Bits and Pieces

Friday, April 22, 2005

RIP Punto

My beloved car passed away at a little after 7pm Thursday evening. After a long illness whose symptoms included corroded brake lines, a complete suspension failure, a shaky clutch, bent exhaust and bodywork damage, yesterday evening the straw broke the camel's back.

I had been driving all day on the motorway, and ended up at the end of the day in a local pub with a friend. Later on we drove back to his house, but on the way the engine cut out in the middle of the street. I put on the hazard lights, pushed the car onto the kerb and called my recovery service. While I waited I popped the bonnet and noticed that the cambelt had snapped.

It costs 50 quid (something like $100) to replace the cambelt (also called the timing belt), and they're supposed to last about 40,000 miles. This one lasted about 8,000. The reason is that I have a worn bearing in the camshaft, and I'm assuming it caused excessive wear on the cambelt. A new camshaft costs 200 quid (almost $400). On top of all the other necessary repairs I would have had to shell out around 700 pounds (a little less than $1,400). The car isn't worth that much, so it seems a little pointless to throw good money after bad.

So. I had the car towed to a nearby garage I know and the owner let me leave it there until it gets towed. I stripped all I could carry from the car and told the mechanic to go nuts - feel free to take anything he wants before the scrap metal scavengers pick it up.

I managed to wangle a company car from my boss for a few days, but in the meantime I have to spend the weekend looking for the cheapest car I can find. I have 650 pounds in the bank but I'm looking to spend about 400. For that price I'm guaranteed to get a piece of shit that'll break down after a few miles, but I can't afford anything else.

A few years ago, if you'll allow me to go off on a tangent, I was flying to Singapore. As we were landing R Kelly's 'I believe I can Fly' piped through the Tannoy, as if the only thing keeping the plane in the air was the collective will of the passengers. In that vein, I need you all to keep up a continuous prayer to keep whatever shitty piece of scrap metal I buy on the road. Say a quick prayer as soon as you wake up in the morning and with a bit of luck I won't end up in a fiery ball on the hard shoulder of some God-forsaken motorway in the middle of nowhere.

If, on the other hand, you decide not to pray for the car, you should feel pretty damned guilty when this site suddenly goes quiet for a few weeks, followed by a brief post from my mother to notify you of my painful fiery death.

Whatever. It's up to you.
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