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.


CostCluster

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…


Subconscious

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.


Missing Bits

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)


Turbo Near-Miss

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!)


Time To Spare

I’ve written before about my tendency to be horrifically early for things – I like having time to spare, and I’m happy with being where I’m supposed to be, with a book, phone etc., and can happily while away the time.

It also, on occasion, gives me time to sort things out when I’ve sodded them up – which was the case on Sunday.

The car’s air-conditioning has been noticeably weaker this summer, so I’d decided to have it re-gassed, and see if that made a difference. I booked an appointment with Kwik-Fit to get it done on Sunday morning, and turned up (early) to where I thought I had it booked in.

Only… it wasn’t booked in there.  Knackers.  I couldn’t find the confirmation email (still no idea what happened to that) so ended up having to call their main customer centre to try and find out.  Turned out – either through my own stupidity, or some kind of system glitch – that it was actually booked on the other side of town from where I was. Knackers again.

But because I’d been horrendously early, it meant I still had the time to get across to the correct place in time for my appointment – and even had time to spare!

It all worked out fine in the end – but if I’d been punctual for the first one, I’d have been utterly kippered for getting to the proper place on time!


Return As Found

Earlier this month, I wrote a bit about some of the electrical issues that’ve been niggling on my current car, and something about the hassles I’ve had with the garage along the way.

Today was (hopefully) the final stage of that – the car had a new battery last week, which has helped, but there was still an issue with the starter motor.  The garage spent a fair amount of time arguing with Kia (or at least saying they were arguing with Kia) but in the end I got it as a free replacement – so I’m quite happy on that score.

So today was the day for getting that fitted, and I’m vaguely optimistic that this will be the job done.  Time will tell, of course, but it’s got some good runs and conditions over the next few weeks, which should help me find out whether we’re finally sorted.

However, both of the most recent visits have obviously required a complete disconnection of the battery (obviously, in the case of the replacement battery!) which has resulted in the car computer being totally reset. I don’t mind that, in general – I try to be realistic about these things.  But at the same time, I would have thought that a basic level of customer service would be to at least set the clock and calendar back to the correct settings.

I’m obviously wrong though, and utterly unreasonable. 🙂

 

All told, the entire thing has left me less than happy with Kia as a whole – even taking into account that replacement starter motor. A lot of this could (indeed, should) have been sorted on the first return visit, and shouldn’t have taken another three visits and a bundle of arguments. My experience as a customer has been woeful, and has currently put me off having another car from Kia, as that would mean keeping on using the same garages.

Anyway, even with that replacement starter, next time the car needs anything doing to it, I’m going to try the other local Kia dealership – it’s the same distance from me, but in the opposite direction – and see if they’re any better.  It’ll be interesting to see if they can do better than the current ones…