I work and live in the rural area, so I deal with a lot of rough roads, especially during the wet season.
Please recommend a good 4WD with a VVTi engine (diesel or petrol) and has good clearance. Other than Prados, what other makes would you recommend?
The moment you say VVTi, you limit yourself to Toyotas. But, anyway, any fully-fledged 4WD SUV will do the job.
I’m guessing you do not want a full-size SUV (Landcruiser 100 or 200, the “VX” or a Nissan Patrol), so you can have a Nissan Terrano, a Mitsubishi Pajero (a good choice, actually, in terms of comfort and ability), maybe a Land Rover Defender if you do not mind the hedonism of an Eastern European prison cell, a Land Rover Discovery if your pockets go deeper than mine, Isuzu Trooper… the list is endless.
I would, however, advise you to stick to Toyotas, especially if you can get your hands on one made in the mid to late 1990s.
I assume now that you operate from the backwoods, reliability and ease of repair should be top on your list after the very obvious off-road capability.
If you have, say, a Discovery, what would you do when the air-suspension goes phut and you are a million miles from anywhere?
Try the J70 Toyota.
It might be a bit too geometrical in shape, and carrying milk in it might see you change your business to sales of cheese and ghee, but, as cars go, it is unbreakable and will go anywhere.
The J90 Prado is also an option, with a bit more comfort added to the equation, but anything newer than that and you will be gambling with expensive repair jobs.
My car smells of petrol after going six kilometres. What could be the problem? I service the car regularly.
Maybe you have a petrol can inside the car with you? What happens beyond six kilometers?
Anyway, it could be one of many problems: leaking fuel lines, a loose air cleaner connection, a loose fuel filter, plugs that are not firing properly…. I need more symptoms for a more definite answer.
No, I do not keep containers in the car. Three days ago, it stalled. I thought the battery was down so we ‘jacked’ the car.
It went for about two metres then stopped, showing the battery, engine and ABS signs on the dashboard.
The mechanic seems not to know what the problem is. The petrol fumes are now so strong that you can smell them from outside.
The car is a Toyota Vista with a D4 engine, which people have been telling me is problematic.
Please elaborate on the engine and its maintenance.
You jacked the car? Do you realise that you have just told me that you stole the car? Did you mean you jacked it up, or jump-started it?
Displaying all those notifications on the dashborad is normal. When starting a car, the moment the key reaches the “ON” position, all the dashboard graphics come on.
They then go off when the key reaches “START” and stay off when the engine is running (unless the car really has all those problems).
When a car stalls, all those lights come on (because the key is in the “ON” position but the engine is off).
I think I can now presume what your problem is. One of your fuel connections is leaking badly, as I had approximated earlier.
The only marriage between a strong petrol smell and a stalling car is a compromised/breached fuel system: you are fuelling the car, but the fossil fuels seem to go back to the ground rather than finding their way into your cylinders.
I cannot say for sure that this problem is connected to the D4 characteristic, but I do know D4s have problems.
Tell your mechanics to check the connections between the fuel lines feeding the fuel filter, the ones from the filter to the throttle body and at the throttle body itself.
If they don’t know what a throttle body is, it is the chunk of metal at the top of the engine into which air is fed from the air cleaner, and the origin of the injectors.
All the best.
I own a Toyota FunCargo, 2003 model and thus relatively new. Every time I drive on a highway and do above 100km/h, it starts vibrating, literally affecting the entire car.
I have not sought advice from a mechanic because I wanted to consult a specialist first.
Edwin M Kihara.
Your FunCargo could be suffering from one of these: the wheels need balancing or one of them is loose and needs tightening. Check the alignment also, but I doubt if this is it.
I have recently imported a Toyota Wish, manufactured in 2004, and just want to know if there is anything in particular to look out for with this model.
Also, mine does not come with a CD-DVD player/TV (as is usual with the more recent models), and would like to know if you can suggest a good and honest person who can install these for me at a pocket-friendly price.
I am also on the quest for a good and honest mechanic based in Nairobi. Female car owners out there know what I’m talking about.
We are charged double or triple the price for some of the services provided to us by unscrupulous and unprofessional mechanics.
About your Wish lacking CD/DVD, maybe the very first owner (the one who bought it in 2004) did not specify these on his/her vehicle.
But in case they did, these things get stolen at the port in Mombasa. A while back, it was almost impossible to get a second-hand import with the stereo/TV intact.
Most aftermarket tuners/modifiers install these entertainment kits. The most experienced are of course the ones who do matatus, but they might charge you matatu prices and you might have to join a queue.
One way of ensuring honesty might be a bit tiresome: buy the kit yourself and then ask what the installation labour cost is. Theft and dishonesty typically occur at the point of purchase of the kits you seek.
As for the mechanics, there are no guarantees unless you enter yourself into a crash course in motor vehicle basics.
For now, find a trustworthy male friend who knows one or two things about cars and have him accompany you to the garage, or better yet, let him take the car to the mechanics. Several of my lady friends do this with me, and I think it works.
All the best.
I drive a Toyota Mark II Regalia, old model (KAY XXX). I took it for an engine wash and it appears some sensitive sensors got in contact with water because it is now too slow to accelerate.
My question is: are there known dangers associated with engine washes? If yes, how can they be avoided? Thanks a lot for the informative column.
To be honest, Sir, I think this is becoming a problem of epidemic proportions, because similar complaints are coming thick and fast from other readers.
Yes, water might have got into the electronics. And yes, it is rectifiable either lizard-style or hairdresser-style.
The lizard style involves parking your car in the sun with the bonnet open for some hours (not 100 per cent effective, bad for your paint job and the car will be uncomfortable inside when you finally pick it up).
The hairdresser style involves getting a blow drier and applying it to the areas you suspect the water might have got into (logistically tricky: most blow dries have short cords, and it is also embarrassing for a man to be seen using a typically female electronic device on his car).
Do this: Perform the engine wash yourself, because it seems like most car wash outfits out there are putting drivers into difficulties.
Engine wash is not the same as body wash where copious volumes of water and detergent are needed to acquire a gleam.
A wet rag, meticulously used, should clean your engine and spare your car future hiccups.
I drive a Nissan Sunny B15, 2001 model, that I imported three years ago. My agony started when the original front shocks got worn out.
All other shocks I have fitted hardly last three months. We even replaced the front coil springs with “tougher” ones but this has made little difference in prolonging the lifespan. The bushes are alright.
The car is only driven by me, covers a distance of six kilometres daily (Ngara to Parklands) and occasional trips upcountry.
It covers on average 600 kilometres a month and is carefully driven. The rest of the systems are okay (engine, electrical, steering, braking, transmission etc).
Is this a common problem with this model? What would you recommend?
One common mistake people make is replacing the springs and shocks but forgetting to change the mounts too.
This tends to be counterproductive: it is like washing one sleeve of a dirty shirt, or replacing one worn out shoe in a pair.
The suspension problem could be typical of B15, but I do not see how a drive from Ngara to Parklands and back would warrant a suspension change. Maybe the mechanics are short-changing you; I don’t know.
My advice towards addressing this problem will sound harsh and generate heat among some circles: maybe it’s time we started paying more attention to locally franchised cars, even when buying second-hand.
They have the advantage of having dealer support and in some cases you might even get a car with an outstanding warranty, which will be a relief to you, your bank manager and your dependants.
When I discussed tropicalisation, I was disparaged as a minion for the local outlets, but now it seems a good number of readers are facing complications from “new” imports.
Maybe the chicken have come home to roost?
Hello Mr Baraza,
My Nissan Sylphy N16 does not engage the reverse gear after travelling for a distance.
It however has no problem in the morning or after parking for more than two hours. What could be the problem?
Is it manual or auto? Either way, it looks like you will have to face the music and have the gearbox dropped to the ground for further investigation. Take it from me, it is not an experience you will enjoy.
Have them check the linkage (on either transmission type) first before disassembling the gearbox.
If the linkage is intact, for the automatic have the electrical systems also checked (with the manual just go straight to disassembly). If the electricals are fine, well, take the bull by the horns.
Just so you know, you might have to buy a new gearbox… or learn how to make three right turns in order to go backwards.
I have a Toyota Duet (YOM 2000) which was a perfect car until some time last year when it stalled on the road.
When the car was fixed by the mechanic, it started vibrating. He told me the mountings needed to be changed, which I authorised and the work was carried out.
Several months later, despite numerous visits to the mechanic, the vibrations have not stopped.
This problem is more pronounced when in traffic jams and the car is in gear. I have now changed all the mountings and I’m wondering what is next.
I love the car and its fuel efficiency. It normally does not give me any other problems as I take it for service regularly when it is due (every 5,000 km).
I strongly suspect you changed the mounts for nothing. I think the first mechanic messed up the idling settings on your car, so have the idle checked (at the throttle body), before you commit yourself to more expensive measures.
Let me know how this goes and we will take it up from there.