Thank you for the informative articles on motoring. I would like you to clarify something about Subarus.
Are they the strongest and most powerful cars around?
I am saying this because all the people I have come across driving Subarus are big-headed and arrogant on the road.
They go to the extreme of blocking your way when you want to overtake them, hardly give way, and they overtake at corners.
No, Subarus are neither the strongest nor the most powerful vehicles around. They are not even the fastest.
These cars are fast earning a reputation for being the wheels of choice of indisciplined sociopaths, a rather sad state of affairs because the cars are quite good.
Buying one now, especially an STi (WRX or Forester, huge spoilers and massive exhaust in place) has become a social no-no; the law will watch you a bit more keenly and ladies will avoid you, suspecting that you are not as mature as you might look. Unfortunate.
But, no, Subarus do not turn you into an idiot.
Last Friday, I took one to Narok and back (Legacy saloon, black, two-litre, non-turbo) and, while the temptation to bounce off the limiter at 180 km/h was quite strong, I do not recall feeling the urge to privatise the road and inconvenience other users.
If anything, I remember being quite courteous, yielding more than I normally would.
I own a Subaru Impreza. Everything about it is okay but I am concerned because when I start the engine, the car smokes for about five seconds after which the smoke disappears.
I service the car regularly after every 2,500 km, so what might be the problem?
Five seconds you say? Hmmm! ’Does not sound too bad, but all the same a car should never smoke.
What colour is the smoke? Blue means you are burning oil, in which case the valve seals may be leaking.
White smoke means you are burning coolant, so the head gasket may be leaking.
It could also mean you are burning ATF if your car is an automatic, so check the transmission seals for integrity.
We have a 2003 Nissan X-Trail and I am not comfortable with how the fuel gauge rapidly falls even when the vehicle is in 2WD mode.
We replaced the fuel filter and it is still bad compared to a normal Nissan X-Trail.
The mechanic checked and saw that the bonding record of the fuel gauge was up, not down, as it was supposed to be.
I request you to enlighten and advise me on what I am supposed to do.
1. Do I request the mechanic to kindly re-check it and try to correct it?
2. If not to re-check it, what could be the problem?
3. In your view, what should be done to correct the problem?
1. Yes, request the mechanic to have another look at it. Not necessarily kindly, unless you want him to do it for free, in which case, yes, request kindly.
2. The problem was identified: you said the issue was the irregular movements of the fuel gauge and you found an anomaly in the equipment, so through syllogism, it follows that the equipment is the harbinger of chaos on your dashboard.
3. Repair. Replacement. Anything that will get it working well again.
I have owned a Nissan B15 for the past 11 months. Recently, it started to produce a strange sound from the engine.
My mechanic told me it has a slow knock and we bought motor honey for it.
What are the signs of a knocking engine and what measures should one take to prevent this?
Motor honey? Anyway, signs of a knocking engine: first the oil warning light will come on, which means you should top up the oil (honey?) shortly.
It might go off and on a few times, or it might stay permanently on if you do not top up.
Depending on how hard, how far, and where you are driving, sooner or later a slight rattle will emanate from around the cylinder head area whenever the throttle is opened (off throttle, everything sounds OK).
If you can hear the rattle, then it is too late, you have suffered an engine knock.
To prevent an engine knock, always have the right amount of oil flowing through the engine.
Regular checks, especially before and after long/hard driving should be done to determine whether an oil change is due.
And always change the oil after wading through sump-deep water.
I would like to buy a 2002 Peugeot 406, 1800cc. How would you rate this car and are its spares readily available?
Where can you service this vehicle in case you have it?
This calls for a bit of research because I am not sure if Marshalls turned over all things Peugeot to Urasia, or if they still have stocks of old model Peugeot parts.
What I know is they are there. If these two do not have them, then good ol’ Grogan Road will.
I have found spares for my old 405 there on numerous occasions (and that silly thing is now 24 years old).
I rate the 406 very, very highly, and would buy one too once the money comes right. Servicing can be done at any garage of repute.
I own a Toyota Corolla NZE, which is a full-time 4WD. Please advise me on consumption as compared to a 2WD.
Secondly, someone told me that the gearbox for this kind of vehicle is difficult to repair in case need arises, that it is difficult to even transform from manual to automatic.
Please help me understand this.
Consumption is just a touch higher in the 4WD, but you will never notice under ordinary driving conditions.
And yes, the transmission will be a swine to fix once broken because the marriage of the primary gearbox and secondary transfer case makes for an elaborate mechanical maze.
However, I am not so sure about the swap. It is usually easy in other cars, but I cannot declare anything yet until I study the schematics of the NZE powertrain.
I own a Toyota Trueno and want to upgrade the carburettor engine to EFI.
It has a 1428cc 3A engine and I feel that the consumption is a little bit on the higher side (currently doing 10 kpl) so I want a more fuel efficient engine.
Should I replace it with a 6A or 5A Toyota engine? Which EFI engine is compatible with a 3A carburettor engine?
If I maintain the same carburettor power unit, how do I make it more fuel efficient?
The 5A is a better unit and you have a choice of two: the 5A-FE, for really good economy, or the 5A-FHE, which offers the economy but is tuned for a more aggressive output and better performance.
In order to maximise economy on a carburettor engine, the first thing you need to do is drive slower.
Then make sure the choke is in the correct position. If you want to get technical, you can fit smaller carburettors.
If you want to get really technical, you can swap the entire cylinder head for one of Honda’s CVCC heads, if you can find one, that is (this is technology from 1975, but it works like magic).
The CVCC engines have two-stage cylinder heads and two-channel carburettors.
One channel from the carburettor feeds a rich mixture into the upper combustion chamber, in which the spark plug is located, for easy combustion.
The other channel feeds a lean mixture into the lower combustion chamber, and the ignition heat from the rich mixture burning lights up the lean mixture, so the plugs do not have to be strained trying to ignite the lean mixture.
The result is almost 18 kpl from a 1.5 litre carburettor engine. Neat.
I am a part-time university student who is thinking of buying my first car.
I really admire the Land Rover 110 but know how costly they are. Recently, I found used ones that go for around Sh500,000.
Should I go for one and slowly change its looks by going for bodyworks and other stuff or should I purchase a different car that you would recommend, based on fuel consumption, maintenance, and resale value?
Griff, what do you want, or expect, from the Defender?
I also crave one too, just so you know, but fuel consumption and resale value are primary considerations for me, more so given that my heart is set on the petrol-powered V8 (it has a fearsome thirst, not even a loan from HELB could get you substantial mileage).
The diesel engines are a bit so-so. Anything pre-1999 is going to introduce you to the diametric opposite of a Lexus in terms of smoothness. And acceleration.
The petrol variants, on the other hand, will help clear your HELB loan faster than a feminist female classmate on a revenge mission against men.
There is a five-cylinder model that came out at the turn of the Millennium that might please you.
Turbocharged and intercooled, the 2.5-litre diesel can manage up to 11 kpl (avoid Thika Road at rush hour, if you catch my drift) and it can propel the Defender up to 140 km/h, at which point the laws of physics and nature take over to remind you that your car is not the last word in aerodynamics.
Maintenance sessions should fall within the “manageable” classification; not necessarily cheap, but thankfully far between, and the body construction of the Defender means prangs are easily cured by replacing the low-cost body panels rather than going for a hit-or-miss panel beating and/or repaint.
The addenda will cost you, though, especially those knobbly tyres. The exact costs will depend on what you want to add and what shop you buy it from.
I intend to replace my Toyota Mark 2 (XJ100) 2000 model with a Mercedes S class W140, but my wife will hear none of it, saying Mercs are expensive to maintain.
But I know that Merc owners see garages less often than their Japanese vehicles counterparts, thus more savings in the long run.
Is there anything you can say to help me convince her?
Yes, there is something I can add. It is a sad day when a woman chooses a Toyota over a Benz.
Suddenly, there is no need for us men to work hard any more if buying a Mercedes rather than a Toyota makes no difference to a woman — the woman we are trying to get on the good side of — or worse yet, she goes for the underdog Toyota. What gives?
I work in the automotive industry and regularly read your column. I wonder if your responses are based on facts.
You could be de-marketing some models, you know.
“De-marketing some models”? Mine is not to promote vehicle models, or demote them for that matter. I just answer questions.
And I should take exception to the fact that you suspect my responses are the product of pure conjecture or guesswork.
But I am good like that, so I will not.
The various franchises and dealerships/outlets have their respective PR and marketing departments, so I will not do their work for them.
I gain nothing by marketing one make of car over another without good reason to, or without supporting evidence; much in the same way I gain nothing by “de-marketing” others.
If the advice I dole out happens to hurt one brand over another, I am sorry, but that is from my various observations.
It is thus up to the respective PR/marketing firm/department of that company to do some damage control, and that does NOT include saying “Baraza JM (not Jim, by the way, as some people insist on calling me) knows not what he speaks”.
Please go over my answers again, carefully. You will notice that I answer questions according to how I am asked.
If a reader asks what the fuel consumption of a Cadillac Escalade is and I tell him “very poor”, it is because the Escalade is heavy on petrol: 4kpl is pretty whack, even for a lorry, and the Escalade WILL do 4kpl.
If a reader asks me what I prefer between a Land Cruiser and a Ranger pickup, I say Ranger pickup because I ACTUALLY prefer it to the Land Cruiser (but not to the Navara, incidentally).
If I do not know the answer to a question, I will confess my ignorance, as was the case over the Audi franchise holder.
What I know about are the horrors of posting untruths in a national newspaper: it is safer to say I do not know rather than publish nonsense for which I will take the flak, and what for?
As regards mechanical difficulties, mine is a consultation service, for which I charge my readers no fee; what I offer them is guidance or a starting point for them to solve their problems.
It may or may not work, but I am proud to say it mostly works.
Long story short, the answer to your query is yes, there is research behind my answers. And a personal touch too; I am human, after all.
And if you think I “de-market” cars, go watch a programme called Top Gear, you will thank me for how polite I am.