took my 2001 VW Polo 1.4 TDI, with 132,000 miles, to a non-VW service garage for a replacement clutch and timing belt. When I collected the car I heard unfamiliar noises from both sides of the engine; the garage owner said he could not hear anything wrong. He offered to examine the clutch free of charge, but he was sure it was a gearbox problem and would fix it. Afterwards it sounded better, but a whirring was still evident from the timing belt side. A week later I was told they could find no cause as the belt was tensioned properly. I’m still living with this whirring, screeching noise. Is there anything I can do? GC
It’s possible that the increased tension of the new belt has resulted in noise from the water pump. This should have been replaced at the same time as the timing belt, because if it seizes it will throw the belt off and valves will hit pistons. (It’s also possible that, having been removed to access the timing belt then put back, the auxiliary belt tension is different, and the noise is from the alternator, air-conditioning pump or power steering pump.)
My 2017 Nissan Qashqai has had no air-conditioning for 18 months. The dealer is quoting £550 to replace the condenser and local mechanics quote similarly. However, after some research, this appears to be a known problem with Qashqais. The condenser is vulnerable to stone damage. The dealer is saying the car is out of warranty, but I have previously argued that if this is a known fault there should be a recall. Also there remains the chance the damage to the condenser could recur. Are you familiar with this and what would you recommend? RW
This is a standard problem with air-con condensers and is far from unique to Qashqais. The answer is a fabricated stone guard. The £550 you were quoted is a fair fitted price.
Over the last year or so, a 50mph speed limit has been imposed on many A-roads in Leicestershire. These are perfectly safe roads with no history of accidents. In comparison, winding lanes still seem to be subject to the national speed limit of 60mph. This seems to be the wrong way around. I cannot recollect any consultation on the imposition of these new and unrealistic limits. Are such things being rolled out across the UK, or is this a case of another authority doing what it likes? JF
Authorities are imposing limits on busy roads where they can make the most money from contravention. The Alliance of British Drivers (www.abd.org.uk) has been very vocal on this subject. To justify lower limits, authorities used to have to show that serious accidents had occurred, but often they would apply the statistics loosely, so anything that had happened in the vicinity added to the figures. In cities, many councils are imposing 20mph zones and closing through-roads to traffic, supposedly to promote walking and cycling, which has also been controversial.
During the last few years I have bought three new BMW X1s and they all developed rust on the rear brake disc hubs, visible through the spokes. The dealer rectified the issue under warranty on the first two, but is refusing to do so on my latest car, bought in September 2019. Do I have a legitimate claim for this rust? WP
It’s the same on all cars. The rust is on the hub, not the brake disc itself (though, over time, overnight surface corrosion could start eating into the bare metal discs if the car is not braked hard enough, often enough, to clean it off). The solution for the hubs is to have them cleaned up and painted with Sperex VHT (Very High Temperature) paint that you can get in a spray can from Halfords. Be careful to cover everything apart from the hub with plastic bags and also mask off the car paintwork from overspray.
I have a 98,000-mile 2010 Vauxhall Astra 1.6i 16v Design. I am a keen driver, covering short distances for a charity and making one motorway journey of 200 miles a month. I am looking to replace it with a similar car, petrol, either new or one year old. What should I consider? EE
Currently, the two cars that make the most sense to me are the new Honda Jazz hybrid, partly because of proven reliability and partly because of its unbeatable interior versatility. Secondly, the new Toyota Yaris hybrid that is better looking, slightly more economical and on which the annoying “road departure mitigation system” can more easily be switched off.
L to pay
My 17-year-old granddaughter will soon start driving lessons and is contemplating her first car. She will only have about £1,500 to spend and is considering a Ford Ka or Citroën C1. Alternatively, what would be in the lowest insurance group for a novice driver? AP
The most reliable car in this price bracket is the 1999-2005 Toyota Yaris 1.0 (which was European Car of the Year in 2000). The cheapest insurance for young drivers involves fitting a transponder, so the insurer can monitor her driving. Try www.confused.com.
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