Saturday, 16 February 2013

I've been driving in my car...


To borrow the lyrics from 'Madness' I have indeed been driving in my (new) car this week and though "it's not quite a Jaguar", it is a great improvement on my last one.  Friends and family will have heard my frequent complaints about the Renault Tragic that I used to drive (ok, it was a Scenic but apart from the views out the windows, everything else about it was a tragedy). It really was a dog of a car and I experienced almost every one of its 'known faults'.  It was even recalled once for what was described by the manufacturer as a 'necessary upgrade to the electronic parking brake computer'; in other words some lucky drivers had experienced the handbrake suddenly going on while travelling at speed down the motorway!!  

The on-board computer and overly complicated dashboard were responsible for many a stressful calamity during my commute to and from work. Drive over the slightest bump or minor pothole and the entire dashboard would light up with warnings such as 'Check Emissions'. How would I do that exactly? Sniff the exhaust pipe maybe?! The perplexing 'Gearbox Fault' was another frequent error message which meant the car went into disconcerting 'limp mode'. This is like some kind of crisis management system, meaning that you are stuck in second or third gear  with absolutely no acceleration.

I was hopeful of some kind of answer when I paid my £70 (plus VAT) to the specified garage just to connect to the Renault diagnostic computer. But all the enigmatic computer system could give was a further cryptic code which clearly meant nothing to the Scottish mechanics even if they did have very smart yellow overalls and were trained by a 'reputable' Renault dealership.  I did not need to connect my useless vehicle to the fault finding mainframe to know that (excuse  my French) - il est fait enculer. 

The devilish dashboard spawned so many mysterious messages it was as though it had a menacing mind of its own like some kind of French version of the Stephen King novel 'Christine'. The final straw was when I lost the dashboard display completely.  This happened on the A1 one dark evening.  Initially the dashboard display decided to flash on and off intermittently and, rather worryingly, informed me, when it did illuminate briefly, that I was doing 104 miles an hour.  I knew this to be highly unlikely as even the police have been known to overtake me as I drive so slowly. Then in its final moments of life it lit up like Heathrow's busiest  runway with every error message it could muster for a final flourish.  Finally, all was blackness and then the radio stopped working too just for good measure.  There I was with no real idea of what speed I might be doing, or how much petrol I had, or indeed whether the whole engine was about to explode at any moment. I drove on with my surreal Final Destination-like interior and reached home somewhat shaken and determined to be rid of the dastardly machine once and for all.

I have owned a succession of dodgy automatics (I seem unable to manage the multitasking involved with three pedals and a gear stick).  I was fond of my little gold colour Volkswagen Golf but it had a tendency to overheat and once stalled on a level crossing.  We had a great blue Saab which we had many an adventure in driving through France but the dog eventually ate its way through the back seat and then I couldn't get it to go into reverse. I drove it (forwards) to a local garage where L managed to convince the owner to part exchange. My absolute favourite and most reliable car though was a Subaru.  It was fantastic...but I managed to write it off while not even being in it!  I discovered that a car can travel quite some distance, at speed, when you park on a hill, leave it in neutral and neglect to put the handbrake on.  Now though, I begin a new era in my little Nissan and I'm really hoping that it's a very uneventful experience. The dashboard is remarkably simple, the dog's banned and I have added my own warning message on a post-it to remind me to check the handbrake.

Sizzles: The only dog allowed 
I think I might add some eyelashes like these. What do you think?


  1. Ha! I have a long and disastrous history with cars too. On my fifth one by the time I was 25 and nearly killed myself in the process..

    Took my little Polo in for a service this morning...£700 later :-/

    Thanks for linking up with The Monday Club!

  2. We've all had cars like that! What a nightmare!

  3. Wow, that was a nightmare of a car! Did you not take it out for a test drive to figure out its faults? I’m glad to hear that you were able to get something else, and I hope you don’t end up encountering as much trouble as you did with the last one.

  4. It’s more like driving in the Twilight Zone with that old car of yours. Yikes! You’re right about Subaru though. It has great car models that are considered top-of-the-line. But no matter which car brand you prefer, it’s important that you give it a test drive before purchasing it.

    Ivo Beutler

    1. Glad to hear from another fan of Subaru and you are right about test driving. Unfortunately, I did take the old nightmare car out for a long test drive and had someone look it over. All was smooth and seemed fine; it was after the warranty finished and about a year after I bought it that the problems started!!

  5. Having disastrous experiences with cars are those that really make me think twice about purchasing one. I remember renting cars when we went on vacation and it was all a mess. I was thinking that we could just use public transportation since the car just stopped in the middle of nowhere, and the owner told me that they had the car checked before they drove it to our house. I still don’t know if I’ll be purchasing my own car if it will always stop on places that it’s not supposed to.