We live in a fairly quiet commuterville cul-de-sac for those who don’t know and, as a consequence, anything motor-related means the word travels fast. Now that winter is well and truly upon us, most of the garages up and down the land brace themselves for the influx of dead batteries and temperamental alternators.
My heart goes out to the patrol guys who are looking forward to spending the next three months lying on a damp road underneath another failed Focus or knackered Nissan – those guys really earn their stripes at this time of the year. But you also have the dishonest brigade all ready and waiting to scalp the next motorist that comes their way.
The winter checks
I have just been speaking to a local resident who has taken advantage of a garage close to her office that’s doing one of those billion point winter checks all for just £15.99. Her husband collared me as I was arriving home spitting fire and brimstone over the estimate for the family Galaxy following a visit to this garage in Guildford. The paperwork decreed that two new tyres were needed along with pads, discs and a rear exhaust silencer – but it got much worse. They had also noted that a driveshaft boot was “deteriorating” which justified replacing the outer C.V joint, too. She had opted to seek further advice before handing over the thick end of £700 – and quite rightly too.
You see, I know the car very well and I also know they keep it in first class condition by using a local spanner man who is a time-served ex-Ford fitter. We had a casual look at the car and noted that the front tyres had at least 3mm of meat on the bone, the discs do indeed have a lip but nothing you would regard as life expired while the rear silencer had nothing more than age-related surface corrosion – everything you would expect to see on a ’59 registered car.
Here we have another classic example of a business out to capitalise on the gullible and uninformed car owner. I have nothing against maximising sales… it’s sound business practice, but robbery is something else.
How about treating your nearest or dearest to a course of basic car maintenance? Great fun, money saving and invaluable
These winter checks make me chuckle most of the time. Any decent trader will offer these services free – charging only for the consumables, but for most of the time the checks include little more than kicking the washers and squirting the tyres.
Don’t be fooled
If your car starts on the button every day the battery and alternator are both fine, anyone can visually check tyre depth/condition and the same applies to the wiper blades. Winter checks are a good idea if carried out fairly but remember one thing – they are designed to make you spend money at a time when people are reluctant to spend their hard earned bunts on the car when Christmas comes along.
If you want to buy your loved one or a novice motorist something really useful this Christmas, treat them by enrolling them onto an evening course of basic car maintenance. These are held at Colleges up and down the land and they are seriously great fun to do – often run by retired mechanics or patrol staff that really know their stuff.
Most tend to be really personable folk too being able to teach and instruct without being patronising or sarcastic covering all aspects from how to change a wheel or the best way of preparing a car for winter. It’s not rocket science, it’s not expensive and it is great fun to do – all you have to do is search the web to find out more!
My former smoker – A 2004 (04) Focus 1.8 LX in Neptune Green… the epitome of modern Bangernomics.
So what else has taken place this year? Well, I have shocked myself, ‘er indoors and one or two others by opting out of the company car scheme, selling the Rover and buying something else. Of course, it was going to be another Rover but, then, as I was driving along the road to domestos… I saw the light and opted for a Rover sabbatical. So say hello to my slightly battered and bruised Ford Focus 1.8 LX in Neptune Green (even the colour sounds yawn-inducing) – my first Ford since 2001 – and the last was a Sierra. It handles like a go-kart, is well equipped and almost everything works. Ok, so it’s not BLARG but it is the epitome of modern Bangernomics and that’s what I like about it!
All that needs to be said is safe motoring to you all, Happy Christmas and, in the words of my late Father… Keep away from naked flames – both old and new!
Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
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