Mileage Averages

Having had the car MoT’d this month, it means I’ve had the poxy thing for four years now.  And, with the online MOT record, I decided to have a look at the recorded mileages, just because I’m interested in useless information like that.

As it turns out, I’ve been pretty consistent…

Year Start Mileage End Mileage Total Mileage
2016 – 2017 76,252 95,557 19,305
2017 – 2018 95,557 117,947 22,390
2018 – 2019 117,947 140,086 22,139
2019 – 2020 140,086 157,831 17,745
Total for 4 years 81,579

So even with my mileages being much reduced (because of more local contract etc. etc.) I still usually do around 22,000 miles a year. This year’s an (obvious and understandable) anomaly, but still comes in as being more than the “average” person does in a year.

I know it’s not really interesting to anyone except me, but still, such is life.


Car Costs

Last week was an expensive one (and disappointing in some ways) with regards to the car.

Firstly, on Wednesday morning it failed the MoT test – three of the four linkages on the anti-roll bars were “excessively worn” (read “fucked”) and needed replacing.  Slightly annoying/disappointing, but not unexpected at 160,000 miles. (And one of the linkages had a warning last year)

What was more annoying/disappointing was the attitude of the garage about it all, who told me they had no availability until a week on Friday (i.e. October 16th) in order to do the work. And that’s just shit.

The problem is that with the “new” MoT (it’s been around for a couple of years now, so ‘new’ is a bit of a misnomer) if the car fails, it’s not really supposed to be driven at all. With the time duration, I was OK to drive it home but then wasn’t supposed to use it again ’til it’s time to be repaired. And being stuck at home like that for ten days is not my idea of fun.

Fortunately, I had a way round it – albeit a potentially expensive one.  Hire a car to use while mine was unavailable – and then it occurred to me that there’s a KwikFit on the same site, so I gave them a call as well, and organised it for them to look at my car and do whatever was necessary. Because it was later in the day, they said it might take time to order the parts, so it might not be done ’til Saturday (still a week earlier than the original garage could do) but that was fine.  And of course it also meant I could legally get to the car-hire place!

So that’s what happened. Over to KwikFit, drop off the car and paperwork, collect the hire car, and home. All fairly easy, and a better alternative than being stuck at home, or facing any legal issues.

The next day, KwikFit gave me a call, confirmed the work, told me what it would cost, and it was all fine. So they said I could collect it Friday morning, including having re-taken the MoT test.

So all told, it could’ve been a lot worse.

The original garage have pissed me off though – I’ve had this issue before with their other dealership, and it’s frustrating. I’m happy that they’re busy, and I know there’s less availability because of social distancing and so on. All the same, if it were my business, I’d keep at least one workshop slot per day open for same-day and urgent repairs. That way these sort of things wouldn’t be a problem – and they’d show some customer service by being able to go “Oh, yeah, we can juggle this, we’ll do it today (or tomorrow at a push)“. Which would also mean the money from said work went into their account, not that of one of their competitors.

I get that they want to keep busy and maximise things, but the simple fact is that it’s cost them money – both in not having the money for the work and replacements I needed, but also in the likelihood of me going back there for any future work. Which is what makes it so sad and short-sighted.

Anyway, from my side it’s all fine, and the car’s taxed, MoTed and fully insured again.


Fifteen Years On

Looking back, it’s fifteen years ago today that I passed the driving test.

It took me a long time to get it done, and for the longest time I wasn’t bothered at all about driving.  But now I wouldn’t be without it.

Indeed, if I lost my licence now, it would mean a total change for me – I’d have to move, reconsider work and so on. It would be a massive upheaval in so many ways.

For example, I looked recently at my commute on Google Maps (I do this sometimes, just to check on what the traffic’s like on my route) and saw the other travel-method options at the top. Driving from home to my office is (on average) a 20-minute drive, door-to-door. It’s pretty much my shortest commute ever (I had a stint while in Bury St Edmunds where it was slightly shorter, but not by much) and yet if I were to do it by public transport, it would take me two-and-a-quarter hours! (There is a route at specific times that would be a 50 minute bus-ride, but also drops me at the other end of Milton Keynes, so would then be a two-mile-ish walk – and that route doesn’t run at the times I commute in to my office)

In similar vein, visiting my parents is a simple hour’s drive. Public transport? It’d be three hours on a good day.

Even a simple journey to London Euston (which I can usually do in 75 mins – driving and then tube down to Euston) would be at least double that by public transport.

And my archery club? Forget it, no chance at all.

So just on that tiny subset of what I regularly do, life would be hugely different without driving. When you take into account the extra stuff – the on-site client days, the weekends away, the visits to friends, the idiot day-trips – it would now be a completely different life if I weren’t driving. Not necessarily a better or worse one, but a very different one.


One Speed Fits All

Recently I’ve noticed something odd on my journeys to/from the office that really annoys me. And it’s to do with speeding (as the title may have suggested)

Particularly on my way home, the drive contains a variety of country roads and towns/villages, so we fairly regularly swap between speed limits of 60 and 30mph, with one small stretch at 20mph. Which is easy, so long as you’ve got a brain, and some awareness. (And you’d pretty much hope that a driver has both)

But no. On a regular basis, I see drivers who decide to drive at about 40mph the whole way, regardless of what the limit actually is.  It means they’re either going ridiculously slowly, or stupidly fast.

It’s not really a problem as such – it’s just annoying, and I truly don’t understand the thinking that leads to this behaviour.   It’s all just bizarre, really.


A Flaw In The Safety

Following on from the post a while back about driver assistance things, I had another interesting one a few days ago.

I’d hired a Vauxhall Insignia in order to ferry people around a bit, and the weather was disgusting – heavy rain, lots of spray, and lots of idiots with no lights on.

Anyway, on the section of the M4 I was driving on, there were roadworks, and the lanes had been narrowed as a result. And that was where the problem came in.

The Insignia had the Lane Change Warning thing, which detects when the driver is drifting across lanes without indicating – and in the case of the Insignia, it also tries to push you back into the lane you’re departing. Not my favourite thing at the best of times, but in this case it was actually picking up on the wrong lane markings (because they were glossy and shiny in the rain) and so actually kept on pushing me “back” towards the crash barriers, and would have left me scraping along them if I’d not been paying attention.

I can understand why it happened, and how. It was also easy enough for me to sort things out (eventually by turning off the Lane Change completely) but I can also easily see how things could’ve gone wrong, if I were the sort of driver who relied on these aids, who didn’t pay attention, or left those aids to do things because they’re there to help.

And what would’ve happened in that situation if it were a fully autonomous (“self-driving”) vehicle with no controls, or potentially people who didn’t drive, or couldn’t understand the danger signs?

There’s still a way to go on these things, I think…


Self-Incrimination

It’s no secret that I tend to assume people with dashcams are usually shit drivers.  Obviously that’s not always the case, but in my experience it’s predominantly true – as though there’s an attitude of “Well I’m perfect, and it’s all these other idiots on the road” or something.

I also know that it’s now far easier to upload one’s dashcam footage to report driving offences when the police haven’t been there.

What I do wonder is how many people self-incriminate on those uploads?  For example, if one were to upload video of someone undertaking on a motorway, only for that footage to also show that the reporting driver had been middle-lane-hogging for the previous ten miles, and thus being at least a partial cause of said undertaking…

And no, this doesn’t involve my own driving. Just something I noticed occurring in front of me on the M1 this morning, and then started thinking about the extrapolations.


Road Muck

It’s that time of the year again where the roads are filthy, and all the grut ends up on cars.  I’m not quite sure how it all works out – I think it’s a combination of grit/salt for expected sub-zero temperatures, plus rain lifting and loosening the daily-wear dirt off the tarmac and making it airborne.

It surprises me how dirty everything gets, and also how unaware people are of how vile their cars are – I regularly see lots with their number plates completely obscured and unreadable because of that caked-on junk.

Personally, I don’t get that – regardless of how well one drives, why draw the attention of any passing police, and give them a reason to stop you?

Admittedly, last week when I was driving home one night I did think I’d had a headlamp blow, as there was considerably less light/illumination than usual – but I checked when I got home, and it was just congealed gunk on the lenses. Easy to sort (and I took the car to the car wash the next day) but still, I don’t get why/how people leave their cars to get into a state where you could pretty much scrape off layers of dirt…