Gimme a brake
I am one of those who do not like electric handbrakes and would not buy a car with one (“Back to basics”, Points, last week). Twice, in different vehicles, a cable-operated handbrake has saved me from a serious accident after hydraulic failure. I asked about emergency handbraking once when I was given a courtesy car with an electric handbrake — I was told that it could not be engaged above 20mph.
Similarly, I would not buy a car without a spare tyre of some sort.
Michael Rowe, Bleadney, Somerset
Pure and simple
Do car manufacturers survey their customers? Nigel Glennie and I cannot be alone in deploring the lack of ignition key, lever handbrake and a full-size spare wheel. There will always be some prepared to pay for a box of tricks on wheels, but surely for many simplicity trumps complexity.
John Littlewood, Bulmer,North Yorkshire
Recently I used the emergency tyre inflation kit supplied with my Mazda3. My local Mazda agent, to my astonishment, told me a refill of the latex compound solution would cost more than £96, plus VAT. Apparently Mazda will sell the solution only as part of a kit, which also comprises a connecting hose. Instead I’ve bought an emergency inflation aerosol from another supplier for £8.50.
Alastair Hacket, Edinburgh
We recently had to pick up our daughter’s car from the garage because she was at work (“Key element”, Points, last week). I drove there in our car, which has keyless ignition and stop-start technology, and left it running while my wife got into the driver’s seat. She then drove our car to my daughter’s house while I waited at the garage for the other vehicle.
When I eventually returned to my daughter’s house, my wife had a look of shock on her face. She had driven two miles through three sets of traffic lights using the stop-start function as normal. Which is fine — except that the keys were in my pocket.
David Walker, Brierley Hill,West Midlands
Richard Brown writes about how dashcams shouldn’t legally intrude into wiper-covered areas. (“Dashcam wipe-out”, Points, last week). What about the hundreds of thousands of sat navs positioned by idiots in the middle of the screen, creating big blind spots?
Ed Mead, London
Window of opportunity
Richard Brown could remove his Dart tag if it is blocking his windscreen. The system uses numberplate recognition now.
Henry Malt, via email
Time to nail some 68-year-old myths (“The Final Farewell to the Land Rover Defender”, last week). The Land Rover Defender never used former aircraft aluminium or paint.
The aluminium (trade name Birmabright) was a newly developed postwar alloy that had the right specification for the primitive tools available to rush the car into production in just 10 months. And the sage-green paint used for the first Land Rovers was a standard Rover car colour.
Graeme Aldous, Moorsholm, North Yorkshire
Driving hikers wild
Having taken a Land Rover Defender up a Scottish mountain, Pat Malone and Allan Crow are to be congratulated for showing those of us who enjoy wild places and like to walk in them that we are wasting our time, when we could drive across them instead.
Richard Haszko, Sheffield
Until reading Heather Strallen’s description of putting gin in her car (“Gin with ice”, Points, last week), it never occurred to me that it might not always be the driver that needs breathalysing.
Peter Saunders, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Many thanks for the article on cold-weather topless motoring. May I respectfully ask you to add to your list the Mercedes-Benz E 350 cabriolet? The seat heaters and cabin air flow are very effective at keeping me warm but the pièce de résistance is the air flow onto my neck from the headrest — magic! And, of course, the car drives beautifully.
Stephen Foster, Fordham, Essex
I, like many others, live in a county where council managers, in their wisdom, have decided to turn off street lighting between the hours of 1am and 5am to save money. I am amazed at the number of felled lampposts and flattened traffic islands, whose replacement, no doubt, costs taxpayers much more than the savings made by switching off the lights. In addition, all motorists will be paying increased insurance premiums to cover the cost of repairs to the cars that hit such objects.
David Rowe, Billericay, Essex
Clearing the air
You stated there were problems with Takata airbags, which were fitted in some Mazda cars. I contacted Mazda and its reply was that my car was fitted with airbags manufactured by Ashimori Industry of Japan. Are these safe?
Susan Jenkins, Newtonmore, Highlands
Ed: Ashimori and Takata are different companies; there is no known safety issue with Ashimori airbags. The only Mazdas fitted with faulty Takata airbags are versions of the 6 car built in 2002-03. Affected owners should have received a letter.
Paying the price
The cost of petrol and diesel is largely influenced by the oil price and the rate of the pound against the dollar, as we buy oil priced in dollars. The price of a barrel of oil dropped to $36 last week, with the exchange rate at $1.49 to the pound. On August 31, the oil price was $49 with an exchange rate of $1.53. So the oil price has dropped 26.5% with a 2.6% move in exchange rates, making a net fall of 23.9%.
Pump prices are now about £1.02 for petrol and £1.07 for diesel, according to the RAC. On August 31 they were £1.11 and £1.10. Petrol prices have therefore fallen by only 8.1% and diesel by only 2.7%. Who is pocketing the difference?
Carl Wright, via email