一本道理不卡一二三区

Honest John: my Land Rover has been reliable, but should I buy another?

Our consumer champion suggests alternatives to a Land Rover Discovery that will be dependable and cheaper to run

Land Rover Discovery 4 driving through stream
Sodden impact: it's the end of the road for reader TL's Land Rover Discovery 4

If your car has developed a fault, or for consumer advice, turn to Honest John by emailing honestadvice@nuggetsbasketballteamshop.com

Voyage of Discovery

After more than 100,000 miles, my Land Rover Discovery 4 (probably the best vehicle for my purposes I’ve owned) is due for replacement. I’ve not had diesel problems despite lots of short journeys. My budget is about £25,000, plus whatever trade-in allowance I’d get for a 2010 Discovery XS TDV6 in good condition. This is possibly the last car I’ll own. Reliability is a key requirement, so what should I buy? TL

一本道理不卡一二三区Positive reports from Discovery owners are near the top of my wishlist, so your query really stood out. You're probably looking at up to £9,000 for the Discovery 4. The full version of your email suggests that although you have been pleased with the Discovery you're now looking for something smaller. Since you list reliability as a key factor, I suggest buying Japanese or South Korean. Unless you need four-wheel drive, a Kia Niro self-charging hybrid probably makes more sense than the same company's larger Sportage. If a Sportage appeals, however, then the best one is the 1.6 TGDI GT 4WD. I would also suggest new Toyota C-HR self-charging hybrid, which I like very much. It comes with a five-year warranty and proven Toyota hybrid reliability (some Prius taxis have passed 400,000 miles without trouble). A slightly larger alternative to the Toyota is the Honda CR-V self-charging hybrid. The Toyota RAV4 and smaller Lexus UX hybrids are also worth considering. 

Thrash decision

You have previously recommended ex-rental cars as good used buys. You also regularly recommend the use of the best quality fuels for engine longevity and economy. When renting vehicles, I never fill up prior to return with anything other than the cheapest fuel. I imagine most would do the same. Are rental vehicles also not run up to within an inch of their first service prior to being sold off, possibly racking up many miles on the original oil? Would both these factors not detract from the viability of an ex-rental car? MC

They are usually sold well before the first service is due. When exactly depends on a lot of factors, primarily age since first registered rather than mileage. Many remain owned by the manufacturers and are leased or loaned to the rental companies. It is seen as a means of getting people into cars they might like and perhaps later buy for themselves or specify as a company car. The fact that, while on rental, the cars are driven by a variety of different drivers is a good thing because it runs them in better. I agree, hirers don't '”waste their money” on premium fuels. Beware of ex-rentals with more than 10,000 miles that have not been serviced and if central computer service records are unavailable. I'm receiving a number of cases where buyers have been assured that the cars have full service records, only to find out later that they haven't (technically an offence under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008).

Uncashed Czech

After reading of problems with the Skoda Yeti diesel, I changed my mind about buying one (I do only 5,000 miles annually). I had made a deposit of £250 to secure one but what will my liabilities be if I no longer want the car? JB

Having paid a deposit of £250 and put the dealer to the expense of bringing the car to your area, I don't think you have a valid reason to cancel this sale without losing the deposit. But if the car is not already on its way, you might be able to persuade the dealer that for 5,000 miles a year a diesel would not be appropriate and they might relent. (Happily, the manager of Marshalls in Croydon refunded JB’s deposit straight away.)

Charging ahead

What would be the best type of electric car charger to install at my home? KJ

一本道理不卡一二三区Chargemaster seems to be the most common/universal one, from £399 plus the cost of installation if the wiring of your property is suitable. The crucial feature for any such item is a charge rate of at least 7.2kWh.

Snakebite

You frequently advise the replacement of cambelts and auxiliaries. What about cars with chain-driven camshafts, like my VW Golf R32? A search online seems to indicate possible problems with the “serpentine tensioner”, whatever that is. MS

This is the tensioner for the long, hence “serpentine”, timing chain. It was a problem with the 2.8 and 2.9 VR6s, as well as the 3.2.

Whine merchant

I have owned a 2013 Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI auto from new. Recently, I detected a slight whine from the gearbox on deceleration. It has done 66,000 miles, has already had one gearbox oil change and is due another in June. Is this noise a known fault, is it terminal or will new oil resolve the issue? BG

一本道理不卡一二三区This will be a DL382 longitudinal s-tronic. They can become troublesome. I would not delay having the transmission fluid and filter changed.

Pedigree chump

Unrestrained dogs in cars could cause serious injury in the event of an accident Credit: Martin Meissner/AP

I’m sure I have read that when a dog is travelling in a car it must be restrained in some way, or the insurance is invalid if you have an accident. A friend, whose dog sits on a mattress on the back seat, says I’m wrong. Can you clarify? SC

You are correct. If you have a collision and an unrestrained dog causes any damage (especially to another passenger), the driver will be held liable.

Groaning pains

I have a 2017 BMW X1, still under warranty. When I pull away sharply left or right, I hear a rumbling noise under the rear of the car. Do I need to worry? CM

Presuming this is an xDrive all-wheel drive model, the rumble might be caused by a tread depth disparity of more than 3mm between the tyres. That can confuse the xDrive clutch.

Size matters

We plan to replace our Seat Ibiza with a similarly small car that will fit our narrow garage. We will be testing a couple of low-mileage Honda Jazz automatics. One is an SE CVT and the other a Sport CVT. What should we be looking for to avoid future problems? We do quite a lot of motorway driving. Will the 1.3 be OK or should we go for a 1.5? RP

一本道理不卡一二三区The 1.5 Sport is much more lively. The engine seems to bring it to life, even with the CVT-7 automatic transmission.

Zut! A law...

French lesson: highway workers replace a 90kph speed limit sign with an 80kph one Credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP

Adding to your warnings about speeding fines being sent from France, a friend living in rural France tells me the government has encouraged regional departments to lower speed limits through small towns. However, the towns can’t afford to change all the signs. Have you heard of this? RM

Same thing as reducing the 90kph national limit to 80kph without changing the signs. I have a Freedom of Information reply showing that between February and June 2019, the French requested 246,138 UK vehicle keeper details to issue traffic penalties.

Country file

I am looking for a hatchback or small SUV to cope with country lanes as well as main roads and motorways. My budget is up to £20,000 for a car up to seven years old. What would you recommend? DR

You can get a new Dacia Duster 1.3 150 Prestige with 4WD for £18,795, plus £175 for a spare wheel.

Warm and peace

I have a one-year-old Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid, mainly used for journeys within the electric-only range (35 miles). As a result, last summer I was getting about 500mpg. However in the winter, as soon as I turn the heater on, the petrol engine starts and my mpg drops dramatically. I can use heated seats, radio and headlights without starting the petrol engine – but not the heater. Is this usual? DB

That's normal. EV zealots will tell you the heater uses a lot more of the battery range than heated seats do

Magic in the air

Fun in the sun: Mini Convertible

My Peugeot 206 has reached its end after 19 years with an expensive steering repair. I want to replace it with a fun convertible and would like to spend about £5,000. Any suggestions? RW

Now we’re into spring, getting a convertible at a good price is a matter of finding a desperate seller. A Mini or BMW 1-series aren't much larger than your Peugeot. Saab 9-3 petrol-engined convertibles aren't bad, although they are older and larger.

Mist opportunity

We were keen to buy a Honda Jazz 2 for less than £4,000, but quite a lot have an MoT advisory at about 40,000 miles: “Nearside rear shock absorbers, light misting of oil or limited damping effect”. Should we go ahead? GS

It’s the most practical car of that size and also one of the most reliable. Replacing rear dampers is an inexpensive job.

Knotty ash

I have a 2010 Peugeot 308 on which the diesel particulate filter (DPF) is blocked with soot. My garage said it must be replaced, costing £500, but then it mentioned using some cleaning solution. What do you recommend? RD

If the DPF is blocked with soot, then various people claim to be able to clean it out, but I have no feedback of the effectiveness. If it is blocked with ash (from burning off the soot), then that can be cleaned by sending the DPF away to Ceramex, which costs about £400: www.ceramex.com.

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