Sunday Blues

As I only get every other weekend off of work, Saturdays and Sundays tend to be highly valued days in my book…but this weekend has seen me down in the dumps – even when you discount the recent passing of my Nan as well 😦

Predictably, amongst the other things that have got me ticked off there is a range of car related issues which have made my weekend as grey as the weather. First and probably most importantly is that my car has finally had it’s rear suspension collapse, meaning a likely high(ish) repair bill just when I had made a semi-permanent decision about what car to get. I had been worried for a while that the rear suspension looked a little lower than it was supposed to, but given that my driveway is on a slight slope and my car has a heavy LPG tank under it’s boot floor, I accepted that it looked a rear heavy. I was a little worried about the clunking noise that it had started to make when driving over speed bumps however, and the last few days the ride quality had been absolutely appalling –  a fact verified by my brother’s girlfriend who was the only passenger I had had in recent weeks.

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But I still did not expect the sight of the rear tyre pretty much hidden under the body of the car when I finally got around to parking it on a flat surface! After a bit of panic I decided to first clean it (as I had been intending to do anyway) and then take it to the local garage I have been trying to avoid having to use before selling my car. My main reason for washing the car was the nasty white stain on the drivers side a-pillar, presumably from a bird or something…when this did not come off with the pressure washer or hot soapy water, I stupidly resorted to using my (admittedly short) fingernails to remove the mess. As soon as the car started to dry I noticed my mistake…light but noticeable scratch marks made by my bloody fingernails! OK granted that is entirely my fault but combined with the huge array of parking dings and paint marks made by other people (all the more visible when my car is clean and shiny) it has given me cause to consider finding a way to get rid of all these marks, even if I will just be px-ing the Astra.

Taking the car down to the garage, the mechanic immediately noticed the limping rear and suggested that it was the coil spring which would need replacing. As this is something that has occurred to me in this car before and the fact I am not a idiot who can’t Google stuff, I already had surmised that this might be the issue…but given my utter lack of mechanical skill or access to a vehicle lift/pit it means that I have to put up with mechanics’ eye rolls and tuts when it comes to anything going wrong. This particular garage I have always used because of my neighbour’s affiliation to my neighbour…which for them means free labour and parts, but for me merely means that I can trust that they are doing a good job. Well at least up until last year when they fitted a new pair of wipers without my consent…a pair which made a horrific noise from the outset (I was too lazy/worried to demand a refund)…and at £25 they were considerably more than I had previously paid for a set from Halfords! My records show that one coil spring should be around £54+VAT, plus possibly an hour’s labour…so maybe around £100 should do it? But if both need doing (and they may well do) I could easily be looking at a bill of £250+ going by previous experience. I know that this isn’t a large sum and will likely be dwarfed by costs on any SUV, but it is a pain when I am just about to buy a new car.

This garage issue also sets me in a panic over what to do when I get my new car, whatever it may be. Marques like Land Rover, Mercedes and BMW all have their own specialist dealers who are used to most issues certain models throw up, but finding a decent ‘indy’ and one who won’t see £ signs when they see my youthful face and inexperienced manner might prove difficult. Porsche will have specialists too, but as the Cayenne isn’t seen as a ‘pure’ Porsche it might not be treatable at most of these places…and they may well end up being nearly as expensive as a main dealer for labour. This also drags up my worry about buying the actual car in the first place; there is a risk buying any used car but that risk could be severely negated by having somebody ‘in the know’. A solution for somebody like me would be to pay (the admittedly expensive) AA or RAC to inspect the vehicle before purchasing, but with ideal vehicles sometimes located 100+ miles away, it stresses me that I could drive all that distance just to find that the car isn’t worth having – then I am £250 down with nothing to show for it! It also means I would have to book both appointments relatively in advance – pushing the purchase even further away! I am also worried about the whole haggling aspect of buying a car and being treated seriously, but that is just me being whiny as usual.

Then we come to my choice itself; a Porsche Cayenne S is still the front runner but the race is by no means clear cut as my head is all over the place as it usually is. The Cayenne would be a great drive, has a premium badge on the bonnet and is decently equipped, but it is awfully thirsty and prices don’t appear quite as cheap as I first thought. BMW’s X5 is a worthy contender to the Cayenne and as well as a hearty V8 engine it also can be found in ever popular 3.0d guise for near enough the same price as the Cayenne. Real life performance won’t be much down on the Cayenne and fuel consumption is greatly improved…my worries surround reliability and insurance costs (which perversely are considerably more than the more powerful Porsche), plus the fact it might not be as special as the Porker. Another choice from BMW’s stable would be the smaller X3, 3 litre petrol versions of the X3 are seriously cheap and would perform almost as well as the Porsche whilst being slightly better on fuel. A diesel of the same size is more but not by too much, although it carries the same possibility of issues as the X5’s engine, but my main issues with the X3 surround it’s fugly looks and cheapo interior…maybe some people would laugh at that when I am talking about getting the Cayenne but to me the X3 is a bit more of a runt. There are of course plenty of other cars which I could consider at this price…a high mileage Range Rover, a tidy but slow Volvo XC90 or even a Lexus RX400h, but the only other one which has piqued my interest a little is the Cayenne’s twin, the Touareg. Back when I was getting opinions on which car to buy one forum user offered a 2006 Touareg V6 TDI in top Altitude spec for £10,000, by all accounts a good price when looking at similar vehicles on the market but at the time it was not the right vehicle for me…and now it’s too late.

Last on my list of 4 wheeled disasters this weekend is my last second failed bid on a toy car on eBay…a bit lame I know but it was my attempt to lift myself after a crappy weekend and I was outbid just as I started writing this blog post and in the closing seconds of  the auction. It wasn’t just any toy though, it was a pretty rare one launched with the release of the original Jurassic Park over 20 years ago. The ‘Jungle Explorer’ as it is known as is pretty much a toy version of the Ford Explorers used extensively in the film and what are by far my favourite movie vehicles ever! Had I been a little older when the film was released I am sure I would been bought the toy, and had I cottoned on to the car’s existence earlier than a couple of years ago I would have probably ensured that I got one off of eBay…but as it happens I keep forgetting. Even more annoyingly I missed out by a measly £1, and with the only available items commanding prices on the American eBay site of £37 plus £36 p&p it means that I probably won’t be owning one anytime soon 😦

Over and out…sorry about the negativity!

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4 responses to “Sunday Blues

  1. Wow, I thought my week had been bad enough. Bad luck with the suspension and so close to selling the car too. 😦

    As for the Cayenne and Toureg, not my cup of tea and not models I’d really want to own but my boss had a Toureg for less than a year. He bought it thinking the 4WD would be great in the snow and prevent his embarrasment of being stranded on his FLAT drive in his BMW. The toureg proved even more incapable and thus was even more embarrasing when it too failed to get him out of his drive to get to work, in just 1/2″ of snow – oh how we laughed. 🙂

    To be fair, he had not bothered fitting winter tyres and those stupidly wide near slick summer tyres don’t work on any vehicle no matter how capable the manufacturers would have you believe they are.

    We also have neighbours with Cayenne’s and BMW X5’s and they too have proved near useless in snow and ice for the same reason. I just don’t understand people that spend 40K+ on a new car and then skimp or don’t buy a set of winter tyres for them. My knackered old jap pickup makes a mockery of them every winter. It is not the case that we live in an area where snow is rare either, it snows every winter and in large amounts too.

    Ian

  2. BTW James, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wring with the Cayenne or Toureg in winter conditions IF fitted with appropriate rubber. I would just seriously advise you factor in the cost of a set of good quality winter tyres fitted to some cheap steel wheels to use in the winter months. It will prove far less costly than paying for damage repair after the vehicle slides off the road into something hard 😉

  3. Hey Ian,
    Good news with my car! Only £81 which is better than I’d expected…although there was a funny smell and a little smoke coming from under the bonnet one I got home – hoping it was just some spilt oil or something under the bonnet! Glad to hear your pickup was an easy fix too though 🙂

    I have been considering winter tyres actually, especially if I get a car with larger alloys! Next door have a Disco 4 which seems to cope quite well in bad weather, but I have indeed seen X5’s and the like stuck in the car park where I work ha

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