Thursday, October 06, 2011

An S-Max like mine...
Years of owning a Fiat Multipla, all the jokes, the poor reliability etc etc finally took it's toll and at the end of July I bought a three year old Ford S-Max people carrier. I went back to being a Ford owning, Ford loving, fanatic. I miss my Multipla's, I still run the Multipla Owners club UK website and repairs microsite but I just had to make a change. Reliability, nothing less than the poor reliability. So, back to the S-Max!

Well, it's big, seven seats, tows my "tintent" well and being diesel, remarkably economical. Probably better than the smaller Multipla. However, I was buying the dream, a more reliable, comfortable, prestigious car. Or, so I thought!!

Less than ten weeks of ownership, 2750 miles and...the handbrake jammed on. Nothing would budge it so we called the breakdown guys in to tow her away to be repaired. A guy turned up from "AutoNational", in a "Green Flag" liveried van, and proceeded to scratch his head and take apart the interior of my car! Out came some screws, bits of trim and voila! they say, one centre console in pieces, exposing all the handbrake mechanism.
S-Max handbrake...
Now S-Max handbrakes are unusual in that they look like the handles that come out of a suitcase with wheels on them. There is a little release button on the right hand side that you press to release the handbrake. You guessed it... this was, as they say in the Black Country,"BOST!" To all of you not from the aforementioned area, that roughly translates to broken/kaput/no longer works!
A simple pawl and ratchet..

It would appear that the mechanism that pulled the pawl away from the, sorry am I getting too technical? had indeed sheared off in a lovely clean granular break! A textbook piece of "not made strong enough" if ever we had seen one!

Five minutes later, with the judicious use of a small screwdriver and the handbrake was released but' sadly not repaired.

Outlining the dangerous nature of driving without a fully operable handbrake and a kindly reminder of "DON'T... pull it on again!" My little tow truck man drove of with a wave and cheery flash of all his emergency lights.

Now, I was doing a removal favour for a friend at the time, I had a full car, a trailer piled high and no of we went!

We accomplished the mission successfully, me choosing a route with no hills, impossible around Dudley, but I did my best and we pulled into the drive a few hours later and unhitched the trailer and put it under the carport. We then parked the car in front to stop aforesaid trailer being whipped by scrapmen and firmly applied the handbrake to stop them shifting the car. Er...firmly applied the what!!??! My heart sank...

Armed with a torch and screw driver I buried my hand down in the depths of the centre console and handbrake mechanism, had a firtle around and within seconds I had released the brake. However, I had noticed exactly how it worked and within a few minutes could easily release the brake using two hands! This was deemed useful if I ever really had to use the handbrake.

Now, I think I have forgotten to say it's close to nine pm on a Friday night and I could not do anything until Monday morning. I also knew I had a three month warranty at the dealer from whom I bought the car and a further nine months that I had brokered into the deal, so, I was not unduly worried about costs!

Monday, I rang the dealer having emailed them to no effect. Typical huh! They in-turn said "a classic claim, should be no problem mate, ring the warranty company!"

I did! Bar stewards lied!

The warranty is common in the trade and works like this. 
You breakdown and get yourself to a garage by whatever means. The garage rings the warranty company outlining the nature of the problem and how it complies with there criteria as set out in the warranty manual. A claim number is passed over to the garage with an agreed price for the repair which the dealer will duly invoice to them when the repair is completed.

Sounds easy doesn't it? This is what actually, truthfully happened...

  • I rang the Warranty company to find out how it all works.
  • I rang a local dealer and outlined my plight and what I had found.
  • They looked at the car that day and concluded it was a broken faulty part.
  • They rang the Warranty company, explained the situation and the warranty company said..."NO CLAIM!" It's wear and tear or damage by the owner!!!
  • The garage hung up, looked at my car again, and rang the warranty company back.
  • They outlined the nature of the claim and started!??!
  • The warranty company then say they will send an engineer to inspect the damage.
  • Engineer turns up Thursday, the garage have lent me a FREE courtesy car. He inspects the damage and says...YES! (Big sigh of relief)
  • He then asks for a discount on the parts and labour which amounted to about fifteen pound and duly drives of into the noonday sun back to Crewe!
Now I dunno, the whole bill came to something like £250 quid inc VAT. What was the cost of his time/wages/car and anything else? Does that sound economic to anyone of you? that another reason our Insurance/Breakdown cover/Warranties are all so dear? Burocracy!??!

Well I don't know what to make of it but, at least my car is fixed and it's cost me nothing!
I have found a cracking little garage not a mile from my home and I think that, ladies and gent's, is what they call... a RESULT!

Till the next time... G'night all.

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