If your trusted Toyota Fielder serves you well, stick with it


Hi Baraza JM,

I’m one of your biggest fans. I look forward to every Wednesday, when I get to read about cars; their performance, safety and stability.

I don’t care about speed, as I’m interested in living a long life in our beautiful world.

Now, in one of your articles this year, you said that the RAV4 in the Toyota SUV stands for Random Access Vehicle 4WD. A different motoring article refers to it as Recreational Activity Vehicle 4WD. I’m torn between who’s right or wrong as we regard you highly as our maestro.

Finally, tell me why I have refused to let go my old Fielder and without answering myself, let me say that I have never had its engine or gearbox checked nor has it ever had an electric failure. I just take it for normal service. It has never given up on me and I’ve never given up on it either.


Njeru Peter

Hi Peter,

“Random Access Vehicle” is what we call a pun in English, a literary joke; in this case derived from a once-famous information technology term: “Random Access Memory” (nowadays simply truncated to “RAM”, it’s the characteristic that best defines the power or capabilities of your processor-possessing electronic device).

The motorised pun is also an invocation of the RAV4’s intended purposes, which are adventuring and lifestyling — randomly accessing — your way into hyperactive Instagram feeds that nobody really cares about.

The Random Access Vehicle pun is a play on both the RAV4’s ability to stray off the beaten path as well as the acronym that is its actual name.

I made another pun some years back when Toyota let us loose in the outgoing model only for us to discover that particular model introduced the concept of 2WD to the range. Given that “RAV4” actually stands for “Recreational Active Vehicle, 4-Wheel Drive” but the car now had a 2WD option, I started referring to it as a “RAV2” — hey, I’m a stickler for exactness.

I promptly stopped referring to it as a RAV2 when Toyota asked me to cut out the funnyman standup act and instead focus on important things; things like the powered tailgate that also debuted on that car — a handy piece of kit, I might add, but totally useless in my world since my shopping has never filled my arms to the point I needed a powered tailgate. I just slam my Subaru hatch by hand.

I guess you like your Fielder because it has served you well, and that’s a good thing. As they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If you want another car, then start shopping for one (a trade-in should be possible because Fielders are notorious for holding on to their value here in Kenya) but for crying out loud, don’t break your current vehicle deliberately as an excuse to get yourself a new set of wheels.

I am getting an undertone that this may be your subconscious intention.

Can I replace a Peugeot 306 engine with a Probox one?

Hello JM,

Did you major in English at any point before venturing into physics? Because, man, I love your flow of words, depth and use of figurative language. I think you would flourish with a side hustle of lecturing on how to bend language to suit a writer’s needs.

Onto my main question: I own a Peugeot 306 sedan and someone told me I could fit a Probox engine, purely to improve on the high consumption rates. What do you think about this?


Hi Miringo,

No, I did not major in English anywhere, except for perhaps in primary and secondary school where the subject was compulsory. It is just a gift I have. I have considered giving lectures as a side hustle but it is notoriously difficult to set up a school and the few offers I have received had to be trashed immediately because they were either pro bono (in these economic times? that’s a hard pass) or they involved subjects I am not really interested in. The first step to failing in life is dabbling in things you have no interest in.

I am not sure how well a Probox engine goes into a 306, but I have heard anecdotes of the 1NZ Toyota engine (the 1.5-litre 4-cylinder that powers the Probox and the Corolla NZE among other cars) being swapped into late ‘90s Peugeots. So I guess it can be done without too much difficulty.

However, a few things to ponder: How much fuel savings per (thousand) kilometre(s) are you looking at by doing the swap? In related matters, how much life is left in that 306? It is, after all, a Peugeot from 20 years ago, or more. Given the latent life expectancy multiplied by the savings per (thousand) kilometre(s) and then subtracting the purchase and installation costs of a Probox engine, is the answer positive or negative; i.e., do you come out on top or are you just chasing a cloud?

Do the math first. It may even be more prudent to sell the Peugeot and buy a Probox — or a Corolla — but even if not, the question remains: Is the swap really worth it? There can only be one sane reason for keeping a 306 this deep into the 21st century and that is as a collector’s item; but collector’s items are collectable because they remain original and unsullied by transplants from other vehicles. I have a friend who has specialised in Land Rovers.

A very common engine swap for Land Rovers is either an L Series Toyota engine or a TD27/QD32 from Nissan to replace the notoriously thirsty and/or unreliable “power plants” that Land Rovers originally came with. However, present such a chimaera to this friend of mine and he will see you off his premises in short order, probably with a wheel spanner in hand to ensure that, unlike Lot’s wife, you do not turn around while fleeing. He does not tolerate such bloodline-corrupting activities as swapping out a good ol’ British V8 in favour of a 4-cylinder diesel from a Japanese van.

Is a 2005 RAV4 a worthy buy?

Dear Baraza,

Thanks for your insightful advice on matters touching on vehicles.

I currently own a 2002 Fielder 4WD. I’ve been contemplating disposing of it to acquire a 2005 RAV4, a UK import. It has a 2.0D-4D turbo diesel, the 1CD FTV engine. My questions are:

1. How is the availability of its spare parts in Kenya?

2. It is rumoured that diesel vehicles imported from the UK have a problem with the kind of diesel available in Kenya. What’s your take on this?

3. In your opinion, is it a worthy buy? (It has nice specs: sunroof, cruise control, manual transmission etc.)

Kindly advise me the earliest you can.



Hello Jediel,

2005 RAV4: good.

2.0 litre direct injection diesel: not so good.

Here is why:

The problem does not even lie in the availability of spare parts, it lies in the engine itself: first, it being a small-capacity diesel, with a turbo; and secondly it being a direct injection unit.

Small-capacity turbo diesels tend to either have small turbos that over-spool at high altitude or big turbos that suffer from tremendous lag and make the driving experience a sort of jerky, ‘lurchy’ affair.

These engines also don’t respond well to fluctuations in fuel quality; at least not as resiliently as their larger-capacity cousins or petrol-powered counterparts. Then there is the issue of direct injection and its primary weakness: carbon build-up … The specs may be good until you get to the lump under the bonnet which is a critical no-no. The fuel economy savings are not worth the maintenance costs.

If you want to Build Kenya by Buying Kenyan, then go German


An avid reader of your column, a devoted Subaru driver/owner over nearly 30 years of trouble-free motoring, with two marques of dated serviceable Foresters in the stables, your pleasingly acerbic wit appeals to mine while your Wednesday bit is the highlight of my week.

In view of our current collective mind-frame of cynicism, a brutally acerbic thought springs to mind…..We the gullible public have for years been exhorted to abide by the now-hollow slogan “Build Kenya Buy Kenyan” (or something) while the officially condoned top-tier thieves skulking among us waft about in their Bentleys and Beemers, with lesser political beings consigned to Mange-Movers, Randbruisers and Prudos. So what better way for the Kenya government to achieve this honourable aim of living up to that slogan ‘BKBK’ than to have all 417 MPs, the flocks of senators and the attendant herds of witless MCAs be given, each free gratis, our very own home-built MOBIUS to push the country’s vehicle manufacturing sector forward, while saving billions of dollars in inestimable ways long-term. What a truly stirring sight of patriotism t’would be to see rank upon rank of ‘MOBII’ gracing the grand forecourts of Bunge House!



(A locale totally lost to the national conscience)

Hello Ian,

I will start at the bottom of your message and work my way upwards. Malindi is not a locale totally lost to the national conscience, it looms large in our minds. It looms so large that it has the special status of being the only Great Run destination to have been visited twice in 15 discrete road trips spread over 8 years of unbridled, car-based, passion-driven philanthropy. But enough about Malindi, let us chew the fat over the cluster of untrustworthies that we call our politicians and the mobility solutions thereof.

Of course I would love to see them all in Mobiuses/Mobia/Mobii/many Mobius — doesn’t matter which model; be it the first one that drew a lot of derision from me or the recently teased replacement, which I grudgingly admit is a step in the right direction but still far off the global mark as far as calendar dates vis-à-vis technological advancement goes; but I will have to respectfully disagree on that front for the simple reason that Mobius is not Kenyan. It is British.

We might as well throw these folks into Series III Land Rovers for all the good it will do. They will be better off in the Series IIIs anyway.

If you want to Build Kenya by Buying Kenyan, then go German.

Huh? Yes. The Polo Vivo*, which is a locally assembled Volkswagen. It is not Kenyan either, but it sure is a lot more Kenyan than Mr Jackson’s vanity project. It even sports a decal of the Kenyan flag along the bottom of the doors. Does the Mobius have this? Nope. Incidentally, the two cost exactly the same but the Vivo comes with airbags and dozens of years of automotive R & D behind it. It even comes with a warranty and financing: 10 percent up front and instalments of Sh36,000 monthly for as long as one election term. The Mobius offers none of this.

Think about it. The Vivo project actually employs a larger number of Kenyans than the Mobius one does, and is part of this government’s initiative to boost the local manufacturing industry by attracting foreign investment in the form of motor vehicle assembly from global players. Something about a “Big 4” agenda. Volkswagen is just the first of this new phase — and, this was not meant to be public information but I’ll say it anyway: if Vivo sales cross a certain threshold, Volkswagen will introduce a second model to the assembly line. Who doesn’t want that?

And sales they have to be, no free lunch or “free gratis” or whatever Latin terms synonymous with “undeserved perks” may be; let these politicians be given Volkswagen Polos and have the buying price deducted from their salaries. It takes as long to pay for a Polo under financing as it does to sit out a political term; so the numbers fit in the matrix beautifully.

DT Dobie will attain its sales targets that way in short order and Volkswagen AG may start building the Touareg here, which means we can finally buy cheap (relatively speaking) luxury SUVs. They’re very good cars … when new. Who knows, Peugeot may also start assembling 508s locally, in which case we can force the richer politicians into those ones too.

Build enough numbers to the point where car manufacturers flock to our gates wanting in on a piece of this forced patriotism.

(Note*: As you read this, a new Polo Vivo is being launched alongside a Volkswagen Kombi — sadly the Kombi is not a son-of-a-Type-2 but a Caddy — but hey, it too is locally assembled. That just proves I’m right.)

SOURCE: nation.co.ke

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