The big red car – a cautionary tale

Well. This week we have finally said goodbye to our big red car.  We bought it just before our bonus baby was born, because we couldn’t fit three car seats (or the mountains of crap that come with three kids for that matter) in our old one. Because  the car came with the baby, so to speak, I was a bit sad for about 8 seconds. Or maybe three. Which is frankly, more than that poxy car deserved.

I cannot tell you how much stress the car has caused us over the last 18 months – in fact there is still an empty bit of worry space in my mind because I can’t quite get used to the fact that the ‘what shall we do about the big red car’ question no longer needs to be answered!

It’s a long, sad tale, starting with the engine light coming on at the beginning of 2014. The fault could have been due to one of two issues, (remember that sentence, it’s important), but eventually we found a garage that specialised in ancient Seats and they managed to figure out the problem – with a repair estimate of £1500 – £2000.  OUCHY.  At that point we talked about buying a new car but because of the (now VERY imminent) loft conversion, we decided that as we wouldn’t want to spend more than £2k on a ‘new’ car, we might as well cough up the repair bill and keep the big red car on the road for a few more years.


Anyway, that’s what we did. Repair done, bish bash bosh. MWHAHAHAHA.

We picked the car up and as it was also due new tyres, popped it into Kwik Fit safe in the knowledge that once they were done, we wouldn’t have to spend any more cash on it for a while. Phew! We may have even discussed treating ourselves to a takeaway curry in celebration, until we received a phone call ‘Did you know your handbrake is not connected up properly, your front left thingy is broken, two suspension wotsits are falling apart and the camshaft is, er, shafted. I’m not sure that those were the exact words, because all I heard was how much it would cost to put it all right….nearly as much as we had already spent. Obviously the first question we asked was ‘why didn’t the really expensive ancient-Seat-specialist-garage spot all this’ though apparently it was because they had to strip the engine from the top to repair it, whereas all this stuff was going wrong underneath, where they’d not looked…FFS. Best cancel the curry then. And ALL THE CURRIES for the next year or so.

We gritted our teeth and forked out. Again, what a feeling of relief when we got it back, safe in the knowledge that we had now done everything we needed to ensure it would last for a few more years. Sure, it had cost more than we anticipated, but that’s the way it goes, and since we couldn’t have afforded a new car anyway there seemed to be no point over-stressing.

We had ten happy weeks of driving the big red car before the engine light came on again. Remember that bit where I said the original fault could have been due to one of two things? Well, turns out it was actually due to BOTH things. So we had to get the second thing fixed too. The garage didn’t bill us for labour this time (I think they felt sorry for us) but the parts were of course hideously expensive…

Still, surely that should have been THAT?

No. That was very much not THAT. Two months later,  the engine light came on again. I could have cried. I did, a bit. A lot, actually. It turned out that this time, it was a simple thing that had gone wrong. something that would ‘only’ cost a few hundred quid to sort out. Peanuts, given what we’d spent over the previous year.

I was still at this point wringing my hands over all the cash we had spent on this stupid car, and ready to throw yet more at it so that what we’d spent already wasn’t wasted. Luckily (and this happens on VERY RARE OCCASIONS) the Husband had a slightly more rational approach than me. And that is how we came to hand it over to those very nice people at We Buy Any Car Dot Com for two hundred and fifty measly quid.

Of course the irony of this whole sorry saga (and the bit that will stick in my craw till I keel over, probably still muttering curses on all Seats in general) is the fact that we ended up in this dire situation because we were trying to be sensible and save money…. AAARGH!!! Never again! I’m taking this whole experience as a sign that sensible-ness is very much over-rated where cars are concerned…now, where’s that nice Porsche catalogue!

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