What's the worst luck you've had with cars?
Here's a short story about one of my most comically tragic weeks yet
To anyone who drives, or at least for those that have done so for a considerable amount of time, breaking down shouldn't be something that's out of the ordinary. Cars are machines, after all, so there's only so much that their components can handle - though, the durability of each car will vary.
I got my license just over 14 months ago, and for the most part, I felt invincible. As though no harm or tension could ever be bestowed upon me whilst I go about my favourite hobby: driving. I genuinely remember thinking to myself, ''am I a driving god, or am I just too lucky for my own good?'', a few months ago when I was doing a long road-trip. Sadly for me it was the second one, because when it rains, it certainly pours.
Out in Bellingham.
Anyways, on with the story. In the last week of November, I was returning from a small getaway with my significant other in my 2007 Ford Fiesta Zetec 1.25. It's a lovely little motor, and I've solemnly cherished it since the first day that I got it. I look after it as though it's my pet, and treat it with more respect than it probably merits, but you know, the relationship between you and your first car is supposed to be like a love story, isn't it?
Well, by love story, I mean that my Fiesta has been defecated on and in by both my dog and my cat (please don't ask), had one of its fog lights nicked, been reversed into a lamp post (many, many times), often driven at a higher rev-range than it was probably designed for, and regularly carries 3-4 quite generously proportioned people around. But that to me means that it's being utilized to its absolute maximum, and what better way is there to show love to your car? Albeit, tough love.
So as I was saying, I was on my way back and I decided to stop just outside of London for a quick bite before I reached home. When I got back to my car to complete the final leg of my 290 mile journey, the car refused to start. I was flummoxed, all the dials were fine before I parked up, it had plenty of fuel, I had topped up all the necessary fluids just a few days earlier .. what sorcery had grabbed hold of my little Ford?
A quite biblical sound.
It turns out there was a monumental engine oil leakage in one of the gaskets. ''Okay, no problem'', I thought. I mean, your luck can only last so long right? Little did I know, that one breakdown would be the start of a truly disastrous couple of days. With my Fiesta now at my local garage, I thought that now at least I could make use of the 17-year-old Jaguar S-Type 2.5 that I had lying around.
It's a quite wonderful car to drive, but being a university student, I can't really afford to drive it every single day, considering it drinks petrol quicker than Thanos can beat up the Hulk. After a couple of warm up drives, and a quick check from my mechanic, the old girl showed promise. She still had that villainous presence you get from Jaaaaags of old, and made me feel instantly cool every time I got in.
Precisely two days after the Fiesta fiasco, I got into the S-Type, beaming with happiness that I could enjoy its wonderful 2.5-litre V6, safe in the knowledge that my father had agreed to reimburse the petrol costs until my Fiesta was fixed. I think you can see where this is going ..
Well now that's just rotten.
Now I got suspicious .. I've been driving for over a year, and haven't had a single breakdown, but suddenly, I've done two cars in two days? Surely not, something more divine was at work here. Well no, there was no intervention from the god of driving, in fact, the starter motor was toasted, and the battery had also gone flat. There was also a quite terrible smell emanating from beneath the hood .. I daren't look. I just gave it to my mechanic, who must've been wondering, ''two cars in two days? What's wrong with this guy?''.
''It happens I guess'', I thought to myself. So now I was completely car-less, and did not fancy driving any time soon, seeing as I was so down on luck. But then, at the worst possible moment, I was asked to drive up to Newcastle (280 miles away), and details aside, I couldn't really say no. So, with fear coursing through every vein in my body, I borrowed my brother in law's 2009 Ford Focus, and set about completing the 560 mile roundtrip.
The journey that lay ahead.
My nerves quickly eased, as I realised how smooth and sensible that car was. It was a Focus after all, one of the most reliable motors around. I reached Newcastle with no issues at all, and I was feeling quite smug that I'd done it without breaking the car. I stayed the night in a hotel, and set off early the next day, the journey would take me around six hours with a couple of stops included.
It was all going well, until about 100 miles into my journey, when the temperature gauge decided that it's time to rocket into the red section, to which my stomach responded by .. you can guess. I coasted it for a few miles until I reached the next service station, and called my brother in law. And then, after all the issues I'd had with the two cars over the last few days, he told me that the Focus had an issue with the water tank lid.
It would've been a five pound fix the day before if he had told me, which he claims he did, but proceeded to use my then-drunken state to deflect the blame back on to me. After a few minutes of bickering, I decided that the problem couldn't be that bad, and a simple water tank refill should keep me going for the remaining 160 miles.
A truly terrifying experience.
Wrong. After another 10 minutes on the road, the temperature gauge shot up once more, but there was a big problem this time: there wasn't another town or service station to pull into for another 30 odd miles. That was simply too far to risk, so, once more, I coasted it for a few more miles until a suitable stretch of hard shoulder came up, and duly pulled over.
By this point, the car was billowing smoke. It's also worth noting that this was the first time I'd ever pulled up on the hard shoulder, it was dark, well below 10 degrees, and the lane right next to me had an awful lot of lorry drivers driving past - and if you've never broken down on the hard shoulder, let me tell you, 60mph looks a lot faster (and scarier) when you're stood stationary by the side of the road.
My knight in shining armour had finally arrived.
It was a full two hours before I was recovered and towed to the nearest service station, after which I had to wait a further SIX hours before I could get the car back to my brother in law's house. As for the car, the engine was pretty much completely blown - the estimated cost was just over a grand. Remember, this could've all been fixed with a five pound water tank lid, regardless of who was at fault. Yeah right, what a colossal cheapskate!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my worst ever week of motoring. Three cars broken in four days, and as a result, I would fear getting behind the wheel of another one for nearly a month. Next time, I'll think twice before I ask myself if ''I'm a driving god, or if I'm lucky'', because ushering that statement really was the beginning of my demise. I'd sincerely discourage you from saying it too.