Ask the Mechanic


I am kindly requesting for a review of the Honda Stepwagon, the Noah and Voxy. I was checking the prices and the difference is enormous. I want to use the car for airport transport services.


Hello Douglas, the Honda Stepwagon and Noah Voxy are both popular minivans, which provide a flexible transport solution for both passengers and cargo. The minivan segment is highly competitive as each manufacturer offers appealing options in the design segment, comfort and practicality as well as performance and fuel economy.

Design: The first and second generation interior designs of Honda Stepwagons built in 1996 and 2001 were inspired by transportation of children and family. The first generation Toyota Noah / Voxy of 2001 was premised on providing a people and cargo mover. Both concepts have a flexible transport solution for people and cargo.

However, Honda Stepwagon was more creative with its four seating layout modes; play mode, food mode, sleep mode and cargo mode. The 2001 Noah Voxy offered two passenger sliding doors on both sides making it more convenient than Stepwagon’s one passenger sliding door. The limited access was corrected when the third generation Stepwagon introduced the passenger sliding doors on both sides of the van. The first two generations of Stepwagon (1996/2003) had drab boxy uninspiring looks while the first generation of Noah Voxy (2002) came with a more appealing sleeker exterior design and flashier front end. However the third generation Stepwagon (2005) has a more plush and comfortable interior with a better seating configuration maintaining its versatile seating arrangement. The third generation Stepwagon has a sleeker, more aerodynamic design boasting a bigger front grille and modern headlights and tail lights. This Stepwagon gives the equally impressive 2007 second generation Noah a good run for its money.

Performance: The Noah Voxy counters with better ground clearance (440mm vs 420mm) which is crucial for driving on suburban or countryside roads. The Stepwagon provides better engine power and fuel economy. Its popular K20A 2.0 litre engine with four speeds CVT gearbox delivers an impressive 158 horsepower at 6,500 rpms and a fuel economy of 17 km/ litre.  The Stepwagon’s 2.4 litre engine is less fuel efficient with 12 km/litre. Noah Voxy (2001) 1AZFSE 2.0 litre engine and CVT gearbox produces 147hp and 13.5km/litre while the second generation Noah Voxy (2007) 3ZRFE 2.0 Litre engine 141 hp and 16 km/Litre.

Reliability: The Honda Stepwagon and Toyota Noah are well built with durable engines and transmissions. However, their timely maintenance with recommended high quality fully synthetic engine oils and CVT transmission fluids is crucial. If neglected, these engines and CVT gearboxes will fail. You will struggle a bit to get Honda spare parts, but thankfully, the parts market is improving and starting to stock Honda parts gradually.


Why is my Toyota Harrier constantly wobbling when I apply the brakes while driving at 100kms per hour? I have replaced everything in the braking system and done both wheel balancing and alignment.


Hello Doreen a steering wobble or vibration experienced when you suddenly apply the brakes at high speed is usually caused by unevenly worn out or warped brake discs. Have you replaced them too? Brake discs are large metallic rotors that are behind the wheels. They rotate along with the wheels so when brake pads clamp on them they help to stop your car.

Brake discs get very hot during braking due to friction. This can make the metal vulnerable to wear, albeit unevenly. Uneven brake disc warping or wear is usually caused by braking with wornout brake pads that engage the very hot disc more on some patches of its surface. These uneven patches cause a judder when you brake at high speed. These disc rotors should be examined to determine the imperfections. If the disc width is still within acceptable limits, consider skimming the uneven surface with a lathe machine. The ideal thing to do is replace them outrightly.

Ensure the brake discs are tightly fastened to the hub as that too can cause the steering judder. Do some wheel balancing to rule out bent rims too in case the discs check out. To avoid brake disc warping or uneven wear, avoid driving long distances downhill with your foot jammed on the brake all the way.


I bought a used car a few days ago but it now has grinding brakes. Should the dealer fix it? Ronald.

Hello Ronald, it sounds like you need to have your brakes inspected for worn out brake pads and possibly damaged brake discs. Whether the dealer should fix it or not depends on what sort of company or person you dealt with or the level of warranty he provided for the used car you bought.

Reputable used car dealerships will give you reasonable assurance for the car you have bought and even carry out some level of maintenance service or repairs to make the car acceptable. However, it depends on what you agreed and the known condition of the car you negotiated for.


My mechanic says I need an air conditioning evaporator. What is it and what does it do? Christine.

Hello Christine, the air conditioner evaporator works like a small radiator that delivers cooler air for the ventilation system. The evaporator unit, sometimes called the core, absorbs heat and extracts humidity from the air before delivering cool air via the fan blower to the car passenger cabin. You can tell that your AC evaporator is faulty if the AC system blows warm air, you smell a strange odour in the ventilation system and in worst cases, the AC compressor will not turn on. Occasionally, an AC evaporator can fail when it leaks due to corrosion.

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