Ollie gets his car back.

In May, my eleven year-old car was due to have the annual government inspection, and a full service. Despite its age, it was running well, and has only done 66,000 miles from new. I don’t use it that much, but living in Beetley with one car is not really an option, as long as Julie is still working. I transferred the money into my current account to pay for the work, and dropped off the car at the dealership as arranged that morning. It was a nice day, so I walked the almost four miles back to the house.

Whenever I go further afield with Ollie, he loves to get in the car. It is a spacious 7-seat MPV, (I think you call them mini-vans in America) and he has his own bed in a large area at the back. I only have to say the word ‘car’, and he runs to wait expectantly for the tailgate to be raised, before jumping in. There is no doubting that he thinks it is his car, reserved for those special trips to dog-walking pastures new.

Late that afternoon, the service manager called me. His funereal tone didn’t bode well, and the news he imparted confirmed my worst fears. It seemed that my (perfectly running) car had fallen foul of the new stricter emission laws introduced just three weeks earlier. It had not only failed the inspection, but would need a great many new parts if it was to ever pass. On top of that, those new laws forbade me driving the car away, to seek other estimates, or even to dispose of it by driving it off a cliff. No inspection certificate meant the insurance was not valid, so it was either agree to the work, or employ a recovery company to trailer my car somewhere else.

The cost of the parts and work required exceeded the resale value of the car by over £100. But the alternative was to arrange for someone to scrap the vehicle, and the costs of getting it trailered to the scrap yard would wipe out anything I would be due in return. Besides, it would leave me with no car, and just enough funds to only be able to replace it with something almost as old, and decidedly inferior. I bit the bullet, and agreed to the huge price.

Thus began the saga that will henceforth be known as ‘The Summer Of The Car’. One week later, I was contacted to be informed that they were unable to get a crucial part. This was called a DPF, something I had never heard of, and that alone cost £900. I did some research, and discovered this was a Diesel Particulate Filter, an integral and important part of the catalytic converter and exhaust system. In one afternoon with Google, I increased my knowledge about car engines by 100%. I found a suitable part on Ebay, from a supplier with good feedback. It was much cheaper too, less than £600. That cheered me up, and I resolved to contact the service manager the next day, with the good news.

That phone call was met with yet more gloomy tones. They could not guarantee the work, if they used a part supplied by anyone other than their own company. In fact, they would not even consider putting it into my car, even if I bought it, and walked to the workshops with the small parcel. It was their way, or the highway, and of course, I could always pay someone to trailer it somewhere else, if that was my choice. I reluctantly agreed to let them carry on, as I didn’t want to spend so much money, without a 12-month guarantee on the work.

Twenty-one days later, and they still couldn’t get the part. They cited problems with the supplier, and a national shortage of the elusive DPF, due to the very changes in the law that had caused my car to fail in the first place. I looked up the issue on online forums, and discovered they were right. Many owners all over the UK were in exactly the same boat. The day after, they rang to inform me that they had ‘no onward delivery date’ for the part, and that my car could potentially be in their car park for the foreseeable future. I suggested that they might as well fit some wings to it while they had it, as flying cars would be the thing, by the time it was repaired. They offered to lend me a car in the meantime, as a ‘gesture of goodwill’, because I was a valued customer of long-standing.

Julie dropped me off the next day, to collect my ‘loan car’. It was one of their new range of tiny hatchbacks, with an engine similar to that found in a food-mixer. The manual gear-shift was a shock, after six years using an automatic, and the driving position so low, I felt as if I was sitting on the floor. Once I got going, the sensation was something akin to being on a large roller skate, that just happened to have windows. And of course, once they had given me what passed as replacement transport, I dropped off their ‘waiting customer’ radar.

Using the car, I soon found it to be the vehicular equivalent of a chocolate teapot. The boot could take three carrier bags at a pinch, and certainly not a good-sized Shar-Pei dog. Performance was acceptable, when compared to a hairdryer, but the finish and quality of this Indian-built impostor left much to be desired. So it sat on the driveway, unable to be used for anything dog-related. My weekly supermarket trip necessitated using all the seats to store the shopping bags, and the one comfort I could glean from having it, was that the air-conditioning worked well, during that very hot summer.

Fast-forward, to cut a very long story short. Almost four months pass, and I have come close to forgetting I ever owned a car. Numerous phone calls, some acrimonious and heated to say the least, and eventual threats on my part. The job was finally done, and I drove their excuse for a car back, and handed it over with pleasure. I paid a bill in excess of what most people earn in a good month, and was handed the keys to my car, which sat washed (by them) and shiny in their car park.

Ollie is very glad to have his car back.

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74 thoughts on “Ollie gets his car back.

    1. It was unusual, even here. But hardly newsworthy. Though I did threaten them with the local news channel and town newspaper, at one stage. 🙂
      The main fault was with the dramatic changes in the government laws concerning vehicle emissions. They were introduced without waiting for the infrastructure to be in place to cope with them. As a result, many car companies just didn’t have any of the necessary parts to put into the cars.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thats best: “a large roller skate, that just happened to have windows” hahahaha 😉
    There will be always opportunities to pull the money out of car owners pockets. These necessary additional parts are of course difficult to get.The automobile industry would have had to install them already in production.
    I think with the size of the rental car, Ollie would have used this vehicle alone by himself, and order a driving license too, LoL Best wishes, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was indeed, Sue. But soon forgotten during the first decent drive, with no clutch or gear-changing to concern me, and a panoramic view from the high seating position. Plus Ollie happily occupying his bed in the back of course. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to know the saga is over and Ollie has his car back. Jackie would happily live in the van and can recognise the rattle of the keys over that of the Fiat Panda 🙂 And if I managed to escape without taking her with me she will run up the road to greet me on return, jumping in for the last few hundred yards back to the house 🙂
    The MOT will reach Poland by the end of the year, well we already have it, but it will be going digital, so the days of paying for the piece of paper will be over. At least mechanics are still working for a reasonable rate over here (our guy charges around £5 an hour)

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I think the new MOT regime over here will take a lot of the old cars off the road and ultimately the mechanics out of sheds. A real shame. Mind you with luck we will be electric by that time…I’m thinking milk float 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post 🙂 Glad to hear that your dog Ollie is happy again with the car back 🙂 Tell me, what does Ollie enjoy the most about car rides and I hope this does not silly, but did you name your dog Ollie after British actor Oliver Reed? 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I named Ollie after an important British historical figure, the politician and soldier, Oliver Cromwell. Often reviled now, he was important during the English Civil War in the 1640s, and became the ruler of England when King Charles was executed. I am a member of the association dedicated to continuing his memory.
      What Ollie likes most about car rides is that he is not left alone at home, and usually arrives at a destination very different to his usual haunts. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cars! What a pain in all the crevices and niches of the body. Yours sounds like a doozy. I’m glad for Ollie and you that you have gotten your car back. I hate that point in the life of a car when you can’t tell if you should trade it in for a newer one or pay the bills to keep it running.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mmm…Sorry Pete. I remember my mom having a really bad row with some mechanics back in the day. They really ripped us off, she was newly divorced from my Dad and didn’t have money to throw at unnecessary parts. They could have cared less. Sorry that it’s regulations that are ripping you off. Glad Ollie got his car back.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Here in the US there are “grandfathered” cars that allow you to fail an inspection like this because the car was never built with these new standards…for exactly the reason you just wrote about – how incredibly frustrating, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Frustrating is the word, John. Even very old cars here have to be adapted to pass the test, or they cannot be used on public roads. What began as genuine safety concerns has become little more than ‘income generation’ for all involved.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So, in the U.K., car owners are all in the same boat. The dealerships have you over a barrel, so you have to bite the bullet because you aren’t allowed to drive your vehicle off a cliff. I can see why you’d be tempted to do that, though, and maybe just stay in the vehicle as it falls…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was precipitated by the introduction of a government law (supposedly) designed to reduce emissions from diesel cars. Punishing taxes, and strict regulations, now mean that once popular economical diesel cars are now being priced beyond the means of ordinary people like me. I didn’t blame the dealership for that, but became annoyed when they seemed to not be bothering to source the necessary parts.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, sounds like QUITE the ordeal!! I love a garage that will essentially hold your car hostage for your money… It’s terrible that we all lie prey to these mechanics at some point or another! (I’m so lucky my father in law is a mechanic and I can USUALLY just get him to help out!)
    I’m glad, in the end, Ollie got his car back. I hope you disnt take too bad a knock to the wallet! 😕… And I hope it lasts ling enough to be wotrth it!! 🤞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love to have a car mechanic in the family, Nicole. 🙂
      To be balanced about the dealer I used, most of the problem was with having to comply with the new government emission regulations. If I had taken my car there in March, it would have passed, and cost a fraction of the final bill.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yikes! That was quite a saga and probably a good reason why NOT to use a dealership. I shall continue to take my car to a local garage where they aren’t so insistent on using VW parts! In fact when they ordered the wrong part by mistake and I had left the car only to return and find out it hadn’t been fixed, they finally replaced the part without charging me any labour costs. Now that’s nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You got good service indeed, Jude. Unfortunately, we don’t have many independent workshops within reasonable distance, so many of us are tied to having to use dealerships, or drive 20-30 miles to find someone else.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a shame. I have to travel 13 miles to the VW dealership so my local garage is closer, plus if the weather is nice I can walk around the George V memorial garden whilst they do the work.

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  10. This kind of thing makes my blood boil. It’s enough to make me write a letter to your local member. What an absolute disgrace. My car costs me more in repairs than it’s worth now but at least I don’t have to put up with getting things I don’t need. I’m glad Ollie has his car again though.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. It is fascinating to watch dogs and cars….our Little Man would spend all day in a car as long as it was moving and the window was open….I have a 15 year old Toyota that has not given me ant trouble….I am sold on the reliability of Toyotas….there is my advert for the day….chuq

    Liked by 3 people

  12. You were given no choice, so it’s just as well there was a happy end of sorts. So annoying… In Greece the taxation on large cars was tripled a couple of years ago, so people could afford them no longer, plus they were unsellable, because why should anyone buy them? And then, to add insult to injury, they made the higher tax retroactive form 2012! Totally unconstitutional, if you ask me…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a complete rip off Pete! We had a similar problem with our old Jaguar when the local garage over extended the handbrake then couldn’t work out how to get it to release – luckily the guy who does all of the maintenance work on it offered to tow it back to his workshop and sort it out for free (we’d just had a load of very expensive repairs done to it by him). The garage told us it was ok to drive – two tonne of old car with seized brakes which sounded like a brick in a washing machine! Needless to say there was a stand up row on the forecourt. We got it sorted eventually though. Glad you did too and that Ollie has his car back!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Lucinda. It is a legitimate Vauxhall main-dealer, but they really let me down this time. I will concede that many other Zafira owners were similarly affected though.
      I doubt I will be buying one of their cars in the future, unless they come up with a very good deal.
      I hope your Mum is doing well, give her my regards. 🙂 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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