Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Big News: A new car!

It was about time. The Ford Granada was no longer attainable: as a consequence of the burnt relais in the fuse box, the front lights stopped working. No low beam, no high beam, not even the stand / parking light, nothing. The rear lights were ok, also the interior illumination. But somehow the electric wiring to the front lights must have gotten damaged. Maybe the whole fuse box would have to be changed...

And another problem popped up briefly: when putting the gear into "Drive", usually the engine gets a slight boost, to idle smoothly. A few days ago, this boost was gone - the engine just idled at low RPM while in D, but not high enough, so that on a hill the car started rolling backward. This would not be good... the MOT is due soon, and I would have to pay a lot to get everything fixed and make the car safe again.

So I decided that it might be better to get another car, and probably sell this one. Autotrader was again the web site of choice for searching. I wanted again an estate (station wagon, "Kombi"), and this time I wanted a Diesel, to get a better economy. Automatic transmission would be nice to have, but not mandatory. I am now more confident driving in the UK, and I think I can manage switching gears and driving "on the wrong side". I had my mind set on a Citroen - I wanted to try how this active hydro-pneumatic suspension. I would have liked to get one of the old DS from the 1960s/70s, maybe as a station wagon. But these cars are very rare. More realistic seemed the XM, or the Xantia. The C5 is too new, which means too expensive. I did again not want to spend much money, but I was willing to go up to 2500 Pounds.

It was hard to find the combination Estate/Diesel/Automatic... the closest one would be 150 miles away near London, and I would not drive so far just for a car. So I searched for a non-automatic, and yesterday there was one for sale, 17 miles from here, a 1997 Xantia, with 179k miles. So I called, then drove to Harrogate. A test ride, and then I had to make decision: buy the car, or wait for a better opportunity. I decided to go for it. The dealer offered me still something for the Granada, meaning he reduced the purchase price of the Citroen Xantia from 595 to 450 pound, and to me that sounded reasonable. The high mileage was a bit of a turn-off, but the car really drove well. No rust, no oil leaks, a quite good condition. A hadshake sealed the deal.

And so I drove today again to Harrogate, with 350 pound in cash in my pocket (to pay the rest after the 100 pound deposit). The last ride of the Ford Granada, at 144k miles. Then back with the "new" car. It drives nicely. Was a bit dusty, so the first thing I did was to clean it a bit inside and take it to a car wash. Now it looks ok, after I vacuumed the floor and brought the dashboard to a shine. Amazing how one can bring back that "new car look" so easily, with just a few wipes of some "shiny armor" liquid. If car dealers would do that, they immediately could charge more for their used vehicles, as the pure look would impress potential customers.

Now the car has to prove itself in the daily drive. The suspension is great: I put it on a high level when entering the steep driveway of the cottage. The lowering is nice too - allows better access to the motor. A few things do not work: the rear wiper does not move - might be a cable or the fuse. The left rear door lock does not operate with the remote, needs to be opened and closed manually. And at one point the warning light for the airbag began to blink - not sure what this means, it stopped now and seems fine.