Today I had my first ‘crash’ involving another vehicle. (I’d only had one other incident before, but that was an icy road in Norfolk, nearly 13 years ago, and it was only me involved) Before anything else, I’m fine – the car’s got a scraped body panel, but it was all fairly low-speed, no air-bags needed, no injuries, nothing.
As it was, I’m almost certain the responsibility wasn’t mine – although the other driver insists it was my fault, so I’m just letting the insurance companies fight it out. Basically though, I was in the correct lane, the other car was merging in and for some reason expected me to give way. We’ll see what the insurance people say.
It was at a new-ish junction, and the signage isn’t the easiest to understand, but I’ve driven it enough times that I know how it works. (Although the other driver also does it fairly regularly, so should know better! 🙂 )
Using the photo below, I was turning right out of Mike Griffin Way. You can be in either lane (which is fucked up in the first place). If you’re in the left-hand lane then that becomes the direct route; the right-hand lane has another turn-off (the rough equivalent of a hairpin turn) and then merges into the direct route. It was, in short, designed by a fucking idiot.
So I was in the left-hand lane having come out of Mike Griffin Way, with the other car in the right-hand lane. And at the merge (top-right of the image) they decided to pull into the left-hand lane. No indication or anything, just pulling in.
Fortunately, I was aware they were there, and as they pulled across I was already braking hard and sounding the horn to let them know I was there. But still, impact. Rather than blocking the road, we went up to the nearest layby, pulled in, did the whole exchange of details, photos and so on, and then got on with life. I’m happy with how I did everything – making sure they were OK, but also getting names, details, numbers, registration plates etc., and ensuring that they got mine as well. Basically, I didn’t want there to be any chance of miscommunications, or “he just drove off” accusations.
Because there’s been no injury, no road blockage etc., the police haven’t needed to be informed (another thing I also checked with the insurance company, to make sure they were happy with not having a police incident number or anything) and I’m quite happy to not have to involve them..
I don’t yet know what the outcome will be. My car’s OK, it’s got some nice new scratches and a dent, but it’s perfectly driveable, and I don’t know if I’ll even bother getting the scratches repaired. My insurance shouldn’t be affected (even if they decide it was my fault) as I’ve got a protected 10+ year No Claims Bonus, which means I could even have another accident (not that I’m planning to!) before even beginning to worry on that score.
We’ll see what happens, but all is good so far as I can tell. I wouldn’t recommend it as a way to spend an afternoon – but equally, things could have been *so* much worse in so, so many ways.
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.
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.
Have you ever noticed, there are some times where things all just decide to cost money all at once? And it’s usual at the most inconvenient times…
The last ten days have been a pretty good example of that. Since last Wednesday…
- The car had a front tyre blow out , so has needed a replacement tyre.
- The clutch on the car also started playing up, so has needed to be replaced.
Admittedly, it wasn’t yet completely stuffed, but you could feel it was well on the way, and I’d rather not be stuffed by that over the Festering Season
- In the kitchen, the steamer I use most days died (tripping the circuit breaker along the way) and needed replacing
- And one of my smoke alarms also started doing the beep-of-battery-death. And of course it’s a non-replaceable battery (not my choice, but that of my landlord) so that’ll need replacing
On top of that, all the usual stuff for the Festering Season and so on, and it means it’s been an expensive month…
Recently, I came across a really odd thing.
For the last few months, I’ve been experiencing problems with my car at night, with the lights suddenly failing and me driving in absolute darkness.
One night this week I had a drive home where it felt like the same thing had happened again – cars pulling out right in front of me as if they hadn’t seen me, that kind of thing. It happened on enough occasions in a short time that I ended up checking whether my lights were working, thinking “Fuck sake, not again”
And that’s when I realised.
I haven’t been experiencing actual problems with the car. I’ve had dreams that I’ve been experiencing problems – because there’s no way on Earth that I would have not got a problem like that sorted immediately. If I’d had an electrical/lighting failure like that, I’d have taken it to the garage the following morning. But I haven’t – I’ve never even called the garage to make an appointment.
So while my conscious brain has been thinking that there’ve been problems with the car and that I really should get things checked/sorted, my subconscious has been sticking its oar in and stopping that from happening. Somewhere along the line it’s known that these problems have been dreams, and has prevented my conscious from actually calling the garage and getting those things sorted.
All the way through I’d have sworn blind that these problems were happening. And it’s only been when I consciously worried that the same problem had occurred again that I realised the previous occurrences hadn’t actually happened.
And that, with no shadow of a doubt, is really bloody weird.
I think that the worst bit of having one’s car in the garage (except for the bill at the end) is that you never ever remember to take all the useful stuff out of the current car to put in the replacement one.
Usually, it’s not even the stuff you think of as actually being useful, until the time comes that it’s needed, and then you think “Oh. Cock.” (or words to that effect)
In my case this time there’ve been three times this weekend where I’ve thought that.
The first was really simple – shopping bags. I have re-usable “bag for life” things in the boot of the car. Did I think about needing them when I left the car at the garage? Did I bollocks.
Then the weather changed (it’s a Bank Holiday in the UK, so it’s usually piss-wet, but I didn’t think about that during the week) and chucked down a load of rain. So where’s my waterproof jacket that I haven’t used all year? In the car. Along with the umbrella. Sod.
And finally, when I was eating a packaged salad thing outside the other office in Chesham, where’s the cutlery I keep in the car? Yep, it’s in the car. Just not the right one. For fuck’s sake.
It’s nothing world-ending, obviously. It’s just irritating, because it’s also stuff I just hadn’t thought about. Which makes me feel like a bit of a tit. (Not that that’s anything new or unusual, obviously)
While driving down to London yesterday (of which more in another post) my car started to make an odd noise. Primarily a whining noise when under acceleration, and generally not all that well.
I called my usual garage, told them what was happening, and got told “Oh, first time we can look at it will be September 3rd”. (The usual “fob off the customer” approach that they’ve excelled at so many times) So instead I contacted the other dealership in the area – part of the same group, but run as a separate entity – and the person there made noises of “Oooh, that’s not good”, and asked if I could bring it in the next day (today)
I did so, and as I’d suspected, the turbo is on its way out. Bollocks.
So the car’s booked in for the work – not cheap, but less than getting a replacement vehicle – and I’ve got a replacement vehicle while they do it.
So far, the new dealership looks really promising – the service department have been great so far, and the deal I’ve got from them has been positive. It may be that they turn out to be shite – but if not, I’ve got other options.
It’s surprising to see the difference between the two dealerships – the previous/main one (as I’ve mentioned before) consists of a patronising bunch of fuckknuckles. They seem so complacent about everything, and their idea of customer service appears to be to make the customer feel like a fuckwit.
What they’ve never understood – and the new place appears to – is that the service department is just as much of a sales tool as the actual cars in the showroom. If I’m being treated like crap by the service department with the current vehicle, what on earth would make me buy another car of the same make, and lock myself into further years of being treated like crap?
That’s what the new one seems to understand – that this is the way to keep people coming back. It’s what the Saab garage I used with the previous car understood – and so did the Ford one before that.
We’ll see what happens now, and how things go after the repair. I’m hoping that this time won’t have the same knock-on after-effects that it did when the same thing happened on the Saab. (Although this time it’ll also help that the turbo was just on the way out, rather than having gone pop when travelling at speed, as the Saab one did!)