26 September 2023

Ask the Doctor

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By Paul Gover.

Q: I have a 2006 Mazda6 that I love in every way, but have you ever heard of an engine getting to 420,000 kilometres on the clock?

She is getting tired, I know, but she is a workhorse as I run a charity and work for others.

She picks up donations and never complains, which is why I say ‘She’. I’m just amazed that she is still going strong.

How much longer do you think I’ll have her as I will have to start saving now?


A: You definitely need to start saving, not just for a replacement but because things will be starting to go wrong. It’s not unusual for engines to run for huge distances, as Volvo once hailed plenty of cars that had travelled one million kilometres and lots of Ford Falcon taxis went beyond 400,000. But it’s the little things that will likely stop her and you should also consider an update to get extra safety.

Q: I currently drive a round trip of 140-150 kilometres a day, leading to approximately 25,000 a year.

I am currently driving a diesel dual-cab which I want to keep and was considering a smaller car for the day-to-day run to work.

I have looked at some smaller cheaper cars but I have also started to think about getting a cheaper electric vehicle like the new MG ZS EV.

The budget doesn’t stretch into Tesla territory but would a purchase like this or the BYD Atto 3 be worth the price given the amount travelled each year?

Stefan B

A: Your 140-150 kilometre commute is right in the sweet spot of current EVs, even as range stretches beyond 400. The MG is a popular choice and we’ve had positive feedback, but we have no experience with the BYD. The Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq or Kona should be your first choices for an affordable EV and there are already on the secondhand scene if your budget does not stretch to a new car.

Q: I recently inspected a 2018 Skoda Superb and on the outset was happy with the overall condition outside and inside.

Now my issue, as when I asked for the service books and manuals I was told it did not come with the vehicle.

The vehicle has 30,000 kilometres on the dial.

What is your advice on buying a used car without the service record, would a car like this be worth pursuing, and what can I do to getting any details to ensure I have history and accountability on such a vehicle?

Colin T

A: Never buy a car without the full service records. This is a black-and-white decision. It is the only proof that the service work has been done on time and to factory standards.

Q: I have ordered a manual Subaru BRZ that I should get around June.

I am very much looking forward to driving it, but I am increasingly getting the feeling that it may not be so smart to stick to yesterday’s internal-combustion technology.

I realise that making forecasts is more than just a little tricky, but I can’t help wandering what the future will bring for ownership of ICE cars.

Perhaps there is a difference to be made here between run-of-the-mill vehicles and what we may call ‘classics’.

I wonder what countries with advanced EV policies and usage are doing in that regard.

In case you are wondering why I just don’t go for an EV, the answer is that I am an old single fellow who has no need for five seats and five doors in a car shaped like a brick.

Svend de G

A: It’s most likely that internal-combustion, electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will live comfortably together for a while in countries like Australia, unless there is a substantial change in government policy with penalties for emissions. We see non-mainstream vehicles being ICE for a while yet, even if some European manufacturers are pledging EV-only ranges from 2030-2040. Brands like Toyota and even Ford are also starting to hedge their bets saying (paraphrasing) the rush to pure electric is perhaps premature. In terms of sports and enthusiast cars, there’s very likely to be a retention of ICE technology, if only at the high-end. Porsche has recently announced large investments in synthetic carbon neutral or positive fuels which will keep some form of ICE engines in play for a considerable time, even as it develops future internal-combustion and electric models side-by-side.

Q: I am driving a Nissan Dualis, now thinking of buying a new SUV car with the same size.

The new Qashqai looks meet my needs but I also find out the Subaru XV is still ok because it is all-wheel drive and I think the prices almost similar.

Would you recommend me which car is the better choice?

Flora L

A: You need to so some back-to-back kilometres on test drives. The upcoming replacement for the Qashquai is a significant step forward, but the XV is still popular – likely helped by all-wheel drive – despite its age. The biggest difference between the two is that the Nissan is a traditional boxy SUV and the XV is like a high-riding hatchback, so more of a crossover. For your test drives, make sure you go on a range of roads, try parking and manoeuvring, load some luggage in and out. Right now, the XV is the better choice.

Q: Just wondering if you know which is the better quality fuel to buy, as I used 98?

So BP Costco or another brand?

People have been saying to me the Costco fuel is no good and watered down.

Michael P

A: Best is always to go for a high-volume site, particularly if your car uses 98 premium fuel. Shell and BP both have a good reputation, now Ampol is pushing its premium fuels as well. There is no way Costco would be watering its fuels, as the penalty would be huge and it’s a company with a global reputation.

Q: We are going to buy my daughter’s first car, it needs to be automatic, and we have approximately $15,000.

Your thoughts?

She likes the Hyundai i30, so are they any good? If so, are certain years better than others?

Sam R

A: The Hyundai i30 is a great little first car and your budget should get a good one with, potentially at least, some of the factory warranty still remaining. Best to concentrate on getting a car with low mileage and all the latest safety equipment. Also book her into a safe driving course to give her the best chance of avoiding dramas in her early years on the road.

Q: I currently drive a BMW 320d, which is a great car to drive, but I am in my 50s with lower back issues.

So I am looking at buying a new vehicle that is a bit higher so it’s easier to get in and out.

Looking at BMW X3 or X5, or would you recommend a similar vehicle in Mercedes or Audi?

Kelvin A

A: If you’re already in a BMW then it’s a fair bet you like the brand, so best to stay where you are. The X3 is very good and the best choice, for value and comfort. It’s a sweeter drive than an equivalent Benz, while the Audi Q5 runs in third.

If you have a question for the Car Doctor, send an email to [email protected]

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