Caught in the Headlights

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Cars. I’m not interested in them. All I want is a car that’s affordable and doesn’t break down. So this is an unusual one for me. I’m going to discuss car problems.

It all started when the car wouldn’t start. Battery completely flat. Breakdown bloke starts charging battery. 

‘That’s why it’s flat. Your headlights are on.’

‘No, they’re not.’

Breakdown bloke checks in case incompetent woman can’t use light switch. They are in fact switched off.

Breakdown bloke takes out headlight relay unit to prevent battery flattening.

Local garage, then dealership, then auto electricians try to fix the problem.

The similarities : all think they’ve sorted it fairly quickly, then as we set off to pick car up, phone to say that the headlights have spontaneously come on again.

The differences : local garage and auto electricians have to spend ages, hampered by car manufacturers not allowing them easy access to wiring system diagrams. This means that car dealerships then want to charge an arm and both legs to replace whole units rather than sort out a few wires. 

Their solution would have cost almost as much as the car’s value. I don’t like this approach to ‘customer service’. It’s more like ‘as cars have become more reliable, we’ve got to make loads of money out of you somehow.’

That may be a slight oversimplification but it’s taken four weeks and two trips to Hereford to find the right expertise to sort out one wire that’s a bit corroded. Plus me having to learn more than I ever wanted to know about car electrical systems. 

Julia Wright

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