img_0273Not quite Mad Max, but more Mad Matt. Of course this tale isn’t set in Australia, there aren’t half-naked men in assless chaps, the vehicles aren’t sped up to make them appear faster and Tina Turner won’t be singing songs in a town powered by pig poop.

It’s a more subdued tale of my driving life and how I lost the love of driving.

Now I passed my test 7 months after my 17th birthday on the second attempt – the first test was a fail because a bus decided to pull out with no indication and that was somehow my fault!

Anyway, second time was much better – less than 20 minutes and I passed.

So I’ve been driving for nearly 22 years and have covered approx. 800,000 miles which based on the average mileage per year is actually closer to 80 years driving experience crammed into 22 years.

In those 22 years I have driven a variety of vehicles, even have a full motorcycle licence but the neck, shoulder and now knee mean I can’t ride, and have experienced all sorts of driving conditions in all sorts of weather – this is Britain after all. Add to that driving in Europe a few times and its a vast amount of driving experience.

And of course the cars, a huge selection of cars from my first which lasted less than a week before it was returned (it turned out to be part fiesta, part escort!) to my second and third cars which were the ones that taught me about the inner workings of a motor vehicle and that Haynes manuals are invaluable sources of knowledge but they leave out the fact you will cut yourself at least once when you attempt any work on a car.

Then a job where part of it involved being a field service engineer and travelling the country, this is where the miles appeared but also my love of driving and spending time in a car.

dsc00447Then it went a bit wrong, first I had the 2 car accidents which made me become a bad passenger, more nervous because of the fact I can’t control the vehicle but I was still enjoying driving as a driver so not all bad. Then learning to ride a motorbike added to the pleasure.

img_0228We moved into a flat which meant a lack of secure parking so the beloved Suzuki had to go, but it meant I could treat myself to a little more luxurious car with plenty of power, plenty of comfort and loads of toys.

I picked up the VW Passat and loved it, for a while until things started going wrong

  • The Aircon would randomly decide to fry the occupants.
  • The electronic handbrake wouldn’t engage.
  • A fuel injector failed on a twisty A road in the middle of Somerset, 3 hours for the RAC to attend and then another 2 hours being towed back home.
  • A fuel injector failed in M&S carpark one night, 2 hours later we finally got home to make dinner.
  • A fuel injector failed on the outside lane of the M4 at 60mph – no assisted steering, no assisted brakes and a hard shoulder filled with snow, then a 3 hour wait for the RAC in -5C temperatures, I was frozen and in a very bad mood, but I did build a snowman at the side of the road.
  • The exhaust temperature sensor failed.
  • The handbrake switch failed.
  • The handbrake failed to disengage – the day after the switch failed.
  • The car would randomly cut out when slowing down and approaching traffic lights, roundabouts, junctions etc

All in all this car cost far too much, the £12K price tag was reasonable and for once in my life I was wise and bought warranty for £499 and I’m glad I did – total cost of repairs was just shy of £5K, the only annoying part of this was VW Bridgend refused to deal with the warranty company so I had to pay for the repairs and claim it back, and when an injector costs £1000 to replace and its over the christmas period, you can imagine I wasn’t enthralled!

img_0995I did trade this car is as soon as the warranty was up and picked up a MK 2.5 Ford Focus, which was nice to drive and comfy, then I wanted something newer and with warranty so ended up buying the puddle jumper that is my Dacia Sandero Stepway – it’s not a bad car, but the budgetness is showing now its 3 years old, its less than comfortable for my 6’4″ shrek like frame and the basic equipment isn’t great and it is too small for me – I wish I’d gone for either a Ford Mondeo or BMW 3 Series, but you live and learn.

img_0245So here I am, with my love of driving severely depleted and it now just being something I do rather than something I enjoy.

Hopefully one day, with the right car I’ll find my love once again.