Friday, 17 October 2008
A Love-Hate Relationship...
I love driving. I am also very attached to my car, having "crash-tested" the make and model about three years ago, and escaped with life and limb intact.
However, I do seem to have had quite a few car-related problems. I don't know if I have more or fewer than other people, but I certainly seem to have lots... maybe other people just don't mention their problems...
This evening, I went out for dinner. On my way home, I drove around a corner, and the car started juddering rather badly. I wasn't sure what the problem was, but I was able to hazard a guess that I'd punctured a tyre. I pulled over, carefully, and got out. Definitely a flat tyre. Very flat. More like a strip of rubber flapping about around the wheel than a tyre, to be honest.
I have insurance which includes a breakdown service. And a snazzy mobile phone. I made use of both, and was promised assistance within the hour.
Not too much of a problem, I thought. At the most, an hour to get to me, then fifteen minutes to change the tyre, max.
The recovery service chap was very nice. He quickly located the car jack and the spare wheel, and then asked where the locking wheel nut key was.
I had never heard of a wheel nut key, locking or otherwise. I thought that's what spanners were for.
But no, apparently I have alloy wheels, and there's a locking wheel nut on each wheel to prevent the alloy bits being snaffled by someone disreputable. And the key is unique to each car (or possibly each make of car, I couldn't quite work it out) and mine appeared to be missing.
And the wheel wasn't coming off without this key.
The chap hunted all through my car, and couldn't find it. He took pity on me, though, and instead of just giving it up as a bad job, he phoned a friend. The friend apparently had a locking wheel nut removal thingy whatsit. However, after removal, it wouldn't work again, and I'd need to go to the dealership to get a new set of locking wheel nuts (with key), as well as signing my life away by saying that I was happy to drive with only three nuts on the wheel...
I checked that this wouldn't be (a) breaking the law, or (b) unsafe. After being reassured on both counts, I agreed.
After nearly two hours of loudly banging the wheel with some sort of metal implement, the two mechanics succeeded in removing the offending wheel nut.
At least I managed to have dinner beforehand!