Thursday, 21 January 2016

Mountains out of Molehills

If your life is full of drama and crises, I should imagine that finding a tyre issue on your car comes as a very minor and possibly even welcome diversion. On the other hand someone who is lucky enough to be going through a reasonably trouble-free stage of life may find it very stressful and worrying to discover a slow puncture. It's all relative - a bit like someone who has spent most of their life in Norfolk being transported to the Malvern Hills and thinking they are in the Pyrenees.

Now just imagine an unstressed Norfolk chap finding a puncture - in the Malvern Hills! Yes, exactly.

When I got my first car (actually a Ford Anglia Van) I used to check the tyre pressures every time I filled it up with £5 worth of petrol (Tyres were relatively expensive then, but that's inflation for you). I even had a little metal gauge for checking between fill-ups.

As I progressed to better cars everything seemed to be so much more reliable and my tyre checking would become less frequent. Eventually it got to the stage where we had our last car two years and I never checked tyre pressures once. It seemed like tyre checking, like the use of indicators in German cars, had become a thing of the past. 

Then the other day I was driving our 6 month old Citroen through the Malvern Hills when a message started scrolling across the video-interface-console (or "dashboard" as we used to refer to it) saying something like "you have reduced pressure in one tyre. Please stop". This came as a big shock as I never knew we had tyre pressure monitoring, having only got to page 45 of the 2000 page handbook that came with the car. The message could easily have added "I'm not going to tell you which tyre has a problem so this will force you to check them all".

This Citroen has de-skilled me and taken away my practical human faculties. If it gets dark it switches the lights on, if it stops it applies the handbrake and if it rains it turns on the wipers, all without my intervention. It has carefully lulled me into a state of dependence and now suddenly hit me with nitty gritty needs. This car is Kit from Knight Rider and I have turned into the Hoff. 

Or more accurately ...

It took three days of worry to get the problem sorted out, including an embarrassing 10 minutes spent queueing up to use the air line at Morrisons only to discover it was a vacuum cleaner with a squirty thing for putting an aroma in the interior. Having three dogs on board we didn't need any more than we already had. 

Eventually a very nice man in Ledbury located which tyre had the problem (it was the one with the 2 inch nail in it) and repaired it. Kit's onboard sat nav located him for us.

I never thought I'd reach the stage where my car is more intelligent than I am. I feel deflated.


Sir Bruin said...

I'm impressed that you got as far as page 45. Reading instructions is the absolute last resort, surely? Anyway, I trust that you'll tread warily in future. Don't want you getting over tyred. Not a goodyear so far.

Rog said...

Reading instructions and asking for directions, eh Sir B? And you caravanners have even more stuff to worry about.

Pat said...

Tee hee.
BTW your print has shrunk. Don't take it personally.

Nota Bene said...

Isn't there a little button you can push and the car will change the tyre yourself? The instruction is on page 46 of the off-line instructional guidance facilitation documentation

Rog said...

Pat: You could send it back under guarantee!

Nota: Nota chance :-(

Crowbard said...

I believe the relative rarity of tyre problems these days stems from vast technological improvements. I seem to recall frequent punctures and rapid wear in the tyres of my first 20 or so bangers. (The first of which was a Morris 5cwt ex post office van whose excellent 'Gold Seal' engine I transferred to an Austin A30 which I bought for £4 because the A30's engine was clapped out as badly as the suspension and bodywork of the Morris.) I think I sold the scrap van and engine for a fiver.