Not making a drama out of a crisis.

Having driven to mum’s after the match and enjoyed a couple of drinks and a natter until gone midnight, I fell into a coma slept well as soon as my head hit the pillow.

In the morning we decided we would go to Broughton as I wanted to take my faulty boots back and mum was after a couple of bits so after a leisurely breakfast we set off. About half way through the drive, the car started making strange noises. On braking there was a low pitched droning which was quite loud and was accompanied by a dragging sensation. On accelerating there was a repetitive squeaking noise. It didn’t feel right though there was no difficulty with either braking or accelerating. There wasn’t really anywhere convenient to pull over and the roads were fairly busy (lots of people making the most of the extra hour after the clocks changed, presumably) so we carried on to the retail park as planned. After parking up I got down on the ground and had a look under the car and could see a piece of metal dangling underneath though I couldn’t work out what it was. I decided we’d need to call the RAC but we also thought we’d better do the most important things we needed first.

After taking back my boots and getting a refund (YAY!) we did the other couple of things and then went back to the car to call the RAC. It took rather a long time to get through as they were busy (oh dear!) but eventually we did and mum was giggling at me trying to imitate the droning noise and the squeaking for the benefit of the poor bloke at the other end of the line. I was just trying to be helpful and give as much information as possible 😀 We were told we may be waiting between 1-3 hours but that the patrol man would call us when he was on the way. I said that was no problem as we were safely parked and could amuse ourselves and then we worked out what to do. Originally we’d planned to have a nice lunch out and although there was a likely looking pub restaurant opposite us, we were a bit concerned that we’d have to rush. In the end we opted to go to the Asda cafe and we had a hot panini and a cuppa. Just as we were finishing, we got the call that our rescue was imminent, so that all worked out well 🙂

Our hero was called Steve, and he immediately saw that the bit of metal dangling underneath the car was the heat shield and he removed it, assuring me it wouldn’t be a problem in the short term. He then got me to drive around the car park to make sure the problem had resolved. Er…… it hadn’t! He stuck his head out of the passenger window so as to locate the noise and when we parked back up he went straight to the front left wheel. On taking it apart he informed me that my brake pad had completely disintegrated, damaging the disc …. and where did we want to be towed? 🙁 I chose to be taken to Kwik Fit in Chester as it was my local Kwik Fit that had fitted new brake pads only last December (and they have a lifetime guarantee and should be on record) and because I knew that it was conveniently located for us to get the bus back home and for me to get the bus in to collect it next day.

I tell you what – Steve played with Lego as a boy, and his favourite cartoon must have been Transformers! 😉 As I stood with mum watching the poor man work, and worrying about whether I’d have to sit in the car and steer as it was towed, he set about turning his van into a transporter – a trick which James Bond would admire!.

It went from this:

to this:

until we were like this:

Seriously impressive! Mum and I hopped (well, maybe not quite “hopped”) into the van and were taken in comfort and safety to the garage (and saw a couple of other cars being towed in similar fashion so it must’ve been the day for it!) Once there we booked the car in with our saviour, Steve, parking the car in a corner of the packed workshop and then we caught the bus back home.

We counted ourselves/me lucky that I hadn’t come a cropper on the motorway (I’d had no problems or symptoms whatsoever on my drive down to the match or over to mum’s) or caused any accident. Also that it hadn’t happened on the way to the match so that I’d have missed it, we hadn’t really been much inconvenienced, not had a dinner cooking (as is often the case when we go out). It was a good job I’d got my RAC cover and that we had been able to be towed to Kwik Fit which was conveniently located and my car’s history would be on their system. Further, having swapped working days with my colleague, I didn’t need to fret about getting home that day. All in all, if it was going to happen, there would definitely have been worse times and places for it to do so. (I do like to be more Pollyanna than Victor Meldrew 😉 )

Mum was up and out early on the Monday as she was booked on a coach trip, and I spent the morning packing, pottering around and passing time – it was quite pleasant to get a bit of time to relax actually. Well, my brain wasn’t QUITE relaxed as I waited for news on the car, and wondered how much it would cost. Eventually I got a call and was told that the front brake pads would need replacing, as would the left disc and the caliper which had been knocked out of alignment as a result of the other problem. Just under £400. Ouch! Fortunately I’d been trying to put some money aside in anticipation of work needed for its MOT in December, and I’d just been paid, so was able to cover it – and in fact when I picked up the car at 3pm, they knocked off the price of the brake pads since I’d already paid for those last December. The mechanic couldn’t say why the problem had occurred and explained that newer cars have a warning light that indicates brake pads are wearing thin, but my car doesn’t, being older.

By 4pm the car was packed and I was on the road home, grateful to the RAC, Kwik Fit, and all in all counting myself rather lucky…

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