Squeals on wheels

Image source: http://imgur.com


I’m mobile again. You really don’t know how much you rely on the car till you don’t have one. Living in the city years ago it was no problem; public transport filled the gaps, and made having a car not only largely unnecessary for day to day life, but pretty pointless. It is quicker, easier, cheaper and ecologically friendlier to use buses than it is to sit alone in a traffic jam or fight for a parking space.

Here, however, in a rural village, it is a different story and your choices become very limited. Expensive too, when taxis have to plug the gaping holes in public transport, where buses per day can be counted on your fingers and destinations are even more limited.

There is more to it than the practicalities though, the car represents possibility. Even if I don’t go anywhere… I could. And that freedom from constraint makes a world of difference. I’ve felt as if my wings had been clipped and I can’t say I like it.

The morning brought pouring rain; I was soaked before I got to my son’s and wetter still before I finally picked up the car. The mechanic explained what had been done… and I kept my smugness to myself. I had been right… fuel delivery problem. I’m no mechanic, but I’ve been around engines long enough to know something, if not a lot.

My very first car was a Mini. I had bought it thinking it small enough for my hobbit-sized proportions, only to find it had been built with room for long legs. And bigger feet. After I had installed a false floor so I could both reach the pedals and actually operate them (yes, that short) I set about learning my way round the car.

I had helped enough with my first husband’s determination to swap the engine and gear box on every car we ever owned, so I could identify most bits. The thing wasn’t firing on all cylinders, so the idea was to strip it down, clean it bit by bit, replace the valves and reassemble it. That way I should have both a car that ran and a reasonable idea of how and why. “Suck, squeeze, bang, blow” may well be a reasonable definition of the internal combustion engine, but it doesn’t actually tell you a lot about what to do if you break down.

I knew the obvious things of course… like how to fix a broken fan belt with a stocking and putting an egg in a leaking radiator. These, however, seemed somewhat unprofessional approaches. I rolled up my sleeves and got down and dirty with the innards under the bonnet.

The methods were typically unorthodox. A friend who knew engines was giving me step by step advice and cringed to find me cleaning the engine block with oven cleaner and scouring pads. It worked…He was even less pleased to find I had abandoned the laborious process of grinding down the valves by hand and stuck them in the end of an electric drill…

However, following his instructions the engine was eventually reinstalled. And still misfiring. It took an investigation worthy of Sherlock Holmes to eventually realise that the carefully labelled HT leads we had removed and replaced in the correct sequence had not been in the right place to begin with. That had, apparently, been the only problem. However, I learned some valuable lessons that have helped keep things running even when I can’t afford the garage.

I fell in love with driving… and I have been climbing the walls without my wheels.

This morning. the mechanic finally handed me the keys… and the bad news about what else will need to be done. Then feeling less like a hobbit and more like Gollum by the second, I sank into the well-worn seat and placed my hands on the wheel. A turn of the key and she sprang into familiar life.

I settled back in with a sigh of relief.

My precioussss.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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25 Responses to Squeals on wheels

  1. alienorajt says:

    Oh that is so sweet and funny and impressive, Sue; I love the mechanical bits with you getting up close and personal to a car’s inwards! Brings some terrific images to my mind! xxx


  2. Green Embers says:

    Oh no, I am not sure feeling like Gollum is healthy. We might have to take the care away, for your health. 😉

    Glad to see you have it back! Having a car is liberating, for sure. 🙂


  3. Glad you’re mobile again!


  4. noelleg44 says:

    So glad to hear your back on wheels, Sue. I have the opposite problem from you – I am tall, and there are cars I can’t drive comfortably because of that. My first car was a Model A Ford phaeton (my Dad’s idea of something unique) and I loved it. Am hoping to find another one when I can afford it! Happy motoring!


    • Sue Vincent says:

      The one car that fit me as if it were tailered was my old MRII… and I loved that car, but being almost a classic it became impossible to afford to repair.

      On the other hand, this one is also small and far more practical, I have to admit.


  5. and off she goes….no more feeling stuck…so even if you are home, comfortably ensconced…the possibilities are wide open.


  6. Funny that I’m rereading LOTR at the moment and Tom Bombadil just popped up. Funny that I know Gollum is lurking. They flat-bedded my car to the repair shop today since it was not willing to go under its own power. Maybe tomorrow we’ll know what’s wrong with it. Maybe. My son keeps trying to reassure me that it probably isn’t as serious as it seems, but since we don’t have a diagnosis, I’m not consoled. We don’t even HAVE a bus. Any bus. Or a taxi. I think there used to be a taxi, but they went out of business a decade ago. Normally, Owen would try to get a grip on it himself, but it is below zero out there, too cold to do anything. And so the car is off to the shop and we wait. I’m glad yours has come home. I hope ours will soon follow.


  7. Eliza Waters says:

    Yay! Mobile once again. Congratulations!


  8. socialbridge says:

    Brilliant! Drive safely after being so hemmed.


  9. jenanita01 says:

    glad you have your wheels (and freedom) back, Sue. The one thing I regret is that I can no longer drive, my hip says otherwise. But I really miss it, the sense of escape and the independance…


  10. jenanita01 says:

    Reblogged this on Anita & Jaye Dawes and commented:
    The siren call of the open road!


  11. Ahh, glad you got mobile again Sue, there’s nothing worse when you live in the country.

    My first car was a mini too, and so is my current car, however the new one is a lot bigger and I have to have the seat as far forward as I can get it lol. Like you I spent many hours under the bonnet of my old mini under the instruction of my dad, and loved it. However the new one I will leave to the professionals 😁


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I have that problem with the seat to reach the pedals, Claire 🙂 I’ve run the gamut from false floors to booster cushions 🙂 like you, I’d happily leave maintenance to the professionals these days though;)


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