neljapäev, märts 18, 2010


My father-in-law was right. Andres said we should get a Volkswagen Sharan. But we didn't, we got a Mercury Villager, an Ameerika auto as they call it here. We've paid for it ever since.

Ameerika auto in Estonian doesn't have the negative connotation you think it does. If you drive one, it does not necessarily mean that you are obese or prone to support any war your government presents for your approval. What it means is that if some hooligans decide to rip off your windshield wipers and do damage to your antenna, as they did to our car during the pronksöö in '07, you'll have to order spare parts. From America.

Had we listened to Andres and bought a Volkswagen, we wouldn't have had that problem. There are VW service centers all over Estonia and Germany isn't as far from Estonia as the US. If the Saksa Kultuuri Instituut on Kastani Street in Tartu can be stocked weekly with fresh issues of Frankfurter Allgemeine, then it's fairly easy for an Estonian mechanic to fix a Saksa auto. But we didn't listen to him because the Villager was such a good deal. Plus it had been shipped here from Staten Island by some Estonian-American international car merchant. It still had the dealership's label of Freehold, NJ, on the back. I took it as a sign.

I shouldn't complain. The old red caboose, which I nicknamed "Zhou Enlai" on account of its color and license plate letters and numbers, was fairly reliable, zooming across South Estonian country roads for years, hauling books from Tartu print houses to Tallinn warehouses. But even good things must come to an end, and this winter Zhou froze to death. He's been sitting in a lot in Ülejõe ever since as we contemplate either getting him a new engine or putting him and his rare spare parts out to pasture.

And so now we hunt for a new car, something a little more reliable than Zhou. One of our friends, an Estonian mechanic named Akko who came to Tartumaa via Tajikistan, recommended a KIA, a Korea auto which sounds nice when you say it, but, having seen too many Vietnam movies as a kid, reminds me of a certain dreadful acronym. We were contemplating the KIA, when friends and family came out of the woodwork to point us in other directions. Supposedly the new KIAs are better than the old ones, and the reason why this KIA is such a sweet deal is because that's all it's worth. But it's hard to make decisions when one know-it-all is telling you that a car is a great deal and the other know-it-all is telling you it's a shitbox. What to do?

Looking for cars is a disorienting experience. If you spend enough time looking, you can't help but notice how ridiculously they are all named. Only the drug companies, with their Nolvadexes and Removabs and Jantovens, can beat the car companies with their Fabias and Cordobas and Mondeos. They sound like minor characters from some long lost Shakespearean production. But in this forest of names and numbers, we will find our next ride.

This new car must be energy efficient, we've determined, smaller, but with enough legroom for big people like me, popular enough in Estonia that it is easy to find spare parts, not too expensive, have five seats and preferably four doors (though two doors might be ok), and be automatic because even though we've given up on Ameerika autod, the guy behind the wheel will still be an ameeriklane and in America 75 percent of cars on the road are automatics (in Estonia, it's the other way around). I am writing this post now because I need your help. I am also writing it because I know how passionate people are about vehicles.

46 kommentaari:

Simão ütles ...

The Kia Cee'd, for example, is a very good car. Especially if they offer the same warranty they offer here (7 years), which means it will never cost you much to repair it. But, if you want to be sensible, well, there's always the VW Golf, especially the Diesel versions.

Myst ütles ...

I'd get a Škoda Octavia. I don't think Škoda's quality is worse than VW's nowadays. It's a good car at a decent price.

Yes, I too know it all. :)

antyx ütles ...

For what it's worth, a Sharan wouldn't have been good either. Parts are plentiful, but it's not too reliable. I know a Tartu guy with three kids and a lot of cargo to carry who traded a Grand Voyager for a Sharan and was eminently unhappy.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Your parents told you to get a
VW Van too!
I guess you will be needing a new NYC decal for your car ..
I think the Suberu Outback would be a good choice ..Joe has one and he bought it because he fits in it and and it's safe and good on gas ..

Unknown ütles ...

If you are expecting cold winters in coming years, do not get a VW or any of its clones (Seat, Škoda). The doors of these models tend to freeze shut under -15 C = you cannot enter the car.

And even worse, once you managed to crawl in through a door that opens and heat the car up, one cannot close the doors that previously did not open!

Rather annoing fact whilst driving.

Colm ütles ...

You don't do a stick? I'm shocked.

Giustino ütles ...

Colm, at no point in my life did stick shift enter the picture. My folks drove automatics, our car in driver's ed was an automatic, and every car I subsequently owned was an automatic. Only one day when Uncle Tiit needed a quick ride to te ferry did I have to reveal my secret weakness to him: I don't know how to drive stick. I'd love to learn but it seems a little late now.

Unknown ütles ...

Subarus are nice, and their 4x4 drive on all models must be cool to drive on frozen Estonian roads in winter. Coming to think of it, also for driving in wet Estonian roads in spring/summer/autumn.
I saw those ads, Pierre must be making a joke considering Opel a good car!
Japanese (although Toyotas are coming in with a bad rep os of lately) or German (not Opel) would be my choice, but then again, money is also a factor.
I've driven gear shift all my life, it's more fun and spends less gas. I drove an oldsy automatic Subaru in Estonia 5 years ago for a few days. It was such an easy ride that even a 2 year old child would have managed it. (It was also an old american car shipped over by some est-us connection). Kind of cool in that it was so easy... kind of boring in that you were constantly thinking of other stuff since you didn't need to concentrate on driving, which may be a bad thing.
Hey, just for laughs get a mersu or bemmu. Then you can sing the song which all small kids like, the one about having new tyres on their BMV, dum dum-dum dum-dum

Myst ütles ...

I've driven gear shift all my life, it [...] spends less gas.

That's not true for all cars anymore. I know that Subarus are rated more economical with the AT. And I think most cars actually are, simply because of how MTs are usually driven.. The human likes higher revs than the computer.

Unknown ütles ...

The thing with Opel is the same as with KIA and Hyundai, where older models are crap and newer ones actually quite good. This is especially true for Hyundai.

If you'd be willing to settle for a hatchback both Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus are rumoured to be next to bulletproof. My mother in law drives a Corolla that spent most of its life as a rental, has done 150,000 kilometers and the only things that have needed replacing so far are brake pads and lighbulbs. While not the most comfortable car, even the 1.4 liter is quite skippy while economical and the handling is nice and precise.The same generally goes for Focuses that are however cheaper (as Toyota parts, should you ever need them, cost a bunch) and have even better handling (best in their class in fact).

Colm ütles ...

We have the opposite problem. The first time my Dad drove in the States it took us like an hour to get out of the airport carpark. Too many buttons!!! We were luckly not to crash, stumbling as he was between reverse and forward.

I like the stick. Gives me something to do with my left hand, hovering as it does above it, waiting to pounce to make that gear change. Driving with two hands on the wheel is so overrated.

Serial_ ütles ...

Well, it is not an easy task to find a car, which matches all your criterias.
Also about an argument stick-automatic and so on, it is matter of taste, so there isn't right or wrong there. Don't say you won't learn, it is actually quite easy and as they say, practice makes perfect.

If you want to buy an used car, then it is important to know, that all cars, which are 5-year or older and which have driven more than 200 000 kilometers, need some repairing and fixing from time to time. It More important is there exact condition and previous owners, how much have they treated it.
In a certain point, it doesn't matter is it Toyota, or VW anymore, because when previous owner hasn't taken a good care of it, it turns out to be rubbish sooner or later.

If you just want to drive and don't like to be concerned about reliability and so on, then I advise you to buy a new or little-used car. There more expensive, but there's alot of less headache with those. They only need regular maintenance.

Now, about choosing a right car. If you want an used one, check out an article about used cars in magazine called "autoleht", which was issued on 3-rd of February, 2010. It is actually a german article, but translated into estonian and presents statistics about well-known and most sold cars in Germany. Statistics is based on german car authorized-inspections data (Zulassung it was I guess) (ARK in estonia).
Most reliable cars today in Estonian climate are mostly Japanese, most comfortable ones are usually German premium cars.
If you want more economic, you should look car with diesel engine, but diesel engines are more expensive to maintain and repair.
And few other things, automatic means more fuel consumption and less acceleration, which again, is important when you drive mostly on highways. It could be compensated with diesel engine, which usually has better torque and as I said, is more economical. If you want compact-car (like ford focus, or Toyota Corolla) then their engines are usually quite weak with automatic.
So finally, If you want smaller, economical, reliable, cheap (price and maintenance)car, which you could drive equally good in cities and on highways, then... there isn't one.
So you should find some compromise between your demands. I suggest some middle-class or middle-compact car, from year 2005 and newer.
Toyota Avensis/corolla; Honda Accord/civic; Mazda 6 (has some corrosion problems)/3 or Škoda Octavia

LPR ütles ...

Talking about energy efficiency and passion ... I think you need to contact this guy and get your next car from him.

You just need to teach Epp to be more efficient with starting fires.

Check it out ...

Kristopher ütles ...

I re-learned stick after 10+ years when we rented a car on some island. It wasn't like riding a bike, it took some time. Stalled many times before I got it.

Our current car is "stick". It has its points, but it's not really worth it. What I don't like is that it makes me acutely aware that I am slowly wearing out the clutch.

And -- as long as one hand is going to be occupied with something that doesn't involve navigating, it should be something like finding a better song on the radio or massaging a passenger. Stick seems more for people who like to micromanage or control every aspect of their driving experience.

Martasmimi ütles ...

I learned to drive on a stick shiftat age 16 ...
I wish that there was one available to teach you on Justin..
The only stick shift car I ever had any trouble with was your Dad's Black full blown Porsche turbo..
I stalled it on a very modest incline, then flooded the engine, (what happens when you stall and try to restart too many times).
A man came up along side of me and yelled out "If you can afford that car lady you should learn how to drive it"
I was too embarassed to drive it again.

viimneliivlane ütles ...

Curious business this blogging – get a person talking about cars and then cut them off at 4,096 characters! Ergo this Send will be in two parts, with Parts and Maintenance covered in Part II:

Part I: Car Talk – “Click and Clack” a call-in radio talk show out of Boston about car problems and life philosophies, hosted by two brothers with an expressed dislike of Peugot and Art History majors, is my inspiration for divulging my experience in Estonia, which has only served to strengthen my love and devotion for cars.

With my Honda, a car I can heartily recommend, the deep freeze we have just emerged from posed two separate problems.

1. When the first cold hit in December the flap to the gas tank froze shut.

As in the US, you have to find an honest, reliable, intelligent mechanic who doesn’t try to pull the wool over your eyes to cover up his shortcomings and who doesn’t think he should get rich from your misfortunes. I have found a middle-aged ex-race car driver who works out of a quonset hut behind his house and believes in keeping his overhead down so he has no assistant and no frills. I will call him Toivo to protect him from all Estonia converging on him. There is usually an assortment of his friends hanging around his quonset hut so I know I’ve arrived at a good place – the gathering place where guys feel free to discuss their most pressing problems, which as everywhere else in the industrialized world is about your car and your family.

I drove to Toivo’s with a near-empty gas tank knowing that pilots call this ‘flying on fumes’ and somehow I made it. Toivo disassembled the interior of the trunk to get at the cable that controls the flap to the gas tank, de-iced the cable and oiled it, and reassembled the interior of the trunk, commenting that the major difficulty was that the radio antenna was in the way, which it was – clearly an oversight in otherwise very good Japanese design and clearly something they didn’t anticipate in the more temperate Japanese climate.

All this took a long time and I apologetically explained that I had thought to take apart the car myself but knew I may not know how to put it together again, to which he agreed that people come to him with a box of parts after they’ve tried and gotten confused so all this is very human... he also reassured me that cars in general are not built for our cold climate and he spends a lot of his time de-icing.

2. Also, as my Honda sits low the underside froze during the two-month deep-freeze so while the motor started up just fine the wheels wouldn’t move and I said no to well-meaning neighbors who offered to push thinking that with ice and metal together the metal might ‘give’ before the ice did. I was of course thinking metal fatigue and moving parts not moving properly when coated with a layer of ice. With limited experience I don’t know about this. One neighbor is of the opinion that cars frozen to the ground shouldn’t be forced because the tires would split - I don’t want to be the first in the neighborhood to find out if this is so in every case.

Off the top, stay away from Volvo because although they are manufactured in a northern country they are reputed to resist starting up on cold mornings. This is confusing to me because Swedes pride themselves in being practical.

Hondas are not priced higher than other cars in their class though people think a better car should cost more. That is the thinking that leads to the phenomenon where the Poor Pay More – you think you should buy a very cheap car but you wind up buying more cars so you actually pay more. I paid 18,000 USD in 1996 for my Honda Accord and can’t even imagine how many Peugots I would have had to have bought in the last 14 years if I favored Peugots, and how much that would have cost me.

viimneliivlane ütles ...

Part II – Parts and Maintenance:

Toivo favors Japanese cars over German cars, and for reasons that I myself didn’t know. Namely, I allowed that I used to change the spark plugs myself on my old Pontiac, but the Honda’s spark plugs are buried so deep I can’t get at them, and, at 165,000 miles this is a concern for me. He said that in Japanese cars you don’t have to change the spark plugs. If the car isn’t sluggish starting up in the wintertime you don’t need to change your spark plugs regularly like you do your motor oil, even though Americans are attuned to getting regular tune-ups...

Germans build their motors to spew out soot so the spark plugs get dirty and need regular changing. However with Japanese cars the motor runs clean. To humor me he brought out a ratchet and dug out a spark plug to show how glistening clean and white it was, like new. Nothing about it was worn, for all the miles and years the car has seen.

Maintenance costs always have to be factored into the price you are ready to pay for your car, so the maximum you can do yourself is always a saving. Of course I can’t tell you how much I’ve saved on spark plugs alone over the years.

Your main concern, getting parts, doesn’t seem to be a problem for Toivo. He has had no problem getting parts that fit this Honda manufactured in the US from his usual European parts supplier in Tartu. The Honda built in the US is the result of a compromise settlement following a dispute about Japan cornering the US car market with their superior cars – both sides won as US auto jobs weren’t lost and Japan didn’t lose the market.

There has been only one instance where Toivo hasn´t been able to get a part from Tartu and that was after he had epoxied the right front turn signal light cover many times yet it kept flapping open on one screw. I had to get that from the internet from the US. And if the car goes another 165,000 miles may have to again because these plastic front light covers not only take the brunt of shopping carts in parking lots, they also corrode from long exposure to sunshine.

He’s done two major jobs with very good results with parts from Tartu – body work after I skidded into a ditch (both right side doors and right fender got replaced), and rebuilding the front-wheel drive assembly, something so major I went ahead and did research, comparing prices of course, on the various websites which offer Honda parts. He was apprehensive about all the little European nuts and bolts fitting properly so he guaranteed his work for six months. I had to monitor the ground under the car's front end for oil leaks while parked for a period of six months but alas, no oil leak so no problem. Everything’s been fine with the front end and I have complete piece of mind because the annoying rattle has gone away.

With the emerging car culture in Estonia I see a need that can be fulfilled with a Baltic Basin newspaper that you have alluded to dreaming about getting going. I see a column where people from Sweden, Finland, and other cold countries can write in about their car problems particular to polar weather and experts try to answer them. It would be a learning lesson in practical problems for the ‘experts’ as well as the readers. Part of me hopes the Swedes learn something useful for the Volvos. Would ‘Klik ja Klak’ be copyright piracy?

LPR ütles ...

That last one's gotta be written by some un- or under-employed expat who followed an Estonian woman into the Eastern Europe's wilderness. Excellent story.

Click and Clack rule. With all it's love for cars, Estonia could really use the guys like these.

viimneliivlane ütles ...

Kaspar is on the right track.

It sounds like the Germans have introduced some kind of evaluation system approaching Consumer Reports in the US which does independent testing.

Often people choose their cars by their looks, which is understandable because you have to live with it in as close proximity as your family members. This is where bodies rusting away gets emotional, but decals become familiar objects.

I am still not clear what your Mercury has done to deserve being abandoned . . . Not starting up at all in the wintertime, ah yes, my Honda did that a few winters ago when it was -30 for two weeks and I simply waited for the thaw on the advice of older guys who had owned Russian cars. That was routine during the Occupation.

You think something's wrong with the motor? Did it stop while you were driving? First two things that get checked out if the motor stops are the fuel pump and if the timing belt broke. Neither are such big ticket items that merit junking the entire car.

Timing belts breaking can't be helped as far as I know, but the fuel pump clogging is another matter - you can make a habit of tanking up before you are totally on Empty so that the fuel pump doesn't pick up the sludge which has settled to the bottom of the tank.

viimneliivlane ütles ...

I find myself reflecting on Cuba and the fact that they are still driving around in American cars from the 1950s.

Sure, they don't have harsh winters, but you constantly need parts and the US has had a trade embargo the entire five decades of the Revolution so they must be getting their parts from somewhere else and there must be a fit. Does anyone know what the case is for Cuba?

Martasmimi ütles ...

viimneliivlane ütles...
I find myself reflecting on Cuba and the fact that they are still driving around in American cars from the 1950s.
Does anyone know what the case is for Cuba?


"Call it spark plug diplomacy"

NY Times article on the topic:

Martasmimi ütles ...

...more about how Cuba repairs Vintage American Cars..
Perhaps there is yet some hope for your
Mercury Villager...

Auto repair for the island's vintage cars is a creative endeavor: shampoo is used for brake fluid; iron pipes are cut up for piston rings; Coca-Cola is used to loosen rusty bolts; and cars are painted with sponges, then buffed with toothpaste. "We call it the Cuban way," said Abel Contreras de la Guardia, a translator and tour guide. "We do anything to keep our cars running."

Unknown ütles ...

Well, Toyotas are known to be solid, they're also boring. The Volkswagen Passat is nice. New Golfs are hot! Get a turbo diesel and enjoy yourself. Also the Subarus.. Legacy and Legacy Outback, right? Super hot, and also known to be excellent cars. The Škoda Superb is also nice imo (the police cars). Also the new Opel Astra and Insignia are insanely sexy. I know, I know, Opel etc.. but nowadays if it's not Chinese, Russian and doesn't originate from the Mediterranean climate, it's probably quite solid. Also, I own an Opel ;)

BMW's are probably too expensive? Let's not even go down the Audi or Mercedes route.

Unknown ütles ...

And you can't operate a manual transmission? Your man license is revoked, sir.

Giustino ütles ...

Thank you all for your help. I can't say I am any more enthusiastic about vehicles, but I'll keep trying. My 2-year-old daughter loves cars though. God bless her.

Serial_ ütles ...

One more thing - here ( you can find information about safety - crash tests and their results. Of course, these only apply for new cars or for cars, which haven't been in an accident.

viimneliivlane ütles ...

I read you Andres: you're in the market for a chic-bait car!

Car design has gone everywhere the designers' imaginations have taken them and the market will bear. Some of these directions to my mind are not practical, for example, in luxury cars they have muffled out the sound of the motor. I depend on my ear picking up if the motor is knocking or heaven forbid there should be an irregular rhythm to the valves going up and down, which, yes, is an indication of a valve problem.

Toivo does not work on motors himself but he has a good back-up network if a problem should arise. As things now stand, when he turns on the motor he closes his eyes and says 'Ah, Honda' -

So the question remains, when you last heard the Mercury Villager engine what did it sound like? I don't have to say that by far the most amusing part of 'Car Talk / Click and Clack Brothers' was when people tried to imitate the sounds their cars made.

Giustino ütles ...

So the question remains, when you last heard the Mercury Villager engine what did it sound like?

It was rattling a bit. I thought it was just the weather (it was one of the coldest days of this year). I turned it on, pulled it out of the parking lot, and then it just died. I thought it was the weather, waited for a warmer day, but it still wouldn't start. The mechanics thought it was the battery, they tried to charge it, even brought a new one, but it just wouldn't start. And the odd thing is that the power stayed on when I pulled the keys from the ignition. The lights would be on, the radio would still play. I had to "turn it off" several times before the car's electricity would go off.

Martasmimi ütles ...

*The lights would be on, the radio would still play. I had to "turn it off" several times before the car's electricity would go off

Sounds like an alien abduction. ;)

Justin ütles ...

Check on insurance rates before purchasing, especially if you plan to get an Audi or BMW which is more than a few years old. They have high rates of crashes (as a 10-year-old BMW is popular with younger males, who tend to drive wildly), and also get stolen a lot for the parts. A few years ago, the insurance on a 11 year old Audi I had was higher than the brand new Volkswagen I had just bought. Most Volkswagens aren't "cool" like a BMW so they are not popular among the young and wild crowd.

All-wheel drive is worth it if next winter will be like this year's winter.

Unknown ütles ...

This sounds like a classic broken ignition switch ... or an alien abduction syndrome. Call Click and Clack. They would love to have an overseas caller.

Eppppp ütles ...

What do you guys think of electric cars? (the batterys need to be charged in every 200 kilometres). Someone called me and explained/promoted the electric cars... It is possible to use the old car frame and build the batterys inside. The cost is apr. 100 000+ crowns (plus the car frame, that we have). does it in Estonia.
Later costs are small, the battery charging for 200 kilometres = 35 EEKs (the electricity), and very little maintenance needed because there is literally only one moving part in the engine?... This is what I was told. Enviromentally friendly (friendlier), of course. And there are some parking lots where you can charge for free, eg one under Vabaduse square in Tallinn.

Myst ütles ...

How long does it take to recharge?

Serial_ ütles ...

Electric cars?

Well, it is not possible to use those in winter.

I'll keep the rest of my opinion to myself :)

Serial_ ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Serial_ ütles ...

Perhaps you should talk about electric cars with this guy (mentioned in the article:
215097.php )

viimneliivlane ütles ...

I called my mechanic to see if he could give a good referral in Tartu, and he said he didn’t know anyone in particular, but that every garage has an electrician who can troubleshoot the electrical system. Don’t let anyone pull the wool over your eye – go to them with the attitude that you know that when the battery is supplying juice to the radio and the lights but not the motor then you have got to check what’s going on with the wires and connections between the battery and the motor. Sounds like something is old and tired there.

Otherwise, I read that you weren’t aware that the check for if a battery is dead is done with the ear, once again. If you turn the key and the sound is simply Click then the battery is dead. However, if the sound is Click, whirr, whirr, whirr – then the battery is alive and well and sending juice to the motor however the motor isn’t picking up on it for some reason. Your battery may have been old and tired so getting a new one was in the future somewhere anyway. My first two batteries each lasted six years.

Hang in there until your daughter’s enthusiasm has channeled into taking responsibility for the upkeep of the family car – in the meantime weigh your options and keep your pocketbook in mind first and foremost.

Eppppp ütles ...

@Myst. It takes 30 minutes with the fast charger and it takes 6-8 hours with the regular charger. (I was told)

@Kaspar. Why is not it possible to use the electric cars in winter time?

Serial_ ütles ...

Well, I'm not an expert or a scientist, so I'll just tell what I've read and heard about.

Most electric cars (also zev) use deep cycle lead-acid batteries, which capacity decreases in cold. (illustrating chart:
For instance in summer, an electrical car can ride continuously 4 hours, then in winter only 2 hours. The more colder it gets, the more capacity will decrease. So, in winter, these batteries need to be charged more often. In the article I mentioned in a previous post, it was said that battery capacity decreases about 50% already in -5 degrees.
So, whey you are in hurry, the charging-time will be a problem.
One set of batteries last about 50 000 km and can be charged about 400 times. It costs 119 000 kroons (according to Now, if you set it in the old car, then the costs to (veermik - hehee, sorry, I don't know this word in english)and to other parts of the car, will remain.
One more thing, that bothers me, is the safety. Mostly, the batteries are located in the back of the car, and include sulfuric acid, which is quite hazardous.
There is alot of information about these batteries and about electric cars all over the internet, so some reading will do only good.

Simo ütles ...

Justin, as a qualified mechanic with two years experience as a service advisor for ALfa, Peugeot, Citroen and Kia, and as a new car salesman for Renault, I'd like to offer two points of information/advise: first is (and I'm not sure if it necissarily applies in Eesti) that you should NEVER buy a new car from a dealer. As a car is a depreciating asset, people tear up big money buying new. Once you roll a new car off the showroom floor, it's value falls off a cliff from the get-go. Best let someone who has the money to loose, loose it for you. It might be hard to find, but once you have settled on the car you like, there may be someone out there who has racked up only a few thousand km's and has decided that car is not for them after all...or they are broke from buying a new car.
If you buy a used car with low km's, it will still be cover by the manufacturers warranty as long as the previous owner has stuck to the scheduled maintenance. There are no problems there.(But if you buy over the boarder, check the fine print from the manufacturer)
Secondly (on a technical point), I agree with most that an all-wheel drive or optional 4WD is preferable for the conditions in Eesti. The trade-off is that all-wheel drive ISNT fuel efficient because 4 wheels have to be driven instead of two. That's not to say cars like Subaru arnt efficient when only two wheels are being driven - they are. But when the viscouse-coupling kicks in and those back wheels start spinning with the front, watch the fuel guage head south.
Diesel is also preferable though you want to do the math on the km 4 km v kr per litre.
Skoda would be a personal choice as they are based off VW floor plans, cost less, and are well equiped.
Hope I've helped to add to your confusion! Good hunting.

Sharon B ütles ...

I'm lucky that we've got an autoelectrician in the family whose best friends are a couple of mechanics. Whenever one of us is even thinking about considering a car, we ask him what he thinks of it.

Pretty much, he recommends Fords for cars before the 80s and Toyotas for anything afterwards.

Apparently they have fewer known problems and more readily supplied spare parts. But that's in Australia.

Most of his complaints about European cars involve problems with parts. Except for English cars. Apparently they have problems with design. French cars are supposedly little better, but his only real complaint about German cars is the parts.

As for the other Asian cars? He maintains you get what you pay for. If the car is cheap, it's also crap. Also pretty much anything from Korea is crap - but cars from China are worse.

ESA ütles ...

I would reccoment Ford. They are reliable and no problem with parts. Also the price and quality ratio is good. Thay aslo they dont tend to brake down like VW-s and KIAs.

Ridex ütles ...

hello, this is a nice post, i'm writing from italy, here we have the same problem.Who starts now in the world of job has to pay the pensions of our fathers wich went to pension after 35 years of working. Now, gradually, government is raising the pension age to 65 for mens to 2015 and 70 years to 2018, why??? Because the hope of life in longer than the past, they say. The reason is that we must pay two pensions not one. In Estonia should be loud protests, here we continue to see the TV. Good night.

Wv Sky ütles ...

Also pretty much anything from Korea is crap

Actually they were the first car makers in the world to offer 100.000 mile warranties, and have been very successful. The Hyundai is an especially attractive and popular Korean car in America.

I personally despise automatic transmissions, and have mostly owned stick shift cars. I'm on my 4th Miata (actually an MX-5 Mazdaspeed) and I live this car for many things that include: Rear wheel drive (not good in Estonia of course) and the fact that it has a "non interference engine". For those of you who dont know what that means... it simply means that should the timing belt ever break, the car comes to a stop without tearing up the engine like on most all other cars.

I personally like the Subaru Outback, if you can find a GOOD one to fit your budget. Anything Honda is great also.

Kaur ütles ...

People who dismiss automatically all brands from Korea just display their ignorance in the industry. Kia for example has made big leaps in terms of making their cars more european in quality and feel, backed by very positive reviews from large car mags. Also, one should not dismiss the fact that they are the only brand confident enough to offer a 7 year quarantee (althogh you should read the fine print for the T&C).

If purchasing a car is based on rational desicion and not emotional one, I would consider well established Japanese names (Accord & Avensis) or then go for the Kia wagon or even a Sorento, which still have enough warranty left to forget any "surprise costs" of other out of warranty cars. And as a rule, if something can go wrong with the cars it usually will at most inconvenient time (before Christmas or when being on a family car trip far away from home or repair shop ;)

Also, so far fully-electric cars converted in the back yard hardly will live up to the promise of greener world, user friendliness or reliability in everyday tasks. As long as the electricity is in bulk produced by burning fossil fuels then it is just shifting the location of pollution, nothing more. On top of that battery life expectancy and driving range figures are usually well overestimated, meaning there is an expensive time bomb ticking for environment and your wallet as well.

Blogger ütles ...

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