Doctor Diesel

Polish Pleasure Projectile

dd2As promised, here is an update on my project to breathe new life into my old Renault Avantime (see Issue 341).

Firstly, as far as I know, the Avantime was never sold new in Poland, where I now live and where I bought it, so it definitely wasn’t Uncle Lech’s cast off presidential vehicle! (As I suggested! Doc.) But it was initially owned by Ferrari Motors – I am told to transport potential customers to and from the airport, for factory visits. I have all of the original paperwork and it’s all in Italian, so presumably it was purchased new there. It’s a very Polish thing that they import many of Europe’s old cars, so for them the Avantime is nothing unusual. Secondly, it’s a car that people either love or hate. The dieselheads, if there is such a word, really like it, but the rest of the world doesn’t. Even as an old crock, though, it still attracts attention wherever I go in it, especially in the summer months where, with the mere push of a single button, all of the glass side windows and sunroof open and then disappear!

I have started the engine treatment that you recommended, and within 48 hours I had two bottles of fuel additive delivered, and at the next fill up I added two doses as per your recommendation. As far as I can tell, the quality of diesel fuel in Poland is the same as elsewhere in Europe, and the Avantime is the fourth diesel car that I’ve driven over here, with no problems to date. My only problem now is that a major French supermarket chain has just opened a fuel station very close to where I live, of course at a very tempting low price.

Regarding the 2.2-litre dCi engine, subjective impressions are that the engine is running a bit quieter, more smoothly and with a smidgen more power. It has no problem keeping up with today’s traffic, although it needs a few more revs than I’m used to, to keep it accelerating briskly through the gears. Once it gets up to speed, it cruises along with no problems, with cruise control engaged if the traffic and roads allow. As I had never used any fuel additives previously, I took your advice to give the engine some welly once it was nicely warmed up. I have a really quiet forest road on the way to my house and the result of a good revving in second gear several times produced a cloud of black smoke! I guess that something like that is inevitable if the engine is being cleaned. When I picked up the car the computer’s reading of fuel consumption was showing the metric equivalent of 34.4mpg. My brim to brim consumption since then is around 38mpg, which is more or less in-line with the car’s computer reading.

The only other thing that I’ve done is to replace the tyres. I hunted around on the internet and found the same set of Goodyears (EfficientGrip Performance Doc.) that you recommended, with an A rating for rolling resistance and wet grip. It’s a bit early to give you any feedback on how these tyres have performed, but the driving experience compared to the old worn tyres is like night and day. I actually chose these tyres before reading your letters. But, regarding the input from DC’s The Extra Mile page (regarding keeping cars garaged if possible for a warm start) the biggest radiator I have in my house is actually in my garage, and it goes without saying that my cars are kept inside! Getting going on a sub-zero morning is no problem both for me and my cars, with much less stress on the both of us.

Pity it’s not all good news, but I’m having a few electrical problems with the Avantime. I shouldn’t be surprised as that generation of Renault cars have this reputation. But the Renault garage I’m using tell me that someone has been playing around with the electrics, and that’s what is causing the problems. I’m hopeful that by next spring they’ll be sorted and I’ll be out doing some more alfresco motoring, with a big smile on my face.

There are a few design cues in the Avantime that could transfer very successfully to modern crossover vehicles, which is how I would describe the Avantime. The long doors with no B-pillar deliver unequalled visibility and, as the driver, you sit underneath and benefit from the glass roof; even if you don’t open it, it’s light and airy inside and even those less enamoured with the car call it the space ship, and it even has a spare wheel. Maybe it was born too soon? Next job will be to clean the turbo, but probably not until the spring.

Regards, and thanks,

Bill Cargill, Poland

Many thanks! That’s a great update Bill, and I’m very pleased to hear that the car is performing pretty well. 38mpg doesn’t sound bad at all, but it should improve – if you keep blasting the muck out with the black smoke! Keep giving it some stick like that until the smoke gets better, or even disappears. No need for you to use too many revs – maximum turbo boost is probably around 2,000 to 2,500rpm, which should be quite enough to do the trick.

Cheap French supermarket fuel with a double dose of some decent additive should work fine. I’m also glad to hear that the new Goodyear tyres are pleasing you, and also that winter cold starting is all well organised – take note other readers! There are some good products about for cleaning turbochargers, but yours should probably clean up gradually with time. Have you got some good oil in for the winter? I just did a check on the Halfords website and their Mobil recommendation is a 0W-40 oil, which sounds like a good bet for your climate. Might be worth a look to see if you can find a 0W-40 or 0W-30 oil out there in chilly Poland.

Anyway, it sounds like the Avantime was a good buy for you and that, bar the electrics, it is generally performing pretty well, and I’m sure that there’s plenty of life left in it, if you continue to look after it as you are.

Best regards,

Doctor Diesel

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