Ask the Mechanic


Hello Paul, I own Toyota Progress which I have been driving for more than two years.

1. The key got lost and the car is now parked. I fear cutting another since it may not be able to start. I was also told that for any other key to work, the car needs to be taken for programming. How safe is this and how much will it cost?

2. I have also noticed some leakage around the timing case. What could be the problem?


Hello Rashid, your car’s ignition key is designed to work with the car security system to prevent unauthorised entry and start up. The security system is composed of an immobiliser control module and key reader, which recognise a specially encoded transponder chip incorporated in the key. When you use the correct key, it will be recognised by the immobiliser control module, which will authorise the engine control module to supply spark and fuel to start the car.

A breakdown of any of the components or loss of the key will prevent starting. Getting another key requires buying it from an authorised Toyota dealer. It has to be programmed to the immobiliser control module to be recognised. Attempts to bypass this system can be futile and costly.

The leakage around the timing case area suggests that your car may be due for the 100,000 kilometre mandatory valve top cover gasket renewal. This is done together with the camshaft and timing case oil seals (which you see leaking). I would go further to confirm the mileage of your car and if it is at 100,000 kilometres, replace the engine timing belt, timing belt tensioner and roller. It is also time to replace the fuel filter. These procedures should be carried out by a qualified mechanic using parts from Toyota genuine parts dealers.


Dear Paul, I have a family of six and I want to buy a car. I am considering the seven seater Kluger or Vanguard. Which is the best in terms of cost, fuel consumption, maintenance and space? Tinah

Hello Tinah, the 2007 seven seater Toyota Kluger and Toyota Vanguard are both Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) but of different size categories. The Kluger is slightly bigger and is in the midsize crossover category while the smaller Vanguard is a compact crossover. Both car choices offer a seven seat layout, although the Kluger, which is 165mm longer, 63mm wider and five millimetres higher is a more comfortable seven seater. It also provides better leg, shoulder and headroom than the Vanguard.

The Kluger also has much better load space whether the extreme rear seats are folded down or not. Its interior features and styling are of a higher grade offering leather upholstery, JBL sound system, and backup camera with navigation. The Kluger 2007 costs between Shs75m-Shs80m while the Vanguard costs Shs55m-Shs65m.

However, locally used ones or the older models without seven seats, will cost less. Fuel economy and maintenance cost will depend on the choice of engine you go for, maintenance and driving style.

The Kluger’s 2.7 litre engine offers a modest 187 horsepower but will give you 11.5 km/litre on the highway and 8km/litre in city traffic. The Kluger’s sprightlier 3.5 litre engine (270 horsepower) is more fuel thirsty giving you 8.13k/litre on the highway and 7km/litre in city traffic. The Vanguard on the other hand is more fuel efficient, although less powerful. Its 2.0litre 1AZFSE (160 hp) engine will give you 14.2 km/litre on the highway while the 2.4 litre 2AZFE (163 hp) will give you 12.6 km/litre on the highway. Both car options are easy to maintain although the bigger engines cost slightly more to service.

The 2007 Kluger’s body parts such as lights, switches and body panels are difficult to find and more costly while the Vanguard comes with the more fuel efficient CVT gearbox. However, it should be serviced with specific CVT fluid since accidental use of wrong oil to service the CVT gearbox will cause irreparable damage.


Hello Paul, I own a Nissan X-Trail 2.0L which has recently started reducing power while driving uphill. I have replaced the fuel filter and the fuel pump works perfectly. What could be the cause?


Hello Mbabazi, you may need to clean or renew your intake system air flow sensor (MAF). This device is fitted on the intake pipe between the air filter housing and throttle unit. It monitors the volume and temperature of engine intake air. This information is useful for the engine computer to determine how much fuel to deliver.

Intake air volumetric and temperature information is crucial since these two factors are affected by changing altitude. This information helps the engine management system (computer) to adjust delivery of appropriate fuel mass to the engine as altitude changes. That may be why your car engine struggles with reduced performance going uphill but performs better on straight stretches. A car diagnostic technician can evaluate the MAF sensor condition using a diagnostic tool and the recommended values.


Hello Paul, I drive a 2004 BMW X3. How do I remove the tyre pressure warning light?


Hello Rita, that warning light should not irritate you. It is a BMW safety feature designed to advise when your tyre pressure is low. Simply get a tyre clinic to inflate all tyres to the right pressure. The recommended pressure for each axle is indicated on your car fuel flap. Thereafter, follow these instructions to reset the TPMS - Tyre Pressure Monitoring system yourself.

Start the engine

Press and hold the TPMS RESET button until the TPMS LED light changes to yellow for a few seconds.

Drive the vehicle through various speed ranges for about 15 minutes. If driving is interrupted, reset will resume at the next drive cycle.


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