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WORTH IT? German cars can be costly to maintain. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Justus Visagie

Johannesburg - What bakkie should you buy? Seeking a fuel-efficient car? Need to upgrade your Audi? Justus Visagie provides useful answers to your automotive questions.

Nissan vs Isuzu vs Toyota?

Kenneth Kgatitsoe: I would like to buy a bakkie, but I’m not sure which is the best between the Nissan NP300 Hardbody 2.5 TDi, Isuzu KB 250 or the Toyota Raider 3.0 diesel. And is petrol consumption better than diesel consumption?

Justus and Martin: If buying new, go for the Toyota Hilux 2.4-litre turbo-diesel – they are extremely fuel-efficient and powerful.

If buying used, you can buy any of the three you mentioned with confidence – as long as the car was serviced regularly and you’re buying from a reputable firm, like a Nissan, Isuzu or Toyota dealer. Look for a bakkie that was cared for by its owner or driver, preferably with under 150 000km on the clock.

Bakkies with petrol engines are generally much heavier on juice than their diesel counterparts.

FUEL-EFFICIENT FAMILY CAR

Hugh Nyamukapa: I’ve saved up some money to buy a good reliable family car that is economical on fuel and cheap to maintain. I’ve been thinking of a BMW 3-Series (F30) auto 2012 model. It has attractive modern features and an electronic gear shifter. Would this be the best choice? What options are there?

Justus and Martin: Luxury German cars can be relatively cheap to buy and there’s plenty of stock for around R220 000 – which is what a good 2013 F30 3-Series would cost. But German cars can be costly to maintain.

It’s essential to have a comprehensive warranty. If you buy a 2013 car the factory warranty would likely have expired, unless it’s a Hyundai or Kia. This means you will have to purchase a warranty. If the car’s gearbox breaks, for example, you can submit a claim and the insurer pays for all or some of the repairs. Ask the dealer if there’s a warranty included and whether it provides adequate cover.

Make sure you understand its terms and conditions. You should also consider the Lexus GS and IS, and the Honda Accord. Japanese cars are generally more robust and durable than European cars. Don’t forget the Volvo S60 is a safe and comfortable car. If you are willing to go the SUV route, look for a Hyundai Santa Fe or a Kia Sorento. Most cars from 2013 and earlier are light on fuel. Steer clear of the V6 Accord and rather consider the older 4-cylinder version.

FASTER, STRONGER

Pitso Kulalen: I drive an Audi A4 1.8 Turbo 2004 model and would like to make my car faster. What can I do to upgrade the engine?

Justus and Martin: That engine has wonderful potential for performance enhancement. You can have it “chipped” and that alone can take it up to 155kW. A Dastek Unichip or an “ECU Flash” (which alters the software on the engine’s computer) will cost you about R5 500 when performed by a competent installer. Remember to research various tuners before having any work done and opt for a reputable installer that offers a warranty, as badly executed chipping can cause serious engine damage. If you can stretch your budget to R30 000 you can upgrade the turbo, intercooler and exhaust system, which will give you as much as 240kW.

DISCLAIMER

Neither the author nor City Press or Wheels24, accepts any responsibility for loss or damage caused by following the advice in this column.

Do you have car questions you’d like Justus to answer? Send them to us. Using the words CAR QUESTIONS in the subject line, email justus.visagie@media24.com. You can also SMS the keywords CAR QUESTIONS and your question to 35697. Please include your name. SMSes cost R1.50. Remember to be as specific as possible – the more details you supply, the better Justus will be able to answer your question.

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