27 September 2023

Ask the Doctor

Start the conversation

By Paul Gover.

Q: I am considering purchasing a 2011 Mazda CX-7 from someone I work with that is very honest.

However, the person selling has shared that it has an oil leak and they are unable to identify where the leak is from.
Apart from oil leak, it has a small dent in rear and is going to be a cheap buy, around $2000.

Given the rear-main oil seal is the worst scenario, is this something this model is known to have happen and how would I be able to tell without having it looked at by a mechanic first?

If I buy the car, would it be worth taking the risk knowing when fixed the value of the car will still be worth it?

Grietje W

A: The CX7 is a good thing, but this car is still 12 years old. Most car organisations – like RACV – do a ‘pre-purchase’ inspection service. Do it. Or find an independent mechanic – cheaper than a dealership – to source the leak. Don’t take a gamble, even if it’s from a work colleague – do the ‘due diligence’.

Q: I am based in Melbourne but have a son who lives in Fitzroy Crossing in WA.

He has a 2010 Volkswagen Passat wagon on which both the front and back windscreens have been broken and removed from the car.

He has been talking to a local mechanic about replacing them and the quotes he has received are in the vicinity of $3000.

I am not so concerned about the price however he has been told it will take up to four weeks to get them in and fitted.

Rob W

A: Best to approach a windscreen specialist, like Windscreens O’Brien, and not rely on a mechanic, as a big company should give you a proper timeframe and logistics.

Q: I have a 2014 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG with the Command Sat Nav System and was wondering if I can have a different nav system uploaded.

I’m thinking TomTom or Garmin.

I currently have the 2019 Mercedes maps and they say that is the last one Mercedes will produce for my vehicle.

Geoff M

A: What you need is a retrofit ‘head’ unit that includes Apple CarPlay so that you can pair your phone and use the latest satnav Apps, such as Waze. Mercedes-Benz Australia does not have anything suitable but a car sound expert will be able to assist you with an upgrade that will be vastly better than the factory infotainment packages.

Q: My daughter lives at Ocean Grove in Victoria and works in Melbourne and I’m concerned about country driving before dawn and after sunset.

She could encounter a kangaroo while driving at 100km/h.

I have heard of a warning device for kangaroos and wonder if you have any advice on whether they are effective or not.

Barbara S

A: The device is called a ShuRoo (https://www.shuroo.com.au/) and it is now into its fifth generation. It was designed, developed and made in Australia. I have no personal experience but friends say it works – although nothing beats an alert driver with a Mk1 human eyeball.

Q: I want to buy a two-door, four-seater coupe.

I currently drive a Peugeot 508 but want to downsize.

I looked at a Toyota 86 but didn’t really like the look.

What would you recommend?


A: A BMW 2 Series will do the job but if you want to save money, and perhaps take a different direction, have a look at the Ford Puma. It’s a sporty baby SUV, good performance and practical, cheaper too.

Q: On your advice I bought a Nissan Pathfinder in 2014 and have been very happy.

I now like the new shape of the Nissan X-Trail and no longer need a seven-seater.

So I was wondering which is a more powerful version, the petrol or the hybrid, and would you generally recommend the X-Trail.

I like the bells-and-whistles with some power and a sporty look.

I mainly do local suburban driving, no 4×4, so a family SUV for myself and my wife and two young daughters aged 8 and 11.

Is this e-power any good and I’m also worried about the CVT as there has been issues in the past..


A: The all-new X-Trail is very impressive and one of the best in class. It definitely gets The Tick from me. As for the hybrid, it works very well and boosts economy on short trips, but has a different operating system to a Toyota – the combustion engine does not drive the wheels so it’s more like a ‘range extender’ system. The CVT transmission works fine with the hybrid package and previous worries about reliability are gone.

Q: I am very confused on what car would best suit me.

I am open to an SUV or car with budgets up to $40,000-ish.

I drive twice a week from Sorrento to the centre of Melbourne and then go running around the local area.

So I am thinking of the second-car type size. I have one 11-year-old who sometimes sits in the back and sometimes in the front.

So I was thinking about these cars – Hyundai i30, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Kia Cerato, Toyota Corolla – and would like your opinion.

Jo K

A: Eliminate the Corolla because it is costly with a long waiting. So it’s Hyundai versus Korea, SUV versus hatchback. But remember Hyundai-Kia is one company, so a lot of the details are same-same with individual styling and suspension tuning for the brands. To pick one, you should go for the Kia Seltos.

Q: I’m considering buying a Holden ZB Calais V for $33,000 with 60,000 kilometres.

I feel that they have unfairly been given a bad name.

I intend to keep it long term but I worry about parts in the future.

What do you think of the car and what would you advise.

Richard C

A: The ZB should never have been called a Commodore and would then have done well – or at least better – in the dying days of Holden. Parts should be no problem for at least 10 years but the reputation of Holden servicing has taken a big hit, so go outside the dealer network and just enjoy it.

Q: My parents in-law are from a small country town in Victoria and currently have an old Mazda 121 bubble for local run-around and a 2014 workmate ute.

They need a new car that is safe, easy to get into and alight from, with good visibility, smoothish ride , economical and easy to park.

Main function of the vehicle would be an all-rounder: local runabout , a car to drive for shopping at some of the bigger satellite towns, and comfortable for longer drives to places like Melbourne.

Budget would be mid-$20,000 to mid-$30,000 range.

Kel G

A: A small hatch would work well, but they are getting rare and no longer cheap. If they are ageing, a small SUV is probably better and two that are among the best now are the Nissan Qashqai and Subaru Crosstrek. They both get The Tick so take a test drive, compare prices, and go for the one they like best.

Q: We want to buy our daughter her first car and we have $15,000-20,000 to spend.

She wants a small SUV. Any recommendations?

Carmela D

A: About the only new SUV for that budget is the Suzuki Ignis, but it’s not great. It would be better to go secondhand and look for a Hyundai Kona, which should have low kilometres and the remainder of the factory warranty.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.