Your car neuroses and diagnoses: Service plan renewals, buying a bakkie

CAR ANALYSIS Your vehicle questions answeredPHOTO: cornel van heerden
CAR ANALYSIS Your vehicle questions answeredPHOTO: cornel van heerden

Johannesburg - What bakkie should you buy? Can you convert your carburetor and save fuel costs? Should you renew your service plan? Justus Visagie provides useful answers to your automotive questions.

Cwangco Madikizela: I’m looking forward to buying a bakkie this year, but I’m not sure whether to go for the Ford Ranger or the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Double Cab. I love both cars but I need advice about the pros and cons of each.

Justus: If you don’t plan any hard-core off-roading, or farming in the Karoo or Kalahari, go with the Ford. It will be safer, use less fuel, be more comfortable and spacious inside, and easier to drive and to live with.

Siyabulela Mgweba: I’d like to know how possible it is to convert the carburetor of a VW Chico to fuel injection, estimate the costs and know what lasting benefits I would get.

Justus: I spoke to engine expert Martin Pretorius and this is what he said: “It’s certainly possible. You will have to replace the cylinder head with one from a fuel-injected Citi Golf or from a first-generation Polo or Golf/Jetta III facelift. If your Chico is a 1.6, use the 1.8i cylinder head – it has bigger valves. Replace the petrol tank with one from a 1.4i or 1.6i Chico (one from a wreck at a scrap yard will do) and get a decent aftermarket engine management system, like one from the Powermods range. Get someone with reasonable auto-mechanical skill to do the job; it can be done in a weekend.

“The easier and probably better option is to buy a Japanese import Volkswagen 2E engine (2.0-litre 8V) from the Golf II and III GTi, and have it installed, because bigger is better. For this conversion you will also need a different fuel tank and engine management system.

“Either way, you’re in for at least R12 000 if you do it yourself. If not, add another R6 000 to R8 000 for labour. To convert an engine like the Chico’s from carburetor to fuel injection will result in better fuel consumption and performance.”

READ: Mechanic woes - Car parts switching a reality in SA

Walter Molosiwa: My Polo’s service plan is coming to an end. Is it a good idea to buy another plan? I think they are expensive for what they’re doing on the car. Does it affect my insurance?

Justus: I wouldn’t extend the service plan, if I were you. It’s unlikely that you will save money on future services by doing so and you might decide to sell the car. I would rather compare service prices at different workshops (VW and independent) and use a reputable, independent workshop, if it’s cheaper, especially for the small services. However, it does seem that the car brands are keen to get customers to service at their agents, so keep a lookout for special offers from VW dealers. Not buying a service plan will not affect your insurance.

Sifopumzile: I would like to buy a second car. A BMW or Mercedes. Which one is the strongest? Also, what is a good choice between the BMW 3-, 5- and 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz A-, B-, C- and E-classes?

Justus: The strength or durability is greatly dependent on which generation of a model series you buy. I recommend the reliable E46 3-Series BMW over its successor, the E90. If you want to buy a pre-owned Mercedes, look for a C-Class, specifically the W203 face-lift or W204 face-lift. The A-Class can be expensive to maintain because of the way the engine is mounted. If you can buy new, that’s a different story, because you’ll be covered by a warranty and maintenance plan.


Neither the author nor City Press, or Wheels24, accepts any responsibility for loss or damage caused by following the advice in this column.

Talk to us

Do you have car questions you’d like Justus to answer?

Send them to us. Using the words CAR QUESTIONS in the subject line, email You can also SMS the keywords CAR QUESTIONS and your question to 35697. Please include your name. SMSes cost R1.50. Remember to be as specific as possible – the more details you supply, the better Justus will be able to answer your question

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Brought to you by
Voting Booth
Do you think Mercedes will return to form later in the 2022 F1 season after two poor races?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, don't discredit them.
33% - 447 votes
Who cares, F1 is exciting again!
44% - 588 votes
No, it's Ferrari's turn to dominate again.
23% - 311 votes