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Honest John: why you should never rent your car out 

Rental car rent my car
It might be tempting to rent your car out for a bit of extra money, but Honest John thinks it's better to leave it to the experts  Credit: Matthew Lloyd 

If your car has developed a fault, or for consumer advice, turn to Honest John by emailing [email protected]

Rental arithmetic

I am likely not to require my car for a few months. In order to have it not just standing doing nothing, I am considering using a hiring company to make the vehicle available for hire and to earn some money. Have you any experience of such companies and would you recommend their use? RW

No, and unless such an arrangement is fully contracted and a proper company search carried out into the rental company I don't advise it. You need to be very sure who pays for any damage, or any loss if the car is stolen by a hirer. Also who is responsible for the mechanical condition and safety of the car and who pays if it breaks down. You could get yourself into a right old mess.

“Beam me up, Scotty”

I recently acquired a second-hand, very low mileage Renault Laguna Mk3 Initiale and could not be happier with the car. However, the one and only drawback is the headlight main beam. When switching to main beam there is hardly any difference and as we live in a semi rural location with limited lighting I find it difficult seeing the road ahead at night. Are there any alternative headlamp bulbs available that would cure this problem? BY

Sorry we don't help anyone brighten their lights because the result could dazzle oncoming drivers and could also be an MoT failure under the new rules. But there will be a thumbscrew beam height adjustment somewhere. You need to find that and adjust the main beams back up.

One lady owner

My elderly friend has decided to sell her beloved car and asked me to arrange this. It is a 1994 Mercedes-Benz E200 Auto 1,998cc Estate, with 26,000 miles, owned and garaged by her from new, and she was the sole driver. How best can I help her sell it? ML

That will be what is called a W124 Mercedes and, though it has the smallest engine, its very low mileage makes it quite special. Two avenues are Nicholas Froome at www.w124.co.uk  or a classic car auction, such as Historics at Ascot Racecourse on 2nd March: www.historics.co.uk 

Lost licence

My insurance policy states that it is invalid if the driver doesn't hold a current driving licence. A friend has apparently been notified that his photo licence needs renewal, but, being hard-up, has put it off in the belief that, although no longer in his possession, his original paper licence was valid until the age of seventy. Please advise on the legal situation, and whether an insurance company could refuse a claim, on the grounds that the driver was not in possession of a current licence? RG

The photocard replaced his old paper driving licence. If he has not renewed his photocard, which costs buttons, he probably does not have a driving licence. He can find out by using: https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence 

Pressure drop

Following your consistently positive reviews of Michelin Cross Climate tyres I had 4 fitted last week to my Citroen C3 Picasso, 1.2 Puretec 110. Your advice to BC re Bar Tender was to reduce pressures to 2 bar all round. Was this advice for Honda HR-V vehicles only? What pressures would you suggest for the Citroen in order to get the best ride quality. DL

Assuming the tyres are 55 profile or deeper, try the same 2 bar cold pressures. They will rise by about 10% after driving 50 miles or so because of the heat that puts into the tyres.

The writing on the walls

I have a Mercedes S Class, and need new tyres after 15,000 miles, which I find disappointing. My local tyrefitter told me that it is because they are ultra low profile tyres, and I have been lucky to get 15,000 miles from them. I am struggling to get technical advice from MB about replacement, and whether, technically, the car has to have ultra low profile tyres. Can you give me any advice please? RR

First you need to find out which engine and transmission your S Class has and which wheel and tyre size it is currently on. Read the sidewalls that may say something like: 275/35 R20 on the rear tyres. (The equivalent tyres on the front would be 245/40 R20). For better ride quality and longer tyre life you might be able to swap the wheels for 17-inch and then fit 245/55 R17 tyres front and back.

Disconnected

My usually reliable 12-year old Fiesta 3 recently suffered a total loss of power. I was driving on a country road at about 40mph and managed to bring the car to a stop safely. The radio went off, as did the lights. The steering as well. I had the garage take a look at it and run diagnostics. Nothing blatantly obvious. They’re muttering “May be the alternator”. Am I safe to continue driving it for now and wait for it to happen again? DM

A common reason for this is the earth cable from the battery to the car body becoming loose. That breaks the electrical circuit leaving nothing with any electrical power.

Catching the cold

My relatively new Porsche Macan GTS with 2,500 miles has summer tyres. Porsche suggests replacing them with winter tyres for the winter months, especially when the temperature is likely to be below 5 degrees. But winter tyres for this car are very expensive. If I allow extra braking distance in cold weather, is it really necessary to incur the extra expense? AN

Very expensive to temporarily replace what are probably staggered summer tyres with cold weather tyres. But, of course, on the rare occasions that we get a lot of snow, there will be days when you simply can't take the car out because, despite being AWD, it will slip around all over the place.

Jerk chicken

I'm thinking about upgrading my 2012 Golf 1.4 TSI Match for the 2019 model 1.5 litre EVO TSI 150HP 5-door manual. I know that the Golf tops your Top Ten small family car section, but the engine is recent and I wondered what your thoughts are on the engine and whether you'd prefer it over the 130HP? My 1.4 makes an irritating intermittent growl on startup that you commented on before. TM

The whisper is that VAG is well aware of the problem on WLTP 1.5TSI EVO 150s and is working on a fix for its low speed jerkiness that should be coming through in the next few weeks. Deliveries of new ones have been held up.

Risky business

Who do you recommend for insurance, I have had a number of claims over the past few years. BL

You need a good broker such as Aplan.co.uk; direct insurers will not favour you and neither will comparison sites.

No connection

At a Peugeot dealer full service of my 2014 308 1.2 Puretech with 34,000 miles I asked them to check the clutch as it had started to slip slightly. I was assured that the reason was that the clutch master cylinder needed replacing. This was duly done at just over £300. However, on driving to France immediately afterwards I find it is just the same and still slipping. I am driving carefully to avoid as much slip as possible of course. Do you have any advice or comment? GM

A failed clutch master cylinder would not have led to clutch slip. A failed clutch slave cylinder would have. If that leaked fluid onto the clutch and dual mass flywheel and they were not replaced when the slave cylinder was replaced than that explains why the clutch is still slipping.

Estately progress

I have always driven Volvo estates and, apart from an unreliable 340 to begin with, Volvos have served me well. I like the comfort, safety features and that they are high specification without being flashy. It is time to change my V70 and, as the family has grown up and my days of taking young people to university have passed, I would like a smaller model. Can you recommend one please? I prefer petrol and am looking for a 2 or 3-year old used car. MP

Volvo now has an excellent new 1.5 litre 3-cylinder petrol engine, but is has only been around for the past 3 months or so. The 'smaller' Volvo is the V40, which is Focus sized. Best bought used with a 2.0 litre Volvo petrol engine that can be had with the modest output of 120HP. Avoid the 1.6 litre Ford engines fitted to some V40s.

If your car has developed a fault, or for consumer advice, turn to Honest John by emailing [email protected]

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