Well, not toxic, exactly... maybe just a little bit rank. But in a nice way. With a garnish.

Friday, January 27, 2006

zen and the art of motorcynical maintenance

Toby, my car, finally got his new radiator.

It had a hole and I’ve known about it for a month but haven’t done anything about it.

When it comes to car maintenance, it’s the law that you should put things off as long as possible. This is in the small print that comes with your driving licence.

There are actually 2 1/2* laws involving going to the garage.
The other law is that you should only go to a garage if the application of industrial amounts of WD-40 fails first.

*There is a third lesser-known law (therefore only half a law) that states that in the event of the failure of WD-40, it is acceptable to hit the offending car-part with a hammer. This sometimes works.

Toby needs a new exhaust, too, but as he doesn’t yet sound like a fully-fledged tractor, this can wait for a while longer. Logic states that Law 1 can get me through for a few more weeks. Law 2 can’t work and Law 3 would just be plain stupid on this occasion, so I'm gritting my teeth and dragging things out as long as possible.

Anyhow, radiators run on a different set of rules.

The problem with radiators is that if the hole gets too large… and the cooling system drains merrily while you’re cruising a cool 85mph on the motorway, you could end up with an engine in a slight state of blown-upness.

With this in mind I have kept my speed down to 80mph (in-between speed cameras) and have diligently topped the cooling system up, oh… every now and again. Well, twice actually, but that’s because I lead the high-powered life of a high-powered… er.... look, I just haven't got time, okay?

I do what I like and you can’t stop me.

I almost managed another month of head in sandness but I started noticing while queuing at roundabouts that there was a slight cloud of steam issuing from under the bonnet. Hard to ignore. This meant that I was forced to drive everywhere with my teeth clamped hard shut, to ward off explosions.

This is a well-known method of car maintenance. I’ve cheated the RAC of their rightful roadside pickings many a time, simply by clenching my jaw shut as hard as possible. Tell your friends, save them money.

Today, however, I bowed to inevitability and handed over the cheque. I’ve put my hammer back in the basement and the WD-40 is back under the sink. Hopefully a couple of sessions with a physiotherapist and my face should look normal again.


  • At January 27, 2006 11:56 pm, Blogger Sniffy said…

    My first car (a 1980 Ford Fiesta in beige, with Hammerite eyelashes) used to overheat - BADLY. For four years I tolerated driving with the heater on full blast in all weather conditions. The worst thing about this was the smell of curry every time the heater was on. I tried flushing the radiator on numerous occasions, it had 3 new thermostats too. Eventually, I got round to buying a new radiator and fitting it. Ahhhhhh, the relief!

    For the last six months of having that car, the cabin temperature was perfect. Just a shame that everything else decided to die on it for the second time. I couldn't face having to replace the starter motor again, what with it being a very cold january, so I got shut.

  • At January 28, 2006 12:15 am, Blogger funny thing said…

    Fancy putting curry in your radiator.. no wonder it was over-heating.

    You need to read the manual, girl.

  • At January 28, 2006 12:21 am, Blogger Sniffy said…


    Ever notice how the photos in Haynes manuals never bore any resemblance to anything in the car?

  • At January 28, 2006 12:24 am, Blogger funny thing said…

    Aye. Crappy grey things. But essential for any person of skintness. I practically slept with my Haynes when I had Walter, my first car.

    Ah, nostalgia.

  • At January 28, 2006 12:26 am, Blogger Sniffy said…

    Yes, I knew the workings of the mark 1 fiesta pretty well, I can tell you. I replaced: Starter motor (twice); alternator; distributor; radiator; thermostat (too many times to mention). By the time I got rid of it, it was also held together with those self-adhesive foam pads.

  • At January 28, 2006 12:30 am, Blogger funny thing said…

    That's nothing. I had to wind an elastic band around the axle and then let go....

  • At January 28, 2006 12:34 am, Blogger Sniffy said…

    Mine never used to start when it rained. It was weird actually, because it was a really fantastic wet-starter for the first couple of years that I had it, then it went shit. But that's Coventry for you.

  • At January 28, 2006 11:18 am, Blogger funny thing said…

    Throw away your WD-40 and buy a can of Duck Oil. It's what the AA use to get a wet engine going, it's brilliant stuff.

    There's no cure for Coventry.

    Well, maybe SARS.

  • At January 28, 2006 7:50 pm, Blogger Inexplicable DeVice said…

    Not that I'm bragging but my last car had an indestructible radiator. I never had to put water into it. Ever.

    I was slightly worried for the first 3 or 4 years but then got used to it.

    I just hope the current car is just as indestructible because the broom certainly isn't!

    I hope yours is easily & cheaply fixed. If not, you can always go with the Flintstones method of locomotion...


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