A little automotive housekeeping.

I must remember to get the car MOTed this week. I wonder what novel-yet-expensive fault will develop on the way to the test centre this year? I’ve pre-empted the usual alleged abrasiveness of the road between here and the test centre by replacing my tyres a few weeks ago. I thing either exhaust or front wishbones are the favourite as the garage hasn’t tried stinging me for them for a while.

I drive an old car, for reasons that centre around not buying into the environmental BS surrounding “replacing an older car with a newer fuel efficient car helps the environment”. No it doesn’t. Why? Because the pollution and carbon footprint of making a car would require that car to be run on average yearly mileage for around five decades in order for exhaust emissions to equal manufacturing pollution. It would take me a century to recoup the cost of buying a new car from fuel savings too.

At 185,000 miles on the clock there’s still life left in the old girl. It actually passes the emissions test by a very clear margin each year and is well within the limits they allow for it. Driven for economy, a very healthy 41mpg can be achieved, which is still comparable for a new car of its size and comfort. As long as work required at the MOT doesn’t radically exceed its nominal value, I would still rather get it repaired than scrap it and enter into an epic odyssey into the unknown of buying a newer vehicle. I know the history of my 1996 vintage Volvo brick, and know that she hasn’t been raced, rallied or thrashed into the ground by any of the three previous owners. She also has the advantage that she possesses on board not too much electronic gizmos, so there is much less to go wrong than on a new vehicle.

I notice out on the roads I am not alone sharing these feelings about old cars. I still see a reasonable proportion of vehicles out there that are a similar age or older. Today I witnessed an E-reg Volvo 740 (1987-8) which took me back as my first car was an F-reg Volvo 740. That little hawk was a few thousand miles shy of quarter of a million when I sold it on, and the engine was still as good as the day it left the factory somewhere in Belgium.

I do still hanker for the occasional years where nothing needs doing at an MOT. Given that over the last year I have replaced the radiator, front brake hoses, left side front calliper and two rear tyres, I may just be in with a shout this year. Then again, the cynic in me knows the little Swedish beast will find something to fail on; it’s at that kind of age and mileage.

2 thoughts on “A little automotive housekeeping.

  • 9 May 2011 at 11:37
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    Don’t be pessimistic. I took my ‘F’ reg 740 for it’s MOT last year and it passed with no problem at all. Can’t be many of that vintage with a full dealer service history though! It is a shame that tax and insurance mean that it is cheaper for me to travel by taxi though, so I sold it for £200, someone got a bargain. Time to abolish road tax I think – it hits the poor hard.

    Now I just have to finish fixing the electronic gearbox on the A-Class which has only done 100 000 miles and is beyond economical repair at the garage, with a replacement gearbox costing £5000!

    Keep the Volvo going, it should do well over half a million miles, and not need too much work, an ‘R’ reg one won’t even rust.

  • 9 May 2011 at 13:17
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    Road tax penalises people who do low mileages. However I do not trust any government to implement an alternative road tolling system that will do anything other than make motoring more expensive for everyone (including the poor and low mileage people).

    Gearboxes can be repaired as long as you have the knowledge and confidence required. Sadly not many people do! Automatics are a very complicated area for the unwary, though I have rebuilt a Landrover four speed gearbox before now relatively easily and cheaply.

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