On the way home from work in Corby on the evening of 5th November 2003 I travelled home by an unusual route – I forget exactly why – and rather regretted having done so! .
On the back road out of the village of Fotheringhay there is a hump-backed bridge over a small stream. It is quite a narrow bridge – just how narrow I found out when the driver of an oncoming vehicle and I both thought it was wide enough for us to pass on it in the dark – and both turned out to be wrong!
That the bridge was about 9 inches too narrow for two cars meant that the front corner to front corner impact that ensued, even at the low speeds involved, was sufficient for my insurance company to conclude that repairs would cost more than the value of the car and wrote it off.
That vehicle was a seven year old Toyota Corolla that I had purchased from my father just after I started the Corby job in September 1999 and had done about 70,000 miles by the time I crashed it. Its temporary replacement was a Nissan Micra hire car and I enjoyed driving it so much that I decided to buy one of my very own.
In early January 2004 my little black Micra arrived and went into daily use for commuting, first to Corby, then Oundle, March, Stamford, Huntingdon and St. Ives (the Cambridgeshire one NOT Cornwall!). And that brings us up to January 2011 where it first got a mention in this column – https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2011/01/06 with regard to its 72000 mile service.
Since then it has served me reliably and well in my subsequent contract jobs in Huntingdon, Bircham Newton in the wilds of Norfolk, and all over the country in the oft-mentioned Associated British Foods Windows 7 Migration last year. It was during my travels in the latter months of 2012, however, that it began to show some quirky characteristics that I put down to impending old age (that’s the car’s old age, not mine!).
For example, I set out from Peterborough heading for a site at Cullompton in Devon at about 5.30 a.m. on 3rd December 2012. I had driven only a few miles when a shrill “beeping” noise filled the car and a quick glance at the lights on the dashboard showed me that my seatbelt was, apparently, not fastened. I pulled up in a lay-by to sort this out and there appeared to be no problem with my belt as it was firmly clicked in place so I wondered if some sensor or other was detecting the laptop bag on the passenger seat. So I did up the passenger seat belt as well and set off again.
Nothing I did would make it turn off and I had to drive all the way round the south of Birmingham with this thing going off for 90 seconds every 2 minutes. I got so used to it that after I stopped at services on the M5 and it didn’t restart when I resumed the journey, I did not actually notice until I had gone about 10 miles!
I never did find the cause and that issue never returned. The following week, however, on my way to a place called Melmerby in Yorkshire it came up with a new one to annoy me.
This one I did not notice at first as it was raining most of the way but when the downpour stopped and I switched off the windscreen wipers – they continued! I tried switching to “intermittent” setting and then back to “full”. It is very embarrassing to drive along in dry conditions with windscreen wipers on full and several oncoming drivers flashed their lights at me – presumably on the assumption that I hadn’t noticed that the rain had stopped! Unlike the seatbelt warning issue this one went on for two days and I had to keep pretending to wash my screen to avoid looking like a complete idiot whenever anyone was coming towards me!
As with the seatbelt thing I suddenly noticed that it wasn’t doing it any more – it took until about Wednesday morning before I realised though!
I began to suspect that both problems were something to do with wet winter weather getting into the wiring and when the car went in for its annual service and MoT test in January of this year I asked the garage to look into it. They found…….
They did, however, charge me a three figure sum for a new driver’s seat – apparently my weight had over the years broken it so that the airbag would not have worked in an accident. Good job I hadn’t had one then!
So, with repair costs starting to rise, the brakes starting to squeal when I applied them, the shock absorbers feeling as though replacement was imminent and 100,000 miles coming up on the clock I had to start to think about letting it go!
And this weekend with a few fond pats, some farewell photographs and 100,300 miles to its credit I traded it in! What’s that? Sentimental about inanimate objects?
So what! I am fully aware that it was only a compilation of metal and plastic parts but I’d had it since it was a puppy and was quite fond of it! It was faithful to me and it never once let me down! Yes, I was sad to see it go.
I hope its replacement will be as reliable – it’s a Chevrolet Aveo and it seems ideal for my commuting requirements for the 5 years to go until I can retire.
I now need to think of a name for it. Any ideas anyone?
It’s a shame I couldn’t get a Chevrolet Impala – if I had I would have christened it “Vlad”.
Think about it!