27 September 2023

Ask the Doctor

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By Paul Gover.

Q: We have a Subaru Outback 2015 which has been terrific and very reliable.

The only thing that has been a problem is the leather steering wheel which has deteriorated to a point where it’s now become very annoying to drive at 115,000 kilometres.

I’ve mentioned the steering wheel problem to the service people, so they are going to have a look at it at the time of service.

What do you think I should do and do I have any recourse in the company replacing the wheel at no charge to me as it started about 2-3 years ago?

Shane M

A: You should have reported the problem when he began. Your experience is not completely unusual, although rare, and companies usually will say the deterioration is caused by something on the drivers’ hands – rings or even lotions – and will cover themselves by calling it ‘wear and tear’ and outside the warranty by a long way. You should contact Subaru Australia, not just rely on the dealership, and ask for a ‘loyalty contribution’ – that means help after the warranty as you’ve been ‘loyal’ in servicing at a dealership – and do the same with the dealership.

Q: I have a 2009 Audi A4 diesel wagon which has done over 250,000 kilometres and now I’m looking at SUVs.

I’m almost 75 and a SUV will be easier on my (bad) back, getting in and out of the vehicle.

Another consideration is that the Audi won’t last much longer, so I will have to make up my mind in the next 6-12 months.
I have been looking at everything from Volkswagen Tiguans to Skodas, to Volvos and Audi Q5s.

I like conservative European design and standards, am not wedded to diesel, and don’t want anything too large.

My wife has a Subaru Forester. She is a keen bird watcher and assures me the Forester is ideal for bird watching as the windows are large and visibility excellent.
But, before I can make a decision as to what to buy, I need to decide something more fundamental: do I wait for the first generation of electric vehicles to arrive, or do I go with the last generation of internal combustion engines?

Terence M

A: It’s far too early for a worthwhile and cost effective switch to electric and, without being unkind, you might never get the right sums before the end of your driving time. If you like the Subaru then get another Forester – it’s a very good car and will tick your boxes.

Q:We had two tyres on our Mercedes-Benz A200 replaced by a local dealer about 12 months ago.

At a recent service we were told that the two new tyres were not run-flats which were originally on our vehicle, and as such, we didn’t have a spare tyre should we get a flat.

I thought that the tyre dealer should have been aware that we had run-flats and he should have replaced like for like even though I didn’t specifically tell him.

To cut a long story short he wasn’t going to accept any responsibility and he told me that he recalled telling me (12 months earlier) that run-flats were a con/waste of money and that should we get a flat we should an aerosol repair kit which would do the job.

Will these cans of tyre sealer do the job or should we just go and buy two new run flats? The car has a compressor in the boot.

Chris D

A: Tyre sealant will work for a nail in the tread or a minor puncture, but nothing more, and lots of people are suffering sidewall splits with the deep potholes on many Australian roads. You need to switch companies and get the job done properly.

Q: There is an advertisement for a class action against BMW for owners of diesel vehicles.

Is this something I should be a part of, or should I have experienced some form of issue?

I purchased 118d M-Sport manual new in 2012 and, 265,000 kilometres later, I still own it.
Secondly your opinion on the current Lexus NX350 F-Sport – not hybrid.

Peter D

A: If you’ve had no drama why would you even consider joining a legal action. As for the NX, it’s fine but not great unless you go for the hybrid.

Q: I’m planning to store two collectable cars in my garage near the coast in Queensland. I’m wanting to know if heat is likely to cause deterioration to the body or interior.

They won’t be in direct sunlight but I’ve no idea what temperatures cars can withstand without causing deterioration.

My garage is brick with a pitched roof made of steel tiles, with no insulation.

The cars are a 1971 XJ6 Jaguar which has a leather interior, restored some years ago, and a Series 2 VF Holden Commodore SS-V Redline in showroom condition.

I‘m not overly concerned with costs, I just want to protect the cars.

Grant S

A: Anything you want to protect should be as close to a fixed temperature and humidity as possible, like a museum. Cars are much robust but, after checking with some people I know who have classics to preserve, they recommend checking into a device called a Carcoon. Details are at: https://www.carcoon.com.au/

Q: Can you please tell me what this is all about that diesel vehicles will be not produced in a couple of years to come – what about those of us who tow?

Is the new Nissan X-Trail and the new Mitsubishi Outlander the same vehicle?

We would like to update my wife’s car to a mid-sized SUV, mainly for running around and to work with 40 kilometres a day and a budget around $35,000, so what would you recommend?

Michael P

A: Diesel is not dead yet, but the whole world is moving against the fuel because of its toxic emissions. Petrol power will be fine for towing for years to come, thanks to turbocharging, and electric is nowhere near taking over on that front. Nissan and Mitsubishi are part of the same group, but the vehicles are not twins in the same way as Hyundai and Kia. A sensible SUV would be a Subaru Forester, but if you want something more boxy then head to a Kia showroom – but be prepared for a waiting list.

Q: Are small SUVs women’s cars?

I was thinking of buying a Hyundai Kona or a Mazda CX-30 but my sister thinks they look too feminine.


A: You are aware that it’s 2023? Styling is not male or female, and SUVs are about practicality. If you want a macho edge there is a Kona N with a performance punch. Otherwise, both are good choices.

Q: I need to make a decision regarding the purchase of a new car in the near future.

I have narrowed it down to a Kia Sportage but also looking at a Toyota RAV.

What do you recommend or do you have something else in this price range that would be a better choice?

Michelle M

A: The RAV is the right choice if you want a hybrid, and are happy to wait for more than a year, but otherwise it’s the Kia for me. You should also take a test drive in a Nissan X-Trail and do the sums on one, as it’s new and very good.

Q: What’s your thoughts on the Havel H6GT?

We like the way it look, but is there something else in the same price range we should consider.


A: Haval is at the bargain end of the business, so if you know and accept that then it’s fine. It’s not a class leader but scores well on value and I have not heard any complaints about breakdowns or major failures.

Q: I have a Mercedes Benz SLK 200, year 2000, with relatively low mileage at 150,000 kilometres and in very good condition.

I am thinking of selling or is it worth hanging onto as a future investment?

Joe P

A: If you love it keep, otherwise move it on. The chance of it becoming any sort of collectible car is very low.

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

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