Life Motoring

Monday 18 November 2019

Dog bites car (no, seriously!)

Now and again I'm sure people wonder if I'm spinning them a tale. Look, strange things just tend to happen to me on occasion, or when I'm around. I can't help it.

What I have to tell you this week will stretch your credulity. I wouldn't risk ridicule if I didn't have witnesses and scientific proof.

It was in the course of me driving the new 1-litre 'wonder' engine version of the Ford Focus. This has several techno innovations -- three little pistons and a tiny turbocharger among them. It is so small. A mere 97kg and the block itself is no wider than a sheet of A4 paper.

Maybe if I'd told you a few years ago that such an engine would be powering a big family hatchback, you'd have thought I was exaggerating too.

This little engine, in keeping with the theme of my sojourn in the EcoBoost, turned out to have a lot more bite than its bark might suggest. As you will see. Putting a small engine in a Focus, which is a big, strong car, did raise the risk of it struggling to give you some pep and pace.

There are two versions: 123bhp and 98bhp. That's good power for a family hatchback. Not the sort to have you zipping around, but what family needs 'performance' these days?

The big deal about this is saving fuel. My big crib with it would be that it didn't bring the price down lower. That is an argument for another day, perhaps. And I do concede that technology has its price and must be paid for.

Anyway, I was getting used to the 125bhp version. It was snazzy and had a six-speed gearbox that had me looking forward to breaking all sorts of mpg records.

I took the brother to a place where he was getting a few things done to his car. I parked in an open space. We sat there chatting, front windows down waiting for his car to be ready, reflecting on old times.

It was late, late in the evening. I told him to stop drumming his fingers on the outside of the door. He told me to stop at the hand brake. We both denied doing either. We chatted. Again I chided him.

And he me.

Well, if it wasn't either of us, what was making the noises?

As we got out we noticed a dog sloping off and we spoke about our old dogs from years ago, Shep and Belle and Darkie.

Then the man gave the brother the keys. As he (the car man) walked around the back of my EcoBoost car, he thought he noticed a hissing sound. Further inspection showed the left rear tyre had a slow puncture. It seemed -- only seemed -- the dog had been making the noise for which I had been chiding my brother.

Under this scenario, the so-and-so had apparently made several lunges at the Continental tyre (Conti Premium Contact) and managed to get one fang through the side-wall. I'd never heard the likes of it.

There didn't appear to be another explanation but I felt there had to be. I had driven over a nail or pinched the tyre on a kerb, surely?

So we stuck on the space-saver tyre and off with me. I felt a right eejit telling the nice people in Rialto Motors. The next day on my way to work a taxi-man became quite agitated. My other rear wheel was flat.

It appeared, I stress appeared, perfectly fine when I started out. Indeed, I had checked it for all the numbers and everything so the Rialto Motors people could get me a full-size wheel to replace the space-saver.

Anyway, after lots of calls and waiting, we got it back to base and I headed off in a second Eco-Boost. I have to say that while it had less power and zip than the previous one, I could not complain.

This is a real breakthrough of an engine and I put up a lot of driving, in town and on the motorway, without ever getting that awful feeling of a car becoming breathless. This is a decent package: lively chassis, fine cabin and a fuel-sipper of an engine.

Oh, yes. Rialto did their tests on the tyres. They confirmed -- believe it or not -- that the dog was responsible for puncturing both -- yes both -- rear tyres on the first car.

If I didn't have that official confirmation, I wouldn't believe it myself.

Indo Motoring

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