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A couple of months ago (entry #29), I posted a rather frustrated account of my recent dealings with Ford. This was prompted by the fact my Kuga has developed an engine management problem which, apparently, even they cannot diagnose – despite being the company who built the damn thing. There are hackers out there who can worm their way into the Pentagon mainframe for Christ’s sake, yet Ford can’t seem to crack a computer of their own design.

So, after a number of visits, and £800 spent on guesswork that might as well have included ‘giving it a good hard kick’ and ‘turning it off and on again’ (actually, no, I tell a lie, they did try that), Ford were none the wiser and seemed to wash their hands of the situation.

Perhaps I am being slightly unfair here. They did manage to stop the car from revving uncontrollably, even when I wasn’t touching the accelerator, but the unfortunate side-effect of whatever they did appears to be the engine occasionally cutting out.

I don’t even know why I was surprised when the Kuga started playing up, as car trouble is something I am all-too-familiar with, and my motoring history has been somewhat chequered to say the least.

Let me take you back to 2002, when it all began…

Ford Fiesta (2002 – slightly later in 2002)

My first ever car: a G-reg Ford Fiesta in white. It’s not the one in the picture, as I didn’t own mine long enough to get a photo processed by Truprint, but it looked a lot like it.

I bought it from a garage near Altrincham. I best not mention the name of the garage, for reasons which will become clear, but I would advise anyone to steer clear of Navigation Road when purchasing a new vehicle, in case you stumble upon the same place.

I was at Law School when I got it, and although I only paid around £600 (which, in student terms, is roughly a year’s worth of food and drink), I had hoped it would last me slightly longer than a few months. Sadly, it did not, and in terms of the mileage I got in return, I would have been better off financially if I had just taken taxis everywhere.

In short, there were a number of problems with the car, culminating in a failed trip from Poynton to Norwich, which ended roughly four miles into a trip of nearly two hundred.

Having had the car assessed by an engineer, it turned out that I had been sold a duff and, more importantly, the garage would have known this when they took my money. I shouldn’t have complained really, as I had essentially been sold two cars for the price of one (such was the mix-and-match job that had been done to it), but I decided to ask for my money back.

The garage failed to respond to various letters and calls, however, so I started Court proceedings against them to recover my money. When they ignored the Court papers as well, I got Judgment against them and the bailiffs were sent round. It was only at this point, around six months after I first complained, that the owner took notice and applied to the Court to have my Judgment overturned.

I remember sitting in front of an ancient District Judge at Altrincham County Court (who, again, I best not name, even though I suspect/hope he is no longer breathing), and to my shock he overturned the Judgment, pointing out that reputable businesses have better things to do than come along to Court to fight frivolous cases like mine. He laughed along with the owner of the garage as he said this.

To make matters worse, the garage owner waited for me outside the Court, along with the hired muscle he had brought with him (not that I was a physical threat, as I must have weight ten stone soaking wet at the time), and they followed me back to my car. On the way, they kept reminding me that they had my address, and if I didn’t want my family to come to any harm, I best drop the case. In the end, I had no choice.

Rover Metro (2002 – 2004)

The next car I owned was a red J-reg Metro, which I bought off a friend’s sister. Again, the photo isn’t of the exact car, but it’s close enough – except mine had cool rally-style fog lamps on the front.

The one incident I remember from driving the Metro, again involves a trip to Norwich (which, unlike the Fiesta, it managed to complete). Basically, a few days before we were due to go, my mum’s next door neighbour had reversed off her drive and into the front of the car. Fortunately, she was going so slowly that there appeared to be no damage.

However, later that week, as we travelled along a deserted, unlit, and eerily misty stretch of the A47 near Swaffham, I put the full beam fog lamps on… and realised that they had been bent backwards. With nowhere to pull over, I drove for several miles with two beams of light pointing up into the night sky, like I was trying to get a message to Batman.

Needless to say, the combination of my ‘search lights’ in the sky, the weird ghostly fog, and the fact we were near Swaffham (where inbreeding appears to be something of a local sport), led to numerous reports of alien-sightings in the local press.

Vauxhall Corsa (2004 – 2006)

Next up was my Corsa, and the reason I would now buy a camel for transportation before I would ever go back to Vauxhall. It was, in a word, shit.

Again, I don’t seem to have a picture of it, but this one is almost spot on (including the colour), save for the fact it is a year older, as mine was an R-reg. Not that this made it any better, you understand.

I encountered that many problems with the engine management system on this car, and it broke down so many times, that I ended up getting a letter from the RAC to advise that my membership would only allow me to be towed once more before my renewal (which was still months away). I didn’t even know the RAC placed a limit on how many times you could be rescued, cold and crying, from the side of the road. Heartless bastards.

Volkswagen Golf (2006 – 2009)

Probably my favourite of all the cars I have owned, but again it had some issues. I am almost certain I have a photo somewhere, as I kept this car for a few years, but I can’t be arsed searching for it – so this picture will do. The colour and year of registration are both correct, so the only difference is that mine was usually more horizontal.

It did break down once or twice, but by this point I was starting to believe that I was the problem rather than the cars, so I never resented the Golf as I had done its predecessors.

Compared to the 1.0 litre Corsa, which had a 0-60 time comparable to myself after a large meal, the Golf was a sporty 1.6 litre, which I know isn’t much, but it seemed fast at the time. It was also the first car I owned which had a CD player (which I had admittedly fitted myself, since the 2003 Golf still came with a cassette player as standard) and I was genuinely sad to see it go.

Volkswagen Golf Plus (2009 – 2013)

Since I liked the Golf so much, it was no surprise when we replaced it with another, newer Volkswagen – only one with extra room for my gangly limbs. Sadly, where my first experience of owning a VW had been very good, this car had the opposite effect and, yet again, it was the jinxed journey to Norwich which was its downfall.

This time, we broke down on the A50 just outside Derby. There was an almighty bang and the car started decelerating, even though my foot was to the floor.

Having pulled over, I once again phoned my trusty friends at the RAC (by now we were on first name terms and had swapped mobile numbers) and they promised to get to us as soon as possible. Unfortunately, despite having a baby in the car (Ollie), we were not considered to be a priority, as we were safely parked up in a lay-by, so it was over an hour before they arrived.

Once the mechanic had looked under the bonnet, and I had done my best ‘manly man’ impression of nodding and frowning at what I felt were the right points of the conversation, he determined that we were, to coin a technical phrase, fucked.

Now, due to my unreliable car history, I had wisely opted for the best cover RAC offer, and one of the benefits of my policy was that I could be towed to any destination. Imagine his surprise when we asked to go to Norwich, pretty please.

Not surprisingly, he wasn’t that keen to tow us a few hundred miles, so he contacted a company from Derby to do it instead. Although we had to wait for another hour to be collected, and didn’t arrive in Norwich until around 3am, we did eventually get there in one piece.

The car, it transpired, was in a bad way, as the turbo had exploded in spectacular fashion and it ended up costing me over £1,500 to repair. Even then, the car was never the same, and we changed it shortly afterwards for…

Ford Kuga (2013 -)

Our current transportation. I have gone to great lengths in my previous blog entry to express my frustration with Ford, but I do actually like this car (when it works), and I haven’t been put off perhaps having another Kuga in the future.   For now, though, I cannot face going back to Ford again, so I need to think carefully when I come to buy something new early next year.

2016 – ?

Here’s the problem, though.  For one reason or another, I will probably be avoiding all of the car manufacturers I have experienced to date – partly because I fancy a change, partly because they don’t exist anymore (Rover, I’m looking at you – not that you were a contender anyway), but mostly because I no longer trust any of them. Even reliable old VW have been caught with their pants down recently with this emissions scandal.

However, when you add in my various prejudices and irrational quirks, my choice is rather restricted:

Mercedes – I’m not over 40.

Toyota – I’m not a taxi driver either.

Nissan – The only car in their fleet which isn’t pig-ugly is the Qashqai, and I’m not driving around in something Wayne Rooney (who is pig-ugly) might name one of his children.

Audi – Nice, attractive, seemingly well-built cars, but we would have to sell one (or both) of the children to afford a decent one. Tempting, but I fear it would be ethically questionable.

BMW – I’m not a complete dickhead, and I have this nasty habit of indicating occasionally.

Peugeot – I don’t trust anything French, unless it’s wine.

Hyundai – The ix35 is ok, I guess, but it sounds like either a ground-to-air missile, or something Clive Sinclair might have built in the ‘80s.

Citroen – See Peugeot. Besides, I once had a C3 as a courtesy car, and it broke after 32 miles (and by that, I mean it was brand new and had done 32 miles in total).

Mini – Disqualified, since I don’t have girl parts.

Renault – See Peugeot and Citroen. Bloody French.

Skoda – Well built, from what I hear, but they don’t really do an SUV, and they all have daft names. Can you imagine telling someone you drive a Yeti?

Volvo – See Audi.

Honda – Apart from the Civic Type R, which is for boy-racers with large speakers and small genitalia, the entire Honda range is reserved to those not long for this world, who drive everywhere at 18mph.

I know there are others, but I would have equally valid (well, valid to me) reasons for dismissing them all. Well, all except for one.

So, expect a Kia-based rant in around two years’ time….


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