Our long-experienced man in the trade lets off steam… The motor trade never ceases to amaze me… In an age when raw materials are scarce one would think that assemblies would be made, and relevant spares supplied, to enable dismantling when required, and in order to renew just the worn section/component, rather than a complete unit. The theory’s good, but in practice it often falls down. … [Read more...]
Grumpy Old Mechanic
Kim Henson introduces our miserable old fellow, who despite his severe grumpiness, is actually on the side of us motorists… He is particularly keen to highlight the silly things done by car manufacturers to make life as difficult as possible for the owners of the vehicles they produce, and is also happy to share some of the amazing things he comes across on a daily basis!
The object of this feature is to bring to the attention of everyone, the strange thinking, or lack of thought – and, sometimes, it has to be said, sheer idiocy – when it comes to silly design aspects of motor cars.
Let’s call our Grumpy Old Mechanic ‘John’ (which seems fair enough, as that’s actually his name!). In case you are wondering, John does in fact exist, and is the proprietor of a busy garage business in a town on the south coast of England.
He has been in the motor trade for over 40 years, and has seen it all. In terms of car makes and models, he’s worked on ‘the lot’, from humble family Fords, Austins, etc. to sporty exotica including Ferraris, Porsches, you name it.
John is not afraid to speak his mind, so be prepared for some outspoken comments from a man who works on the front line, and has to deal with the unthought-of side effects of bad design aspects.
If you feel that you too have spotted some vehicle design stupidity that you feel deserves a wider audience, please e-mail us.
So now over to John. Please read, enjoy, and smile…
Our Grumpy Old Mechanic is (quite rightly) moaning again – this time about odd-shaped fasteners requring 'special' tools! I have been in the motor trade for many years, and in that time I have seen all sorts of 'tricks' built into vehicles by manufacturers keen to drive their customers to their own dealerships for maintenance and repair, by making jobs too difficult for home mechanics or even … [Read more...]
Grumpy Old Mechanic Oil-filled Alternators – Why? Lately in my garage establishment we have had to change the engine oil and filter on a number of recent VW/Audi Group models that have the oil filter positioned high up within the engine compartment. In terms of accessibility, this is great, with no need for fumbling around in the depths of the underbonnet compartment to reach and release the … [Read more...]
Cam belt catastrophes and other (usually avoidable) horrors... Our Grumpy Mechanic says what he thinks about ignored maintenance. Every day I see the expensive results of vehicle maintenance being ignored. Notably these include engines that are clogged up internally because the oil and filter are not changed frequently enough, also written-off valves and cylinder heads because the cam (timing) … [Read more...]
If you drive an older Zafira, you NEED to read this. Our Grumpy Old Mechanic reports... Our Grumpy Old Mechanic avoids sensationalism but feels it important to reveal a safety-critical problem of which most Zafira owners/operators are almost certainly unaware… Last week a very tidy-looking first generation (‘A’ Series) Vauxhall Zafira 2.0 DTi dating from late 2003 was brought in to our … [Read more...]
Winter's coming: Make sure that you can always get your car started. Kim Henson (with input from the Grumpy Old Mechanic) advises… Typical British winters inevitably bring with them cold and damp conditions, and it is during such times that motor cars can sometimes be reluctant to perform, or even to start at all. Of course, you cannot blame them, for if you had been sat outside all night in … [Read more...]
Accidentally filling your vehicle with the wrong type of fuel can cost you dearly in time and money – in addition to the price of the wasted fuel. A report by our special guest contributor Miss Fuelling… Many of us (including me!) have done it; others have come oh-so-close… I’m talking about filling your vehicle with the wrong sort of fuel. Today’s forecourts always seem to be ultra-busy and … [Read more...]
Why do Car Manufacturers Employ Such Weird and Wonderful Fasteners, When Nuts and Bolts WithTraditional Hexagon Head Profiles (etc.) Worked Perfectly Well? "Because They Can", of course... Our Grumpy Old Mechanic has been having a(nother) moan this week, due to the fact that in order to work on modern vehicles he needs to have at his disposal a wide range of various different types of spanner … [Read more...]
In our workshop, we often ask ourselves, ‘Why?’ when considering the reasons for manufacturers to make what should be a simple operation, far more complicated, time-consuming and annoying than it needs to be. The amount of time we waste, and for which we feel that we cannot reasonably charge our customers, due to such difficulties beyond our control, is quite staggering. Going back to our … [Read more...]
It never ceases to amaze me that some people drive their car until either it comes to a complete halt, or the vehicle makes so much noise that the driver must be aware that something serious is wrong. Usually this sort of noise occurs just before the car comes to an involuntary standstill, but in the case of a car recently brought to me for attention, it might not have been able to stop at … [Read more...]
Grumpy, me? Well for once, today I almost smiled, and others who happened to be in my workshop at the time were seen to be concealing grins (at the very least). Please agree that you won’t smile, nor laugh, nor titter, when you read this – and I promise that this story is true. Recently a new customer had brought his car to me for a pre-MoT check and service, which I duly started to carry out. … [Read more...]
The other day, the lad who works for me was looking puzzled (actually that happens quite often, but I digress). On enquiry, he explained that he had been looking in vain for the bonnet release catch/handle, on a modern Peugeot… He was surprised to find that this release catch/handle was in fact located on the left hand front door pillar, so is only accessible when the door is open. Now what … [Read more...]
Yes, we know that electronic control over many aspects of modern vehicles is definitely here to stay, but in my garage we can’t help wondering if manufacturers over-complicate things in this area, ‘just because they can’… It’s all very well incorporating high levels of technology into new vehicles, and indeed, for some customers this may be a selling point. However, when those same cars are … [Read more...]
These days car engines are generally VERY expensive to rebuild or repair, and to me it always seems a shame – and a costly mistake – that so many drivers seem to care so little about what’s going on under the bonnet that they ignore early warning signs of trouble… Sure, it gives me work, but I always (still) get upset when a mechanical unit that, given a little basic care and attention, has the … [Read more...]
I wonder how many hours people waste in a lifetime, searching for the bonnet release handles/catches on cars that are unfamiliar to them? Even though I am in the trade, with long experience, I still come across vehicles in which the designers have cleverly concealed the interior bonnet pull handles in the most ridiculously obscure positions. A similar difficulty applies also to the bonnet’s … [Read more...]
Have you ever struggled to change a time-expired bulb on a vehicle? Well, if ever there’s an area that drives me up the wall in terms of manufacturers not thinking straight, it’s in the lighting department. Now we all know that it is a legal requirement for the lamps on a vehicle to function as designed. In addition, a bulb that’s ‘died’ can be seriously dangerous. For example, a car with only … [Read more...]