10 July 2011

Klapped out Ka

My Ford Ka has suffered a bit of a blow. What appeared to be a niggle is something a lot more serious.

REALLY wasn’t a great day for me on Tuesday. When I came to Accrington to see the people who are helping me find work weren’t there when I turned up. Making matters worse was on my way back home that my car broke down and grinded to a halt.

I was driving down back from Oswaldtwistle towards Darwen. As I was heading towards the roundabout. There was a big clunk coming from the engine. The old, pushrod Endura-E unit wasn’t ticking and tappeting away - as it should. It lost power, grinded to a halt and broke down.

I was on my own. As it’s always the case with breakdowns, I had to push the vehicle out of the junction and make sure no cars were coming on my right. Luckily, there was a building products shop and a car park next to where I broke down. Two guys in the shop helped me push the vehicle out of the roundabout, into the car park. Who I thank for getting me and the vehicle out of danger.

That day, it felt like my world was falling apart. Things were pretty much going from bad to worse. I did stay calm and - just - kept a lid on. I could have done a Basil Fawlty venting my frustration on the car. Felt like giving it a damn good thrashing, but that wouldn’t have achieved anything. It wouldn’t have mended the car would it?

When asking for advice and helping out on what the problem could be with the engine failure. The problem identified at the time were worn or corroded spark plugs. That itself a common problem with the Endura-E engines. So I got some replacement spark plugs. Got the old ones taken out that were very worn out. Hopefully that was to be a cheap and simple fix. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, the new plugs fitted in didn’t solve the problem as the car still wouldn’t start.

So the car was to be towed away with a rope and brought back home. It was put on a ramp and looked at again. Turning out to be a broken camshaft on the engine - which is a LOT more serious. I was very overwhelmed when I found out.

I’ve owned this car for over a year. It’s been fun but rather temperamental. My Mum has told me “it’s an old car” so many times and used that for defending it. I’ve had niggles with it. When I fork out some money to put things right. Something else goes wrong. I can write you a long list of things of problems this car has or had. The list of problems is growing.

The list of never-ending problems

  • Rust on the usual places: doors, sills, tailgate, around the fuel cap and the rear wiper pivot
  • Tracking out
  • Power steering belt snapped
  • Oil leaks
  • Worn suspension bushes/wishbones
  • Windscreen wiper motor failing
  • Central locking problem with a stiff lock on driver’s door. Can lock the vehicle on that door but can’t unlock it.
  • Heather control valve failure with only cold air blowing
  • Speedometer not working
  • Broken fan and overheated, which I didn't know at the time of failure. Due to the car having no temperature and oil pressure gauges. That blew up the old engine. Followed by an engine replacement.
  • Last but not least is a broken camshaft in the engine

What shall I do?

There are a few things I could do with the Ka. So here are the options.

  • Scrap it - the easiest option to do. It will cost more to repair it than what it's worth.
  • Sell it - not going to get much with it in one piece. Especially when the vehicle will not start.
  • Break it and sell the parts. Should make more money out of that. However, I don’t have the space to do that.
  • Keep it and fit a new engine - again!! Expensive but the easiest solution to keep it on the road.
  • Keep it and not bother with the repairs - Will help with lowering the cost of me insuring a car in the future. Even if the car’s not on the road. I’ll just have to save up for a car to replace this fickle old thing.

I was naive at the time I bought the Ka a year ago. It’s had four previous owners and virtually no service history. There’s not even a log book. I liked the look of it and what it had such as the alloys, body coloured bumpers, mudflaps and chrome tail pipe on the exhaust. My heart ruled my head in this case. I was excited as it was my first car. Oh and it was cheap to buy. What looked like a peach turned out to be a lemon. Appearances can be deceptive.

Maybe I haven’t looked after my car as well I could. Maybe it’s been neglected in the hands of the Ka’s previous owners. I have learnt some valuable lessons - especially when it comes to buying a car. Get a car with evidence that it’s been looked after. Whether the vehicle’s in good condition or not, doubley makesure it HAS (some) paperwork with receipts and invoices. For peace of mind, the car’s should be cheaper to run, maintain and keep on the road. It’s much more unlikely of any nasty surprises coming to me.

To end this, there’s no denial that this Ka is a dog. It’s a shame because it’s a car that’s genuinely fun to drive. If I keep it, it's definitely not going to be on a long term basis that's for sure. I’m going to be off the road for a while. In the near future, should be hopefully getting a new car - depending on what the circumstances are.

I have been a glutton for punishment with the Ka. It was my first car and I’ve had plenty of fun with it. No doubt in years to come, I will look back at it with amusement.

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