Always Something

In the UK, once your car is three years old, it legally requires a certificate of roadworthiness, and has to be tested annually. This is known here as the MOT test. (Ministry Of Transport Test)

My car was already five years old when I bought it in 2012. On the first of June 2021, it celebrated (quietly, with no fuss) its fourteenth birthday.

(Not my actual car, but the same year, model, and colour.)

Despite being old by car standards, the mileage of 76,000 is relatively low. Many cars of that age have done twice as many miles, if not more. This is helped by the fact that I rarely drive any great distance. My trips to town or to the supermarket only total an 8-mile return, Ollie’s vet is 12 miles each way, and short trips to take Ollie somewhere different to walk rarely exceed 10 miles. The nearest beach is only 18 miles away, and if I go into Norwich, I usually take the bus.

Other than a long haul to the Lake District, two trips to London, and two holidays in Lincolnshire, my car has an easy life.

But they always found some reason to fail that annual MOT test. Usually things that are hard to argue with. Brake pad wear, exhaust emissions failure, or headlights being unaligned. Most of the time, that doesn’t add a huge amount to the bill. Except for a few years ago when one dealership failed the car on parts in the catalctic converter, and the bill came to £200 more than the car was worth, as well as being off the road for months waiting for the part.

In 2019, I changed testing companies, and it passed first time! I was so relieved, I used that company again in 2020, and to my delight, it passed again. Keen to make it three times lucky, I booked them for this year’s test, and took the car in on Wednesday morning.

It had been in there just over two hours, when I received the ‘dreaded’ phone call. They had failed the car on one tyre. It had a ‘gouge’ out of the rubber, probably caused by a pothole in the rarely-maintained country roads around here. There was also a warning that another tyre had low tread. Not enough to fail it, but a replacement was ‘recommended’. I bit the bullet and authorised two new Yokohama low-profile tyres, at a cost of £130 each.

The bitter pill to swallow was that the tyre with the ‘gouge’ had only been fitted recently, following a puncture on my driveway.

I heard myself saying it again. “Always something”.

91 thoughts on “Always Something

    1. My elderly neighbour (she’s 84) Jennie always drives a Jazz. She had had three since I moved here, and her latest one is a 2019 automatic model in ‘burnt orange’. Her last one had only done about 10,000 miles when she traded it in. They certainly seem to be reliable cars.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Always something! That resonates with me Pete. And 100% with you on the poorly maintained roads, the potholes in Essex are truly outrageous, I lost TWO tyres to potholes last year and I don’t drive fast.

    Take care xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m the worst when it comes to car maintenance, that’s my husbands job, I keep the dishes washed, the cloths laundered, and the house clean. I just want a car that starts when I need it to and make it to where I’m going. So far so good. I did indulge in a personalized license in honor of my blog. Living in the Gap is simplified to LIVNGAP. Love it, C

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The total bill that day for servicing, tyres, and MOT was £449. I also have to pay £336 a year for Insurance, then £330 a year for Government Road Tax too. It is no fun running a car in England, and Julie has one too. (Hers is smaller, so less expensive to keep going)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It really does seem, that maintaining a car in England is very expensive. Mainly the road tax and the insurance. Don’t you get a no-claims discount? Here the insurance premium drops to below 50%, if you have been driving accident-free for over 10 years. xx Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  3. An annual test seems over the top. Here we have car emissions checked every year, but that’s it. Of course if you were driving with a broken headlight, you would stopped and ticketed by police.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The annual test s about £25 over here in Poland and you are told about all the things that are wrong, but not compelled to have them fixed unless its major. Indeed its quite possible to just pay your money and get the certificate if you know the right people. There is talk of introducing body cams to record the inspection to try and combat the problem it is so widespread.
    The tyre sounds pricey, I recently put a full set on our Peugeot for a little less than £200. Check out the Hancook brand next time you have to change one, they are a well respected and highly reviewed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was offered a cheaper tyre mate, around £86 each I think. Some Chinese brand I had never heard of. I chose the ‘mid-range’, as some were even more expensive. The best thing is to buy the tyres online, and pay someone to fit them. But knowing somewhere that will do that for a few quid is an issue.
      Four tyres for £200 is unheard of here now. Julie had to pay £425 for 4 new tyres earlier this month on her small Hyundai.
      Cheers, Pete.

      Like

  5. We sound like we have similar driving habits, Pete. I own my vehicles for a long time and don’t put that many miles on them. I have friends who seem to switch vehicles every year. Knowing how quickly cars depreciate, that makes no sense financially, but more power to someone if it makes them happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some people get bored with the same car. I have a neighbour who has changed his car three times in two years. In my case, if it starts every time, and gets me where I want to go, that’s fine. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Pete. Great reading as always. I am glad you have found ethical people to help you take care of your vehicle.

    Ahh. . . Car topics! I love car topics! And this is one of my favorites – the joys of vehicle ownership. I Love cars and hate them, all at the same time.

    Some countries have very restrictive laws around maintenance/emissions/appearance, etc. (Japan, Singapore), and some have none at all (see Africa. . .), and others have ‘none & both’. The U.S. is the latter, where each state maintains its own requirements for testing, maintenance, etc.

    Vehicles have parts that move up and down, flexible parts, spinning parts, parts susceptible to the atmosphere’s capability to deteriorate them, and lastly, highly stable liquids that are fragile, susceptible to road debris, and other solid items that can chip, crack and damage them, often rendering our vehicles unsafe to operate.
    I know for a fact that for the last 40ish years, manufacturers have been designing things for assured obsolescence/failure to create opportunities to sell us new things again in the future.

    I noodled a bit before deciding not to comment further as I am a car guy that has owned 44 vehicles to date, averaging very nearly 1 car per year of licensed driving, and for a couple of years owned A full-service repair/restoration shop. I also am very happily married for 32+ years to a wife that is currently operating a bespoke auto restoration business. My wife and I are what may well be described as very “active” Automobile Enthusiasts.

    Currently, we manage a small fleet of vehicles bifurcated into two groups: my wife Terrie has 3 project vehicles, Gen-5 (’92-’96) full-size Ford Bronco Utility vehicles in various stages of being converted into “Iconic Extreme Broncos” (‘Very’ high-performance on & off road toys) produced by her fledgling venture “Iconic Extreme Broncos by TNT”.
    We also maintain 5 additional vehicles for investment and personal transportation.

    As such, I need to stop here now:

    Firstly as I do not want to come off as a complete and total “‘know it all wank”, as clearly, I do not know it all. But, ‘something’ of a total car wank? yeah, probably 😦

    Secondly, and equally, if not more important: to “protect” you all. . .

    As I could go on for days 😉

    Cheers!

    CT

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for the late reply, Chris. I found this in Spam. (Probably because of the length of the comment)
      Interesting to hear you have had so many cars, and that you had a repair shop too. Unusual that your wife is also involved, as over here I meet very few women with any interest in cars.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have lived in states where MOTs are the bane of driver’s existence. The tire would have been covered by the tire manufacturer’s road hazard guarantee here. An MOT is a license to shake down the public. Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After three years old, it has to pass every year. For commerical vehicles it is every year, even for new ones. (I’m thinking ‘income generation’, John)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  8. Pete, I read your post to my husband and we both smiled. We have an older car, a 2009 Toyota Camry and we always cross our fingers it will pass. We love that car and it has served us well, but one of these days… right?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I drove a Toyota Camry (manual shift) from 1990 until 2015, when I decided to move to something a bit bigger to accommodate the Newfoundland dog that joined the household in 2014. I loved that Camry. The 2007 Rav4 that replaced it was okay though.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. No fun to wonder what unexpected expenses you’ll have to incur each year to keep your car on the road. We don’t have that kind of general requirement in Washington state. We did have an emissions test requirement for many years but they dropped it probably because most of the newer cars are compliant already.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pete, your write-up made me smile as I remembered our Ford Cortina, circa 1975. We were twenty-something, and newly married.
    My husband was very proud of his first car. He had bought it with the money saved from his student earnings at Bath University. It was a gray and white-colored relic held together with rust patches. He worked on it diligently and lovingly every weekend. And, the Cortina returned his love by running well for its age.
    Every year we would hold our collective breaths as we took the car for the dreaded MOT. Surprisingly, it kept passing for two more years until a heartbroken hubby gave it away. (We bought a new car but, it never occupied the special place Cortina had in his heart!)
    Thank goodness they don’t scrutinize the appearance of a car during MOT!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy to generate memories of your old car, Chaya. In those days, cars were pretty basic, with not many electronics, and no gadgets. That usually meant they lasted a long time, and didn’t cost too much to fix. My recent 35-part serial was about a 1963 Cortina, an older model than the one you had.

      A Good Runner: Part One


      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Last week my friend Grant was driving back from having the car serviced and just as he turned into our lane, a rock shot off a speeding truck and put a hole dead centre in the windshield. However, after getting myself wound up about it, I found that my insurance totally covered it and two days later someone came to the house and put in a new windscreen. I did it all online without having to speak to a soul. Always a bonus, not having to talk to anybody!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, rental sounds good mate, that’s true. Not sure how it’s going to work in country villages, but no doubt it will drive itself to my door, if I am still alive when that happens.
      Cheers, Pete.

      Like

  12. Every year, I wring my hands when getting the smog check here in Las Vegas. So far, my vehicle, which has over 208,000 miles on the odometer, has passed with flying colors. Whew! My vehicle is 20 years old (purchased July 9, 2001). It’s hangin’ in there!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Pete. Having lived in a number of different states in the US I’ve found what everyone here knows. When inspections are held at places that repair cars they almost always find something. They have you in shop and you need the certficate.

    The best place I found was New Jersey. The inspection stations are state run and a drive through. You never leave your car and simply move through the various checkpoints – lights, tires, emissions, windshield wipers etc.

    You either pass or fail the state test. No repairs are done. You are told what failed, get it fixed where ever you like and return to recheck only the identified problem.

    New Jersey is good but Florida is better,

    We have no inspection whatsoever. You can drive any clunker you like.
    Its a freedom thing.

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the sound of the New Jersey system, Frank. Over here, all testing is done in places that also repair cars, so we go in at a disadvantage. The Florida system sounds dangerous though. And what about if they drive into another state? Does it have to be inspected there? Probably not, I’m guessing.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  14. Here, we have mandatory annual state vehicle inspections. I don’t think it matters how old the vehicles are. For me, I seem to have to have some sort of work done just about every time (granted, I have an older, used vehicle). I just had my inspection done last weekend and had to have the exhaust pipe replaced in order to pass because it was leaking. That was better than last year, when I needed the CV axle replaced…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. So far [knocking on wood!] we’ve been lucky with our cars: no great expenses for repairs. The best in that aspect was our “Old Faithful” Ford F-150, which Mary bought with about 75,000 miles on the odometer and sold with 212.000 – and no major repairs in between!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. In Spain you go to a government test centre Price is about E45 and you stay with your car as they run it through its paces and if they find a fault you have 3 weeks to fix it and a new appointment A much better and fairer system.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Where I live, a car is a necessary evil, I’m afraid: there’s no bus service from the village to town & back, so having a bus pass would be pointless unless I feel like travelling further afield, which is unlikely for the foreseeable. I am grateful for the car for shopping, though, but I still await MOT time with foreboding! Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is similar here, with only a few local buses a day making it almost essential to be able to drive into town, or to the supermarkets on the outskirts. Even very elderly people here are still driving. One old lady across the road is 90 next birthday, and still drives around quite happily. If not, she would have to use home delivery for her shopping, and she has never been online or even owned a suitable device.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. That’s good to have one like that locally. I don’t think I was fleeced this time, but I was definitely ‘milked’ by the main dealer a while back. Now I am using Kwik-Fit, a company I would never consider when I lived in London. Up here, they seem to be very honest.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. True, David. I surprised myself by staying with Kwik-Fit over the main dealer for three years now, as their reputation in London was awful. The local branch in Norfolk does appear to be both fair and honest though.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. My car is just a year younger. 31st May 2008. I have had tyre advisory notices for the last couple of years due to a nick on the outside edge, so this year I decided to get new front tyres along with brake discs and pads. Things wear out and on the whole she’s still a great car. My tyres weren’t quite that expensive though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have those alloy wheels that require low-profie tyres. That limits the selection available, and most cost more than I paid. It is a fact of life to always have to spend out on cars, and I am envious of those who have enough money to change their car every couple of years and not have to worry about the MOT test.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. If I lived in town, I doubt I would bother. But as long as I have Ollie, it is definitely essential for trips to the Vet, and for holidays in the UK where we take the dog. (My wife has a newer car, but it is much smaller.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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