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Car Talk - We are all in it together so shouldn’t that mean sharing the cost?

By Jack Biddle

Whatever your political persuasion, it’s a simple fact that many millions of dollars need to be spent urgently by current and future Governments on rebuilding our frail and broken roading infrastructure.

Short term patch up jobs which we have been forced to accept in the past are no longer acceptable. A long-term strategy resulting in long lasting quality maintained transport needs to be implemented as a top and urgent priority.

A reduction in tail pipe emissions have also been a top priority for our officials in recent times with the current Government handing out millions of dollars in rebates for those who purchase environmentally friendly motor vehicles including fully electric and hybrid makes/models.

Well, I have yet to meet the owner of a new Tesla or the like, that needed the Government handout to be able to purchase their new vehicle initially; but hey the carrot was dangled, and they jumped at the opportunity, so hats off to them.

On top of that incentive, electric vehicles are exempt from paying road user charges if their motive power is derived wholly or partly from an external source of electricity. That’s means a fully electric vehicle owner currently pays zero tax to use our roads which in our current predicament hardly seems fair. Without doubt, these owners also sit around bars and coffee tables and have an opinion on how best to improve our highways and general roading infrastructure.

Whatever their opinion may be, the ultimate fix will mean a massive amount of tax payer’s dollars being spent on building a better and more resilient roading network.

Tolling more of our highways which would include all road users may be a quick and relatively easy option to be considered to help spread the cost more evenly. Tax payers will ultimately have to stump up with the money, so shouldn’t that be all road users contributing to the costs, rather than exempting some and that I have to say, includes cyclists?

The money being poured into cycle ways currently runs into telephone numbers so maybe some type of Government road user fee added to every new bicycle purchased could be considered.

Every dollar counts and in times of extreme need, shouldn’t all road users be making a fair contribution?

Toyota warning regarding flood damaged vehicles

- relevant to all makes and models

If you have driven your vehicle through high flood waters in recent times then Toyota New Zealand is recommending having all fluids checked immediately. A sure tell-tale sign of water mixing with drive line fluids via transmission and differential breather tubes is milkiness. “If the fluid looks like a strawberry milkshake or mushroom soup, then you’ve got water in the oil and it needs to be flushed and replaced immediately,” says James Jewell, Technical Service Manager at Toyota New Zealand.

Even SUVs or utes fitted with a snorkel are not immune. James says snorkels are designed to provide clean dust-free air to the engine, not turn utes into submarines. Toyota is also sending a warning out to those on the lookout for a used vehicle in coming months that extra precaution is recommended. “While most flood damaged vehicles caught in the February storms will be written off by insurers, many uninsured vehicles may be dried out and sneaked onto the used car market, potentially catching out used car buyers,” adds James. “Flood water will leave very fine silt, staining or bring on early signs of rusting on untreated steel components inside the car. Safety components such as airbag inflators and seat belt pre-tensioners are highly vulnerable to moisture. The seat belt devices that pull a seat belt tight in a collision are under a seat and easily damaged by water. They may dry out but could then malfunction and not operate as intended – causing early deployment, no deployment or more force than intended.”

It is good advice and applies to all makes and models of vehicles. For those looking at purchasing a second-hand vehicle, there has never been a better time to invest in an invasive and thorough pre purchase inspection. It’s very much a ‘buyer beware’ and while sellers may not tell lies, they sometimes don’t always tell the truth either.

Recent Consumer NZ report misleading according to Motor Industry Association (MIA)

The recent release of real-world fuel economy testing of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and hybrids by Consumer NZ has found that PHEVs used more fuel – up to 73% –than the so-called ‘claimed’ fuel consumption.

This report has upset the MIA who says the car manufacturers don’t ‘claim’ that their cars will achieve the fuel economy stated in the test results. Manufacturers are required to undergo these strict regulated lab tests, and to publish the results, including here in New Zealand.

I can say with some certainty, that it is near impossible for the average day-to-day driver to achieve manufacturers claimed fuel consumption figures on a regular basis. What Consumer New Zealand did not expand on when releasing their findings was the fact that there are so many variables in real world conditions including driving styles, traffic volumes, terrain, tyre pressures, vehicle condition, loading and even the weather.

The bottom line according to the MIA is each person’s day to day driving is unlikely to match strict lab conditions. But they say in terms of fuel used, the Consumer New Zealand tests show that PHEVs are the most fuel-efficient if motorists want to reduce their fuel consumption.

That’s true, but I wonder if the MIA has ever asked their dealer network if sales staff are obliged to explain the claimed fuel consumption figures to potential buyers to clear up any potential misunderstanding after purchase.

At least the Consumer NZ testing and report has brought some much needed clarification to this issue.


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