This blog post is over five months in the making and follows in the illustrious history of my personal car ownership. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a companion post and recommended reading before proceeding any further.
I am a car person. This is stating the obvious but to the uninitiated, the evidence is across my blog and public FlickR stream. However, that does not mean I have the best of luck with cars. In fact, I would say considering I am a careful car owner, the powers that be have other ideas. Let me take you back to early Spring. I had just burnt the third CD for my 2016 weekly collection. Life was far from perfect but it was good. I had little to grumble about. It was my neighbour whom actually noticed the extensive oil patches on our parking bay. Time to get this investigated. I had two different companies inspect my vehicle. The first opinion was to advise such a major oil leak made my beloved A3 no longer roadworthy.
A colleague at work, now knowing my new commuting arrangements (car sharing with my dearest wife) told me to divorce the emotional aspects of my car being off the road, with the practicalities of getting back on the road as soon as possible. He advised I get a second opinion and to make use of any breakdown cover I had in place. Reinvigorated, I went back and hoped a second opinion may give alternative options to resurrect (even if only temporarily) my car. Initially the response was positive, but then perhaps the roadside patrol man was distracted by the up coming England fixture in the Six Nations later that evening. The leak could be fixed but they would need to take the vehicle over to their workshop in Woking. Work to their credit have been more than accommodating and I was able to work from home multiple days, to allow for the car to be collected. However, the moment my A3 was towed over the county border to Surrey the fun and games started.
We all hate receiving bad news. When the call starts with the words, “I would rather not get involved, to be honest” the conversation is not really going to improve. For the technically minded, the oil feed pipe, which supplies the turbo had a major leak. Replacing this part alone was not sufficient, the whole turbo had to be replaced. The mouthwatering cost £1,300. Perhaps a little less if I went for a reconditioned turbo but this agent of Green Flag were only going to fit a new turbo. I wanted a break down of costs, but the priority for me at this stage was to arrange for my car to be returned. The following weekend was spent getting my car back and parked up on my parking bay. Now the real fun began.
I consider myself quite a reasonable man. I chased the workshop multiple times via telephone and e-mail. I was looking for a breakdown of costs, how much for parts, how much for labour. The occasional response I received was that somebody would get back to at some point but they never did. I set a deadline in my head and then had to write to the Managing Director to get a response, including filing a copy of the complaint to Green Flag. Trust me, this was not what I wanted to be wasting my time doing. However I needed a full diagnostic view on my vehicle for myself and for the poor soul that may take it off my hands. Yes, we were heading to the that critical stage. Time to cut my losses and beginning planning the purchase of my third car. Within days I had a response and funnily enough the option of a reconditioned engine was including in one of the quotations. Even so, a grand was still too much for a vehicle almost 12 years old so I made the executive decision to postpone any further action.
My car would sit there untouched from Saturday 19th March until Sunday 7th August. 142 days or 4 months and twenty days or if you prefer 12,268,800 seconds. Or let me put it another way, 38.8% of calendar year 2016. As promised, on my return from holiday, the car was put on Gum Tree. I had a high level of interest, considering I was open about the issues with the vehicle. Less than twenty-four hours after uploading my free ad, I had a call from a potential buyer and arranged for him to view the car later that afternoon. I tried to charge the battery using my CTEK Trickle Charger, but it was completely dead. We were able to get the car up and running but it took some heavy duty jump leads and some serious over revving of the buyer’s A4. Breaking the tranquil peace of a Summer Sunday afternoon in Binfield. We took the car for a quick spin, even though the car had been SORN for over three months by this stage. Covered by motor trade insurance I was reliably informed, before an official document was flashed before me (like every episode of Suits). The deal was done and after a delay of a few weeks, due to the tow truck having an oil leak. (Oh the irony!) my car was collected yesterday morning. It was difficult watching it being put on the trailer and towed away by a Ford Transit. I chose to not watch the final departure, distracting myself with Team GB coverage from Rio.
Time to focus all my energy on my next purchase. The third car those lovely people over in Swansea would list me against, as the registered owner and keeper in almost 17 years I have had a full UK driving licence. When I put my mind to something, suddenly everything can quickly come together. My nearest and dearest will say “Andrew, invest less emotionally in these inanimate objects”. That is difficult when these same objects become part of the experience or in the case of a vehicle, how the journey is made. Technically I am carless until Thursday afternoon, so eleven days without a vehicle to my name. Sometimes you have to think beyond yourself, beyond the moment and for the future yet to come.