Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bad Driver Hit List

It's that brief period between Christmas and New Year when I feel it's acceptable to be a moaning old grouch (like normal) without being accused of either ruining Christmas or lacking optimism for the New Year. So here goes.

When I am king, and I can decree that it is perfectly acceptable to have a bloomin' great laser gun fitted to the bonnet of your car with which to evaporate the bad drivers holding you up... then this is a list of people who had better not get in my way.


  • Forty-mile-an-hour-ers. Usually driving a small hatchback, these idiots maintain a steady 40 in all conditions and locations. You come up behind them on glorious 60mph a-roads pootling along at their fixed speed, and of course there's another one coming the other way that prevents an overtake. But then you get to a town - 30mph limit, and they rocket off into the distance, mowing down small children and mothers with prams as they speed through the busiest of traffic. You lose them in the distance. You clear the town, and quickly catch up with them again. Doing 40mph natch, but now with the odd dead pedestrian impaled over their bonnet, unnoticed by the driver. Repeat until frustration level reaches 11.
  • The Blind. Now I'm no spring chicken myself. And I won't be telling you anything you don't know when I say that there are a hell of a lot of elderly drivers out there who can't bloomin' well see where they're bloomin' well going. Oldies... step up to the plate, take one for the team... for God's sake stop driving when you can't see the road any more. Please. I know it'll be hard. But think of what you could potentially do to others by your actions. Use the Tesco home delivery service and buses. Come on.
  • Can't-be-bothered-to-indicate-ers. What is it about moving your arm about a foot to use the indicators that some folk find so onerous? There's a roundabout near where I live where 90% of people turn left... so about 90% of these 90% can't get themselves motivated enough to indicate their intentions, I mean they always turn left there, I guess everyone else will know that... The number of times I've sat waiting to get on this roundabout, just in case one of the 10% are actually going straight across it... my life is ebbing away, and all because these peeps can't be bothered. There's another category of roundabout abusers who do the opposite, they indicate left an exit before they're actually going to take... this is actually worse, as you assume that they really are awake enough to indicate... but no, they're just very bad at timing. Come on everyone, indicating is not hard. It's considerate. It's good manners. It's being nice. In my new world order, indicate or die!
  • Motorhomes & Caravaners. I don't need to go on, do I? You know that you're being totally selfish. You want a cheap holiday, the rest of us have to lose part of our lives so you can. I don't know how you sleep at night frankly.
  • Farmers. Now... there seems to be two sets of rules for governing what you can and can't do on the roads. One set of rules applies to the majority of us, and the other set applies to farmers. Our set of rules is comprehensive, covers most eventualities and is vigorously enforced by the old bill. And the other set of rules for farmers appears to contain one rule, namely "Do whatever the hell you like". This allows them to drive untaxed, uninsured, clearly unroadworthy huge lumps of old tat at ridiculously slow speeds, spewing slippery excrement all over wet roads at any time of the day or night, but most probably during the rush hour. And if you ever see one pull over to allow traffic passed, you know that actually he's reached where he wanted to be. He'll open a gate into a field, drive around the field for a bit picking up as much mud on his tyres as he can, and then try to spread the majority of it over the nearby road, usually on a bend. Farmers live in a world where only what THEY are doing is of any importance, so all this makes sense to them. One day when all our food arrives on ships from China, the tables will turn. 'Fresh' is vastly overrated, give me 'Fast' instead. Vengeance will be ours as farmers slowly expire in the poo of their own making.
  • Tail-gaters. Oh that's me. Oh dear. Okay... well, fair enough, I will make a New Year's resolution here and now to stop being a pain and stop tail-gating people. I've got to admit that my erstwhile theory that driving really close behind slow people will (a) cause them to pull over and get out of my way or (b) speed up, or (c) make them feel so guilty for holding me up that they swerve off the road into the nearest wall and die a fiery death - doesn't seem to work. I'll try, I really will. I mean, I'm an older chap in a diesel... it's not like a I really rocket around these days. But I do want to get home before the battery in pace-maker expires, so hopefully all the above guilty folk will try too. Yeah? Happy New Year then! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ford Focus Fusebox Fury!

There have been a couple of posts on this blog about the long term ownership of a Vauxhall Astra and a Ford Focus, both diesels, very similar specs, used in a similar way. See here and here.

The Focus is four years younger than the Astra, and has done half the mileage. But recently it let itself down, it let me down, it let my local Ford dealer down, and it let down Ford UK.

See this picture to the left? See the small amount of corrosion on the terminals?
That cost me £639. Yes. £639!

(Technically, it's a Ford 1712211 "Gem Module/Fuse Box", "Panel Assy - Fuse")
One wet morning recently (are there any other sorts of morning recently?) I set off in the Focus on the school run only to find the wipers were not working.
My local Ford Dealer (understandably) took a day to track down the fault. In the passenger side foot-well, behind the glove box, resides a fusebox. It is a big lump of plastic with fuse holders and some sockets into which plugs the wiring loom. As you can see above, somehow the terminals for the wiper connection had corroded and failed. The dealer didn't give us the choice to just clean up this corrosion, but ploughed on and replaced the fuse box at a cost of £380 odd (or over 2 Xbox360's worth as I like to think of it). They found no evidence of a leak on the foot-well, so how it happened is a mystery.
I have subsequently approached Ford about the resulting alarming bill of £639, but to no avail. The car is obviously out of warranty. They are unashamed of the ridiculous cost of this lump of plastic. The dealership sticks to it's idea that no repair could have been attempted. So I've got to take it on the chin.
No explanation has been put forward as to how this happened, so there's no reason think it won't happen again. I doubt it, as I think the fault must have originated in the manufacturing process. I'd love to hear from anyone else who has experienced a similar problem. I keep thinking that if this fault had manifested itself on the motorway at 70mph in the fast lane on a very wet day, then I would have had a much harder time of it. At least only my wallet got hurt this time.

"Epic fail", Ford... yet another round in the fight to my reliable Astra!

Update 2015 - a few people have contacted me recently having suffered the same fate as myself on this topic. One unfortunate lady actually has had it happen twice! This has got to be a design fault, and Ford are profiting to the tune of £600-£700 each time they get to fix the fault for us. Outrage. Please get in touch with me if you've had this too.

I wrote this article a few years ago now, and I must say it was a cathartic exercise to try and make myself feel a little better about this, um, misfortune. However, in recent times I have been contacted by several people in exactly the same position - I was not alone!

It seems extremely probable that the fault is caused in fact by condensation produced by the car's air-con dripping from the glove box onto the unprotected fuse box. In other words a serious design fault. For this, Ford are regularly charging somewhere between £700 to £1000 to put it right - this does not seem fair, now does it?

A recent victim has decided to set up a Facebook page on this subject, you'll find it here : Facebook

Could I urge you if you are a fellow sufferer to visit the page, or to contact me.

Time has passed, I've sold my Focus, but time is not healing the scars. I have heard from many people who have suffered from the same defect and all have been forced to spend large amounts of cash putting it right.

I think Ford should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for taking advantage of its customers - they made a design error, their dealers get to make hundreds fixing it, complaining does no good.

Plus, due to the random nature of which part of the fusebox corrodes, this is a safety issue too. It's a bloomin' outrage is what it is!

Suffice to say that despite my favourite car of all time being a Ford, and the fact that I've owned more Fords than any other make - I will NEVER buy another. Never ever.