Making the car go ‘vroom-vroom’ again.

I’ve been busy doing a little auto tinkering today. I rarely do much on my car. Perhaps I am the typical girl? Just run it until the problem gets too big to ignore then pay a little man to suck air through his teeth and say: “It’s going to cost you” before invariably it does.

Actually, I know enough about cars to not get conned. I also like to do what servicing and repairs I can myself. It gives a smug sense of self-satisfaction to have not required outside help from a sweaty mechanic (though sometimes the cost is worth it to see the nice 20-something year old mechanic bend over my engine and show off his bum cleavage).

I’m not usually in the mood for car mechanics these days, being a very busy girl. But I’m also getting tired of the way the driver’s side wing mirror seems to flap a little at any speed over 50mph. So I dusted off the Haynes manual for the car and went to work. Now, there’s one thing I always find with Haynes manuals is that they are always economical with the information that you need. In fact, more often than not, they are written from the point of view of them being intended to be used by some-one who does not need a Haynes manual because they already know how to do the job. This one was no exception. But not to be foxed, I percevered and ended up with plenty of bits and the cause of the problem.

It seems the central spigot that holds the mirror on and lets it twist has rusted, because it is made of steel and the main structure of the internals of the mirror is an aluminium casting. Oh dear. That good old dissimilar metals reaction has been at work; I learnt all about it at school, so it’s a shame that Volvo’s design team didn’t. I’ve affected a temporary repair using some pieces of an old eraser and a cable grip – cable grips are great on a car, as they can be used or adapted to repair most things.

I got it all back together despite the best efforts of the Hatnes manual to bamboozle me, and to boot I even had a prod at the central locking which has been playing up for years. For the last six months it has been disabled at the fuse panel, making getting in and out of the back of the car an effort. But whilst I was inside the door I had a spray around with WD40 and a few hits with a hammer (aka the ‘Irish screwdriver’ because it fits any size or drive of screw and cures most issues with a stout thump). That seemed to work, and I’ve left the fuse in to see whether it throws a wobbler before I next use it – it’s parked safely in the back yard, so there’s little risk of issues if it unlocks itself.

All in all it’s made me feel quite good about myself, even if I haven’t done much of the work I was supposed to be doing today (why do writing deadlines always produce a flurry of urges to complete non-relevent work and household chores?). Tomorrow’s work avoidance, if it happens, may be changing oil and filters ready for driving to Cambridge on Sunday.