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Drive Life : January 14th 2011
1HERSA1 F010 10 Friday, January 14, 2011 The Sydney Morning Herald ASK THE EXPERTS The Drive team answers your questions Warranty . . . dashboard cracking in a 2006 Toyota Prado is covered. I have a 2006 Toyota Prado and the dash has started to crack. Have you heard of this before? Is it a common complaint? Andrew Toyota is aware some dash panels are cracking on Prados built before October 2007. The problem usually occurs when vehicles are exposed to the sun long-term in very hot regions of the country. Toyota had been covering the problem under its normal three- year warranty program but the company is also covering affected cars up to five years from the delivery date, so your car should be fine. Vehicles up to seven years old will be dealt with case-by-case. The cracking is purely cosmetic. Does disconnecting the car's battery overnight reset the the car's computer, therefore readjusting its performance the next time you drive it? For example, will taking off aggressively give it more bottom-end power, etc? Peter It depends on the car's age and type of ECU used. On some older cars, disconnecting the battery will reset the system but in most new cars it does nothing, except potentially reset the clock and radio station presets. If you take off aggressively in a modern car, the ECU will automatically adjust everything as best it can according to the conditions, including air temperature, engine temperature and fuel being used. Some ECUs have ''adaptive learn'' features for auto transmissions. If they detect a pattern of aggressive driving they alter gear-shift points and can sharpen throttle responses. We are looking at getting a bigger car and, having owned VWs in the past, we realise that European cars can cost a fortune to service or maintain/repair. Are Australian-made Holdens, Fords and other brands typically cheaper to maintain and repair; and would a Volvo be just as costly as our VW to live with? Jeremy You will typically experience the same issues with a Volvo as you have with the VWs you have owned. Commodores, Falcons, Camrys and Aurions are generally a lot cheaper to maintain than the European cars because there are more of them on the roads. That means a better choice of after- market components and more price competition, which keeps the cost of genuine parts at a reasonable level. The same goes for servicing, with a lot more workshops capable of working on your car. European cars also tend to require replacement of components such as brake discs and timing belts earlier than Japanese and locally built cars. DriveLIFE GEAR LEARNERS TEST iPHONE APP WHETHER your kids are bugging you about getting their licence or you're just keen to brush up on your road-rules knowledge, the Learners Test app offers plenty of know- how for no cost. The free app has 250 multiple-choice questions about Aussie road rules, with a handy ''why you got it wrong'' explanation for those who are less familiar with the do's and don'ts of U-turns and the like. It's not dependent on an internet connection, either, so it's a great way for the kids to correct your driving from the backseat. Available from the iTunes store. JARGON BUSTER BODY ROLL Not to be confused with a car's propensity to roll over, this term describes how a vehicle leans on its suspension through a corner. Usually, the higher a vehicle's centre of gravity and the softer its suspension, the more you will feel the body roll as it changes direction. In an SUV or one-tonne ute, you'll feel a lot of roll; on a formula one car, it will be negligible. Body roll can feel unnerving at high speeds but it doesn't necessarily mean a car won't hang on through the corners. It could, however, lead to unwanted feedback through the steering.
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