How I Spent My Birthday – The Car Curse Strikes Back

Things have been quite quiet this month on My Crazy Brood, I’ve been struggling with my depression and anxiety, not to mention with dealing with the children and especially my anxious teenager.

Cars, as usual, have been a major source of problems for us. It seems we never have any luck with cars!

Hubby’s little Micra is starting to die so we decided he needed a new one to ensure he could get to work as he works nights in a factory about 30 miles away with no car share or public transport available to help him get there.

Hubby’s old car, the Micra in the background.
The Mondeo in front is the new car

Earlier this month, we bought a cheap car for cash from a local car dealer, a 16-year-old Mondeo. Sadly, our Car Curse struck again and somehow just by changing the battery in the key fob, I somehow destroyed the lock and the immobiliser. Because of the challenges in fixing it (the car dealer had to send it away) and with no other vehicle available to use, we had to return the Mondeo and reclaim the Micra we had traded in.

After chatting about our finances and cars and doing a budget, we decided to do something we had never done before. We applied for car finance and were accepted. Of course, this meant that we would be paying for a loan for our broken Galaxy whilst we wait for the court case against the car dealer, not to mention the car finance company specified we had to buy a car that was less than 10 years old and with a mileage of less than 100,000.

Our new silver Ford Focus car
Our new 09 plate Ford Focus

Last week hubby found a 2009 diesel Focus in Warrington that he liked and which matched our price range and was less than 10 years old and had less than 100,000 on the clock. So last Wednesday, which was hubby’s day off, we went to Warrington to have a look at the car which was at Motormill. We had a look around and examined the car, we had already checked out the MOT history as well as vehicle checks. Hubby took it for a test drive and liked it so he decided he wanted it. We sorted out all the paperwork, the dealership helped us sort out the tax, I sorted out the insurance and eventually the car was his and we headed home.

Halfway home, on a dual carriageway, right by a junction and at the top of a hill, the car died!

It flashed up “Engine malfunction” (I HATE those words) and stopped, blocking the left lane. We immediately got out of the car and stood on the side of the road whilst we phoned the police to warn them that we were causing a dangerous obstruction. Whilst we were on the phone to the police traffic cops arrived in a 4×4 and were able to tow us off to somewhere safe so we could contact the dealers and the AA.

I was in tears by now as this always happens when I buy a car! For the last 14 years, every single car we have bought has turned out to be a dud and has lasted about a year on average. In the past 18 months, we have bought four cars (including the Focus) and all have had problems within the first month of our ownership. The Galaxy, I didn’t use it for 3 weeks after buying it because I wanted the cam belt replacing first, the day after I got it back, the turbo died. The Micra, one week after we bought it the starter motor died. The Grand Scenic, three weeks after we bought it the turbo went and after a year of ownership hubby totalled it hitting a cow on his way home from work. We bought the Micra as a tempory car whilst we found a people carrier from a private seller. As for the Galaxy, we took out a loan and I am currently taking the dealer to court because he sold me a car which was of unsuitable quality, not fit for purpose and not as described under the Consumer Act 2015.

The AA mechanic couldn’t find what was wrong with the car, but as a precaution, he towed us home and left the car at our local garage. The local garage was concerned about an engine knocking sound they could hear from the engine and arranged for the car to be taken back to the car dealer in Warrington.

The AA attached the Focus to tow it home
Attaching the Focus to the AA van to tow it home

We were in two minds about whether to return the car for a refund or whether to keep it and hope that it had been repaired. We were contacted by the car dealer and they said it was all fixed as they had replaced the diesel injectors and they also offered us 12 months warranty instead of the 6 we had originally been given and they offered to replace the cam belt and water pump for £150 (usually this costs between £400-£500) so we decided to keep the car as hubby did like it.

This week, on Tuesday which happened to be my birthday, we went back up to Warrington to pick up the car. When we got there we were told that the car was still with the mechanics but would be with us shortly, so we sat down to wait. After about 45 minutes the lad from the dealership came over. He explained that whilst the mechanic had been driving the car back to the dealership, he had also heard the knocking sound and he was also concerned about it and had therefore taken it back to the garage to find out what was causing it. As they were aware that we needed a car and had a large distance to travel, they gave us the use of their Focus courtesy car whilst ours was being repaired and that when it was fixed they would bring it to our house and collect the courtesy car.

After dealing with so many dodgy car dealers over the years, including ones that I didn’t realise at the time were back-street dealers and others that refused to help once you had bought the car, it was a refreshing change to be in a used car dealership which acted professional and were keen to help us in any way they could. Now I know what a dealership SHOULD be like, I know that when the time comes to buy a new people carrier, I won’t make the same mistake as I did last year!

So now we just have to wait and see what the diagnosis is and when we get our new car back. Of course, the only winner this month has been my insurance company who have charged us every time we made a change to our insurance which went Micra – Mondeo – Micra – Focus

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