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Sucking teeth

My first solo car journey turned out to be mundane, but not uneventful. Picked up the car from the garage yesterday morning and drove it home (it was in for a service, which seemed a good idea before the garklet arrives). Car seemed to be a bit on the noisy side, and the engine was missing a cylinder from time to time, but I put that down to the new spark plugs needing time to wear in.

Drove ias to her aquanatal class down in town that evening. Still working my way through The Octopus, which is proving rather fun now that it's into book two, and out of the endless scene-setting of book one. This was the first time she'd been to the aquanatal class at the Quays; the venue had the disadvantage that the cafe wasn't next to the pool, so I couldn't watch a pool-full of heavily pregnant women splashing around in an amusing fashion (try it before you knock it). The staff started putting chairs on tables and turning the lights off in the cafe at about half eight, which always makes one feel welcome.

On the drive home, it became clear that the car was really quite unwell; very little power (and that dangerously intermittent), and some violent shuddering. Usually, one expects that a car should be better after a service, not worse, so we took it back to the garage this morning. It turns out that modern HT leads are carbon-cored (rather than copper-cored like the ones I remember from my youth), which makes them both more flexible, but also more brittle. Of the five leads (one to each sparkplug and one to the distributor), two had cracked when the sparkplugs were changed during the service, so the car was only firing on two cylinders out of four. Which explains the shuddering and lack of power...

They didn't have the leads in stock, and after a heroic effort on their part to get a set from another garage nearby (which turned out to be broken as well), they admitted defeat and said that it'd be ready for the end of the day. Ended up paying for the new leads, but not the labour costs (as I told them, I wouldn't have blinked if they'd replaced the leads during the service). Car is now much happier...


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See, this is why it's maybe better not to pass one's test so young. I bet there are loads of people who pass their tests and know nothing about possible problems with a car. So they're stymied and quite possibly inexperienced to know how to recognise there is a problem. Thank goodness you recognised the car was not OK !

And a good job you spotted the problem before ias really needs your excellent chauffeuring skills !

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The thing that worried me when I passed my test five years ago is that I'm physically not strong enough to do even basic stuff, that is, if I had any knowledge of how a car works. I seriously think that all drivers should have to take some kind of basic car maintenance course before they even get near a test. I know there are theory test questions, but learning for a multiguess test isn't enough. If I had my way, I really would make it compulsory to have a minimum number of hours driving experience, evidence of a working knowledge of car mechanics and evidence of driving at night and in various weather conditions. It's inexperience that causes most danger.

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It must've been in the last five years that they bought that in. Because I wouldn't have much of a clue and I detest being a helpless woman !

Oh, come on---having two cylinders not firing is pretty blatant. It's the subtler stuff, such as tyre inflation and condition, which are missable.

Yeah, but it doesn't matter whether a fault is blatant or not, we don't have enough standardisation about what does or doesn't get taught to learner drivers before we let them loose on the roads solo. That's my point. You can theoretically take lessons and be sufficiently good enough to pass your test in the space of a few weeks. So there's a whole load of experience you only get once you're on the road, which is the most dangerous thing of all, in my book. And that includes how to handle car problems of all sorts, blatant or not.

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