Q: I have an Audi A4, 2010 model, and the last few weeks [I have] a static noise while listening to any AM station.
I know I would get an interference static sound when crossing under a bridge, driving past a tram and driving through the Melbourne City, but on the outskirts I would never have an issue, but the past few weeks I get this horrible static sound and it makes it hard to listen. FM stations are fine but when I switch to AM it’s not good.
A: AM radio, like cassettes and CDs, are now considered a ‘legacy’ product and have fallen hugely out of favour with consumers. So sound companies and carmakers have focussed on FM radio globally, with the latest model in online apps which link a smartphone to the car’s onboard infotainment system. Your best solution, and really the only one going forward, is to update the ‘head unit’ in the dashboard with something compatible with the new developments.
Q: After my daughter’s lovely Kia Cerato was written off in April this year, she purchased a 2021 Sportage. It cost $67,000, runs like a dream and she is extremely happy with it, except for one issue. When she collected it she was provided with only one key fob. My daughter is the survivor of serious assault, and as such, I am very mindful of her personal safety.
Someone else has a key to her vehicle.
Also, if she was to lose the one key they gave her, she would be in real strife.
A: It’s possible the car was only supplied with one key because of the microchip shortage during COVID. Porsche and Toyota did the same thing to save chips. Even so, you should bypass the dealer and push with Kia HQ in Sydney for a second key.
Q: We purchased a Mitsubishi Outlander in February 2020 and it still has over a year of warranty on it.
The driver’s seat is starting to tear.
We have been to our local Mitsubishi agent and they have put in a claim and it has been rejected. Why is it not under warranty?
A: Warranty does not cover ‘wear and tear’ items. That includes brakes, tyres, and other ‘consumable’ items. If there is a mechanical failure in the seat, that’s warranty. If it’s wear and tear, then not.
Q: You have been writing recently about a new hybrid system.
You said it runs like an electric car and then charges as you drive.
Which car was this please?
A: It’s the e-Power system at Nissan, already in the X-Trail and coming into the Qashqai in 2024. It is effectively a high-tech ‘range extender’ system, as the vehicle’s combustion engine is only used to recharge the onboard battery. So it always drives the wheels with electric power from the battery. It’s very effective and efficient.
Q: When we were looking to buy a new car you suggested the Nissan Qashqai, but when we went to the dealer they told us they weren’t going to be available until early 2024 and we needed one more or less straight away.
We settled for a Nissan X-Trail Ti e-Power as we only had a one month wait due to a cancellation.
You have described how the Qashqai works, with the engine recharging the battery, but we wonder if it’s the same in the X-Trail.
A: It’s exactly the same system, just scaled differently for the size of the vehicles, and Nissan is likely to migrate it throughout its model lineup in coming years.
Q: On my petrol cap it says E10 and something else, but I’ve been filling up with unleaded.
The dealership didn’t advise me which petrol I should use, I’m just used to using unleaded.
Will it harm my car next time I fill up to use the E10?
A: The sticker indicates it’s perfectly fine to use E10 fuel in your car, so it will do no harm. E10 has an ethanol blend, which makes it cheaper at the petrol station; the only slight downside is it can be very slightly less economical because it burns faster. Switching will save you money and that’s a good thing.
Q: Can you please advise which would be the better brand between Great Wall Motors, LDV and Ssangyong.
I need a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes for a caravan.
For the same money I could buy a used 4WD ute instead but wonder which is best.
A: The Isuzu D-Max is the top choice for towing, and, from my experience, I would only go for an LDV from the new Chinese brands. Test drive a couple to get the best feel of the right move.
Q: I currently own a 2019 Holden Acadia LTZ 7-seater and found with the seven seats it’s been handy in transporting my grandchildren around.
I am finding now, as I am retired, I require something with lower fuel consumption and a little smaller.
I am looking at trading the Holden for something new. The car will be mainly used for short trips in the suburbs and have two to three adults normally.
I am looking at a new or near-new car, medium car and possibly a hybrid, with a budget of around $60,000 drive away.
A: If the youngsters are not too big you don’t need anything as big as the Acadia, more of a five-plus-two layout with small third-row seats. There are plenty about and the best starting point could be the new and bigger Honda CR-V, at least to set a benchmark before you dive deeply into the super-crowded medium SUV class.
Q: When foraging through the Facebook Marketplace vehicle section, I spotted a preloved SUV of interest as I usually prefer European.
More times than not the ones on offer are diesel powered.
Should that be of some concern; are they phasing out sooner than later?
I am largely old school ‘petrol’.
A: Diesel is not going anywhere in Australia in the medium term, if only because of the huge number of diesel-engined pickups and four-wheel drives. SUVs in Europe have been diesel because they give great pulling power and range, which also works in Australia, but diesel is now considered ‘dirty’ technology in a lot of countries and people have been moving away from them towards hybrids.
Q: Our daughter is about to head to university so [is] looking at [her] first car on a tight budget.
I’m more comfortable buying from a dealer but understand we could pay more dollars.
The budget is $7-12,000; she needs automatic and has a variety of driving.
We’ve seen a range of cars from 2011 Ford Fiestas and Peugeot 207s to 2015 Skoda Fabias. Any of these OK?
Is it better to buy 10+years old under $10,000 or jump right in and buy [a] new small MG or Kia at $20,000-plus?
Our girl could drive my old Sunday drive car in the meantime – a 2007 BMW Series 1 in excellent condition but I’m not sure about a convertible on [the] highway for her.
From a safety perspective, I’ve even considered me driving the BMW and letting her drive my Pajero Sport, but it will cost her more in fuel.
A: For a first car, always put safety first. A nearer-new Kia Cerato or Hyundai i30 would be a smarter choice, although the Fabia from 2015 would work well. You’ve got too many choices and need to clarify what she needs; consider how far she will be driving and how long she will have the car, then push the budget.