The uselessness of the regulator — formerly the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (Vosa) and now the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency — in informing the public of safety defects in cars is nothing new (“Watchdog feels the heat”, last week).
Years ago I looked at a front brake disc that had been removed from a three or four-year-old French car. The flat friction faces of the disc had completely separated from the hub, meaning not only that the brake would not work but the loose disc could jam the steering. It was an original maker’s part, not a cheap replacement.
This was such a serious defect that I sent Vosa full details of the vehicle. I received no reply, so phoned the agency, only to be told that as it had not had any information about similar failures from the manufacturer it could not do anything about it.
Alan Knight, Southmoor, Oxfordshire
Zafira customer satisfaction
In the interest of balance, I’ll offer my experience of the Vauxhall Zafira. I have driven five of them since 2002, averaging 22,000 miles a year, and their reliability and running costs have been very good (my diesel returns 50mpg).
Clearly the fires affecting about 200 of the 220,000 Zafiras sold are serious and quite properly are being investigated by Vauxhall. But the ones I have driven are a testament to practicality, safety and ease of ownership.
Peter Nicholls, Barnard Castle, Co Durham
Clive Crosse shouldn’t need to check if he has screen wash while he is driving (“Wiped out”, Points, last week). It is a legal requirement to ensure you have sufficient windscreen wiper fluid in the tank before using a car.
Brian Dugan, Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire
Why don’t car makers fit a screen washer heating system around the tubing and nozzles? I would rather have that as a true safety feature instead of the many gizmos that now distract drivers.
Vaughan Hammond, Perthshire
Compare and contrast
Two readers recently mentioned fuel consumption (“Nobody’s fuel” and “Go figure”, Points, last week), with one saying there was no way the official figure could be achieved and the other claiming he had achieved it.
But the point about these figures is not whether they are achievable, but that they allow a comparison between makes and models because the cars have been subjected to the same tests.
John Bates, Redditch
One of the features of the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron hybrid is its app, which in theory enables owners to review statistics about the vehicle and set up charging regimes to minimise the cost of electricity used. I say “in theory” because I’ve spent the past two months trying and failing to get my car registered on the web portal — and 20 calls to Audi have not resolved the problem. Great car, though.
Robin Bennett, Much Wenlock, Shropshire
The suggestion there should be a 20mph limit on roundabouts has some historical sense (“Driven round the bend”, Points, last week). Roundabout design goes back to the 1950s and a series of experiments at London’s Northolt airport with 130 vehicles including buses, lorries, vans and cars — I’ve sent you a picture [above].
Speeds into and around the roundabout were 10mph-20mph, whereas today’s cars can get in at 30mph-40mph. This is why many older roundabouts are now also controlled by traffic lights, so everyone has a chance to join and get around.
Bert Morris, Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire
Right of way
Does Richard Barlow not know his Highway Code? The rule on roundabouts is you give way to traffic from the right. In France they tried his suggestion of letting people in front have priority, but it has largely been abandoned.
Peter Cameron, Cheadle Hulme, Greater Manchester
Going the extra miles
David Simpson’s umbrage at the £265 road tax demanded for driving 2,400 miles in his Mazda fails to highlight the fact that the new polluters whose levels were fiddled by the manufacturers have escaped any personal cost (“Mileage tax”, Points, last week). I am twice as mad: 6,000 miles split between an ageing Ford Focus and an even older Mercedes at a cost of £550 a year.
Tom Law, Sandbank, Argyll and Bute
Turning a page
The motorcycle driving test in 1959 was a delightfully relaxed affair (“Cutting corners”, Points, last week). The candidate had to make three or four laps of a short street circuit while the tester observed on foot from various locations. It was pouring with rain on the day of my test. I set off but never saw the examiner. After about half an hour I rode back to the test centre where I found him in the warm, dry office reading a book. He looked up, gave me my pass certificate, said goodbye and went back to his book.
Roger Powell, Hadzor, Worcestershire
Does Moireach Harmer realise that deflector patches do not adjust headlight beam height (“Beam them up”, Points, November 15) but rather direction? This is because headlamps always shine to the left in this country to pick up the kerbside.
George Ody, Alcombe, Somerset
Only here for the beard
From the first line about “beard-tugging at the owners’ club meets”, your Porsche 911 review was nothing but stereotyping (“Tear off into the distance as the bores blow their tops”, November 15). A bunch of bearded men moaning about how things were better in the old days sounds more like a pub full of motoring journalists to me.
Paul McNulty, Great Kingshill, Buckinghamshire