On Thursday Feb 1 st I took my van in for its eighth MOT annual test and expected it to pass thinking that if it failed it would be something small that failed it. It failed! It did fail on something small too. Because the van carries various loads from time to time and those loads can either be heavy, light or something in-between there is apparently some sort of levelling device linked to the braking system which is supposed to raise or lower the van to compensate. A small hydraulic valve achieves this but I was told the one on my van wasn’t working properly and would need replacing. As I had booked the van in for one of its rare servicing appointments the garage mechanic would replace the part at the same time. I didn’t have to pay for the MOT until the service had been completed. The van was to return for that four days later on the Tuesday. I reckon the van has done extremely well in passing all of its tests these past eight years. It still hasn’t covered 32 thousand miles in the eleven years since purchase.
Mind you I do look after it and don’t drive like a maniac. That said though there are things I have no control over, the valve mentioned for one. In case you are interested the van is a Peugeot Partner and it really has been my partner since I bought it new in 2008. Come to think of it I have been very fortunate with the vehicles I have bought over the years. Some people change their vehicles very often but I like to get my money’s worth and keep them until it is no longer profitable to do so. I therefore haven’t had too many in the 53 years since I passed the driving test. I have had eight cars and the last two vehicles have been vans, both the same model but my present van has been much more economical than its predecessor. I don’t drive a car now as I explained in another post, the van is much more versatile.
I had to get up early on Thursday morning in order to take my van to the service depot for its annual MOT test and at the same time give it a birthday present in the form of a full service too. As the odometer only read 26747 miles it hadn’t really been in need of a major service, the last one was when the odometer read something like 15000 miles I suppose but I thought it best to have one done. It is a diesel-engined vehicle and as you can see the mileage is low. I have had it since new and I bought it in 2008 so you can see my annual mileage is low at around 3200 miles. I therefore expected it to pass the test which thankfully it did. I had to get it to the service depot which is around 1.3 miles away, before 8.30. E followed five minutes after and picked me up to return home. I’d eaten breakfast but she hadn’t so I sat with her over a coffee whilst she ate. I made the decision to begin painting the bedroom ceiling and freeze with the partially used container of paint, the same colour we used when redecorating the kitchen a couple of months ago, ‘Victorian Lace’ which is best described as dusty white, a little like mushroom perhaps. You can just about see the colour on the area nearest the windows. ( By the way the magnolia on the walls will be changed when we get the paint to suit the furniture.)We had bought another container of it the day before for we knew what we had wouldn’t be enough for the job. I managed to cover probably just over a third of the area before the opened container was empty. As I write this late in the afternoon I am not sure if the new full container will be enough to complete the area and we may have to purchase another. Here are some more pictures. During my stint up and down the ladder I received a couple of phone calls, one from somebody seeking my electrical skills and one from the service depot. The electrical work was scheduled for the following Wednesday. The service manager told me that the van had failed the test but the minor problems could be easily dealt with and he continued to say that on the previous test last year that they had cured one of the problems very easily so there was nothing to worry about. I had to interrupt him by telling him that this was my first visit to his depot for an MOT test. He then realised that he had called the wrong customer! He apologised and said he would call later regarding my vehicle, which is what he did ten minutes later to inform me that my van had passed the test but that they were proceeding with the servicing and would call again when it was done. He would have saved himself the embarrassment had he spoken to me using my name but he made the assumption I was the one he wanted to speak with. Anyway he called back less than an hour later to tell me the van was ready for collection. It was 11.30 and E drove me there to collect it and make payment. I had just finished painting what I could with the opened container which was now empty as I didn’t want to open the new container so near to lunchtime and knowing I had to go out anyway. The timing had been perfect. So that was another of the tasks before me which has been sorted. I feel as though I am at the top of the hill now ready to go down the other side. I only wish the leaking roof would be sorted soon but nothing has happened so far and we are waiting for our roofing guy to make a move. I left off finishing the ceiling for another day.
Yesterday my van had its annual MOT test. It passed with flying colours but although I expected it to there was always a little doubt as to whether it would or not. The guy at the desk said there should be no problem as the van, now seven years old and registered in 2008, has only travelled 23800 miles, a mere dot in the ocean. My insurance premium quote for the van arrived a couple of days ago and at only £302 (fully comprehensive) I accepted and duly paid the fee. I received the new certificate yesterday too. My road fund licence will be paid automatically on 2nd March by direct debit then all will be alright for another year of driving. After I drove from the testing station I was able to do the only electrical job I had for the day and indeed the last one for the week. Again I have worked every normal working day this week. A few weeks ago we noticed some plaster had fallen off a wall and the ceiling in one of the top rooms of the house. Quite a large amount of plaster had come adrift and though we couldn’t actually see any water ingress the wall was slightly damp. A few years ago, June 2010 to be precise, we had some major work going on with replacement windows installation, a dormer being clad in plastic and some roof repairs all going on at the same time. The guy who did the roof did an excellent job so we called him to ask about the present problem. He told us he was busy and also had problems with his own van too but that he would call round as soon as he could. As the problem we have doesn’t require urgent attention we didn’t mind waiting. He told us he would call to see the problem a week ago last Saturday but he didn’t arrive. I didn’t want to put him under pressure for he had told us that he wouldn’t forget us. On Wednesday afternoon this week I was at home for an hour or so when the doorbell rang. It was our roofing guy. He apologised for not having been earlier but I told him it was alright. I took him upstairs to see the problem from the inside and then he tried to inspect the roof, actually the chimney stack which is the source of the problem, but with the roof being so high he couldn’t see properly without climbing up there. I went indoors and returned with a pair of binoculars. He exclaimed, ‘Wow, they’re good aren’t they’? He couldn’t understand why we were having problems for all seemed fine. However he did say that the stack itself might require re-pointing, not a big job but scaffolding would be required for it to be done. It is too dangerous to even think about working at that height without scaffolding and in any case I would insist on scaffolding being used. He advised us to wait until we get some heavy rain and then call him again for another inspection. So it looks like we will have to wait a while for the weather to change. Usually we wish for fine weather don’t we? Just the way it goes. That heavy rain is expected tomorrow according to the forecast.
The first three months of my year is all about spending. It is all to do with my business transport, my van. First off is the annual fee for emergency breakdown service with the AA (Automobile Association) who offer different levels of cover. I pay the fee automatically by a direct debit but I am always wary of the fact that one year the subscription wasn’t debited from my account and I hadn’t noticed so I make sure each year that it has in fact been paid. Because the fee wasn’t paid, or taken, my membership lapsed for they thought I had cancelled. Most companies would follow-up on that you might expect but this time they didn’t. It wasn’t a problem until I needed their services and realised I wasn’t covered. I paid for the service and then had to reapply for membership. That was about twelve years ago. My next outgoing payments are the road fund license fee, the insurance and the MOT test which are all due before the end of February.
At the moment of writing this I have yet to receive the insurance proposal notification but I have already arranged payments for the road fund license and the MOT test. I have set up a direct debit to be automatically paid each year for the road fund license fee so I will no longer have to sort that out each year either by making a one-off payment through the Internet or by queuing at a Post Office. I have paid in advance using the Internet for my MOT test which the van will get on the 20th of this month. My little van is now seven years old having been first registered in March 2008 so this will be its fourth test. I hope there are no problems for that will mean more spending but if that is necessary then that is how it will be. In those seven years the van has only clocked up a mere 23,000 miles but it is usually only used for my business needs, rarely for anything else. That distance represents a rough mileage of only 3500 a year! No wonder my insurance premium is quite low! The van runs on diesel fuel and for diesel engines that mileage means it is barely ‘run-in’. With the implementation of new methods by the Government for collecting fees and the necessity for displaying tax disks mo longer necessary it makes the system far easier and robust. Payment evasion has become more difficult for those who try to avoid it. Checks are automatically carried out to ensure every vehicle that uses the roads are insured, taxed and tested were it is necessary. Police these days are equipped for checking on these things if you drive by a check point or are ‘seen’ by equipment in their vehicles. I will be a happy bunny if I get to March with no problems to sort out.
On Monday I put my vehicle in for its annual MOT test. I have driven less than four thousand miles since my last MOT test in this vehicle so I expected it to sail through this time. Thankfully it did. It has been 14 months since I had the vehicle serviced at the same service station (they checked their records for me) and similarly I have not driven four thousand miles since then either, in fact the mileage on this vehicle is still less than 16 thousand miles after four years on the road! The guy at the station asked me when it was last serviced but I couldn’t remember because I look more to the mileage when thinking about servicing. Of course these places would have me servicing the vehicle once or twice a year irrespective of the mileage! According to the manufacturer, Peugeot, the maintenance interval is 12 thousand miles but nevertheless I have had it serviced twice since new at 6 thousand mile intervals, mainly for oil and filter changes. It is a diesel engine so it will be less prone to the same wear as a petrol engine would be but for peace of mind I like to change the oil more often. There is a minor oil leak, very minor really but I will be taking the vehicle back within the next month or two to have it checked out. So now I have another twelve months ‘free’ motoring! Not exactly free though is it? It will be free from requiring official documentation replacement that’s all. When I take my vehicle in for its MOT test I generally wait at the station until it is done, no so when it is having a service though for that takes much more time to complete. This time whilst waiting, a young woman came in asking if they could check her oil as she thought it had all drained out. Having driven from Liverpool some twenty or more miles away I said that her engine would have seized-up had she no oil at all in the sump. It turned out that in fact half of the oil had drained out, evidently through a loose oil filter. She told me that she never checks anything under the bonnet except maybe the water reservoir for her screen wash! I thought that these days it was a requirement to know what goes on under the bonnet as part of the driving test.
At this time of year my thoughts turn towards the tasks I have to do annually. These are, ensuring my subscription to the AA goes through even though it is supposed to be an automatic affair, arranging for a date to have my vehicle checked for its annual MOT test, arranging to continue my vehicle insurance and having my road-fund licence renewed. Thankfully this year my advertising renewal payment has been offset a little. Having cancelled a few weeks of the current block of adverts I have 13 weeks still left. The treadmill of life keeps turning and we go through our annual journeys of events trying to keep up with it all. Falling foul isn’t an option if we wish to stay above the law but thankfully we do get reminded when things require our attention. I remember one year though when my bank failed to pay the AA their fee for my membership and I hadn’t routinely checked if they had received it. Later that same year I had the misfortune to be locked out of my van’s storage area in the rear as the door lock had broken. I needed access because I was in the middle of carrying out some electrical work in a client’s house. I called for help and that was when I discovered that my membership had lapsed. They came out to fix the problem of access but I had to pay my renewal fee first. This is where having a credit card comes in useful. As we get older there is a greater tendency for some of us to forget to do things so it is good to be reminded. It is the time of year when I need to remember that certain things need my attention.