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Another tradesman comes to call…..

Our friend Carol is planning on visiting tomorrow, weather permitting. And since she keeps teasing me about my apparent inability to go more than 10 days without a visit from a tradesman, it was clearly incumbent on me to have someone turn up beforehand to do something about the house / car / garden!

Today’s visit was from the RAC, though not, fortunately, for an emergency. I’ve been a member for years, and earlier this week they wrote to me offering me a free check of my car’s tyres, battery, lights and fluids. Since I really haven’t got to grips with car maintenance (that was always Christopher’s job) and it’s about six months until its next planned service, I decided to take them up on it for some peace of mind. The only problem was that, because this is a “free” extra, the RAC clearly doesn’t want to have its patrolmen tied up on vehicle checks at peak times when their priority should be attending to broken-down motorists in distress. So they only offered rather awkward time slots for these appointments; either 12:00-16:00 on weekdays (no choice to specify a tighter slot than that, so it would entail taking an afternoon off work) or 08:00-10:00 at weekends. I decided to go for the latter, though I really didn’t relish the idea of being up and dressed by 8am on a Saturday – I like to have a lie-in at the weekends!

So at 08:15 this morning, as I was blearily eating some toast, there was a ring of the bell, and a very cheery patrolman asking for the car keys. He said he really liked doing vehicle checks as the first call of the day, as it got the day off to a good start. He also asked “Didn’t you use to have a VW Polo?” – turns out he was the same chap who rescued us when the Polo broke down in the centre of Malvern many years ago. I complimented him on his memory, and he said that it was our drive that he remembered. Which in turn reminded me that, yes, we did have a major palaver trying to get the broken-down car safely off the main road and up the slope onto our drive – no wonder it was seared into his memory!

He spent half an hour doing a basic check on the car, pumped up the tyres which were slightly below pressure, topped up the screen wash, and told me to make sure the mechanic changed the brake fluid at the next service. He also said that the battery was at less than 50% capacity, and advised me to take the car on a decently long run, of at least half an hour, to give it a good charge. I suppose it’s not surprising that the battery is a bit flat; I rarely drive further than pottering around Malvern, in a triangle between home, work and the supermarket, so the car seldom gets a long drive. I’ll have to make a special effort in the next few weeks and drive further to give it a chance for a good charge.

The other interesting comment he made was when he was checking the tyres. Most new Minis come with run-flat tyres, so don’t have a spare wheel. So he initially assumed that I too didn’t have one. But I do – there is a space-saver spare wheel hidden away under the bottom of the boot. I made a big fuss when we bought the car, saying that I really wasn’t convinced by run-flats and that, if I was ever going to drive the car at all, I absolutely insisted on having a spare wheel. According to my cheery RAC man, that was a very good call – he’s not convinced by run-flats either. He said that they get lots of call-outs to Minis which don’t have a spare wheel, and where the so-called run-flat tyre isn’t drivable. Although a space-saver spare isn’t as good as a proper spare, he’s all for them – at least they allow you to get home!

{ 2 } Comments

  1. paulD | 11 June 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Shame on You, Shame ! Being a former civil servant you should be in CSMA and Britania Rescue, cheaper and just as good.

    Must admit I cant quite see business case in RAC offering free checks given their not in job to sell you something other than another years membership.

  2. Gillian | 11 June 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I did wonder about their business case for doing free checks. Suspect it might well be worth their while to identify common problems during quiet periods of the day, when the patrolmen would otherwise be sitting around twiddling their thumbs, rather then being called out to a flat battery or overheated car during rush hour.