Subaru Impreza vs XV: which one to buy for my wife, and dog?
A READER faces an unusual toss-up. With his super payout, he's going to buy his wife her first new car- and he's not sure whether the Subaru XV or Impreza stablemate will fill the bill.
A SCOOBY WILL DO
I have recently retired and with my super I'm going to buy my wife her first new car, a Subaru. My daughter has an XV and her mum likes the Impreza. I've checked both cars - which would you buy? It will mainly be just her and her dog in the car.
Christopher Wild, email
In essence, the XV is a jacked-up Impreza, it's more expensive but could be better for access with its higher ride. If it's to be used on the road only, don't spend extra on the XV, which is talented off-road. The Impreza is better value and the range sweet spot is the 2.0i-L with smart Eyesight safety kit for $24,690, about $5K cheaper than the equivalent XV. Get the hatch version if you want the dog to ride in the boot.
Re tow ball downloads. I can't believe how VW can change the Tiguan's limit from 100kg to 200kg. I checked a few months ago with VW Australia and was told the Tiguan's ball weight was and is to remain 100kg. It led me to sell my Tiguan after one year of ownership at a loss of $13,000. Instead I bought a Subaru Outback with a 160kg tow ball limit. Incredible!
Guy Maron, email
VW raising the Tiguan's tow ball limit from 100kg to 200kg, after re-evaluation with its technicians, is great news for towing Tiguan owners. Sadly, it doesn't help you Guy. Your frustration is palpable.
My friend has a broken leg so can't drive her Lexus hybrid, an IS300h. I offered to attach my smart trickle battery charger so the car would start when she is able to drive. The owner's manual had no information on battery charging and the Lexus service adviser told me they do not charge the starter battery - the only options were drive the car every two weeks to maintain charge or call road service if it goes flat! If you buy a hybrid car to save fuel, it's pointless to have to drive regularly just to charge the battery.
Glenn Morris, email
Hybrid expert John Lapworth of the Prius Club Qld advises: "It's perfectly OK to hook up a trickle charger to the 12V battery directly to its terminals in the boot or via the jump start terminals in the fuse box. The 12V battery is only used to open the starting circuit and relays - once that happens the big battery does the heavy work to start the car. The hybrid vehicle battery won't lose charge while standing but the 12V one can trickle down as it also runs the alarm system and searches for the smart key."
DRIVES YOU NUTS
We have a 2010 Ford Mondeo with locking wheel nuts. The locking nut key is broken. Two Ford dealers we've asked can't supply a new one and we heard the same from Ford's customer service. The dealer said our only option was to smash the nuts off. We need to replace the tyres and I've already damaged one alloy getting it off to change a flat tyre.
Annette and Alan Maeyke, email
My tyre shop contact says your plight is common. One method is to hammer a 12-point socket over the locking wheel nuts, buy a long breaker bar from somewhere like Supercheap or Repco, and this should work to loosen the nuts. Buy replacement non-locking nuts while you're at the auto store. If you have no joy with this, call your local tyre shops. One should have a decent air wrench to get them off.
My 2013 Kia Sorento Platinum has serious problems. Returning from a caravan holiday the rear end developed an issue, leaving us stranded. The rear differential assembly and transfer assembly case were replaced under warranty - but only after 42 days, countless hours-long round trips to Kia dealers and me having to get a hire car through my insurance. Just 35 days after the fix there was oil pouring from the rear end after a loud bang. Six months later the front end started making a thumping sound. New front end needed. My car has been in Kia's workshop cumulatively for more than four months.
Brian O'Reilly, email
Quite the saga, Brian. Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth responded quickly, saying yours was an unfortunate episode that shouldn't have taken this long to put right. It's now fixed under warranty and at no charge to you. There's a new front and rear end in your Sorento, so well done, Kia. But the experience can leave a bitter taste with all the running around and stress.
GIVE US A BRAKE
Re squealing brakes. Our Abarth 595 Competizione has the same issue. The Brembo brakes squeal when cold, warm or hot, and on short or long trips. The dealer charged us $330 for a fix and within 10 days the squeal was back. It's done only 2600km and the problem's been there from new. It's so annoying.
Daniel Baschera, email
I had the same problem with my Ford Focus. Ford could never fix it. I went to Brakes+ and had ceramic brake pads fitted, the result being lovely quiet brakes and no filthy alloy wheels from the Ford-supplied pads.
Lin Richards, email
As we've said, squealing brakes on new cars, no matter how fancy the brand, are unacceptable. Ceramic brake pads may deliver a costly solution.
GOT SOMETHING TO SAY?
Iain Curry gets answers. Write to motoring at PO Box 2808, GPO Sydney, NSW, 2001 or firstname.lastname@example.org