Cars are horrible bits of machinery that have several purposes

1) to provide transport between A and B
2) to cost the earth in pollution from so many different angles
3) to cost my pocket in taxes, repairs, services etc

My girlfriend recently had to have an MOT on her car.  It cost the princely sum of £475 odd because it required a new windscreen, two front tyres, rear brakes replacing, tightening of many different bits including the handbrake, suspension raising, tracking and not forgetting the MOT itself.

Her car cost her £300 last year to buy when she passed her test.

The only real benefit she now has is a working car and the comforting thought the rustbucket is still on the road for yet another year as long as nothing else goes wrong.  It was registered in 1995 so has had 12 years on the road clocking up a massive 51k in mileage.

My car was registered in 2000.  It has had several thousand pounds in repairs since new including brakes, fuel throttle bits and pieces, vandalism & accidents by other road users (both when I was in bed asleep), wishbones (due another one now) and other random small bits and pieces.

Unfortunately after my girlfriends recent spate of problems I felt fairly smug.  My car was quite good, only recently requiring a new exhaust system and a few other bits and bobs (new clutch) costing less than £500…

Then of course someone notices some fluid under the car and on top of that a strange smell inside. No heating and in unrelated matters oil on the driveway.

The power steering motor is shot and the coolant has emptied out of the car – I’ve probably been driving with it for a while like it, so no idea how badly damaged the engine is.  Fortunately it still works with no obvious effects so I’ve done a complete clean and filled it with new fluid and radweld.  Huzzah, it seems fixed.  The power steering motor though will need replacing as it is leaking oil into the alternator, so fingers crossed I can sort that this weekend.

The pluses of this whole piece of theatre is that now:

I understand the whole cooling process of my car and how to fix minor issues.
I understand about the hydralic pressure of brakes and how if you don’t have enough liquid in them, your brakes don’t work
I understand that oil isn’t good for your alternator, what one is and where it is in my car.

Add to that all the other issues I have loving started to fix myself I have a much better idea of what is wrong with my car and how to fix it.  Diagnosing problems is less of an issue and fingers crossed, soon I’ll be able to service it cheaper too.  £130 per service is crippling especially since when the car goes off for a whole day I spend much longer getting to work.  I feel fortunate that the car is not entirely controlled by a computer so I can fix these problems – and that my car is on the road for another year.

My parents are convinced that I should get another car – this one has caused me nothing but problems.  I like to think of my car as an unnecessary necessary.  When I first starting learning computers the thing that got me to learn so much more about them was breaking it and having to fix it before my parents got home.  Similarly I know I have to get to work the next day or after the weekend, so if it ain’t fixed it ain’t going nowhere and guess which mug’ll be getting the train…

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