I’ve always driven. Well, since as soon as it was legal for me to do so. For my 17th birthday I got given cash so I could learn how to drive and shortly before my 18th birthday, after a theory failure and two practical failures, I was finally legal to take my friends for a Maccy’s drive-thru.
At 24 I purchased my first car, a Volkswagen Fox. I bought it brand new from a Volkswagen dealer and waited four months from purchase for it to arrive from Brazil. It was so exciting that a car was being made for me from scratch! It was (and still is actually) the most money I’d ever spent on one item, just under £8000. I paid for half of it using money I’d saved over the previous two years and my Mum and Dad loaned me the rest which I paid back over the following ten months.
My car has been my lifeline over the past seven years. It’s done just under 90,000 miles and has been with me through thick and thin. It transported me to Liverpool every weekend when my husband and I were dating and in a long distance relationship. It got me to hospital when I was in the full throttles of labour and unknowingly 8cm dilated. It took my husband and I on a road trip to France two summers ago. It’s been up and down the country numerous times and has been my sole companion on many a long commute to work.
In June my little Fox broke down on the way to work and I broke down too.
I’d only been back at work for a month or so and my little lifeline had become so vital. It was my means of transporting my son to childcare each morning before going on to work and without it I didn’t know what I was going to do.
Embarrassingly enough I spent most of the day crying in work. My staff didn’t know where to look or what to do. I didn’t know how I was going to cope without my car and nobody could tell me what was wrong with it. Not the AA, not my local garage and not another garage I called for a second opinion. I was told to keep driving until something happened again.
So I did.
I knew something wasn’t right but I didn’t know what to do. One garage told me that based on a diagnostic test it was beyond repair and I should just scrap it. I couldn’t believe that my little car was ready for the knackers yard after only seven short years on the road. I kept driving but I didn’t go too far. I was scared.
Two weeks ago I broke down again. I was driving on the motorway this time with Dexter in the back and the engine light came on. I tried not to panic as I rolled the car onto a slip road and out of harms way. I turned the engine off and back on again. I was a few miles from home and somehow I made it back. Something needed to be done and I wasn’t being taken seriously.
My husband knows nothing about cars and doesn’t drive but I knew I had to get him on the phone to try and communicate with these garages who upon hearing a female voice didn’t seem to want to know. He rang round a few places and settled on a local garage who offered to run a diagnostic test and see what was going on.
We drove it in but the diagnostic test failed. The mechanic got behind the wheel and drove the car up and down the road. Weeks earlier another mechanic had done the same and declared he couldn’t feel the judders I described.
The mechanic got out of the car and straight away said that something wasn’t right. I breathed a sigh of relief, finally someone acknowledging that there is a problem. ‘When was the last time you had it serviced’ he asked. I looked at the ground and thought hard. I couldn’t actually remember. ‘That’s your problem’ he said.
It turns out that all that my little amazing car needed was new spark plugs and a full service costing me just over £130. I’d been quoted thousands by one garage who had declared the car was unfit for purpose. I can’t tell you the relief and joy I felt.
Back at work I told my colleagues the happy news. ‘Oh yes,’ piped up the only male member of staff. ‘As soon as you breakdown, the first thing you should do is book the car in for a service!‘ This coming from the same guy who told me the week before I needed to buy a new car!
And, although it came months too late, it’s the best advice I’d been given and I am passing on to you.
Regularly service your car. It needs it. And if you happen to breakdown and you don’t know what has caused it, get it booked in for a service as soon as possible.
My little Fox will keep going for a few more years. I hope to see my husband pass his test one day in the near future and he will have he honour of taking on my little grey car while I splash out on a newer model. A more powerful and slightly bigger car. But in the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy our commutes to work with the radio blaring and the memories of our road trips all around the country.