Jumped Up

Yesterday our aging Rover 216 sailed through its MOT*; much to our surprise, and that of the mechanic at the garage who, following a cursory look at our car, was astonished and gutted to find that, try as he might, he was unable to locate anything he could fail it on. As a treat we decided to splash out on a full service in celebration (and as compensation of sorts for the mechanic.) It looks like we can put off the search for a replacement car for another year.

But the Rover still has its problems. If I don’t drive it for around a week the battery goes flat, and so I am becoming a dab hand at dragging our less aged and more reliable Zafira over, jump-starting the Rover, and then fiddling with its remote key to get it to re-sync with the alarm, which usually entails removing the remote’s battery and faffing about a bit. Perhaps, then, I should still consider trading up to a newer, smarter, snazzier car, one more commensurate with my standing as Cheadle’s premier blogger†?

In the meantime, however, since jump-starting my car has become part of my regular routine, I decided to check that I was doing it correctly – I don’t especially want to electrocute myself, or set fire to one or both of my cars – and so I did a Google search to confirm what the approved technique is.

And I came across this from the Motoring pages of the Telegraph where Nick Comfort has the same problem as me, only to a greater degree. It is no consolation to find someone worse off than you are, and if you do have a second-rate vehicle inferior to my doughty Rover than you have my sympathy; but that is the situation Nick finds himself in, lumbered as he is with an Aston Martin DB7. Apparently

Many Astons have starting problems. Their electrical systems drain a 12-volt battery if left for more than a few days, and only the newest ones have a sleep mode. In four years of DB7 ownership I have got through three batteries.

I already had a trickle charger to plug into the cigarette lighter, which was fine except that I had to feed the lead through the window, which entailed leaving the alarm off. Aston Martin has now supplied a charger that feeds a socket in the boot and exits under the lid so the alarm can stay on.

Last winter, however, I was without this device and my Aston’s battery was flat just a day after a 200-mile run.

Now I’m pretty confident that even my knackered old banger would start first time under such circumstances, and this tale puts me in mind of a recent story a friend told me: that lately he had taken his Merc to a garage for a service and had been informed that the spark plugs had fused in place. A common enough problem, apparently; common, that is, on the Austin Healey and cars of a similar vintage, but a fault that had been rectified by most manufacturers since that time by utilising different metals, though not, it seems, by the good burghers at Mercedes-Benz. This problem was compounded by the fact that the spark plugs were conveniently located in such a position that only the complete removal of the engine would allow access to them, at an appropriate cost.

So while the grass may look greener on the other side of the troll bridge it can sometimes be better to stay put, and so I’ll take my Rover over an Aston Martin or a Mercedes for the time being. In any event, my car is a beautiful pearlescent purple colour, it would look even nicer if it ever got washed, probably, and it’s now my son’s favourite car since we got shot of our even more knackered Rover 420‡. Yes, I think I’ll stick with it; at least for as long as the rust still holds it together.

* Update: the garage has just called to tell me that they’ve found in the service that the brake discs and pads could do with replacing. That’ll learn me to be so smug.
† That is to say I’m the only one I know of.
‡ The loss of which he is still just coming to terms with, as is his idiosyncratic way.