Queues up Hall and Oates 1974 hit “She’s Gone.”
I sit back and close my eyes as the long slow intro builds to a delicate crescendo before the voices dripping with a restrained emotion start to sing their soulful songs of regret and confusion. I stare into the distance and loudly sing along with the chorus.
We’ve sold our car.
A Renault Megan 1.9DCI Sports Tourer (or estate as normal people would call it). Bought new in January 2005, driven for 160,000 miles and sold on Tuesday leaving not only a gap at the side of our house but also in our lives.
It has taken us on many holidays to the south of England and one to France. It has strained to keep up with Porches on motorways and sat sullen and hemmed in behind caravans and campervans on the roads of the west coast of Scotland. It has been the last car that my mother was in and it was the first car that our children got into as they were brought home from hospital. It was the first car that our younger dog the Junior Assistant was ever in. It wasn’t the first the Senior Assistant was in but she did eat a chunk out of the tonneau cover on the way home from collecting it.
It has driven 62,000 miles to Glasgow from Kintyre solely to pick up and take home my daughter. That’s twice round the equator of the earth. Living rurally where everything is quite far away we have spent a fair percentage of our lives in the car.
It arrived with gadgets and electronic wizardry. It’s headlights came on automatically as the light dimmed. It’s wipers sensed rain then how much of it there was and adjusted their frequency accordingly. It had air con and electric windows, a fuel and emission efficient powerful engine. It came with the highest rating for crash survivability. It’s large boot was a comfortable refuge for dogs and vast amounts of luggage. The perfect car for us. Sort of.
We had a blistering, long running and quite ridiculous dispute with the dealer about the documentation. It spent quite a considerable time returning to the garage for the aircon to be fixed. Something that never actually happened. The electric windows also failed with a disappointing regularity which was ironic as it was a regulator that was at fault. The driver’s window once became stuck fully open when, due to a road closure at the Rest and Be Thankful one Friday evening in January, we took the ferry to Dunoon to get to Portavadie to get to Tarbert to get home. The road was closed due to flooding which was caused by the torrential sideways rain that blew into the car. It continued to soak and freeze on me on the ferry from Gourock to Dunoon. It did the same on the road to Portavadie and on the ferry to Tarbert but not on the road from Tarbert to home. The faulty regulator fixed itself as I came off the ferry.
A senseless sensor in the engine had us heading for the dealer almost as often as for the windows and the aircon.
Once the warranty was voided by the car having completed 100,000 miles we gave up on the dealer and ranted at Renault directly and they gave the dealer a stern ticking off but that did little to mend the faults.
While we lived in Argyll we replaced 5 wheels, not tyres, wheels. The roads in Argyll were appalling and the potholes turned our wheels from circles to ovals. The council paid for two of the wheels. We soon learned of a man in Lochgilphead who returned alloy wheels to roundness with a length of sturdy wood and a large hammer. We kept him very busy. The car has used an astounding amount of tyres.
It moved with us to Skye. It was the last of our cars to leave our old house and set off for our new adventure in Skye. That was when things got interesting and expensive. The catalyser blew, as did it’s replacement. That’s quite pricey. Then we had what was thought to be the final straw; something that could become cataclysmic started to go wrong with the engine. Losing power and not starting. The car went off to another dealers intensive care unit and the diagnostics report was bad. The engine had reached the end of the road the dealer said and would need replaced. Since we also had a Land Rover Discovery 3 that was the apple of our eye and had inherited a Ford Ka that was embarrassingly small but reliable we thought of scrapping the Renault but we went to our local garage for it’s last chance. They found that maybe it didn’t need a new £4000 engine but a new £15.00 air filter…
So it had a reprieve. For almost 3 years. And it had a new turbo charger, that was also expensive. Really expensive. But the nice policeman who gave me a stern ticking off and a 21 days notice to stop the car spewing out vast clouds of thick white smoke behind it said I should get it done. It was also down to one working window, the front passenger side. That made getting the ticket from a car park machine or a drive through meal embarrassingly awkward. There was no radio as I had snapped the aerial off putting loft flooring on the roof rack. The CD player was a bit dodgy, It had been for a few years, ever since our son shoved the loose change in the car through the slot. I managed to dismantle it and retrieve the money. All £3.80 of it. Mainly 5 and 20 pences.
Now the car has reached the end of our road. There was a chance that all the oil leaking from the turbo and engine would fill the cylinders and when we turned the engine off it would keep running until it drank all the oil. Then it would blow up. There was also a water leak in the engine that might mix with all that oil. Messy.
It’s gone and I’m trying to be sad. But I can’t. I’m glad that the oil patch below where it was normally parked will slowly disappear. There is now less risk that the journey I make will be one way and end in the engine going bang. I’m not the sort of person who gives my car a name and thinks it has a personality. Cars don’t have personalities, they have bills and breakdowns that cause stress and inconvenience then poverty. I should know; my rather comfortable childhood was paid for by cars always breaking down. My father owned a garage. He was very busy.
I was listening to She’s Gone because it’s a good song, that’s all