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Honest John: can we ignore French speeding fines – and will Brexit protect us in future? 

French speed limits 
French speed limits have changed, and British tourists are being caught out by the 'sneakiness', says Honest John  Credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON /AFP

If your car has developed a fault, or for consumer advice, turn to Honest John by emailing [email protected]

Eurocopped

Two of my friends have received speeding fine letters through their letterboxes from France after their travels in their own cars. I’m guessing the French authorities now have access to the DVLA. What are the consequences of ignoring such correspondence? AP

Tens of thousands of Brits have received such fines after the French sneakily reduced their 90kmh national speed limit to 80kmh. They could face escalating fine in UK courts, though Brexit might stop that. But then they could get done at the border next time they visit France in the same car.

Okay Yar

My niece wants her first car. She has not yet passed her test and is 20. What car would you suggest for her? Her budget is low and she is obviously looking for second-hand. My suggestion is she buys from reputable garage to get warranty. She lives in Stafford IM

A 1999-2005 Toyota Yaris 1.0 litre manual. That is by far the best, most reliable little old car. It’s also a brilliant design that earned it European Car of the Year 2000.

I can see clearly now..

My wife and I both have headlights problems: 2005 KIA Picanto and rare imported Mazda MPV. Both the cars have low mileage and  are in good condition. But, both seem to have some sort of dirt/film which affects the clarity as the lights are not clear. Someone suggested I can buy a lens cleaner. Which works best applies by my arthritic hands? I love your help and answers RW

I have used Brasso. Others recommend Solvol Autosol. You can have the lenses professionally polished and, though not expensive, it costs more than DIY with Brasso.

The endless overtake

For several years there has been a ban on the northbound section of the M42 that prohibits HGVs over 7.5 tons from using the outside lane of the two-lane motorway. If this is working as it should, why is it not used on all two-lane motorways and dual carriageways? It stops block-ups for miles whilst trucks struggle to overtake. On 4 lane motorways large trucks should only be allowed use of the two inside lanes, otherwise it reduces the motorway to one lane. What are your views? PA

I want to eat, I want to live, I want everything that affects my life that is carried by HGVs to get there on time. HGV drivers are subject to low speed limits, governed engines and restricted working hours. If they don't get to their destinations on time, they have to take a sleep break, so every second is vital. The 2-lane northbound section of the M42 must have a traffic congestion problem and that's why the trucks are forced to stay left so that cars and vans in the outside lane can do 70 and thereby get off the roads more quickly.

Modern times

I have just bought a 2008 MG TF, as a 'modern classic' companion to my cherished 1969 MGC. The Service History manual supplied with the TF emphasises that the brake fluid and coolant must be replaced at intervals of 2 and 4 years respectively, irrespective of the mileage covered. This seems excessively frequent, to say the least. Can you explain it? IS

Yes. Contaminated brake fluid corrodes delicate components inside the ABS/ESP module and the K Series modular engine is particularly prone to cylinder head gasket problems. You also need to replace the 'O' ring gaskets between the cylinder head and the water heated inlet manifold. If this engine ever runs short of coolant it is likely to fail very quickly. 

Frying tonight

I have a 2012 Toyota IQ2 1.0 Multidrive Automatic, bought as ex demonstrator for £9,300 in 2013, which has been a joy to own and is in good condition after nearly 39,000 miles. As the IQ has been discontinued, has it potential to be a future classic? CW

The ridiculous Aston Martin Cygnet (that was based on the IQ, but at a stupid price) has become an oddball sort of classic. But a basic IQ makes much more sense and prices have already levelled off, particularly for the Multidrive S CVT because as well as seating 3 or 4 people in just 9’ 10”, it's one of the more reliable CVTs.

One careful droner

You have extolled the virtues of all-season tyres for some while now. Accordingly, I have just fitted Goodyear Vector 4-Seasons Gen2 tyres to my wife’s Fiesta. Chosen over the Continental because of quietness (size not available from Michelin). In terms of quietness, ride and handling, they are right up there with my expectations. But, there is an irritating background drone, which increases with speed; not there previous to the tyres being fitted. It is apparent on all road surfaces. There is not much I can do now they are fitted. JG

Try reducing the cold pressures to no more than 30psi.

The right Hon

I bought a new Honda Jazz 1.3 SE Automatic in April and have been have been using superunleaded petrol as advised by you. However, at 139.9/litre, I find this is 10% dearer than ordinary petrol at my local Shell garage. Is this price differential normal? Or is possible to get a better price for this product? My son took over my previous Jazz, bought in 2014. Does my new car have a slightly different engine from the old one? AS

Load the Shell Go+ app to your phone and then you get cumulative discounts that average out at about 5p a litre, plus ‘dynamic pricing’ that can give you extra surprise discounts of up to £6 on a fill. The Jazz 1.4iVTEC has a 100PS 1,339cc engine with 128Nm torque at 4,800rpm. The Jazz 1.3iVTEC has a 102PS 1,318cc engine with 123Nm torque at 5,000rpm. Slightly more torque at lower rpm makes the older car feel a little bit quicker, but very marginally.

Softening up

You have covered juddering problems in the Powershift clutch fitted to the Ford B-Max, and my 2013 car displayed them. After a £120 diagnostic test at Trust Ford they prescribed a new clutch pack. But in the time it took to arrive I found the judder had stopped. This saved me £1,200, as whatever they did at the diagnostic test seems to have cured it. How can this be? PD

They might have reprogrammed the ECU to deliver less torque at low RPM.

Da doo RON RON

I run a December 2006 Honda CR-V 1998cc VTEC Sport, now at 120,000 miles. It’s serviced every year and always has the  transmission oil changed, as I tow. After reading your column about unleaded fuel I took your advice and ran 2 tanks of 97RON unleaded through instead of the usual 95RON. What a difference: greater power and better fuel economy. My question is, can I run it on 97RON petrol all the time without damaging the engine? It’s a great car. Very reliable and a real workhorse. PT

If you run on Super 97-99RON all the time, the higher Research Octane Number and the additives can only be good for your engine.

Brit awards

I am currently driving a Ford Mondeo 1.6TDCI which has given mechanical problems. I am tall:  6’ 2”, of good build, so the car is somewhat tight. May I request your advice as to an alternative, either petrol or a petrol/hybrid, preferably UK built, that would be easier to enter, i.e. higher from the ground plus good mpg with a low emission level. Second-hand would be an advantage. RM

British built, a used Honda CR-V or a Nissan Qashqai, but neither have been particularly reliable. For reliability, and British built, a Toyota Avensis or Auris. Most Auris are hybrid. Or the new Toyota Corolla, most of which are hybrid. Or the latest Vauxhall Astra with its excellent new range of engines and transmissions, including a 9-speed diesel automatic.

Futureproofing

We are planning an extension onto our house. We don’t currently have an electric-powered car but may be thinking of buying one at some point in the future. Would it worth our while having a charging point installed with the new extension now, especially as we’ll have a new consumer unit, even if we don’t plan to make use of it for a few years. Are car chargers likely to change in the future? Might this be a good future selling point for the house? MF

Definitely fit a 7kWh charging point, because it will add value to the house. And excellent, forward-thinking selling point, even if you don't buy an electric car yourself.

Little belter

I have bought, privately, a 71,000-mile 2012 Ford Ka 1.2 with full-service history for my nephew. However, on looking through the history I can see no record of timing chain/belt changes. What do you think I should do and what do you recommend? TPJ

It needs a new timing belt, tensioner, waterpump and aux belt. Probably cheapest at a FIAT dealer (because it’s basically a FIAT 500). About £400.

Recharge of the light-fingered brigade

During a service, my garage asked me whether I wanted the air-conditioning unit re-charged. Why would I want that? I don’t get my fridge recharged. On the other hand, when getting replacement tyres I used to be offered “wheel alignment” adjustment. But no longer. Why? What with all the potholes, wouldn’t wheel mis-alignment be a more likely issue, now? BW

You don't drive your fridge anywhere. Presumably it stays rooted to the same place in your kitchen. That's why. Also, if you had air-conditioning in your house, while that may not require regassing, it does need periodic maintenance. My wife’s does. Yes, you can have your wheels re-aligned after a tyre change. Some tyre fitters have laser aligning gear. Otherwise, take it to a franchise of  'align my car'. You have to pay for this, of course.

Higher car

My son, who is 6’ 6”, is looking to buy a small car to use on his twice weekly commute of around an hour, including some motorway. He has a budget of around £8,000. What do you suggest? BF

A Fiat 500 with a non-opening roof is surprisingly roomy with long front seat squabs and plenty of headroom. Generally, small VWs such as Polos have always accommodated tall people, but we have received slightly more reported faults than with FIAT 500s.

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