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The Mercury Cars Guide : August 28th 2010
16--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, August 28, 2010 Q&A Dealer service kept in the factory loop ASK SMITHY Graham Smith GAS: It's a toss up between liquid-injection and vapour- injection when converting a Mitsubishi Challenger, above, to gas. GASKET: A cylinder head repair should see a reader's Nissan Pulsar, right, running like new again. CAPTION: Premium fuel for models such as the Honda Accord V6, below, may not be all it's cracked up to be. Q Generally I have my 2006 Ford Focus serviced by my Ford dealer, but it is cheaper to have it serviced at Ultratune, or the like. Is the service as good? The issue for me is whether there are Ford updates to the onboard computer that I presume non-Ford dealers cannot do. What is your advice? Wayne Mitchell, email It s always a concern when using a non- factory service outlet that you could miss out on recalls or updates issued by the factory. My feeling is that non-factory service outlets are capable of doing the basic servicing, but I m not convinced they keep up to date with the changes that take place, sometimes automatically, by carmakers and their dealers without any advice to the wider community. But I would also say in your case that as your car is out of warranty that you could have it serviced at a non-factory outlet without too much risk of losing out in any way. I would also suggest that you discuss your concern with the outlet you are considering using. Q A couple of years ago I wrote to you about the numerous problems we had experienced with our 2004 RWD Ford Territory. We were very happy to see you address the issue of the ball joints in this car. This is a repair we had to have done about 18 months ago at a cost of more than $1000. We were outraged at the time that our car, which had done less than 30,000 km and none of it off-road, would have suffered such a significant failure. We are now in the process of having our money refunded. Please maintain the rage on behalf of us long-suffering Territory owners; Ford clearly took short cuts on the earlier models. Rebecca Sullivan, email Glad we could play a part in helping owners get some satisfaction in what has been a frustrating issue with the Territory. We believe Ford handled this issue poorly in the first instance when it basically refused to accept that there was a problem. But the company has changed its tune in recent times and is now providing owners with assistance in getting their cars repaired. The problem hasn t gone away, however, the ball joints are still wearing and its quite possible you will have to replace them on your car again at some time in the future. Q I want to convert my 2004 Mitsubishi Challenger to gas and would like to know the differences between the different systems and which of them would best suit my vehicle? Henry Lawson Point Cook, Vic There are three main types of LPG systems: the mixer/venturi system that was very successfully used for many years and which is like a carburetor on a regular petrol engine; the vapour-injection system that operates like the fuel-injection system that s fitted to your car; and the latest liquid- injection system that injects the LPG into the inlet manifold in liquid form. Its claimed that the liquid-injection system is the most efficient and delivers the best outcome, but vapour-injection is claimed by some to be almost as efficient and well-proven. Either liquid or vapour-injection from a recognized brand, like Eurogas or IMPCO, is your best bet.Q After reading about a reader s problem with a vibration in their Falcon I thought I would tell you about our similar experience with my wife s 2004 Falcon XT. The steering wheel would start to vibrate badly, sometimes so badly that you had to pull over. Our mechanic found that the brake master cylinder was faulty causing the front bakes to be lightly applied all the time, which in turn was making the rotors get hot and warp slightly. Once he replaced it the problem was fixed, but before that we had to replace the steering column because the ignition switch broke, we also replaced the front discs because they were worn out, the brake master cylinder, and a leaking welch plug. This was the first Ford we ever owned and it will be the last, we now have a Holden Captiva 5 and my wife loves it. Paul Swan, email Thanks for the tip about the brake master cylinder; its something worth considering by anyone with a vibration they can t fix. Q Would the warranty on my 2010 Kia Sorento be affected if I had my car serviced by a licensed reputable mechanic rather than a Kia dealer? The mechanic would use Kia parts if needed. The nearest Kia dealer is quite a distance away and I have had my previous car serviced locally for many years. John Jolley, email You can have your car serviced by a non- factory mechanic without affecting the warranty, but it can present difficulties if it were to come to a claim against the Kia warranty. You can get into an argument about the competence of the person who worked on the car and whether it not they followed the Kia recommendations etc. But if you have a mechanic you trust to do the work by the book then there is no legal issue. Q My 2005 Nissan Pulsar ST has developed a leak at the cylinder head. Is it repairable? Will it be safe to use after its repaired? Is it advisable to keep it after it is repaired? Francis, Logan City, Qld It is probably a leaking head gasket, a known problem with the Pulsar, and it shouldn t be difficult to repair. Once it s repaired the car should drive as well as ever, and you could keep on driving it as long as you like. Q I recently found that the paint was blistering and falling off my five-year- old blue Ford Falcon Series 2 ute. My dealers service manager took some a few photos and sent me to a local panel beater, and within three days he phoned to tell me that Ford had agreed to re- paint my ute at no cost. Good on you Ford, I say. Alan Gough Macclesfield, Vic I agree that it is good of Ford to repaint your car at no cost to you, but then again isn t that what you would expect when a company puts out a flawed product as Ford did with those they painted Shockwave. Yours is just one of many Ford has had to repaint because of problems with that colour. Q I drive a Honda Accord V6L that uses standard unleaded fuel, but some cars, I know, also run on premium unleaded. I have been told that premium unleaded, although a fair bit more expensive, returns superior economy, which more than makes up for the price difference. I have been told also it is better for your car s engine. Is this true? Why is there such a price difference and why can t all car engines be standardised to run on either fuels? Winston McLeod Forest Hill, Vic Most engines are optimised to run on one fuel or another, and that s the fuel they run best on and deliver the best fuel economy, but they also have knock sensors that detect pre-ignition and adjust the ignition timing to avoid it. That means that while they have been optimised to run on one fuel they can also run on another, lower quality one. Generally your car will run better on premium unleaded than they will on regular unleaded. But we were let in on a little secret and that is that the regular unleaded we are buying is no different to the premium on sale. It seems its more economical for oil companies to produce one type of fuel instead of two. What they do is guarantee the minimum octane rating of the fuel they produce. In the case of regular unleaded thats 91 whereas premium is a minimum of 95. They dont talk about the maximum octane rating. In that case we are wasting our money buying premium when regular is the same fuel. That was last week. What they will do next week is anybody s guess. Why do we pay more for premium? Simple, clever marketing by the oil companies that has convinced us its better. Q I am considering purchasing a Great Wall utility 4WD. My budget will only cover a vehicle in this price range and I do not wish to purchase a secondhand vehicle. They are only new to the country, so would this be a wise decision? My current vehicle is a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, which has been a nightmare, with faulty air- con and heating three times, seat heater problems, noisy diff, engine surging, faulty sensors, the list goes on and on and its been super expensive to repair. Anthony Barber Cranbourne, Vic As you say the Great Wall utes are new to this country, and so far too few have made it on to the market to give us a good picture of what they re like. Having driven them when they were launched last year I can say they are at least one generation behind the current market leaders in that segment, but they seem reasonably well built and they re made from parts that are mostly hand-me- downs from other makes and models, so they should be well tried. At the end of the day you would be a pioneer if you bought one, going where few have gone before, but given your budget its probably worth a punt. Q Four years after buying my 2006 Subaru Impreza wagon the carpet has surprisingly worn out even though it has floor mats supposed to protect it and a wire that connects to the CD stacker beneath the passenger seat is beginning to protrude through the carpet. My local Subaru dealer refused my warranty claim deeming it as normal wear and tear , and my attempts to speak to the dealer principal have been unsuccessful. While I understand that the carpet, along with other aspects of the vehicle will eventually wear from normal use, I believe that for the carpet to wear so badly in a mere four years is not normal, nor is it acceptable, particularly when I have been so careful to take care of it. What is the point of having floor mats if the carpet is going to wear out that quick, or are the floor mats so poorly designed that they are not able to protect the carpet underneath? At another time the dealer called me and asked if I wanted my wiper rubbers replaced at $20 each, as they needed replacement. I agreed and told them to go ahead with it only to realise that instead of using the genuine Subaru wipers they had given me universal non-genuine parts. Shouldn t they have given me an option of genuine or not? Should I just take my vehicle elsewhere? Robert L, email Assessing what is normal wear and tear on things like carpets is always difficult, but for the carpet to be wearing heavily after four years is not what I would call normal. I would also agree that the dealer should have told you they were fitting non-genuine parts to your car when they advised you to replace them. Perhaps the dealer was thinking they were doing you a favour by fitting cheaper wiper blades and saving you some money, but I doubt that Subaru would be happy with the dealer for doing that. I would approach Subaru s customer assistance people and argue for having the carpets and floor mats replaced, and at the same request that they replace non- genuine wiper blades with genuine parts.
August 14th 2010
September 11th 2010