Ask the Mechanic

Which is best between a Mitsubishi Outlander and Subaru Forester?

Hello Paul, I currently own a Subaru Forester Ll bean 2005 and I want to buy a Mitsubishi Outlander 24G, 2.350cc. Kindly advise based on the availability of spare parts, cost of repair and maintenance and stability on the road.


Hello James, comparing the 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander to the 2005 Subaru Forester is like comparing red apples to green apples. The difference is in their appeal to your lifestyle and driving habits. The Outlander and Forester are cross utility vehicles from renowned stables, Mitsubishi and Subaru. Both combine attributes of a medium sports utility vehicle SUV) with those of a hatchback saloon vehicle. Their road handling qualities are a fine mix of saloon car-like comfort and road holding augmented with medium SUV ground clearance and light off-road ability.

Both cars offer compact unibody integrated chassis and body frames. This frame design works well with their independent suspension (front McPherson struts and rear multi links) to ensure good road holding when manoeuvring at high speeds around sharp bends on the highway. Forester’s shorter length and slightly lower roof profile give it an edge over the Outlander during extreme manoeuvres or tight cornering.

The Outlander is more spacious with better headroom and legroom. The 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander’s 2.4 litre 16 valve DOHC petrol engine offers a better balance of modest performance (power) and good fuel economy. Outlanders’ MIVEC variable valve timing intelligent drive train works well with the INVECS smart continuous velocity transmission.

This drive train and valve train combination enhances fuel economy (Highway 13km/L; Urban 10 km/L) while delivering a reasonable 160 horse power. The Subaru Forester’s EJ20 2.0 litre engine gives you an engine output of 158 horsepower and an almost similar fuel economy of 12.5 km/L. The EJ255 2.5 litre Forester engine gives you a poorer Highway fuel economy of 9km/L but a superior roaring and more exciting engine output of 260 horse power. The non turbo 2.5L (EJ254) delivers a sprightly 165hp and about 10km/L fuel economy.

So, if you are a petrol head (performance driver) you will find the Outlander a bit of a slow coach. If you are a family road trip oriented motorist, the Outlander will suit you.  The Outlander’s comfort credentials are underscored by its spacious and well thought out interior. The icing on the cake is the seven seat option it offers.

Maintenance will be pricey, especially if you buy a car with more than 100,000kms on the clock. However, what you pay for is what you get. In case you end up with the CVT MIVECS gearbox, ensure it is serviced with dealer approved CVT transmission oil to avoid damage.

Also, regular maintenance parts are easy but body and suspension parts are harder to find locally compared to the Subaru Forester. 

Reviving a car that has been parked for years

Hello Paul, I have not used my RAV4 for about five years. I am planning to revive it but would like to know what this will entail, especially in terms of the cost.


Hello Padre, a car like your RAV4 that has been parked for five years may need more than reviving. It may need restoration akin to a complete makeover. Parking a car for more than five years will expose it to potential damage from the elements, corrosion or rodents depending on how secure the parking space is. The cost of restoration will depend on the extent of damage.

Often, the outcome of prolonged parking is aging rubber tyres and seals, deteriorating upholstery and collapsing roof lining, cracking or deforming vinyl finishes, corrosion damaged moving parts both in the engine, transmission, drive, suspension and brakes. Body panels and paint will need attention. Electrical harnesses, circuits and components can either be damaged by rodents or corrosion.

Start by getting the car inspected by a mechanic to ascertain what you need to safely start it such as renewal of all engine and transmission fluids and filters. Procure a new battery and confirm whether tyres are not damaged or expired. Initial engine firing up after all fluid and filter changes may cost you anywhere between Shs200,000 and Shs500,000.

Thereafter, you will need to confirm that the engine does not burn or leak oil and coolant, runs efficiently and can drive. A bad engine and gearbox will cost you about Shs5m to repair or replace. An inspection of brakes, suspension will help you decide whether the car is roadworthy. Thereafter it will be justifiable to repair the interior and body of the car if its condition warrants it. Body and interior makeovers can cost about Shs2.5m, which could go up or reduce depending on the extent of damage and work required to restore it.

My Toyota Nadia experiences cold starts

I would like to know what causes failed cold starts for a Toyota Nadia 2000. It rattles and sometimes the engine stops completely. My mechanic advised me to change the pump, which I did but the problem persists. Please advise. 


Hello Paul, there a couple of engine management (ECM) components or systems that can cause delayed or failed cold starts. The fuel delivery system components are one of them. The engine on your car relies on the ECM computer to regulate mixture and delivery of fuel and air as well as the spark for ignition.

It would be prudent to run a computer diagnosis to correctly identify which of the systems are faulty; air intake, ignition or fuel supply. It is costly and not a good idea to play the guessing game as to what is causing your Nadia’s delayed cold starts.

However, I will share a few pointers subject to confirmation after diagnosis or inspection. Delayed or failed cold starts can be caused by a defective air intake system (air filter, air flow sensor, leaking intake hose or dirty throttle potentiometer); defective ignition system (ignition coils, spark plugs or retarded ignition timing), faulty fuel system (pump, filter) or engine management sensors such as the coolant temperature sensor, crank shaft or camshaft position sensors.

These are pointers that need to be confirmed with a professional to avoid costly misdiagnosis.

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