Honest John: Thieves stole our X3 through the letterbox - but BMW refuse to be drawn on keyless entry

Keyless systems - like that on the BMW X3 as well as most other new vehicles - is 'the most mindless bit of technology ever put into a car'

If your car has developed a fault, or for consumer advice, turn to Honest John by emailing [email protected]

Pinch point

Thieves scanned our BMW keys through our front door at about 01.30am and then stole our X3. Unbelievably, the police stopped the driver using ANPR cameras in London, 10 minutes after it was reported stolen. Since then I’ve contacted BMW UK to talk about this situation and they refuse to be drawn on it. I think they need to write to every BMW owner potentially affected. SL

This has been well covered in all media for at least the past year. You need to keep your keys in a signal blocking Faraday bag or closed metal box, otherwise the signal from key to car can be picked up from a distance of up to 10 metres (even from outside a house) and then boosted so the car thinks the key is inside. This is true of all keyless systems. It’s the most mindless bit of technology ever put into a car.

Claim culture

As an owner of a Skoda Superb affected by the VW Group emissions scandal, I registered an interest in a group legal claim being put forward by a well-known firm of solicitors. I have now been contacted to register for a claim with them, as they have been given permission by the courts to proceed. If they are successful, they will take approximately 30 per cent of any compensation. Do I have to register with them to receive compensation, or will I be entitled to compensation anyway if they win the case? RR

You won't be entitled to anything unless you register to form part of their class action claim, and I won't help you because I do not agree with this. In my view you have the basis of a claim only if VW has failed to fix any issues with your car that are consequential of the NOx update, not otherwise.

Two and a half years on from 'dieselgate', Volkswagen is still claiming that - in Europe at least - it has done nothing wrong, but it put into place a huge programme of conversion to rid some 8.5 million cars of what it calls 'switchable software'. The Telegraph’s Motoring Correspondent Andrew English investigated how it is proceeding.

Loud pedal

I purchased a Jaguar F-Pace 2.0-litre diesel last September. From the beginning the engine has over-revved in low gears. It doesn't sound right. I have taken it back to the dealership, but the mechanics say they can't find anything wrong. Are you aware of this? JR

How are you driving the car? Short distances? Low revs? Ordinary diesel? These could all be reasons why the engine systems make it run at higher revs in order to burn the fuel more completely. With a modern diesel, running at low revs from cold starts is not good for the decontamination systems. It’s best to use the paddles to keep the engine running at 1,500-2,000rpm for the first five miles or so.

Cheltenham aces?

I have just purchased a retro caravan: a Cheltenham Sable. It has an ex-works weight of 648kg. We have two cars, a 2017 Toyota Prius and a 2009 Citroën Berlingo 1.6 HDI, and would value your opinion as to which would be best for towing. IF

The Berlingo. It’s more practical when camping, too. The Prius can tow up to 725kg, but just a few things inside the caravan will take its weight beyond that.

Inside the F Pace

Elderly Cat

I have a 2000 Jaguar XK8, bought last year with 135,000 miles on the clock. The gearbox is perfect, but I don’t know if the “sealed for life” oil has been changed. How can I tell? KR

Is there no transmission dipstick? Even though this has lasted well so far, "sealed for life" doesn’t usually mean that. A member of www.fedauto.co.uk can change the oil using Liqui-Moly’s Gear Tronic ATF dialysis machine.

Never mind the Trossachs

I plan to replace my Range Rover Evoque this year. We need a 4WD SUV as we live in snowy Scotland and get serious downfalls most years. I like the reasonably compact size of the Evoque and am looking at the Volvo XC40 (not very exciting) or the Jaguar E-Pace (mixed reviews). I am also drawn to the new RR Velar (bigger, but maybe worth it). Diesel versus petrol is also an issue. If money were no object, what would you buy? AM

While I like the look of the E-Pace, I haven’t driven it so can’t comment. But I finally got my hands on a XC40 T5 and loved it. The car averaged 35mpg over 1,100 miles, so close enough to a diesel to make sense. Four-wheel drive won’t get you through snow by itself – I’d also recommend all-weather or winter tyres.

The Evoque

Unfit for purpose

I have driven Honda CR-Vs for the past 15 years. At the second annual service of my Black Edition model with 20,300 miles, I was astounded to be told that all four Yokohama 19-inch tyres had very little tread and needed replacing at a cost of £186 each. So for nearly £800 I could drive another 20,000 miles. What do you think of this excessive wear? DF

Someone conned you into buying the car on 19-inch wheels, with low-profile tyres that wear much faster, are vulnerable to pot holes and can cost twice as much to replace. Try to find a set of 18-inch wheels and fit 225/60 R18s.

Tricky connection

Having had experience of both Mercedes and Jaguar, it becomes alarmingly clear that BMW is patently unable to design a Bluetooth interface that remains compatible with my iPhone 6. All it takes is an Apple iOS update and my 420 convertible fails to connect. I had this problem with my previous 320, yet when I get into my husband's car my phone links up straight away. JM

It tends to be a problem when the car is older than the phone, but most manufacturers can update their Bluetooth systems for the sake of compatibility. I’ve used an iPhone 4S is several BMW and MINI models, with no problems at all.

Rumour mill

I have a 10-year old Ford Focus Titanium, regularly kept in good shape by our local garage. The mechanic has advised that it would be prudent to change the cambelt at an estimated cost of £300. Do you think it’s a good idea to spend so much on such rumour-based advice? The mileage of the car is 72,000. JD

We advise to change the timing belt, tensioners, water pump and alternator belt every five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first, because if the belt snaps or comes off the engine will self-destruct. You might get another 30,000 miles before it happens. You might get another 1,000. Up to you.

Agent of misfortune

I bought a 2009 Kia Sorrento from a main dealer a year ago and also paid £300 for an extended warranty. The car has broken down and I have been told that repairs and labour will be about £5,000. Our extended warranty covers us up to £1500 and the car is worth about £4,000, so do we have any redress? RR

I don't think so. The dealer is deemed to be liable for any major fault that could have been present or developing for six months from the date of sale. To get out of this they have to prove abuse, negligence or that the fault wasn’t developing, which is next to impossible. After six months, the onus of proof is on the purchaser.

Internet wrong shock...

My dealer claims my 2013 VW Eos 2.0 TDI needs a replacement cambelt, at a cost of £499. On the web I found a report that said my car had a timing chain, which should not need changing for 90,000 miles. Which is correct? DG

All 2.0 TDIs are timing belt engines (2.0 TSI petrol models from 2009 have chains). You need a fresh timing belt, tensioner, water pump and alternator belt every five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you're getting all of this for £499 from a main dealer, you're doing well.

If your car has developed a fault, or for consumer advice, turn to Honest John by emailing [email protected]

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