independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Va-va-voom is back after crash course in mechanics

THERE'S nothing like a bit of car trouble to take the va-va-voom out of your life. I'm going to put the hand up here and say I'm pretty clueless about motors, or at least I was until a few hard lessons last week gave me a 'crash course' in mechanics.

The ten-year-old yoke I'm driving around in these days is a sturdy sort. It has, in the past 12 months since I bought it, put up with my late braking, sudden spurts of speed and my habit of taking roundabout corners a little too fast.

It has got me to Belfast a lot and Dublin a little and it even made it all the way to the Midlands for the organised sister's wedding last June.

Divil the bother, as they say, until a few weeks ago. In fact, things had been going so well, I had considered cancelling the direct debit to the AA, a loyal customer with five years under the belt, even though they had got me out of a situation at the sister's wedding last year.

Trying to save the couple of bob every month, I thought about it and slotted it into the in-tray of my over-worked brain.

But it quickly went into the out-tray when, taking the childer from the Ma's one evening, I stopped off for a packet of cigarettes. They say fags are bad for your health, but little did I think they were bad for the car, for when I went back out, the flipping car wouldn't start.

The Weeins were in the back and my ever generous mother had donated a pot roast, in a pot. So I rang the AA and told them and they sent out a decent young man from Dundalk, complete with a tow truck into which myself, the Weeins, the pot roast and a bag of ironing were poured into. And, in fairness to the young fellow, he brought us home and the car to the garage and it was fixed the next day and he didn't rob me.

But the good luck was not to last. Last Thursday, I began to have the sneaking suspicion that something wasn't right. And on Friday, after leaving the Big Lad to school, I KNEW something was wrong when I opened the bonnet and saw the coolant boiling in the tank. Now I'm no expert, but it didn't seem right and I was back on the phone to the decent young lad who said to bring it in.

Talented and all as he is, and having spent hours trying to figure it out, the young fellow had to tell me on Friday that he was, as they say in Dundalk, bate.

I had one more trick up my sleeve and called in the Da's long-standing friend who came to the rescue that evening. Unfortunately, he was bate too. The dreaded words: 'I think it's diagnostic, you'll have to get the garage to hook it up the computer'.

My Da, who is not renowned for his mechanical engineering expertise, even got in on the act.

He came around on Saturday and said he had looked it up on google. It was a question of rebooting the computer in the car and he took a wrench to the battery, knocking off the power for a short time.

My auld fella's mantra, since rural electrification, has been 'switch it off, switch it on again'. It didn't work, but the suggestion was appreciated.

Monday morning, the car was at the proper doctor's, and, like a worried relative I paced up and down, waiting for the diagnosis. The news, when it came, was far better than I had thought.

'Recalibration' was all that was required. And the va-va voom is back, for a while anyway.

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