False Registration

A few weeks ago, I got a weird piece of post – a V5 registration document for a vehicle I’ve never owned, to a name I’d never heard of, but with my address on it.

Having asked around a bit (in case the person was just a cretin who put in the wrong address) it turns out that this is a semi-common scam, registering a vehicle to a different address in order to avoid parking and speeding tickets etc.

As such, some people suggest that it should be registered as SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification) but that still connects the vehicle to the address, and leaves you open to receiving documents, fines etc.

Instead, I decided to instead return the document to DVLA, along with a cover note explaining that I didn’t know the car and didn’t know the person, and had been at current address long enough to know that the person hadn’t lived there any time in the last decade. I scanned in both documents so I’ve also got a record of it, should it be needed.

Yesterday, I got a response from DVLA, which confirms that what I did is the best thing to do. They’ve removed the connection of my address to the vehicle, although it’s still possible that some fines etc. may come to me – but in that case, to send the issuing authority a copy of the letter received, and confirm that It’s Not Mine.

So, interesting to see how things work. Hopefully I won’t get any further issues with it, but I’m as protected as possible if anything does happen.

 


Normality (or a Semblance of it)

Now we’re through all the crap of the Festering Season™ and New Year, it’s starting to feel like a return to a version of normality. Past today, people will be back to working ‘normally’ (albeit with the current ‘Work from home if you can’ ethos and so on) and schools will be open again so we’ll be back to more usual levels of traffic and the like.

Personally, I quite like this limbo time – the drive in to the office is quiet, the office itself is deathly, and it all suits me pretty well.

That said, though, I’ve found this year (and last year) that a limbo time within a Covid-driven limbo time is… a bit much.  A step too far. I want to go back to a “normal” limbo rather than this weird fuckery.

Alongside all this, some of the other crap I’ve been dealing with in the background is finally approaching its conclusion, and while it’s not been openly affecting me, I’m also glad it’s nearly done. I’m being a bit enigmatic about it all because it’s now sub judice (and before anyone snarks, I’m the ‘victim’ in it, not the perpetrator!) but I’ll write a bit about it when I know more. The initial court appearance happens later this month, and once I know how the idiot pleads, I’ll be in a better position.

So… yeah, limbo appears to be (slowly) righting itself and becoming a bit more active again. I hope that continues to be the case…


MoTivated

Today, the car got its annual service, and also passed its MoT for this year. All told, a much better process than last year – and, of course, a lot cheaper!

I did take it back to the same dealership to get things done, and they’re still as shambolic as ever, insisting on filling every slot in the workshop, rather than leaving anything free for people who need work (for example, if the car had failed the MoT today, they’d have had to book me in for work to be done, rather than having availability on the day)  It’s a farcical situation – and similar to the bullshit system my GP is currently operating – and takes no account of things failing, or accidents happening.  Deeply annoying, to say the least.

The thing is, despite me raising it every time I deal with them, they just don’t seem to understand that the servicing side of the business is just as much of a sales tool as any of the people on the shop floor (most of whom seem to spend their days just farting around, but that’s beside the point)  The company – in this case, Kia – make a huge thing of their reliability, of their seven-year guarantee (so long as people follow the service routine, of course) which is great. But when I’m faced with a constant “Oh no, we can’t do [the work] on [that date], you’ll have to book something else” attitude, why on Earth would I buy a car that ties me in to that even more?

It’s something that would be so simple to fix – and something I’ve been told that they’ll try, but I’ve been being told that for three years now – but there just seems to be no real inclination to do it.

Still, my little car is doing OK, and as and when it does die, I just won’t get another Kia. Their loss long-term, not mine.


Smart Motorways, Dumb Drivers

I see today that the UK has decided to stop any new “Smart Motorway” projects, insisting that they need extra safety precautions.  This is primarily the aftermath of coroner’s reports into certain fatal accidents on these Smart Motorways.

From the article…

  • In 2019, 15 people were killed on “all lane running” and “dynamic hard shoulder” motorways. This is four more deaths than in 2018.
  • The number of people being killed on motorways without hard shoulders increased each year from 2015 to 2019, and totalled 39 deaths.
  • By contrast, on so-called “controlled motorways” – a type of smart motorway which have variable speed limits and a hard shoulder – there were 24 deaths in that period.
  • On conventional motorways, which cover more of the UK than smart motorways, there were 368 fatalities from 2015 to 2019.

The M1 around where I live was one of the first Smart Motorways, and I’ve written a lot about how stupid people can be on those motorways – particularly about the availability of lanes, and a lack of general driving standards (Middle-lane cunts and the like)

From my experience, a lot of drivers seem to be incapable of reading road signs saying whether a lane is open or closed (although also even whether the approaching junction is the one they want or not, until the absolute last minute)  This also seems to be borne out by the latest rash of road-safety adverts telling people that they should ‘go left’ in case of problems on motorways (and fucking hell, in my opinion anyone who needs to be told this shouldn’t be in possession of a driving licence!)

As an example of this, one of the cases the coroners were looking at was one local to me where the person’s vehicle had a problem, showed the ‘engine problem’ warning light, and they pulled in to one of the emergency refuge areas.  Now, when that happened to me, I got out of the car (in a snowy January) and called recovery to get me off the road safely.  But not this twerd, oh no.  They gave it a few minutes, started the car, no light came on, so they pulled out to continue their journey.  (The ‘engine problem’ light doesn’t necessarily immediately light up on starting – for example, if the issue is to do with the turbo, the EGR valve, air filter etc., it’ll only come on when you accelerate over a certain rpm limit, at which point you’re shafted)  And that’s what happened to Twonktacular – the light came back on, the engine performance disappeared, and they got hit by another vehicle.   Yet somehow that’s the fault of the smart motorway, not the dumbass driver.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of motorways without hard-shoulders. And I’m sure there are considerations and gambles that have been taken about how people get to emergency refuge areas, how the road monitoring is managed/staffed and so on. But I also understand how impractical it is, with current traffic levels and so on, to have a quarter of each road surface only available to vehicles in emergencies.

All told, I don’t believe that Smart Motorways are inherently dangerous. I think drivers (and their decisions, or lack thereof) are far more dangerous than roads. You just can’t blame an inanimate road for human stupidity.


Return of Warmth

Following on from the post about the car’s heating system having packed up, I finally got it sorted just before Christmas.

As usual my dealership was a clusterfuck from start to finish – although there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel on that one.

Initially, I asked them to have a look at what was wrong when I took it to get the brakes fixed. They ‘checked everything they could’ and couldn’t find a problem, but the heater pack is behind the centre console, and they hadn’t allocated the time to do that, so it had to come in again.

That happened on the 21st, at which point they told me it was “only a diagnostic visit – we’re just finding out what’s going wrong“, which was what I’d suspected might be the case, but regardless, my sense of humour started to fail. Because obviously that would mean a third visit for the same problem, which is just fucking ridiculous.

As it turned out, the problem wasn’t with the heating system itself, but with a cracked/fucked radiator that was leaking at a good pace. (The mechanic actually brought me through to the garage to show me) Apparently it was only doing so once the system became pressurised (about 10-15 mins into a drive), but still, fairly serious. And because the leak meant it was losing pressure, the heating system wasn’t working.   So we needed to get that sorted.

Then they told me it couldn’t be done ’til December 31st, and my sense of humour utterly failed. I wasn’t nasty, but I was quite obviously pissed off that they were happy to send me home (a not insignificant distance) with a close-to-broken car, and leave it that way for ten days.

Fortunately, at that point the light at the tunnel switched on, and one of their people (a sales manager) suggested to the reception that they move some stuff around, so that they could deal with my car the next day. Not ideal, but far better than waiting ten days.  Even better, he’d come and collect it from my house, get the work done, and bring it back.  (Which also meant it would be their problem if it went pop on the way there)

And that’s what happened.  I filled the rad with water before he arrived, to make sure it was as good as possible. The car got collected, fixed, and returned. (They fucked up the costs too, but that’s another story)   And since then, it’s all been OK, so it does appear that the problem’s been fixed.

Once he brought it back, we had a chat about how the service department had really let down the sales side on this – when it went in for a pre-MoT service, they noted that it was virtually empty of coolant, but never looked at why; they missed the leaking rad in the MoT itself; when the brakes were being replaced and they were ‘looking at everything’, they didn’t notice the rad pissing water everywhere; and the ‘diagnostic visit and then return to get it fixed’ was bullshit.

As it turned out, they’ve listened to my previous complaints about these practices, and that sales manager is now in charge of the service department, and has been tasked with making it run better, with a more customer-focused attitude. It’ll be a challenge, but it was good for him to have been able to see exactly why he was needed, and what the problems are with the current set up.

I hope it works – they’re at least aware of the problem, and trying to fix it – but only time will tell.


New Brakes

Back in October when my car took its MoT, it came with a warning about needing new brake discs. Not urgent – it was a warning, not a failure – but still, it needed doing.

I was aware that, while still well within limits, they weren’t as good as they could be, so today I got the discs and pads replaced.

The difference is…. noticeable.  I’m having to be a bit more careful with slowing down, because it’s all back to brand-new, and I was definitely used to the flawed and worn items.

I’m glad it’s sorted – it makes a big difference to things, and it’s something that’s not playing on my head any more, which is always a good thing.


Colder Than Necessary

Yesterday, for reasons I’ll write about some other time, I had to drive up to Newark.

It’s not a horrific drive, about 90 minutes usually, and pretty easy. Straight up the A1 , and then down the M1 to come home.

Yesterday though, was bloody vile. About halfway through the drive up, it started to snow – not super-heavy, but enough to make things interesting in the still-quite-dark winter morning.

It was at this point that I discovered that my car’s heating had packed up.  Fuck.

By the time I stopped at Newark, it was snowing fairly heavily, and starting to settle.

When I came out to go home, the car had a good three or four inches of snow all over it, and the roads were full of it as well. The start of the drive home was emphatically Not Fun, although for me that was mainly because it was bloody cold inside the car, and no heating meant it was also steaming up a bit. The real Not Fun was more in the purview of other drivers who couldn’t handle snowy roads and/or hadn’t put lights on, and were generally utter fucksticks.

The M1 was OK – once I got down past Leicester the snow turned to heavy rain, and then it was just a slog through shitty weather and shitty traffic.

All in, the temperature (according to my car) rose by five full degrees (Centigrade) in the hundred miles between Newark and Home.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a drive where I was actually thankful to get out at the end of it. But that was definitely one of them.