Despite owing the Kia Cee’d since 2021, and always intending on getting winter tyres, it’s only been recently that I’ve managed to get them sorted out. To cut a long story short, an initial plan to use second hand alloy wheels was aborted due to the set needing a refurb, and the new set alloy wheels didn’t arrive in time for last winter.
So the last post here was away back in March, and while I’d not forgotten about the blog, updates just never quite happened. Here’s why.
Whilst waiting on a laser scanner to do its magic, thoughts turned to what me next car blog should be about. Sticking with a work theme, having had experience of both using my own vehicles for work journeys and using pool cars, thoughts then turned to a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages to both. Hence, I’ve decided to write a short summary along those lines (which will no doubt end up longer than first intended).
My previous post looked at what my favourite cars are, and this follow up post explains what my favourite bus is. Unlike with cars, this question is far easier to answer.
Being a car person, I often get asked this a lot. Being a bus person too, the follow up question is usually “What’s your favourite bus?”. I’ll deal with that second question later, but I shall now attempt to address the first.
Most people upgrade their car, usually looking to improve on specification, performance, or in some cases simply something newer with less miles. That was also my intention when I purchased my Kia Cee’d.
A recent Monday saw significant snowfall where I live in Northern England, giving me the frst chance of finding out how it performs in bad weather.
When car shopping for what turned out to lead to acquiring the Kia Cee’d, I didn’t have too many ideals. The musts were, it had to be an upgrade over the Suzuki Alto, under 7 years old, fewer than 50,000 miles, and thanks to do more longer distance journeys, it had to be a diesel. Due to most of my music collection still being on CD, it needed to have a CD player. In the end, I got a CD player, with FM/MW radio, and Bluetooth. Yet to test the aux in, but for some reason the USB doesn’t fully work.
That being said, I would have liked a built in sat nav, and despite wanting to avoid the need to dismantle half the dashboard, thoughts have turned a few times to aftermarket upgrades. A bit of research has uncovered that the factory fitted head unit (the bit with the buttons/controls etc.), is effectively two parts, the main box and a plastic fascia panel. The main box element appears roughly the same size as a double din sized aftermarket unit, and fitting kits appear widely available.
Cost is a problem, however. Aftermarket sat nav units cost upwards of £700 new for a brand such as Pioneer or Kenwood, which is well out of my max budget of £400. A few options then presented themselves, largely grouped into two categories, second hand or Andriod.
By Android, I don’t mean Android Auto, which allows you to control elements of your phone using the car stereo, but head units running on the Android operating system. Effectively mini computers in the dash board, these do everything you would expect, with other customisable features such as car diagnostic integration, and tyre pressure monitoring systems. Unfortunately, this itself present issues, as these units aren’t exactly getting glowing reviews online, largely due to varying degrees of Chinese build quality. Getting a clear picture of individual head units isn’t easy, as they aren’t the most common and reviews can be few and far between.
That said, some Youtube videos did highlight a few principles to follow, with going as high as possible on the RAM (a computer component), and choosing a branded product such as Xtrons or Atoto over something missing even a basic brand name. That being said, Erisin was a brand which consistently performed poorly.
So that leads me to the second hand route. So far, I’ve acquired a second hand Pioneer unit, but I’ve opted not to fit this as although largely in working order, the condition is poorer than expected. More recently, I stumbled across a second hand Zenec unit online, which I’ve ordered and hopeful will be a better option. I understand that Zenec are a German brand, but they don’t appear to sell many units in the UK.
Wrapping up for now, the car still has its factory fitted head unit in place. The Zenec unit will be fitted once an installation kit has been purchased, assuming it works OK. The Android avenue is still being explored, but will be one for another day.
I shall begin this post with a quick update on website progress, for those of you who may be interested in the world of computer code. For now, this blog is very much a single page affair, but in time each post will have its own page, and eventually indexes will be created to allow you to see posts by topic, date posted etc. I’m currently working out the best way of doing this, and I’ve got some ongoing PHP tests in progress. However, despite future changes, the overall page layout and colour scheme will remain broadly similar to what you see today.
Now, back to the cars, and today I’m focussing on the Kia Cee’d. Although OK in day today use, I’ve know the battery in my Kia to be on its way out for a while now. The stop/start function has never worked since I bought the car, and a misjudgement of using the headlights whilst storing away logs, confirmed that the battery can be drained rather easily. A recent trip to Kendal led me to having to ask for a jump start, as I’d accidently left my lights on during a coffee break.
In what will be a two-part post, I’m charting the replacement of the battery. Firstly, with money being a little tight, I’ve acquired a stop gap battery. With similar specs to the one in the Kia, I’ve obtained a second hand battery that came out of my brothers Fabia vRS. I understand that it was prematurely replaced whilst undertaking another repair, and when picking it up I was assured that it is holding a charge.
I’m yet to swap the batteries over, but initial observations are promising. My battery charger, which is relatively new and so I’m confident it is working correctly, declared the second hand battery full in around 10 minutes. A good sign that after a period of un-use, it is still working correctly. The brand, I hear you ask? Halfords. Now OK, its far from Asda Smartprice, but despite not being from a ‘premium’ brand such as Bosch or Yuasa, it appears to be working well, and does give an indication on what brands I could look at for the permanent replacement.
I hope, assuming time allows, to get the batteries swapped over in the next day or so, and will report back once time has elapsed to allow for observations on performance. However, it is nice to know that my brothers Skoda Fabia vRS is able to help my Kia out in its own way. It did, however, owe my Kia a favour after my car towed a stricken vRS to safety after the timing belt snapped. There’s a story in that one too, but I’ll save that for another day.
With some late March into April snow showers coming down over some parts of the UK, I thought I’d try and answer the question of which car is better when the weather is slippery. I say try, as I haven’t yet had the chance to drive the Kia in proper snowy conditions, but despite this I do have some observations to share.
Starting with the little Suzuki Alto, despite the lack of most driver aids, this car is very capable in snowy conditions. The car is light, meaning it is possible to change up gears very early to help control wheel spin and traction, something helped further by the relative lack of power. This is despite a lack of weight over the driving wheels, which can often lead to poorer traction in wet conditions. The narrow tyres cut through snow extremely well, and with care, there is little that would stop the Alto, excepting extreme conditions such as very high drifts.
Stopping, however, can sometimes cause more difficulty. Anti-lock brakes aren’t exactly known for being brilliant in snowy conditions, and annoyingly this is the one driver aid that is actually fitted to the little Suzuki. Extreme car is need when braking on snow, as the ABS (anti-lock braking system) has a tendency to either give full brakes thus locking the wheels, or absolutely no braking whatsoever. As such, it is important to allow plenty of distance to anything in front, and slow down gently using the gears.
The Kia typically performs well in wet and windy weather. The car handles brilliantly in dry conditions, and the same characteristics are true in poor weather. The traction control system performs well, and in some cases it can be beneficial to press slightly harder on the accelerator pedal, and let the car do the work for you. Under light snow accumulations (of the wet/slushy variety), the car worked well with no obvious loss of traction. Hopefully, some more snow will come so I can give the Kia a proper test.
On first impressions, both cars are capable in inclement weather. Without more first hand experiences in snow, it is hard to pick a winner between the little Suzuki and the larger Kia. However, the Alto does prove that you don’t need a big 4×4 to get around in snow.