Automobile harmony restored

Yesterday my car went for its MOT, service and “fix the nasty sounding clanging noise from the front wheels”. All was silent from the garage until about 12 when I got a call saying it was all fixed and well again. The source of the hideous noises? A worn anti roll bar drop link.

I have a nice red VOSA VT30 certificate to say my car is completely unsafe to drive because

001 Nearside front anti-roll bar linkage insecure [2.4.G.1]

Which isn’t as bad as my old Peugeot which once failed because “Drivers’ seat insecure” and “excessive play in steering wheel” and “rear brakes inoperable”.

There is a corresponding nice green VOSA VT20 certificate to say everything is now OK. My car also has some new oil, a new oil filter, new pollen filter, a new set of spark plugs (good, that might stop the random warning light coming on) and the usual environmental waste and labour charges.

It’s good to know I’m driving around in a car that now meets the minimum legal requirements according to our road traffic act. It doesn’t guarantee the car meets all the legal requirements, nor does it guarantee that today – the day after the test – it still passes the minimum ones. I bet by September it’s making hideous noises again.

Book early or your car won’t get fixed

Lucky for me I booked my car in last week for its MOT tomorrow. Unlucky for some woman on the phone to the garage, she didn’t… and they’re full, and then not doing MOTs until the 12th. Sorry madam, they can’t test your car no matter how annoyed you get at them, they’re full.

Since I’m working tomorrow I took my car over this evening, dropping the key off with a suitably dirty looking mechanic. Now to wait for the phonecall tomorrow telling me what’s wrong. Going off the noise it makes, it sounds like the suspension is knackered so I fully expect to be relieved of a wad of cash, and then in six months time have something else fall off.

The exhaust has been suspiciously good so far, that must be due that to fall off soon. Mind you, it seems expensive or important things are failing on my car at the moment… cambelts, they’re expensive… let’s not have one of those fail. Or head gaskets. Actually, apart from running out of electricity, my car’s engine works very well.

So far in this MOT year it’s had the following replaced

  • Two front coil springs
  • Two front brake pads and disks
  • One windscreen
  • A front headlight bulb
  • Two tyres

And the only thing that I actually broke myself was a tyre, snagging it on my neighbour’s back door step. I wonder how many litres of petrol I’ve used…

Compeed Blister Plasters

Large water blister on my heel

Following my walk into town yesterday I noticed a rather large blister on my heel. Fortunately it hadn’t burst and should heal properly given the correct treatment. You Internet people are so lucky the blister I have hasn’t burst or the title image would be much more… runny 😉
Continue reading Compeed Blister Plasters

5th Generation iPod Video battery replacement

Insides of a 5th Generation iPod Video
Insides of a 5th Generation iPod Video

Amy has a 5th Generation iPod Video which contains a faulty battery. Due to its age, the battery no longer holds a decent amount of charge. After looking on eBay we found a replacement battery for around $10 including delivery.

By following the guides on iFixit I was successful in taking the iPod apart without damaging anything. It’s not uncommon to bend the metal casing out of shape, but through careful prying using a plastic pry tool the case popped open easily.

The insides of the iPod Video are very compact, with the HDD and screen taking up most of the space. It is important to carefully watch the thin ribbon cables as they are easy to break.

See more pictures from the repair.


OK, so it’s expected that if your shiny MacBook breaks down within its first year Apple will fix it for free. What’s not expected is that they’ll repair it on the same day. Like I mentioned the other day the palm rest of my MacBook had cracked, presumably where the lid shuts onto it. I took my Mac to the shop and had a genius look at it. He picked the plastic off to make sure it was properly broken and started to book it in for repair.

And then, either because it’s a two minute job, or because he was being nice said he’d repair it over his dinner break if I didn’t mind coming back at 3pm to collect it. Normally they don’t do repairs on a Saturday because the shop is so busy, but he’d make an exception. This was very cool and has saved me from having to trail all the way back to Sheffield next weekend.

I’m now typing on a brand new keyboard, using a brand new trackpad. When I had my Mac repaired last time they did something to the trackpad that stopped the sides of the trackpad button from working. It wasn’t a major thing, but quite irritating all the same.

To try and prevent this crack from happening again (which is a design flaw according to the Apple Genius I was talking to) I have ordered some stick on protectors for the palm rests of my laptop.

The repair was free, but if I’d paid it would have cost £54! The repair sheet had a job name of ‘Crackbook’ and my Mac’s condition was listed as “Good, with some stickers too”. 🙂

While wandering the Mac store I had a go with an iPhone. I’ve got an iPod Touch (the funnest iPod around, according to Apple. Since when did ‘funnest’ become a word then?) and it was interesting seeing the similarites and differences. Even stranger was that the iPhones were actually working, I rang my mobile from one and it worked, another had a chat session running with some random person who was a bit pissed off wondering why they were getting so many messages 🙂

Weekend of BBQ and Fun

This weekend I’m at Amy’s to have a BBQ and visit the Meadowhall Shopping Centre to re-enact Dead Rising take my MacBook back to the Apple store to be repaired. After sorting out my house for the coming week I set off and due to some accidentally good timing arrived in time to collect Jonny and Vikki from the bus station.

Beer now, Meadowhell tomorrow.

Car repaired now

My car is fixed. Today was like learning to drive all over again, but compressed into half an hour. The courtesy car had insanely sharp brakes, and weirdly slow acceleration which took some getting used to. Also the size was a little weird, I’d not quite worked out where the corners were and how small a gap I could squeeze into so driving around today felt a little weird. Eventually though I’d worked out how lightly I needed to tap the brakes, and when was best to change gear. All in time to hand back the car and collect mine. And then it was back to the start all over again. I must have spent a whole three minutes in the garage collecting my car and dropping the old one off. Not long enough for my brain to register that I was driving a different car…

So, like a learner driver I wheelspan away from the garage, careened around a corner on what felt like two wheels and then came to a slow and gradual, if jerky halt at some traffic lights. Then pressed the brake harder until the car actually stopped moving. The lights went to green and I jerked away from the lights and had a small bout of kangaroo action on a roundabout before my brain reloaded its driving settings and things went smoothly.

Despite me apparently forgetting how to drive, my car is happy again. The whirring noises are gone, it being amazing what gearbox oil does to a car, and the oil seal has been replaced so the oil should stay where it is meant to belong. The garage tried to sell me some new wiper blades because the existing ones are supposedly split and not very good; I’ve checked them and they seem fine.

The customer service at the garage was good though, they’ve done a complete check on my car and there’s nothing wrong with it at all now. The brakes are good, the tyres aren’t worn, and the lights all work properly. This makes a change from little garages I’ve been to before where half your car could be hanging off and they’d ignore it because it wasn’t on their job sheet.

I can now add “gearbox with no oil in it” to my list of bad things I never want to hear in my car. It’s been added to my list of “take car to garage immediately” list, somewhere above “Your CV joints are about to fail” which I learnt from my last car. And even though I can’t do it, I know how to check the oil level in the gearbox now.

All car problems explained

Well then, that’s that explained then. Those random spots of oil on my driveway weren’t from the engine, they were out of the gearbox, and the reason they stopped was because the oil had all run out. This is because the oil seal around one of the drive shafts had split. I guess it must have properly split when I came home at the weekend, sending the rest of the oil in the gearbox out onto the road.

I took my car to the Fiat garage where a mechanic and me went for a test drive. After that it went into their garage and was looked at, while I sat and played on my iPod and drank funny vending machine tea. After a while the happy smily salesman came out and invited me in to have a look. It was quite interesting being able to see under my car properly, and now I know where the gearbox oil level hole is and what to do with it… shame I need to jack the car six foot off the ground to use this knowledge.

They’ve now got my car and are fitting the new seal, filling the gearbox with oil and will then take it out for a test. Hopefully they’ll have sorted it and it won’t need the gearbox dismantling and fixing.

I’ve got a coutesy car to use until then, it’s a brand new 08 reg Fiat Punto, and compared to my boxy Panda it’s like piloting a battleship. I think I like it, maybe they’ll want to give it to me and keep my car instead. Quite glad I got a courtesy car, I was all set for walking home but because it was warm, had left my jacket at home. The minute I got into the car to come back, it started raining very hard.

I have a new car!

Here it is. A blue Fiat Panda 2005 edition. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I got it from my parents after my mum crashed it.

It’s been repaired since, and is now almost as shiny as when it came out the factory. I had a good look around it, and apart from some very new looking bits inside the engine bay you’d never know it’d been this badly mangled. If your car ever looks this bad, you’re looking at £2000 worth of repair btw.

It’s quite a difference to my old car. Power steering is possibly one of the best things invented. The ability to park with ease can’t be underestimated. The car has an even more powered “city” mode that means I can turn the wheel with a fingertip for even tighter parking spots. I had the radio out yesterday to try and fit my old one since it has an AUX input for my N800. Unfortunately the Fiat radio is non-standard, and contains a non-standard cage. The facia is a giant square thing so while I could connect my old radio up electronically and have it work, there would be no way to secure it into the car. It’s frustrating being defeated by a few bits of metal and plastic. Looks like I’m back on the RF transmitter again and the associated wiring mess.

I had a slightly surreal and amusing time at Carcraft though. We were all sat around a table after looking at my car and going “that’s an interesting noise it makes”, when they produced a piece of paper and gave it to me. Thinking it was some valuation I gave it a glance.

… then looked again slightly confused …

It wasn’t a valuation, it was a printout of my Livejournal entry for the other day. Somehow, presumably through my email address or a lucky Google search, they’d managed to find my LJ and printed it out for a good laugh. It did explain the odd comments they made while looking at my car 🙂

They made selling my car nice and easy. They looked at it, then I  just had to show various bits of paperwork to prove it was mine, and that I was who I claimed to be. That was all I had to do. They even allow dogs in the showroom which prevented Amy and Twinkle from having to wait outside in the cold and strong winds.

So, to the Carcraft / (go on, admit it, your name is a little daft) people – hello!