What could be ailing my Probox?

Tuesday October 15 2019



Greetings Mr Barasa,

I own a Probox 1300cc. It has been on the road for one year. It was consuming 8.5km/litre, but once the muffler was removed it’s now doing 12.5km/litre.

We changed the plugs hoping it will do better coverage, but unfortunately there’s no difference, yet the engine is still in good condition and operates in good terrain. What could be the problem? How should a 1300cc consume? Kindly help.
Ruttoh, Eldoret

Hello Ruttoh,

Some things about your lamentation do not add up, first being your vehicle goes further on a litre of fuel after a muffler-ectomy and second being that you are complaining about the improved economy.

We will assume there is a typo somewhere and that the fuel consumption is actually worse after the muffler delete.

Here is a little lesson in troubleshooting if you want to avoid a headache: If you introduce a change into any system and immediately there is a problem, the first logical step is to undo that change to see if the problem goes away.


Toyota Probox.

It’s basic instinct. Did you try to reinstall the muffler? Then again perhaps I have misunderstood your query and your car actually does 12.5km/l and you want an improvement on that, in which case change your driving style, not your plugs.

Go easy on the accelerator and avoid revving the engine beyond, say, 3000rpm, or 3500rpm max.

If removing the muffler caused a drop in fuel economy, which may be expected, then put it back.

However, while the effect of removing the muffler is negative as far as fuel economy is concerned, this is highly theoretical, and if it in fact does happen, the difference should not be that big.

The change in economy you refer to is along the lines of 30 percent, which is massive. Reinstall the muffler and see what happens.

Toyota Allion with a snail's pace

I find your column helpful. I drive an Allion 2.0. Here is my problem. When I drive for about 200 metres, it loses power as if it has run out of fuel. I have changed high-pressure pumps twice now, but the problem persists.

Hi Vincent,
Another Allion, another problem. I thought Toyotas were supposed to be bulletproof. Anyway, there are many reasons a car would lose power after a very short drive, so prepare for a long list.
You could be having low compression, dirty filters (air and/or fuel), a clogged exhaust, any of a myriad sensors malfunctioning, bad injectors, bad ignition coils or bad spark plugs. Get diagnosing.
All the best.


Toyota Allion.

A story about a girl called Navara Yana

Hello Baraza,
It is now six years since I wrote to you about a Range Rover that almost earned me a divorce. Thanks for the advice, but I was relieved when the car was run over by a bulldozer at my husband’s small construction company. I’m back once again with another mess.

Earlier this year I delivered my third child in a hospital in China. My husband was supposed to be there with me, but by the time he arrived, I had already given birth. As he was leaving the hospital that evening, he told me that since it was his duty to name our child, he wanted to name her Navara Augustine.

I felt the blood of a warrior burning inside me, but I stayed calm and instead asked him to allow me to give her the middle name — Navara Yana Augustine. He was shocked. “Why Yana,” he asked, to which I told him that Nissan Navara went well with Yana. As he was leaving, I peeped through the hospital window and noticed that he was driving a Nissan double-cabin.


Hi Savanna,

I’m not sure what exactly to make of this, but, it is a bit unusual. No, scratch that, it is very unusual.

Well, you are not the only one to have adventures stemming from that Range Rover discourse we had. That came and went for both of us, and while things took a mangled turn on your end, what with the bulldozer angle which I’m sorry for despite your tacit admission to disliking the car, it was all quiet on the western front where I am … for a while. Then all hell broke loose.


Nissan Navara.

That exchange between us was repeated when somebody else shared an interest in getting himself a Range Rover on a budget that seemed chunky at first glance but could easily be deemed insufficient once the inevitable extensive repair work begins. These cars are not cheap to run.

It is that last comment that sent the manufacturer on the warpath. Let’s just say they were not happy and made it abundantly clear that they took umbrage at my opinion disguised as fact (it is in fact the other way round). Getting such phone calls is very scary, it need not be said.

Now, about naming the baby Navara. You have forced me down a path I do not normally take, that of researching baby names, if only to defend the old man. I refuse to believe he actually chose to name your third child after a motor vehicle, and one of not-so-good standing* at that, but the fact that he showed up at the hospital in a Nissan double-cab is a smoking gun that makes his position extremely hard to defend.

Speaking of defending, I went to the internet to visit The Google and asked it what other meanings the noun “Navara” carries besides that of a pickup that upped the ante in the double-cab world but lacked the meat to stay the distance, and what do you know, the first result is “Defender”.

Navara means “defender”, which is good, but not so good in that it is also the name of a Land Rover model — and you seem to be celebrating the ignominious demise of a different Land Rover model at the hands (or tracks) of a landlubber dreadnought, so perhaps the connection may be a little awkward.

So I kept digging. There is a chess grandmaster with that name, so there is a possibility that Mr Man wants the tyke to grow up into a military strategist along the lines of Sun Tzu. And … yeah, that’s it. A lot of the other stuff I found is either irrelevant or nonsensical, so I’m afraid that yes, your progeny may have actually been named after a flimsy but very comfortable pickup truck.

And then there was Yana. Really? The tyre brand? When you are walking on thin ice you might as well tap dance, I always say, but by Jupiter, have mercy on a child! The only other meaning of Yana I found was a North American tribe of Injuns (am I allowed to say that?), a name I also recall from playing Age of Empires III.

So the poor girl (it’s a girl, isn’t it?) has a Nissan for a first name, a tyre or a Native American middle name and a Roman emperor for a surname, which is actually quite cool. I won’t be surprised if the first thing she does after getting her driving licence is to lease a bulldozer and run you two class acts out of town for clowning around with her name.

Which of these three Subarus should I buy?

Hello Barasa JM,
Thank you for your insightful advice on matters vehicles.
I am currently planning to buy a Subaru Forester: between the three, SF5, SG5 and SG9, which should I go for? Please advise me, bearing in mind maintenance, longevity and fuel consumption. I have heard a lot of rumours about the three, but I choose to hear from you. Please break it down for me.

Hello, Lomern’gole,

The SG9 will be thirstier than the SG5, that’s for sure, so it’s out, unless you don’t mind forking out a bit extra for the fuel, in which case the SG9 trumps the SG5 in every other way (read performance).

Maintenance and longevity are not very different. Some say the SF5 generation is made of sterner stuff, since it comes from a more romantic and idealistic time when Subaru was trying to prove a point, but I’ve found the SG line to be just as hardy. So that could swing either way.


Subaru Forester.

Others say turbocharged Subarus are higher maintenance — and this may somewhat hold true especially for high-strung athletes like the STi-powered SG9 — but then again I have always insisted there is no point buying a Subaru if it isn’t turbocharged. So an ordinary SF5 or SG5 turbo (no STi fettling) hits the sweet spot.

Get an SG. It looks better than an SF, which has a bland face and an awkward rump.