You may recall that I e-mailed you a while back concerning the new type of bottle for Millers Diesel Power EcoMax additive. As a spin-off, I found that Millers supplied the commercial vehicle trade with their additive in five-litre containers, which were about half the unit cost of buying the additive in 500ml bottles. So I purchased a five litre can, from which I could fill a modified bottle using the filler tube, which works very well. Anyway, I have been a Diesel Car subscriber since deciding to change from petrol cars in 1993, and after studying your magazine for a few months about the wider availability of turbo diesels at that time. I purchased a Cavalier 1.7 turbo diesel, which I also used for my work. It was an excellent car, although it did not have air conditioning (no room under the bonnet, I was told). The other slight problem was that the valve clearances used to close up, requiring resetting of them about every 30,000 miles. If this was not carried out, it would result in starting problems. However, I am an engineer and I could easily reset the clearances in a few hours, by changing the shims around, after purchasing a few new shims and keeping a record of which shims were fitted to which valves. I kept the Cavalier for thirteen years and 105,000 miles, without any major repairs and the original clutch. However, some play becoming evident in the differential/drive shaft bearings, together with the prospects of other wear, I decided in 2006, with some reluctance, as it was also a beautiful looking car, that it was time for a change. After checking with local dealers, and finding that some cars had now become too wide for my garage, I decided that a Vauxhall Astra estate would be suitable (the boot of the Astra hatchback was too small). By chance, I found that Motorpoint, the car supermarket, was offering new Astra 1.7 turbo diesel estates, with about a 30 per cent reduction on the list price. These were new indirect imports, via Cyprus, similar to UK supplied cars, but with a full size spare wheel, and to my wife’s satisfaction, air conditioning. My wife at first thought that it was an ugly duckling, after the Cavalier, but she is now getting used to it. (Seven years on…Doc) I still have the car and, now being retired, it has only done 23,000 miles and I’m hoping that it will last me another ten years. Keep up the good work Doc, as your column is always the first one that I read. In fact I would probably cancel my subscription if you left the magazine. Time for a pay rise?
I well remember being taxied in such a Cavalier 1.7 diesel Fred, and recall how noisy it seemed, although the driver in question did drive it near enough flat out. I think he also chain-smoked, with his driver window open to let out the smoke. How times change. I somehow imagine that you must have changed the Cavalier’s oil and filter pretty regularly, which would account for its healthy life. Such memories and histories of less recent diesels are very interesting and notably free of reports of problems with emissions equipment. I guess that the Astra does have a decent package of such stuff, like EGR, but apparently it doesn’t trouble you (probably because you drive it sensibly) and a 2006 model will, I am guessing (too lazy to check it out for sure) be free from the dreaded DPF. Readers should take note of the cost saving of buying Millers in five-litre tin cans, although you do need to look ahead to spend over £60 in one go, and possibly buy a good funnel. Camskill seem to offer the best price, at £59.99 + £6.95 P&P, which works out at only £6.70 for 500ml, compared with the going rate of from £8.99 on line up to £12.99 in motor parts shops. I’m hoping to be around for a few years yet Fred… but thanks for the thoughts on pay – I’ll mention your support for a pay rise to Ian. Very best regards – and do look after yourself and that Astra.