Non aviation content. Play nice – No religion, no politics and no axe grinding please.

Moderator: Flyin'Dutch'

By Big Dex
I currently have a 2004 Toyota RAV4 diesel at our holiday house in Provence; it’s a cracking little car despite its age and mileage, originally bought in Britain (it’s RHD) for around £2k; it can be left parked for 2 months, and still fires up immediately. It tows a 750kg boat without complaint. However, it does have what in Britain is considered to be insignificant corrosion on the underside. It passed the local equivalent of an MoT (CT), with an assurance that it would not do so next time... so I’m starting to consider a suitable replacement. Given that it’s clear that UK road salt and rain causes a chassis condition that the southern French are unfamiliar and unhappy with, I’d like to choose something suitable, yet corrosion resistant (presumably galvanised). My needs are:

4 wheel drive
Basic: complex electrics are not needed, and likely to deplete battery when parked.
Reasonable towing capacity
Air Conditioning (doubt much doesn’t have this now)
Reputation for reliability
EU model (no grey imports, or it’d be a hilux surf)
More than 10 years old (75% discount on French registration taxes)
Vaguely acceptable turning circle

I couldn’t care less about fuel economy or aesthetics.

My initial thoughts have been:
Isuzu Rodeo (I understand early corrosion issues have been addressed)
Subaru Forrester
Volvo XC60/70 (may be too complex)
Early 2.4 Hilux

As a consideration, I do have a 6 year old VW Amarok I would consider taking, but it isn’t 10 years old, nor corrosion-free, or simple. So probably not!

Suggestions of suitable vehicles would be much appreciated.
By johnm
I'd look at the Forrester, straightforward.

However, have you considered fixing the corrosion? I'm told that the Japanese aren't great at painting the underside of cars and my 9 year old Subaru Outback with 135000 miles on it was showing superficial corrosion on the subframes, I therefore had a shop clean it off, treat it with corrosion inhibitor and paint it with hammerite for the princely sum of £ 300 and will now monitor year on year.
My Honda CR-V should tick all those boxes. At 12 years old and 240,000 miles it's just gone through an MoT with minimal aggro. There's a little cosmetic paint deterioration, mainly on the panel around the fuel filler - the garage say that they see that quite often on red Japanese originated cars only. Certainly there's a 2004 blue one parked around the corner which looks good as new.

Never garaged, although to be fair, not often in a salty environment either.

By Big Dex
@johnm , I did indeed discuss (in France) getting it wire-brushed clean and replacing the underseal; France being France, especially in the south yielded quotes of more than the cars’ value, and no guarantee of any sort other than “if you cover the metal with under seal, it will fail inspection because they cannot see what is beneath”.

Those who inspect do not repair (which makes sense on many levels, but not this one!).

I would be entirely happy to keep the RAV4; and would consider a newer one if it was squeaky clean underneath. Future corrosion is less of an issue due to the better weather where it will reside.

@Genghis the Engineer ; definitely one to look at. I don’t suppose you have any experience of their automatic gearbox? Whilst I would vastly prefer manual, when presented with my wife’s clutch control skills, auto becomes a preferable to replacing clutches at service intervals.
By Big Dex
@Genghis the Engineer; unfortunately the CRV, whilst appearing to tick all boxes, has a surprisingly low towing capacity of 680kg. I tow both a braked trailer rated to 1500kg (although never load it with more than 1t), and an unbrakes boat trailer that slightly pushes the 750kg unbraked limit if the boat’s tank has any fuel in its 150 litre tank...
As I've never had reason to tow anything bigger than a microlight on a trailer, I would have to defer to other authorities on that.

Ditto automatic gearboxes - I have never owned anything but manual cars.

User avatar
By PeteSpencer
Probably changed now but in 1984 I bought a brand new Renault 18 estate: It was our pride and joy but it failed its first MOT as all the brake pipes were corroded and had to be replaced.
Me to MOT man ' Isn't that unusual in a new car?'
MOT man to me ' No well over 30% of Renaults fail their first MOT on brake pipes'
Me to MOT man (Renault main dealer btw) ' Hasn't anybody taken this up with Renault'
MOT man 'Errrrrrrr '

Fiats back in the day were also renowned for rusting to bits.
Remember Ziebart and its goo coating the window winder rollers - dripping on the drive for days and those ugly yellow plugs?

The French assertion that a coating would lead to test failure for concealing the metal beneath is an interesting concept...

User avatar
By Paul_Sengupta
This "more than the car's worth" thing I don't really get. How much would it be in comparison to the cost of buying a new(er) vehicle? That's the question. Like aeroplanes.

Newer vehicles are very unlikely to last 2 months without discharging the battery due to all the "keep alive" things on the electronics these days.
By cockney steve
I have recently used a product called "Fertan". It is an environmentally-friendly alternative to "Deoxidine,"

These chemicals are typically sprayed ,brushed or otherwise applied to a degreased, water-wetted surface.
rust is converted into an inert, black, ferrous oxide...When it's dried, it can be brushed off as a dust.
(I recently reclaimed 2 sets of Rolls Cloud rear brake cylinders using this product, honed the bores after with 600 w&d paper they don't leak and saved ~£400-new ones £120 each)

After treatment, spray the exposed underbody- metal with used auto-trans. oil or gear-oil. (both contain a significant amount of corrosion-inhibitor) If you intend to "Waxoyl" it, again, add about a pint per gallon of one of these oils.

Waxoyl has a white-spirit solvent base, it evaporates, the wax shrinks and peels at edges and seams. the oil stops this.
a few hours work is a lot easier and cheaper than changing a car and getting one on the French register.

Alternative thought, take it to a French testing station that is used to seeing the ravages of maritime salt, or rural cow-s**t (Limousin! ) Sounds like you found a really strict (or anti-Brit) tester!.

Addendum....just seen Joe C's picture and had an orgasm. the "Godess" was years ahead of her time. I always aspired to one but had to settle for a CX had both a saloon and a familiale. Mate borrowed the latter for a holiday. .....M60, Stockport, unearthly AM he draws level with a BMW doing about 90, Beemer driver sneers condescendingly .

Then the caravan went past him :lol: steady as a rock! very short rear overhang and self-levelling,but a rust-bucket and very few understood the hydraulics (10 pipes across the back-axle! )
User avatar
By PeteSpencer
As a small boy age 11 we moved by rail to south-west France to live .
We were taken across Paris to the station in a DS19 taxi (1956-they came out a year earlier).
I was pretty much into cars at that stage and can still remember being gobsmacked by the translucent roof , the single spoke steering wheel and the lollopy suspension:years ahead of its time.

Our French friends had a Citroen 'traction' Familiale and I can still remember throwing up in the back whenever we went out for the day....

By Big Dex
The 2 quotes I’ve had for repair to French satisfaction are circa €2000; I guess my consideration is that the car owes me absolutely nothing; it started life with me in Manchester over a year ago, and has been back and forth 4.5 times since then. It is now on the French register as it’s UK MoT and tax came to expire, and that cost me €227 to achieve (plus the CT test, which it passed with the advisory of “this car is nearly dead”). The €227 reg fee is roughly the same as the annual road tax that I no longer require, and for which there is no equivalent in France. However, spending €2k on repairing a 110000 mile 15 year old non-prestige car seems excessive; limited time and equipment prevents me doing it myself. This is the first car I’ve owned in France, as an experiment to see whether it was a viable replacement for rented cars and vans (I’m 40, still work full time in Britain and this is purely a holiday home, conveniently 3 miles from Fayence Aerodrome). Owning a car there really works well, so I’m now willing to invest more into the next car (up to around £10k, but as it wants to be over 10 years old and simple, it’s hard to use up that budget).

Cars in France, like most things, are very expensive; the same car that I already own would cost around €5-6000, albeit then left hand drive. Buying locally would save me a long drive (20hrs), £600 in fuel/tolls/ferry and a bit of paperwork, but double the cost of the car. And heathen that I am, I prefer right hand drive, even on the continent as I have far better awareness of how close my near side wheels are to the precipitous drop immediately off the side of most of my local mountain switchback roads...

I’m still minded to run this until it either breaks expensively or reaches the expiry of its CT and fails to pass the next (still over a year away; they are biannual), and then replace. Knowing what I know now, I would insist on any potential purchase being lifted on ramps for a thorough underneath inspection (this wasn’t done with the RAV4, as a cursory look from ground level showed nothing that worried me). A vehicle I can largely forget about for a cumulative 9-10 months of the year, and will still do what I need is the goal.
By Chris Martyr
JoeC wrote:If you want second hand, towing capacity and to please the French authorities there may be only one choice:

Yeah , but have you seen the prices those darn things are fetching these days ?? :pale: Not far off what the XK on the 'schlepp' would go for .

Like GtE , I thought the CRV would be the hands down winner of choice . Mind you , I checked my CRV manual for towing allowances and then looked on line and am now even more confused than before . [ but it's not too difficult to confuse me . Specially this time of year.. :D ..]