Our Cars: almost faultless in holiday time…

We made the trip to the French Midi with our Lexus: 4,3 l/100 km…

At the moment of writing we are spending our holiday as usual in a village in the French Massif Central, which is now luckily rather “Corona Safe” simply because it is not densely populated. This means of course that everybody has go remain very careful as even – as we have seen in the earlier stages of the pandemic – mountain villages can be hotspots spreading the disease.

As our holiday car to make the 1,000 km trip to the south we picked this time our faithful and oh so frugal Lexus CT200h, which just had its service done only a month before. Besides the usual checks and a filter and oil change nothing else was needed.

It proved a very comfortable trip in the true Lexus style, and with the drive mode selector in “ECO” and good use of the cruise control, we managed a fuel consumption of 4,3 litres/100 km over the trip, which equals some 54 miles per US Gallon or 65,6 miles (!) per Imperial gallon.

Digital airco and excellent sound deadening in combination with the good sound system made it a very enjoyable and relaxing affair.

In our holiday home we found back our Mercedes A Class and the VW New Beetle 1.4i, and last but not least our Suzuki Samurai, which we will endeavour this year’s holiday to register it as a “Voiture de Collection”.

At the moment of writing, we have used so far the compact Mercedes, so ideal for the necessary supermarket/grocery errands, and the New Beetle for the scenic mountain trips in the surroundings. Both cars fired up without any hesitation, and drive as smoothly as ever.

A driver’s dream: the road from Génestelle to Mézilhac

Whilst we took our Beetle on a very scenic route over Antraigues, Genestelle and Mézilhac, the right rear side window cable snapped, leaving the side rear window in half open position. This means for us getting a new cable set and doing the extensive repair, rather time consuming as the complete rear upholstery, seats and coverings have to come off.

En route over the Vivarais mountains, the rear window stayed open due to a broken cable…

A nice project to tackle next year, as we decide to use the car for our touristic trips this year anyway with the right rear side window half open. It is summer time and the car can be locked up safely also inside the cabin with glove box lock. As it is a convertible, access to the boot lid and fuel filler cap can be locked off too, by locking the commands in the driver’s door. It spends the rest of the year in a closed garage, so there is no problem there either….

The coming days we will start up the Samurai, and we will make also some nice (offroad) mountain tours with it. Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The pleasures of car detailing…

In Corona times, it is a delicious period to pay (loving) attention to our cars. Your servant has tackled even to repair his BMW, something we would never have endeavored in normal times. Our Z3 is in mint condition, its car cover keeps it clean over the months, although the seats in the interior might also benefit from some care and attention. We will come back on this soon. We have the idea here to ask the opinion of Carrosserie Vercruysse, who helped us so beautifully and expertly putting our Lexus CT200h in mint condition.

The other good reason is that the cloth seats of the Lexus are easily soiled as they are light beige, and we need to put some proper maintenance to be done there too, so we will ask them how to tackle this properly.  

Cleaning Mercedes seats…

But the delights and pleasures of car detailing came also back to me when I cleaned the white faux leather front seats of my B Class Mercedes. I used lukewarm soapy water, applied it with a soft brush and soaked up gently the excess moisture with sponge and terry cloth.

They are again like new, and I do this regularly every 8 months or so, so the seats are hardly soiled to begin with. The rest of the interior and dashboard get the same gentle clean with a humid terry or microfibre cloth, gently, never scrubbing as the plastic dial covers can be o so easily scratched, as the rest of the dashboard.

Soft brushes are used for vent openings, again never too vigorous as the polished surfaces can also be damaged easily.

When delving into literature about Car cleaning and detailing, we stumbled on an article by Porsche on car detailing.

Really magnificent, as it is car detailer Richard Tipper who explains to get your car looking again as new.

Pores are meticulously cleaned in our B Class Mercedes… here photo taken in daylight…

He has an obsessive approach to cleaning cars, it seems. He has built up a very large clientele of car lovers, from collectors with more than 200 cars to the daily driver who just happens to cherish his mount.

As he also often disassembles interior/exterior elements of a car to make them meticulously clean, he has a keen notion how cars can be designed and built with love and attention to detail. Needless to say that this man is also a Porsche lover, and the proud owner of a Cayman R. He has detailed a Carrera GT more than once, and is impressed with the care Porsche engineers have taken to engineer every little part of this car.

Detailing a car is no small affair. It usually takes Richard a day or two, but when the owner wants also the inner brake linings for example to be cleaned, it involves taking things apart, and then it can take even up to a week. Usually he takes the seats out for example, just to clean everything thoroughly in every nook and cranny of the car floor. But that is a minimum.

You can find him on Instagram under @perfectionvalet, and of course on YouTube.

Wheel cleaning like an expert

Soft brushes uses for cleaning alloy wheels…

We cite here the tips he gave us about cleaning your very nice alloy wheels.

“It’s best to do the wheels before you wash the rest of the car, as they are often the dirtiest part of the whole vehicle. Use a different bucket for this bit.”

We gave also the alloy wheels of our Lexus a thorough makeover…

He continues:

-Invest in some soft ‘wheel brushes’, which are usually made out of microfibre, not bristles. Choose a set with plastic handles, rather than metal, to help prevent scratching.

-You’ll also need a deioninising decon gel. I never use acidic wheel cleaners, especially on cars with Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes (PCCB), as the disc hub is anodized and the acid will damage the surface.

-But the gels work really well (other than stinking like rotten eggs) and have a colour change technology in them so you can tell they’re working. Most will ‘bleed’ purple to show they’re reacting with the iron in the brake dust.

-The best way to clean a wheel is to take it off, but if you can’t do that, spray the decon gel on the cold wheel, trying to avoid getting it on the disc or pads as much as possible.

-Give it a bit of ‘dwelling time’, allowing the product to work its way into the nooks and crannies.

-Next, it’s onto the wheel brushes. These come in various sizes, so use whichever one is best for the area you’re working on. Use them to spread the decon gel around, paying particular attention to the valve and wheel nuts.

-Don’t forget the inside of the wheel to make a really thorough job of it. If you’re lucky enough to own a Carrera GT, you’ll find the caliper sits very near to the back of the wheel so it’s tricky to get a wheel brush in behind the alloy. Rotate the wheel by a quarter of a turn and then you’ll be able to clean that section as well.

-Finally, thoroughly rinse everything off. Please don’t blast the alloys close-up with a pressure washer – just a gentle rinse will do.

-Some people use tire shine as a final flourish, but one warning: avoid it if you leave your car under a cover, as it’ll smear itself all over the inside of the cover.

More to come soon, about a very important bit: how to expertly wash your car…

Just enjoy some photos here already…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Leasys launches also in Belgium “Pay as You Drive” formula for Jeep lovers…

Fancy driving the new Jeep Compass Sport without the hassle of owning it? Leasys has the answer.

With “Jeep Miles by Leasys”, Leasys meets the needs of customers who mainly use their cars in urban areas, who drive fewer kilometers or more specifically use their car only at certain times of the year, and who want to benefit from a complete driving experience, without the burden of the property management of the car.

Two formulas…

“Jeep Miles by Leasys” will be available for you in two formulas: “light”, including BIV and road taxes, BA insurance and roadside assistance, and “plus”, including the BIV and road taxes, comprehensive insurance, roadside assistance and the ordinary and extraordinary maintenance of the vehicle.

The monthly payments for each package will include a variable part based on a cost per kilometer. The first 1,000 km are free and included in the rental price.

Both solutions are available on the new Jeep Compass Sport with manual gearbox for € 259 / month (fixed monthly rental) + a variable amount of € 0.15 / km (light package) or € 0.25 / month (plus package).

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our BMW Z3 fully repaired…

Our BMW is happily running again. When we found out that the rubber backstop which held the hook into the hole of the lever commanded by the throttle pedal was missing, we contacted our local dealer BMW Jorssen to order the part. Of course, in Corona times the dealer was not open to the public at the time, but they were fully prepared to order for us the rubber circular stop.

First Jorssen sent us a mail with an exploded technical drawing to make sure this was the missing part we wanted. It appeared to be part number 35 41 1 152 331 “Rubber tule”, and a few days later it arrived neatly in our mailbox at home.

The service was excellent and punctual. We soon went to our BMW Z3 to install it, which proved to be a breeze. Just push it over the end of the hook. We re-installed the dashboard cover above the pedals, and presto, we were ready for another (test) drive.

But before we started the engine, we took another inspection in the foot-well area and around the throttle pedal whether we wouldn’t find somewhere (a piece) of the old backstop? You would never know! Indeed, after some good and meticulous cleaning around the throttle it appeared: indeed, we found a completely broken half of the original backstop…  

 

So after all, we were completely correct in our diagnosis, and went for a happy, smooth short drive.

Our BMW Z3 is again in top form, but alas, in Corona times, it still has to wait a bit to make these beautiful trips we all dream of now…

Stay posted for more BMW Z3 stories!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We got our BMW Z3 running again…

In Corona times, one meets many challenges. Such as repairing a quality car like the BMW at home. Something we would never envision to do in normal times. But as our beloved Z3 was standing in our home garage with a loose throttle pedal connection, and as garages are still on lockdown at the moment of writing, the only thing to do was to tackle the repair ourselves. Moreover, as we have to move up a gentle upward slope when driving our of the garage, we need more than just idling power, so we had no alternative than to get the throttle connected again.   

So we took all our courage and screwdriver in our hands, and first removed the cover beneath the dashboard on the driver’s seat, shielding the throttle linkage. This proved rather straightforward, with only two plastic screws to be loosened. Then we gently took the cover off, and looked at the throttle mechanism, more especially the lever where it takes up the hook at the end of the throttle cable. We just hoped and prayed that this hook just had snapped off the lever commanded by the throttle, and that the throttle cable itself was not broken.

We fixed again the hook end of the throttle cable into the hole of lever commanded by the throttle pedal…

We remember when we abruptly went of the throttle when we saw the female jogger almost jump in front of our car, we didn’t hear any noise of a popping or snapping cable, so a loose hook was probably it. The cable hadn’t been sticky either, as throttle operation was always very smooth and progressive, so again it was unlikely that it had snapped.

And hurray, the throttle cable was not broken, and indeed only the hook had come off its hole in the lever. The reason was also soon found, why this has happened. The rubber stop to prevent the hook from sliding out of the hole in the lever was just missing. So the thin hook was just gingerly lodged in the hole of the lever, as the photo here below clearly shows.

As the throttle lever has two holes, we did have to check whether we had chosen the right one when we reconnected the hook, and we had to check that the engine was responding well to the throttle movements and still idling well properly when we did not touch the throttle pedal.

So yes, we took our beloved BMW Z3 for a brief spin, and were delighted that throttle movements where as smooth as ever, and that the engine responded beautifully.

Now we just have to order the right rubber backstop preventing the hook from (again) sliding out of its hole, and we will try our luck with our local dealer BMW Jorssen in Aartselaar. Then we can re-assemble the cover again neatly, and everything is again forgotten, hopefully.

To be continued!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

Our BMW Z3 grounded by a broken throttle cable…

Driven back on idling power back to its garage, after a very short shopping outing today…

With the beautiful weather in Corona times it is of course proper to take our Z3 out for errands to the grocery store. But alas, coming out of the garage this morning and driving up slowly in first gear at some 5 km/h on the wide exit ramp, a passionate female jogger urged us to caution as she went past us without reducing her speed whatsoever. We found it wiser to stop firmly a good 5 meters from her. Social distancing in Corona times…Our Z3 was idling quietly. The female jogger continued her tour as said without even slowing down, barely giving us a look. I then decided to restart uphill the ramp, only to notice that the throttle had lost connection, and idling stably was all the engine did.

I then coasted down backwards from the ramp, and in reverse gear with the engine having enough pulling power on idling, I gently maneuvered the Z3 back into its garage. Is the throttle cable broken?

It looks like it, and we will soon dismantle the cover beneath the steering wheel to look how things are. A new cable might be necessary…

We will keep you posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

Our Lexus CT 200h passes annual technical test with flying colors…

Our Lexus is now just more than a year with us, and has proved to be not only a smooth performer, it also is immensely frugal. Our average consumption over the whole year was an astonishing 4,7  liters/100 km. Nothing whatsoever was amiss with our Lexus, it started always at the first push of a button, and we didn’t have to add anything except 95 octane fuel.

It was time to put it through the annual technical inspection, which it passed with no remarks at all. The MOT inspectors were also impressed when looking underneath the car: the drivetrain units and transmission were totally dry, no leaks whatsoever, suspension top notch, as was the bodywork.

A green inspection report, OK to drive another year…

These results are hardly surprising when we read the latest press announcement from Stephan Lesuisse of Lexus Belgium, announcing that the Belgian consumer organization “Test Aankoop/Test Achat” (translated Test Purchase) has awarded Lexus with the title of the most reliable brand in 2019. International consumer surveys with 43.000 clients participating put Lexus on top with Toyota being a good third, and also other Japanese brands scoring very well in the top 5 group. Only one brand in this group is not Japanese…

Our Lexus proved fault free at the annual inspection…

Lexus ended with a 95 % score, with a 93% result for Toyota. But that is not all. Lexus cars has earned the 2020 What Car? Reliability Award in the UK. This honour follows on from Lexus’s exceptional performance in the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey, in which the brand was the highest-ranked manufacturer for the third year running and its CT 200h hybrid luxury hatchback recorded a 100 per cent fault-free performance across the previous 12 months.

Need we say more? No small wonder that we are continuing to drive our Lexus CT 200h with a broad smile on our car loving face…

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

Our Suzuki Samurai passed the “contrôle technique” with flying colours…

The technician at the “contrôle technique” puts a broad smile…

Indeed, this is the second part of a very happy story. As we said earlier, we took our faithful runner to the “Point S” station, and got the oil and filter changed, and the brake system cleaned and brake fluids replaced. In the meantime, the slight brake friction we had felt on the left front wheel had already disappeared.

We first went to “point S” for a checkup…

The next day we presented it to the “Securitest”, and as expected, it passed the test without a hitch. “C’est une très bonne voiture!” acclaimed the man who checked the car. We photographed him in front of our Samurai at the end of the test, after he had put the small sticker with the test validity date on the window.

Indeed, it is immediately visible for anyone in France whether the car is properly insured and has passed the MOT test, as it is obligatory to put both the insurance and the MOT test sticker on the window. Very clever!

The validity date of the last “controle technique” is put on “la carte grise” or the grey card, which are the car’s identity papers.

Contrary to Belgium, the control is valid for a period of two years instead of one, which is far more logical if you consider the present state of technology of our modern cars.

Our 1988 Samurai passed…

Indeed, even with the soaring heat wave temperatures well above 30 degrees we are experiencing at the moment of writing, our youngtimers, the 21 year old Mercedes A Class and this 31 year old Suzuki, perform perfectly without the slightest hint of overheating or whatsoever. It proves again how much superior car technology is and has been since more than thirty years ago, compared to present day public transport trains and their infrastructure, if one reads the horrible stories of thousands of people stuck in overheated, defect trains and rail infrastructure this week. Quod erat demonstrandum!

We are now enjoying our Suzuki, driving it along vineyards and historic villages with good places to eat, and are now putting things in place to get it registered as a “voiture de collection”…

More to follow!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our faithful Samurai will become an oldtimer, or “voiture de collection”

As some readers will remember, the stable of cars at our French holiday house also includes a 1988 Suzuki Samurai, which has now reached the venerable age of more than 30 years, and is therefore now elegible to become a “collectors’ car”. It hasn’t been running last year, but that didn’t prevent it for starting right away after 2 years, after an initial 7 second burst on the starter motor to get the fuel up. After this first burst we waited for about 20 seconds or so, and then turned the key again: tchch-vrooom it shot into life right away, settling immediately in a smooth 1300 rpm on the automatic choke, without any hiccup or misfiring. Soon, after a minute or so, it ran at the 800 rpm normal tickover, and that was that. After this first start, it fires up immediately every time.

We depressed the clutch, which was free moving, and we cautiously moved it slowly in first and reverse, to loosen things up further. Clutch and brakes seemed OK. So we took it out of its garage and went for a first 10 kilometer mountain drive, only to notice that the left front brake must be not completely loose as after a 4 kilometers or so, the Samurai started pulling a bit to the left and indeed the left front wheel rim was running warmer, and this could be felt by hand. Luckily the rear drum brakes were fine, as the wheels stayed cold. We stopped and luckily noticed that even the slightest descent got the car rolling, so the friction could not be that much. We will drive it quietly tomorrow to the service station “Point S” to get the brakes checked and the oil and filter changed, and the day after it will be a visit to the “contrôle technique”.

To be continued, we will keep you posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our Cars: The Mercedes A Class is still going strong…

In our stable we also have some “French” cars, which live in our French country house, where they serve as holiday transport when we enjoy “time out” in la Douce France. One of these is a 1998 A Class 160 with a five speed automatic which we bought used now more than 14 years ago and which has seen intensive (professional) daily use by my wife for more than a decade; it has since 3 years found a new home in France. It is an ideal fit for the winding roads in the French Midi, its zesty 1,6 litre petrol engine is well mated to the auto box, and it is our favoured transport for outings and shopping.

In France, older cars have to pass a “contrôle technique” every two years, and they are checked for brakes, steering, windows/wipers, lights, suspension, chassis corrosion, seats and seat belts, interior, all commands, door locks, etc. With of course last but not least brake efficiency and emissions testing included. The multinational SGS actually is the company organising technical car controls under its “securitest” label in France and the test items and procedures can be found on their website securitest.fr.

Our trusted A Class passed the test with flying colours, not very surprising as the car is properly maintained. The “contrôle technique” is done by appointment, so you don’t waste any time, and is concluded by a very kind and detailed personal comment about the points which need attention on the car in the coming two years. On our A Class, it was the condition of the last muffler and of course brake pads, although not critical, the latter which indeed are due for renewal within the coming months. 

So our A Class, with now 248.000 km on the clock, is soldiering on still further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel