Thursday, 22 April 2004

An expensive day

My car went in for a (scheduled) service today. I asked the garage whether the driver's side mirror housing, which I broke about six months ago (reversing in the dark down my parents' driveway, I encountered a tree...) would pass the MOT (British yearly vehicle inspection, for any foreigners reading). Their considered opinion was that it wouldn't. The whole unit, mirror, housing and all, would need to be replaced.

Of course, the most expensive part of fitting a new mirror is painting the body-coloured back piece of the housing the same colour as the car. This part is available separately on the Focus, but I'd broken the main body of the housing, so the whole lot had to be replaced.

I got a call halfway through the day saying that they'd performed the MOT and it had passed, but they'd discovered that one of the rear brake cylinders (a hydraulic item which presses the brake pads against the drum) was leaking and should be replaced. Did I want to replace it? If it had been something like a cracked bumper, I'd have said no. But brakes are an essential safety item - despite costing £100, it needed to be done.

So, a third year (37,500 mile) service, plus the mirror, plus the MOT, plus the brake cylinder, plus VAT at 17.5% came to over £500. Ouch.

Oh well, at least it was scheduled, unlike my boss's car battery. /me smirks. During the time I've had the Focus, my boss has had a Mercedes SLK, a Mercedes C-class, and now has a BMW 5-series. The SLK had problems with the roof, the C-class I'm not sure of (perhaps he just didn't like it), and the 5-series can't keep a battery charge.

Something you might consider odd is that while I live in Reading, I had the car serviced at Marlow. I work in Cookham. Why not service it in Reading? Two reasons. Firstly, Reg Vardy run both the Reading Ford garages, and they're - how shall I put this? - crap. Platts at Marlow are a lot better, or so it seems. Secondly, it's actually more convenient to drive to Marlow and get a train back to Cookham (takes 15 minutes, but only once an hour) than it is to drive through Reading town centre, drop the car off, then get a bus back to Reading station, a train to Maidenhead, then change to the once-an-hour train to Cookham - and vice versa at the end of the day.

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