Ask the Mechanic


Hello Paul, I want to buy a Dualis 2007 as my first entry car. Is it a good choice or should I look for something else?


Hello Evelyn, the Nissan Dualis also called Nissan Qashqai in markets outside Japan, is a good entry level first owner super hatch car. If it catches your fancy, you can go for it. The Dualis (Qashqai) has more positives than negatives. For starters, its chunky streamlined styling looks nice and its raised ground clearance with All Wheel Drive make it a practical run about car. It also comes with multipurpose vehicle practicalities such as easy to get into ample passenger and cargo (boot) space.

The Dualis comes with five seats although an optional seven-seater variant exists. The second row seats are easy to adjust although they do not fold flat. It offers an under floor out of sight lockable storage for valuables such as your laptop.  Seating space is good for four passengers but a little cramped for the fifth passenger on the second row.

The interior is comfortable with basic trappings such as air conditioning, power windows, a nice audio CD player easy to reach and use switch gear and clear instruments or dials.

The dashboard and door cards are a little plastic and outdated, but that is not a show stopper. The Dualis driving position is comfortable with a command view albeit the obstruction of rear pillars, which limit the rear view.

Driving is fun as the 1.6 and 2.0 litre engines are energetic, thanks to the good engine body weight ratio. Nevertheless, the small engines can be a little noisy if you are pushing hard on the highway. The car has plenty of road grip if you are sprinting for an airport drop off on the Entebbe expressway.

However, you will need to be careful as it leans uncomfortably when you drive fast through corners, like any other MPV Hatch with a high centre of gravity.

Maintenance is manageable as long as you regularly service with the recommended fully synthetic or semi synthetic engine oil and good filters to avoid the noisy rattle of the engine timing chain and failure of the variable valve timing kit.  This is a common problem with all other post 2000 vehicle brands which have the timing chain and VVti system.

If your Dualis comes with a CVT gearbox, make sure it is serviced with the correct Nissan approved CVT fluid. Nissan parts are readily available although a little pricier.


I have been in Europe for a while but I am planning to move back to Uganda. Since I am accustomed to driving European cars, I am looking for the perfect car to use. While I am more inclined to the likes of MB C Class (2.0 and above) or the BMW 3 series, my friends are advising me to go for Japanese, which has led me to the Toyota Mark X. Which of these cars suits the Ugandan roads? Is there any other car in that class you can recommend?


Hello Habib, for decades, in Uganda, Japanese vehicles have been simpler and cheaper to maintain than European vehicles. This was because they had ‘easier to fix’ mechanical systems and later first generation electronic engine management systems. This was suitable for the lower level skilled technicians at the time. There were fewer independent parts dealers for European vehicles and the Japanese parts were available (new and used).

Today, this has changed with the importation of the post year 2000 Japanese vehicles (such as the Mark X) fitted with modern electronic engine management, brake and suspension systems. The Mark X, like the European Mercedes and BMW are sophisticated and require high quality parts and lubricants as well as highly skilled technicians for their maintenance and repair. Fortunately, the quality and availability of skilled repair technicians and tooling has greatly improved.

There is better availability of European car parts with dealers and independent shops as well as their suitable lubricants stocked by leading oil companies. However, it is important to buy a technically certified car with a mileage below 100,000kms to limit need for immediate mileage (age) related parts replacement. So, you can buy the car of your choice.


Hello Paul, is it true that in case of an accident, car airbags will not open if the passengers were not wearing their seatbelts?


Hello Vincent, car airbags are made of a thin nylon fabric which is folded and tucked into the steering wheel, dashboard or side door panels or chair cushions. Air bags are flexible cushions which self-inflate rapidly during a vehicle collision. They are a sort of soft set of pillows to land on. In the event of a collision, they restrain a driver or their passengers from being hurled forward or sideways against car panels.

A crash sensor or side impact sensor tells the airbag control module to inflate the bags when there is a collision force equal to running into a brick wall at 16 to 24 kilometres per hour. The airbags inflation system reacts sodium azide (NaN3) with potassium nitrate (KN03) to produce nitrogen gas. Hot blasts of the nitrogen inflate the airbag.

Far from what you suggest, airbags will deploy whether or not you are wearing your seatbelt. The results could be fatal as force of a deploying airbag can injure a passenger as they are propelled forward unrestrained by the dynamic forces during collision.

However, modern supplementary restraint systems (SRS) will ensure that airbags will not deploy if seat pad fitted occupancy detecting sensors communicate that there is no occupant on the seat. This system also controls the seatbelts to prevent whiplash-related injuries through gas actuated seatbelt pretensioning systems.

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