Ownership Issues

Turbochargers & Superchargers

Superchargers and turbochargers are air pumps that look and work rather like a hair drier. They force air into an engine, which makes it work more efficiently and therefore go faster.

Diesel EGR problems

Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valves cause more than their fair share of problems.

DIY diesel problem diagnosis

You can make a rough-and-ready diagnosis of many diesel problems by simply 'reading' the exhaust smoke (this is generalised advice for all types of diesel engines).

Black smoke means there's too much diesel and not enough oxygen, so the carbon in the fuel doesn’t have enough oxygen to combine with. This means that part of the diesel fuel remains unburnt and turns into black soot. This black soot is what makes the exhaust look black.

This problem may be caused by either:

VW Diesel Particulate Filter issues

The diesel particulate filter systems on these engines are poorly designed and prone to serious, ongoing problems. The diesel particulate filter (DPF) is a device designed to remove soot from the exhaust gas of the diesel engine. However, diesel particulate filters must be cleaned from time to time or they will block up.

Typical warning messages include: DPF light flashing or staying on and/or engine management light flashing or staying on.

A Question of Timing - timing belts

It looks a lot like the belt that holds your pants up. It works in much the same way as a bicycle chain, except that its job is to link up various moving parts inside your engine to make them all work at the same time. For this reason, it’s called a timing belt.

In the old days cars had a steel chain to do the same job and these chains tended to rattle as they grew old.  Timing belts, on the other hand, are pretty well silent from the time they are first installed right up until the time they break without warning a few years later.

Keeping It Cool

You really need to look after your car’s waterworks.

Believe it or not, modern cars don’t give much better fuel economy than older ones. Even back in the 1950s, specially tuned Morris Minors were driving 100 miles on a single gallon of petrol (that’s around 2.8 litres per 100 kilometres) and reaching speeds of 180km/h. The catch was, they could never do 180km and 100 miles per gallon at the same time and they couldn’t do either in everyday driving conditions.

Know Your Battery

In your great–grandad’s day cars came with crank handles. If you had a flat battery, you simply slipped this handle into the front of the engine and turned it until the car started.

You don’t have this option on modern cars. Every car, from the smallest Daewoo to the mightiest Mercedes, is totally at the mercy of its battery, and yet batteries seem to get smaller and lighter with each generation. They usually work fine when the vehicle is new, but as the car ages, they grow old and die, sometimes stranding you at the side of the road.

Tyresome Foolishness

Why you should avoid vehicles with run-flat or spacesaver tyres:

Flat tyres are a pain and no one likes to deal with them, but they are generally not hard to change and not all that expensive to fix – at least until recently.


Diesels often seem cheaper because the buyer is hypnotised by the apparently low cost of fuel instead of looking at the entire cost of ownership, including road taxes, increased servicing costs and the cost of an expensive engine rebuild that grows ever more likely with every passing kilometre.

There are a few things you should know about diesels:

1) Diesels cost more to buy. In almost every case, new vehicles with diesel engines cost significantly more than the petrol equivalent.


The fuel crisis of the 1970s caused a flurry of activity to produce a safe, economical alternative to petrol. The most successful of these was CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), followed by LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). CNG is rarely used these days.