Douglas Spencer (dougs) wrote,
Douglas Spencer

Three and a Half Weeks

On Friday 24th September, I drove from Sheffield to Bracknell, for two purposes: to go to a meeting that evening in Sindlesham (near Reading), and to fill the car up with stuff from the Bracknell house on Saturday morning, to take it all up to the Sheffield house.

See if you can guess how many of those two things I managed to achieve.

I arrived in Bracknell at around 2pm, and went indoors and started pottering around. At around 4pm, I went out to drive to Sindlesham... and the car wouldn't start. It turned over, tried to fire, coughed and died. Repeatedly.

I phoned the guys you phone when your car won't start, and they sent me a chap with a tow truck and a toolbox. He listened to my car failing to start, sucked his teeth in the way that they do, and told me that it wasn't going to get fixed there-and-then. After a bit of a chat about options, he loaded my car onto his little truck and took it away to the garage.

Well, a long story follows, but I could summarise... I didn't get to my meeting, I didn't transport any stuff to Sheffield.

Fuel pumps on diesel cars are complex pieces of apparatus. When this particular fuel pump failed, it shed little bits of fuel pump into and through the fuel system and on towards the rest of the engine, which didn't do anything very much good. It turns out that taking the car apart sufficiently to remove and replace the fuel pump and the things that it shredded during its demise takes several hours of expensive engineer's time. Replacement fuel pumps of this particular model are difficult to source new, and more-or-less impossible to source on the reconditioned/secondhand market. And when you have sourced one and fitted it, the car refuses to boot other than in safe mode unless and until you've wiped parts of the engine management system's memory and re-installed certain bits of firmware, which also takes time.

Anyway, three and a half weeks later -- today -- I have my car back. A new fuel pump was just a shade under four hundred quid. A small handful of other bits and pieces was a further seventy quid or so, and labour was almost two hundred and fifty quid (wich is remarkably low, given the amount of calendar-time it took). And then there was VAT on top of that. But now it's running very nicely indeed, and the bill was several thousand pounds less than the cost of a new car.

Mind you, the chap at the garage said it was a very nice car...

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