Three letters I have come to dread: MOT

Its that time of year again, Perseus has gone into the garage for an MOT.

But wait, its worse than that. Over the past year I have been watching a crack in the windscreen slowly grow to a worrying size, so a windscreen replacement is needed. Also, as Pete can attest, my car has recently developed an all seasons passenger footbath... a leaking heater matrix gives you not just wet feet, but the antifreeze means you can use it all year round!

I had the windscreen replaced through insurance (elephant) at a mere £70 excess. I dropped it into Northcourt Garage yesterday, letting them know the problems I knew about. The agreed plan was to do the MOT then do a quote for the heater matrix.

They rang me back towards the end of yesterday. The car I thought was running okish apparently had:
- a damaged radial arm
- a hole in the exhaust, causing it to fail emissions at idle by an impressive 1600%
- a hole in the oil filter
- a handbrake not applying enough pressure on one wheel

The damage? around £500. But wait, it gets better.

That's not including the coolant leak that causes it to need topping up regularly and to overheat on relatively short trips (e.g. mine -> Pete's). That would be extra. However, the fact that if I drive too far my engine head will crack is apparently not a problem, MOT wise. And it will be expensive. Not the part, but teh fact that to get to the heater matrix you have to remove, well, the dashboard. Including the steering wheel.

As well as all this, in the last couple of years its had a petrol leak, a spark plug dethread itself and leave the engine and the other radial arm replaced.

So, basically, I'm going to be paying £500 for a car that overheats...

I have come to two conclusions:

1. Sell your car when it gets to 8-9 years old.
2. Need to talk to my brother about buying his car (he'll be posted soon, and has said it doesn't make much sense to leave a car sitting in a car park for months)


Mate, sorry to hear about Perseus. Old cars do need a lot of work (except, perhaps Spartacus, which was remarkably reliable but lacking in mileage), you'll remember the thousands I spent on the van keeping that going.

How about not paying £500, saving the money and using alternative modes of transport until your Bro gets posted? Is that the plan?

brainwipe's picture

Problem is, if it deosn't get MOT'd I don't see how I can sell it. Given the only place you're allowed to drive a car without it is to an MOT centre, I don't believe I can even get it to a scrapyard.

Alternative transport is basically an arse here. I was talking about it with Dwain yesterday. If we had London's level of public transport infrastructure here, I'd be able to use that. As it is the bus is unreliable and quite expensive, and would not help for getting to, say, cadets and shopping.

Walking to work, while possible, is impractical. From mine at a moderate pace it takes 40-45 minutes, which is an hour and a half of my day up in smoke. I did it yesterday and today and its just too long...

The plan is to get them to do the work, get a quote for the heater matrix, either pay that or maybe DIY (although bleeding the cooling system doesn't sound fun) and then sell it quite soon, while its working.

byrn's picture

You are allowed to drive it to the scrap yard but you're not to take the piss. How much are you looking to get for it when you sell it?

brainwipe's picture

Honestly, I have no idea what its worth... and I don't relish the thought of trying to sell the damn thing to be honest.

I've not even talked to my brother about all this yet, it was just a casual comment passed on by my parents... I'll be finding out soon. In the meantime, I've already asked them to do the MOT work. I'll probably have a look at the other problem mysefl, I just need to set aside a weekend to do it...

byrn's picture

Oh, that really sucks - sorry to hear it. :(

Bloody expensive things, cars...

AggroBoy's picture

I do wonder if following Rob's example of a bike to work would be better, with a hire car on the occasions when you need one.

I find myself using my car less and less I do wonder what would happen if I didn't have one, trips to Reading would certainly be more of a hassle, at the moment my car costs me about £370-£400 a month not a huge ammount but no small amount either.

Dwain's picture

It is tricky. Thanks for all the support everyone. As you can probably tell I'm in a pretty crappy mood :(

Just talked to my Mum. she's going to mention it to him when he's back from exercise this weekend, but it should work out, especially if I can fix it myself. Looking at changeover this christmas perhaps.

Good news is that his car is only 6 years old, so should have a couple of years of non-horrendous cost hopefully.

Problem with a bike is it still doesn't make things like shopping and cadet events easy... bear in mind we don't all live on top of a Waitrose mate :P

byrn's picture

No I accept that for somethings a bike wouldn't be a solution, even living 5mins from a tube station I still don't feel I could live without a car. But seeing as most of the major supermarkets deliver there are solutions, I just wonder if they're worth it.

Dwain's picture

Its a good solution mate, and I'm not trying to play devil's advocate here, but the problem with supermarket delivery is that they generally charge a fiver, which would seriously damage my budget...

Something that's adding to the foulness of my mood is that I've had to downgrade my monthly budget from stingy down through frugal to super frugal to make up the shortfall in cash this month, which will not be fun :(

byrn's picture

re: the shopping thing. I suffer from a similar thing. For small shops (i.e. rucksac loads) its not bad, and I can pick it up on the way home. For larger stuff its a git. I use Tesco home shopper now for big loads once a month or so. It requires a bit of organisation to know what you're going to need, and when. It also means you have to stockpile some stuff (and a big freezer is a godsend then).

However, I have to say that while I went a long time without motorised transport, now I have a way of travelling distance easily I couldn't go back to not having it, and I'm not sure how I survived without it for so long. I'm considering getting a pushbike for next spring, and cycling into work over the summer to supplement my running training, but I wouldn't get rid of the motorbike for anything...

babychaos's picture

... and the good news just keeps rolling in. They've done all the mechanical work, but its still failing emissions on idle. Wonderful. Plus one of them has "spent all morning on it" which does not sound good from a labour perspective.

byrn's picture