Expensive Car Parts (Part 3)

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Well my Nissan X-Trail went in for some work today, I’ve blogged about previous repair work before. This time I was sure the rear brakes were playing up again and the car insisted on wobbling around instead of going in a straight line.

Turned out the wobble was due to a broken track-rod and anti-roll bar joint (suspect the dire state of the local roads and a pot-hole were responsible) a couple of new parts and it is all back on the straight and narrow for a reasonable £120 at a local independent repairer. The brakes have been checked and I have been assured are okay.

The car is now over 5 years old and has done a respectable 109,000 miles (approx 175,500 km) and ‘she who must be obeyed’ is hinting that we really should think about replacing it. I am not so sure, true there are lots of very good deals around at the moment but I still don’t want to shell out lots of money and take on any sort of debt.

One thing that was cited in our ‘discussion’ was that the broken rear wiper motor still hadn’t been replaced despite failing last year! So today I decided to do something about it and searched on the Internet for a cheap ‘used’ replacement (a new one had been quoted at £270!) I googled and found BreakerLink. The idea of the site is you enter the details of the part you are looking for, then the request is instantly forwarded to a network of independent vehicle dismantlers nationwide. If any of the dismantlers has the parts in stock they contact you quoting a price including VAT and delivery. Once you have a few quotes, you simply choose the best quote for you and then contact that dismantler direct to place your order.

I received four quotes within an hour ranging from £75 to £100, I opted for one from a dealer in Manchester, hopefully it will arrive tomorrow for the princely sum of £80. The motor assembly comes off a 2006 vehicle and is in very good condition, we shall see!

Expensive Car Parts (Part 2)

Scrap cars

Back in March I posted about the ridiculous quote of £270 to replace a seized wiper motor on my car. I had no luck hunting down a second hand so decide to have a go at repairing it. Well it just took a bit of courage to pull of the trim panel and remove the assembly. A few screws later and it was in pieces, sure enough it had seized – some penetrating oil, a hammer and grease it was working again (be it slower than before).

Well it packed up again last month I have just had a look at having another go at repairing it, only to find out it has fallen apart, seems I didn’t do the screws up tight enough. It is beyond repair now as I’ve lost some vital internal parts (like the motor brushes!) so back to the scrapheap challenge of finding a cheap replacement!

Driver Improvement Training

Certificate

Back in December last year I was involved in a road traffic incident. I was the guilty party making an error of judgement that could quite easily have resulted in me and possible others being injured or even killed. Thankfully no one was and the incident just resulted in some damage to my car and another vehicle.

My car
My damaged car

At the time I put my hands up immediately and admitted being an idiot. The police attended and after their investigation told me, not unsurprisingly, that there was sufficient evidence for me to be prosecuted for Driving without due care and attention (“careless driving”) contrary to Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

The officer attending told me that in the past such incidents when referred to the Crown Prosecution Service automatically resulted in a fine and penalty points on the driving licence following successful prosecution. However for several years rather than clogging up the court systems with this punitive course of action a driver improvement course has been offered as an alternative, the aim being to educate drivers in the art of advanced or defensive driving so that they changed their attitude and improved their skills and road craft so they are then less likely to cause similar incidents in the future. By agreeing to attend and successfully completing the course a driver could avoid being prosecuted. The courses aren’t free they cost the best part of £200 but it is substantially cheaper than the alternative.

So that was that! I went home got the car repaired under my insurance and waited. At the end of January I received a letter inviting me to attend a session of the “Driver Improvement Scheme” held by Nottingham City Council in conjunction with a number of other public bodies.

For the last two days I have attended one of the courses, along with 13 other people of all ages and backgrounds, in the centre of Nottingham. The course consisted of one full day and one half day. The first part consisted of theory of what makes a good driver and attitude and it’s effects on driving. There were exercises in the art of hazard recognition and crash investigation in which real-life fatal incidents were played out using models and you could see how seemingly innocuous actions could have catastrophic effects to the outcome and with a little thought by certain parties death could have been avoided.

After lunch on the first day we were allocated to advanced driving instructors and taken out for assessment and then instruction to correct our faults and educate us in the art of defensive driving. I scored very highly in this and my main failings were a tendency to creep over the speed limit as I went along with the flow and not maintaining a safe distance in town traffic, I also didn’t negotiate speed humps smoothly.

Today was the second day of the course and involved a test on the highway code, instruction on defensive motorway driving and a final assessment. The idea being that on this final part you showed significant improvement compared to the previous day. Before we started the second session of driving we were given the results of our initial assessment and I was pleased as punch by the comments on mine!

“Good attitude, Andrew is keen to learn. His car control is excellent but respect of speed and limits can be improved. He is well on the way to being an advanced driver”

I am pleased to say I passed and can say I have learned an awful lot, it was very friendly, relaxed and informative and well worth attending not just because it meant escaping prosecution. Following this I am serious considering taking one of the advanced driving tests offered by RoSPA or the Institute of Advanced Motoring.

Expensive car parts!

Nissan x-trail

Spent most of yesterday wandering around the dismal streets of Grantham passing time while I waited for my car to have some repairs. It is a 2003 Nissan X-Trail which has now done over 93,000 (approx 150,000 kilometers) It had developed a rattling sound which I suspected was related to the exhaust and the rear wiper had stopped working. I was willing to live with both of these till the next service, but last week I noticed one of the rear brake disks was badly rusty which indicated that the brake was inoperable/seized. I pumped the brake hard a few times and it seemed to do the trick as the rust subsequently disappeared. However I take no risks with brakes and booked it in to the garage to have them checked and have the other problems sorted.

The problem with the brake turned out to be due to one of the pads jamming in the slide (no idea what that means!) and had badly worn as a result. The pads have been replaced and the brakes checked. The rattling was a loose shield protecting the exhaust which was easily rectified.

The problem with the rear wiper was a seized motor, now came the shock…. a replacement is £200 plus half an hour of labour + VAT – total quote £270!! So now I am trying to find a second hand one (from a breaker, ebay etc) or failing that I may attempt to repair mine. Thankfully it seems the rear wiper doesn’t form part of the MOT test.