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Car doctor: 'Does this car make me look old in SA?'

2018-05-27 00:00

Justus Visagie

This week, resident #Trending car expert Justus Visagie gives advice about buying a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, calming a noisy engine, and overheating.

Khutjo: I want to buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, but I’m told it loses value quickly and uses a lot of fuel.

My other options are the BMW X5 and X6, but my friends say the X5 is for old people. What do you think? I’m 34 years old.


Justus: All large luxury cars suffer huge depreciation, especially when bought new – as much as 35% in the first 18 months. The SRT8 is an awesome car with a cool image, but has a healthy appetite for petrol – about 17 litres per 100km, or 6km per litre. With an X5, your fuel bill should be smaller, especially if you get a turbo diesel. I agree, the X5 has a slight old man’s car image. Consider the Mercedes-Benz X-Class (the new Merc bakkie), Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Hyundai Tucson, Subaru Forester or the Mazda CX-5. Most of these will give you an excellent balance between power and fuel economy.

Jan: I own a 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero 3.2l diesel with about 100 000km on the clock. The engine is quite noisy compared with modern diesels. Are there steps I can take to make it run more smoothly?

                                                                    Image: Janine Van Der Post

Justus: Direct-injection diesel engines are inherently noisier than older indirect-injection engines – a problem only addressed fairly recently through the use of multiple-pulse injection systems. Unfortunately, your Pajero still has a somewhat rudimentary diesel injection system and lacks most of these modern refinements. There isn’t much you can do to smooth out the clattery combustion process, short of adding many kilograms worth of sound insulation to the engine bay.

Given: My 2012 Toyota Fortuner 3.0 4x4 diesel was driven without water, which resulted in overheating. Should I have the engine repaired or is replacement the best option?


Justus: If an engine is run without a coolant, the resulting overheating will cause a lot of damage. At the very least, you will need to replace the engine’s gaskets, pistons, rings and bearings. You also need to have the cylinder head reconditioned or replaced if it’s cracked. There could be other potential damage points, ranging from the turbo to the exhaust manifold. It will be cheaper to replace the entire engine with another one rather than rebuilding the old one. There are plenty of second-hand engines available at a lower cost. Ensure you buy from a reputable retailer, with documentation and receipts.

Thetji: I am interested in a BMW 335i (E90). I saw one with 120 000km on the clock for R200 000. What sort of problems can I expect from this car? It has a service history with BMW.

Justus: The E90 335i used two engines – the pre-facelift cars used the N54 engine and the N55 was introduced with the facelift in 2009. The N54, which used two turbos, is known for myriads problems, mostly related to the boost system and the high-pressure direct petrol injection system. The single-turbo N55 engine has had most of these issues resolved, leaving only the usual E90 bugbears, such as coolant leaks and drive-belt pulley failures. In short, the pre-facelift car should be avoided unless you’re a knowledgeable enthusiast, but the post-facelift cars are quite robust.

                                                                      Image: City Press

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