Potentially deadly airbags still on the road
I own a 2014 Holden Barina sedan. I asked my dealer numerous times if it was affected by the Takata airbag recall, and was told emphatically no. I challenged them to check further and was eventually told it was.
Apparently I can only book it in when I receive an official letter. Where would I stand if registration is refused on renewal this November?
- Keith Casey, via email
Your Barina won't be refused registration as it doesn't have the most dangerous "alpha" airbags. With millions of Takata airbags needing replaced, the most at-risk are being prioritised, so sadly it's a case of waiting your turn. Check your car's latest status on ismyairbagsafe.com.au or speak to Holden Customer Care on 1800 033 349 rather than your dealer.
Re "Heated Discussion" you state all cars get hot in the sun. Sorry, not so. The Toyota Prius i-Tech from 2009-16 (as I currently own) has solar panels in the roof, which power the internal ventilation system when parked in the sun. This is a very effective no-cost cooling system. The car always remains reasonably cool inside, and I can remotely turn on the aircon from the key fob if necessary on scorching days.
- John Lapworth, via email
Fair point. Older versions of the Audi A8 and Skoda Superb also had optional solar panels in the sunroof for cabin ventilation systems. And last year Hyundai and Kia announced they'd integrate solar panels into the roof of some future models from 2020, so the technology could be mainstream soon. Remote starting systems are in plenty of cars already: not as environmentally friendly, but great to pre-cool or preheat your cabin.
I recently bought an imported 2004 Nissan Skyline 350GT, but it's missing the owner's manual. I've tried Nissan dealers to car wreckers with no luck, can you help?
- Terry Burman, via email
This is where the internet can prove its worth. A quick search found a Japanese to English translated V35 owner's manual at Adelaide import specialist Sinergy Motorsports. A rare
find, hence the $55 asking price.
We love our 2016 Nissan Juke, but on getting a flat tyre I discovered there's no jack so had to call roadside assist.
The dealer said we could order a jack at our expense and quoted a crazy price of $260. What should we do?
- Anne Marie Powderly, via email
No car jack is taking cost-cutting to the extreme. If your model has a space-saver spare it really should have a jack, otherwise what's the point? The $260 charge is laughable.
You can buy a 1000kg universal jack that meets mandatory Australian standards from auto stores for about $50. Just make sure you consult your owner's manual to find the
correct jacking point, and that it is firmly tethered down somewhere in the Juke's tiny boot.
My wife and I have a 2011 Subaru Outback turbo-diesel, used for many road trips and we enjoy the ride and economy. At about 200,000km the diesel particulate filter (DPF) needed replaced at a cost of $5500. We're reluctant to chance our luck with this car again on long
trips. Could you suggest an alternative? We like station wagons, a manual gearbox and turbo-diesel for economy.
- Gerard Holden, Raymond Terrace, NSW
What an expensive shocker DPFs can be. That $5500 is roughly half the price of your Outback's current value, so I'd be tempted to keep it, especially if it's been an otherwise
excellent car. If you fancy something new, manual gearboxes are near impossible to find in diesel wagons. Modern small turbo-petrol engines can be nearly as economical, and there's no DPF to worry about. If you'll compromise on that, consider a petrol manual Skoda Octavia Wagon ($25,390), or turbo-diesel Mazda6 Wagon auto in Touring trim ($40,990).
If you need all-wheel-drive, consider the VW Golf Alltrack ($35,250) or a new version of the Outback 2.0D ($38,740) - it's plusher, safer and better equipped than your current model.
We just purchased a new Honda HR-V and it has the worst road noise of any car we've ever owned. The demo vehicle we drove didn't produce the same noise as ours.
Honda doesn't want to know our problem. Anybody else had the same experience?
- Jill John, via email
Problematic road noise isn't widely reported in Honda's small SUV, but it's worth noting the two top grades (RS and VTi-LX) use additional sound deadening material to cut noise. I'd guess your demo HR-V was one of those, and you bought a lower grade VTi or VTi-S? If that's the case, broach this with Honda's customer care (1800 804 954) and let them know you feel mislead. They may offer a solution to try to keep a new customer happy.