Mondeo Minx

Our car is poorly.

It’s been a bit meh about starting for ages. Being analytical, I noticed that there was no consistency to its lethargy – there was no pattern associated with the outside air temperature, engine temperature, car load, previous journey length, anything I could spot. Sometimes it would start first time, other times it would labour. Occasionally it wouldn’t start at all, and would sound and look like a totally flat battery. Yet after a quick head-thump of despair into the steering wheel, and it would start fine.

Eventually I realised that it needed to go to the garage (cue music of dread). Me and garages don’t have a great track record. But our main Ford dealers have actually been a bit fantastic the last 2 times I’ve taken the car there. So I’m defrosting a little.

To cut an awfully long story short, after ruling out crankshaft sensor problems (I reasoned that there were only problems on starting, not whilst driving. Ever), they reckoned it was a “lazy starter” and perhaps a going-flat battery. I couldn’t really get them to be more specific, and was loathe to spend £400 on something that may or may not fix the trouble. I didn’t get the work done, opting instead for the software upgrade The Boss read about on his last Google-Fu session that would fix the known fault of the central console display unit draining the battery if there was a delay in passengers getting out after the engine stopped. Oh yes, that’s us! At least one, usually 2, minxes refuse to exit the car on stopping, demanding to be carried out. Do I need to tell you that I always, always refuse? Doesn’t stop my tenacious trio trying it on, though!

Anyway, anyway – the software upgrade looked like it worked, until I drove 45 mins to ASDA on Sunday night. Where the car would not restart, despite head-thumps, threats, biting the steering wheel, coaxing, wheedling, getting out the car and giving it a thump and a bounce… The carpark was mostly empty; the few cars I could see in the dark were little, with little batteries, and probably not going to jump a big ole Mondeo that thinks it’s a minx. I took a fraught Maxi with me to the customer service desk, where a very nice lady took pity on us and persuaded the equally-lovely security guard on his tea-break to jump-start me from his big people-carrier. They were keen to stress this had nothing to do with ASDA and was just them helping us out. I understood. So instead of a thank you letter, I gave them a hug. I think they would have preferred the letter…

So yes, the car will be going back to the garage for a new starter and battery after all. The garage were lovely, as always, about squeezing in the work to fit around school times and days off (they really are great like that), so we’ll see if that fixes it. I’m really fed-up of having to cancel routine dr appointments, haircut appointments, swimming and dancing lessons because the car won’t start and there’s only one bus a day (I can go, but I can’t get back!). But I do have to tell you about the first time that the car went to the garage for assessment the week before last:

I’d taken Mini out of nursery to accompany me so that I didn’t need to flap about getting back in time or finding a babysitter. I knew the garage waiting area had a coffee machine, some toys and a tv, so I brought along some books and snacks and we settled down and made ourselves comfy for the long wait we’d been warned that it would take. Mini was extremely well-behaved for the first hour, playing on the floor with cars. The second hour, she took off her shoes so she could wriggle around the sofa and play the longest game of I-Spy in the world with me. For the 3rd hour, we counted the number of vans vs cars that went past, then the cars of each colour that went past. Mini stropped when the colours I chose kept winning on the First to 10 rule (though I was amazed that more blue cars went past in any time that we watched than red, black or silver. Blimey!)

Aware that the patient garage staff might be as fed up of I-Spy and 4 yo loser strops as me, I decided that as we were the only ones in the waiting area, it really wasn’t anti-social to change the tv channel from BBC News to CBeebies. Oh, Same Smile‘s on. Great (!) Mini was delighted, though. I guess the mechanics felt the same as me, because it only took 5 mins of being subjected to that programme before the car was out and re-booked for another time.

So there we have it: if you need the garage to speed up a little, just turn on CBeebies.