27 September 2023

Ask the Doctor

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By Paul Gover.

Q: I am looking at purchasing a new large SUV, either Mercedes, BMW, or Audi.

I enquired to the companies about purchasing a petrol model, however, they tell me the biggest selling model in Australia is still the diesel and the petrol model is a special order vehicle.

Given that Europe is turning away from diesel are the car companies using Australia to sell their diesel stock that they are unable to move in Europe?

I don’t want to purchase an expensive car that will have no resale value in five years.

Regards Hugh C

A: Diesel is popular in Australia because so many people use giant SUVs for towing and the torque is strong. But diesel demand is falling rapidly in Europe and there will eventually be a knock-on effect here because of poor publicity for their emission performance. Also, petrol-powered large SUVs are an early target for hybridisation.

Q: I’m thinking I’d like to try a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

I live and work in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, and tend to do approximately 25,000 kilometres a year, often transporting my disability clients to appointments.

I’m currently driving a 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross LS and really do love the car.

My questions are if a plug-in hybrid is only good in stop/start traffic, and if it will be value for money considering I’ve always found that Mitsubishi give good bang for

A: If you’re travelling mostly at speeds above 80km/h then any hybrid, and even a plug-in with a fairly limited electric range of 70 kilometres of less, will probably not be any good for you. They are great for short trips in the city and suburbs, but revert to petrol power if you’re holding a consistent touring speed.

Q: I am looking at a BMW X1 sDrive20i and have read online that the 2023 version should start production mid-year.

Should I wait for the new model?


A: It really depends on when you want or need a car, as supply remains a problem. The ‘content’ within a car like the X1 means companies including BMW have been actively tweaking standard equipment levels to maintain new-car stocks. Unless you are buying a car from stock, you may struggle to get clarity on the delivery date but push the dealer for exact timings on the 2022 and 2023 models to help you decide.

Q: My father-in-law purchased a Kia Sorento GT last December.
He has contacted the dealership who tell him it still isn’t booked on the production line.

He is in his eighties and would appreciate some sort of timeframe, if you could help, as it’s hard to believe that 12 months later they still aren’t getting any cars delivered.


A: Checking with Kia Australia, his car is now on the production schedule but still without a firm delivery date. Kia has been hit hard by production delays and they are worse for fully-loaded versions, like the GT, because they require more computer chips for all their ‘fruit’.

Q: We have a query about a Mazda3 that was ordered last June for my 80-year-old mother.

The due date was September but after three months we were told, due to Covid and the chips etc, it may be before Christmas.

Then I called mid-January to be told that they have a January manufacture but no dates – so unable to confirm when arriving.

I went to speak with the dealership and was told they have next model with accessories – $2000 extra – which has been confirmed end of March.

I am not sure if they are trying to push for the upgrade as they can make extra $$

Kathryn B

A: It’s been impossible to predict exact delivery times until cars are physically in Australia. That said, trying to upsell you definitely seems a tactic by this dealer, as how can he confirm one car in March and not another?

Q: My daughter has a 2016 Mazda CX-3 in which the right-hand rear seatbelt will not retract.

The rear seats are never used as she has no children but I believe this is a known problem.

However, there is no recall in place for the replacement of these seatbelts as far as I am aware.

I have been in contact with a company called Seatbelt Kings and they have told me those particular seatbelts aren’t repairable.

I believe some people have had their seatbelts replaced by Mazda as a goodwill gesture and the fact that this problem is a safety issue.

The vehicle in question is out of warranty but could you please advise me on the best way to proceed with this matter?

Michael A

A: You are not the first person to report this problem and Mazda has replaced belts for two of our readers without any cost. It should be done immediately as it’s a safety problem, but contact Mazda HQ directly and do not rely on a dealership.

Q: We have a $45,000 insurance pay-out to buy a car.

I currently have a Volkswagen Touareg 2009 which my husband will drive and eventually will pass on to our kids.

My husband very keen to buy a new 2021 Touareg but I think we’re paying too much at $106,000.

Jane H

The Touareg is costly because it shares most of its basic engineering with Porsche, Audi and Bentley models in the VW Group. So it’s actually cheap for what you get.
I like it and reckon it’s a great pick.

Q: I was wondering if car companies are doing anything about extending the 3-year extended warranty since no one could travel anywhere during our Victorian lockdowns?

It’s just a thought I had.

Gail F

A: Most companies have given some leeway, at least on servicing times, but there is no blanket answer because the lockdowns and restrictions have varied so widely across the country. It seems to be on a case-by-case basis.

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

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