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Avensis wagon

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  1. Unless you are really driving off-road, a 4x4 is unncessary here -- just like in England, most owners of 4x4s are down south around the capital where they don't need them but like to show off! We do cheat with cold starts, though -- there's an electric socket in an empty panel next to the fog lights on the front of the car, and this powers an electric element in the oil sump which preheats the engine block, and also powers an internal fan heater. I don't know about the button you mention -- the only ones I have to the left of my steering wheel are the light washers and the windshield and wing mirror heaters. There is an option to fit what I think is a gas powered heater under the bonnet, but at 2,000 euros I thought I would give it a miss this time!
  2. Quite a lot of my driving is on compacted snow and ice with a layer of snow on top here in Finland this time of year, and although my tyres do have 10mm tread and short-studs as an advantage, I have to say that the Avensis is very stable. The VSC is fantastic in the way it straightens up the car -- I'd say it pretty much knows where I want to go, even on corners where it'll slow you down and take you round. The main thing is that it stops the car from going sideways, which means you don't hit the curb or other cars or come off the road (provided your miscalculation isn't too drastic). The traction control does a good job of keeping the car straight while accelerating, too -- driving is pretty lazy when you don't even have to turn the wheel! Some people say that the VSC interferes with their driving or that the traction control stops them accelerating when it's wet (I can understand in snow). In response to that I would suggest that some people just might be driving in a way that the manufacturer may consider unsafe. :o But it's not just about the handling. Come -25 C when the French cars' electrics have failed and other reputable makes are stranded, the Avensis keeps on going -- that's why it's the most sold car in its class here. My only complaint is the furry lining in the rear wheel arches -- last year snow built up here and compacted into solid ice every time the wheels went up with the suspension. Before I knew to keep an eye on it, I had an inch clearence between the ice and tyres, which made the ride somewhat bumpy. Got less road noise, though. :)
  3. The VSC does make a beeping noise -- a sort of soft and fast one -- but only when the car is in serious trouble. The yellow light comes on simply when the VSC has kicked in for some reason. This time of year I'm driving on snow and ice all the time, and while I'm normally against the idea of the car taking over, I have to say the VSC is fantastic -- if the car swings out a little from the straight it lines it up again perfectly. It's almost intuitive, works well on corners, too. On a really icy road I can hear a small background hum, as if the VSC is monitoring the situation, ready and waiting. Although I'll regularly see the yellow light this time of year I'll pretty much have to force a handbrake turn to get the beep to come on (at this point the car is so obviously out of control that I don't think I'd need an audible warning to tell me.) Bear in mind that not all VSC-type systems are the same (I hear Kia's sucks), so I wouldn't assume too much with another make of car before careful testing. One small concern is that I'm becoming a lazy driver -- I know I can hit an iced up 2nd gear corner a little too fast and that the car will slow down and straighten up by itself. To my surprise, I've never had a reason to turn it off.
  4. I take it, that's a cost the owner has to pay and not a warrenty upgrade ?. It was never mentioned that it would cost anything (the car was standing there for its 30,000 km service anyway, and the dealership offered the software upgrade as soon as I mentioned that the performance at low rpms needed looking at) and I can't find anything on the bill. I think the dealership is 50% of what makes the car -- in this case they have all the eqipment, the latest knowledge and a good attitude coupled with a keen interest. I don't believe the software itself would cost if you have a niggle under warranty, and I'd doubt that if labour was charged it could possibly run to much. Whether the upgrade is actively offered under warranty remains to be seen -- the engine isn't faulty as such, it simply has a weak characteristc that can now be improved upon. Someone has sent me a PM from the Avensis forum saying that their garage was unaware of the upgrade but was able to find it -- and took 15 hours to download it because they don't have broadband! Getting the upgrade could therefore be down to the quality and abilty of the dealership in question. I would guess that this is currently the decisive factor rather than the cost. I'll see if I can find out more about the experience of the person who PM:d me.
  5. Hi guys, just trespassing from the Avensis forum with some info that I thought may be useful to Rav 4 owners. If you have the same 2.0 litre VVT-i engine and same ECU as the Avensis, and if you have always found the engine to run rather roughly below 3000 rpms (known issue), particularly for example at low speed in 2nd gear when trying to be light on the pedal then you may be interested to know that Mr T has released a software upgrade for the ECU that will change your engine's low-rpm performance from rumbling chugginess into a very pleasing smoothness. Err... that was it. Bye :)
  6. For anyone who's interested, just had the software upgrade and the engine runs as smooth as silk even at low rpms. Much more pleasant to drive. Highly recommended to all petrol 2.0 litre VVT-i owners who feel their engines run roughly at low rpms unless they put their foot down.
  7. Just booked a service and was asked about possible problems I wanted looking at. I mentioned that the engine usually runs a little rough when the revs are low and I'm light on the pedal, very noticeably at low speeds in second gear. It's always OK if I put my foot down, but hardly the point. One mechanic has said that's just the way the 2 litre is below 3000 rpm, but the people I booked the service from have said that it is a known issue and that a software upgrade is now available (and they can do it) or failing that we get a new ECU. Anyone else heard this / had similar occurrences and advice? *Other news while I was at the dealer's is that Finland is the only place in Europe where the latest Avensis comes with rub strips on the doors as standard, and that a totally new Avensis is due in 2008 (which my dealer suggested would be a great time to trade in for a new car after only three years -- I thought I might keep it for five!)
  8. With my last car - a Corolla - I was told not to tun the air-con below 5 C. With the Avensis I was told 0C, I think the car let me, but I'll have to test soon. Either way, I never start or turn the engine off with the AC on, blowers running high or any other elecrical stuff I can avoid, just to save the battery. I don't know how I'm going to keep the air con 'fresh' -- sometimes a lot of time can go by before I see a day above zero, possibly months before I see 5 C.
  9. Hi Bosnjo, I’ll be sorry to see you go, too, due to your positive, logical and helpful input. But yes, if I had those problems I’d change make too, possibly forever. I looked at the Skoda too when buying my new Avensis last year, but found it a bit small (large for its class, but it is in a smaller class). Mind you, it was tempting to overlook the narrow seats and hard-to-read display since it drove so well and had such a good engine. Not bad looking either. Life is a compromise. I suppose money comes into it too, otherwise perhaps we would be looking more seriously at the Passat, Audi and BMW. Good luck! Andrew
  10. According to my handbook, 1.6 and 1.8 petrol: 52 kg Other petrols 56 kg 2.0 diesel 52 kg (1CD-FTV engine) The manual's from 2005, and these are all the engines mentioned. On the plus side, the Primera should be cheaper and is quieter. I also remember it has a higher towing weight, certainly for a trailer without brakes -- 700 kg versus the Avensis' 500 kg.
  11. I think the problem with child passengers in cars, also fuelling the rise of the MPV, stems from laws that firstly insist on child seats and secondly insist on them for increasingly older kids. The choice of car therefore comes down to the age of your kids since not many cars can accommodate three child seats in the rear, and if they can you may have trouble getting the kids in and out. The Corolla Verso is OK and in some ways well sized – wider and longer that the standard Corolla – but for the money I found it a bit of a cheap looking minibus – note the skinny arm rests and general trim etc. It’s still a Corolla and so doesn’t have the trim and accessory level of the Avensis. The performance looked a little average too, so this compromise vehicle seemed too much of a compromise. I did look at the Avensis Verso but considered it way too costly for the few benefits it would deliver. In fact they’ve stopped supplying the Avensis Verso here in Finland altogether, because no one’s buying it. I/we are a ‘2+2’ family with an Avensis 2.0 litre petrol estate (2005). The rear takes three adults pretty comfortably (though which adult would want the middle seat every day?) and carries 2 children in seats plus one adult in the rear nicely too. Three kids should have loads of room. Leg room is very good for people of all ages front and rear, and the boot really takes a lot of stuff. I think a key idea behind the Versos may be that you can turn them into transit vans, because my own experience is that my family needs haven’t once warranted the outlay for such ugly monster trucks, monster trucks, monster trucks, yeah! (excuse the Little Britain)
  12. Don't even consider the Octavia -- sure the petrol 2.0 litre I test drove (sorry no experience of the diesel) has a nice 6-speed box and that FSI engine really goes, pulls even at low revs and is economical. Handles well too if you don't mind the typical VW spongy steering. BUT, although they try and sell it as a big car, it is not. It is big for it's size category, but it is nevertheless in the Corolla/Focus etc. category, based on the Golf chassis. In other words, for a man of your mileage and family needs you'll find it rather small and a bit of a fraud. The same goes for certain aspects of the build quality, the minute displays and narrow seats. Once you take into account its true size category, you may decide it's not actually good value at all. Be interesting to see what you think of the cars you test drive.
  13. It's a good thing to do if your intentions are good and your character strong enough to uphold the law fairly and across the board no matter who and how many you're dealing with. Otherwise you have no respect and no authority. Ploice are well paid considering the overall package -- things really took a positive turn pay-wise during the miner's strikes of the 80s when the conservatives needed a lot of dirty work doing. It's rather like the armed forces -- there's a chain of command from the government down and on the wider scale you might not always agree with what you are told to do. But if you can accept that you are working as part of a system, it's OK. It can be a stressful job for a whole host of reasons -- the pensions are good, but I would suggest some research into how long police live on average after retirement. Perhaps things have improved, but ten years ago you wouldn't need one hand to count the years.
  14. I tried too, fooled by the bogus manual again! I also felt it a total waste of button space on the steering wheel, though the talk button does cycle through the computer info -- small consolation for attempting voice commands in both languages and receiving false encouragement from happy beeps.
  15. Well there you go... it's even more automatic than first appears! Question is, who's driving this thing?
  16. I use a bike pump -- but it's a stand-on plunger type with digital gauge (approx. £30). Does everything, and despite their weight, cars use less pressure than bikes and inflation is easy. Over here, garages are legally obliged to supply free air. It's a principal of safe motoring. Having said that, all forecourts have ashtrays and all garages sell beer!
  17. How could the brake pads be worn? I did 70,000 km over 4 or five years from new on a 2001 Corolla, had a report done during a service before selling which claimed the pads were about half way through.
  18. That was the first name that came to my mind as soon as I saw the photo even before I saw your post -- it was the nose marking that was a bit of a smeary smudge. Who's a good Smidgey then!
  19. They'd love that over here. If the driver can't be identified from the photo, that's the end of it, no "so who was driving the car then?"
  20. A major driving difference is the hydraulic vs. electronic PAS on the 2.0 and 1.8 litre respectively. Before 2005ish, the 2 litre had VSC but the 1.8 did not, though I don't know when VSC was first introduced to the 2 litre. So there may be spec differences. Maybe 1.8 for town -- fuel econ and very light steering, and 2 litre for a higher proportion of open road with less pinickity steering, also copes better with full family load/towing. 2 litre appears to be a safer choice on not so new VVT-i models in regard to the potential for oil burning, purchase price, fuel economy and environmental concerns being considerations.
  21. Yep, another fine Finnish export. They've been cleared for Eurovision - no rule against it -- but have been told they may have to tone down the pyrotechnics. Got to say they do bring Gwar to mind.
  22. The yellow stuff is most likely birch this time of year in countries like Russia and Finland, the origin of the cloud. First comes willow, then alder, then birch and then pine. Willow and alder cause mild reactions and aren't so abundant anyway, but birch is something else. I never had an allergy until I moved to Finland and was surrounded by a trillion birch trees which are now opening their leaves. Runny nose, sneezing, a slight daze and eyes that feel like they've got sand in them. The season lasts about three weeks, but rain is effective in gettting it out of the air. Pine is next, but not so many people have a problem with that.
  23. I can't offer a solution but I can say that my 2 litre VVt-i would certainly be purring nicely if I had it parked at 2200 rpm -- just like any other car. It is not a feature of this engine -- none of the 1.8s I tested were like that. The only time mine is a bit rough is when driving off cold in second, I'm going very light on the pedal and the engine is growling for more. The advice above looks good -- doesn't hurt to try and costs nothing.
  24. Don't use the hoover brush attachment on it whatever you do as it will certainly scratch it. I stick with a damp cloth. In general it is best to hoover the rest of the dash first before using a damp cloth, otherwise you'll simply be working the grime into all the little crevices.
  25. Worked for me -- pretty good though I liked some of the other ones more. Naturally, 'secretary's bum' caught my eye in the list to the left, and it was pretty funny.
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