Ask the Mechanic

The Toyota Premio and the Mark X. PHOTOs/Joseph Kiggundu


Hello Paul, I want to buy a small car with reasonable fuel consumption and good ground clearance. Although I have been thinking between a Ractis, Allex, IST and Sienta, of late, I am drawn towards the Premio 2.0 D4. My budget is between Shs17m and Shs23m.             Sunil

Hello Sunil, if you fancy the Toyota Premio and can stretch your budget to Shs35m, go for the 2010 model with the 1.8 litre 2ZRFE. Thanks to modern precision air intake technology DOHC (Double Overhead camshaft) with VVTi (Variable Valve Timing intelligent) coupled with the CVT automatic gearbox, this Premio engine gives you superior engine output of 138 horsepower while you enjoy the same highway fuel economy (18.6 km/litre) of the smaller output 1.5 litre engines (109hp) in the Toyota Alex and IST.

On the other hand, the 2001-2007 Premio model, which is within your budget cap of Shs23m will give you 16 km/litre and a slightly smaller output of 130hp. With differentiated petrol fuel combined with good driving style, you can stretch the fuel economy of the older 2001-2007 Premio to 18 km/litre on the highway.

The Toyota Ractis and Sienta, which are suitable for the Uber driver or city school dropping commuter, provide the best highway fuel economy of 20 km/litre and 19.5 km/litre respectively. The Toyota Premio sports sedan provides better handling during fast paced driving, which is a suitable option for getting away from Kampala on the highway for sightseeing. The Premio’s trunk size of 275 litres, although smaller than the Ractis’ 429 litres, is still good enough for you.

Also, the Premio’s ground clearance of 160mm is similar to that of the Alex. However, urban cruiser Toyota IST’s 175mm ground clearance is the highest. All the other options you are considering are either MPVs, super hatches or urban cruisers. They have some practical benefits over the Premio in terms of flexible seating and loading layout. However, you are not an airport taxi driver who is grappling with ample seating or loading space.


Hello Paul, lately, my Toyota MarkX’s engine makes a rattling sound and reduces power when I accelerate while driving uphill. What is the cause and solution?


Hello Ahmed, the engine rattle is a metal to metal clicking or scrapping sound that is continuous or intermittent during acceleration. This sound is usually followed by reduced engine performance or in extreme cases, engine stalling. The engine rattle can be caused by one of these factors; worn out spark plugs, engine timing fault, damaged catalytic convertor or fuel with the wrong octane number, causing excessive cylinder knock.

Spark plugs ignite the fuel air mixture, which detonate (burn) and help to move the pistons and subsequently your engine. Worn out spark plugs will reduce engine power and this will be felt more as you drive uphill or attempt to overtake. A faulty engine timing either advanced or retarded will affect ignition and combustion efficiency. This will reduce engine performance and cause an engine rattle.

A catalytic convertor is an exhaust pipe fitted honey comb shaped ceramic filter, which chemically renders exhaust smoke less harmful to the environment. When the catalytic convertor is damaged, it will block the exhaust pipe, causing exhaust back pressure. This situation will reduce performance and cause a rattle. Have the car inspected and run a computer diagnostics to identify which of these components has failed and is causing the engine rattle.


I own a Toyota Progress 2001, whose airbag light is blinking. Can I still safely drive the car?


Hello Jin, often, you will be able to drive the car when the amber airbag fault warning light displays on your dashboard. The amber light is a warning that the driver or passenger airbag will not deploy in case you need it.

Find out why the airbag is faulty. The easiest way to do this is by using a computer diagnostic tool, which will confirm which airbag is faulty and why. Common causes of airbag failure include a faulty spiral cable which connects the driver airbag on the steering or faulty crash sensors.

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