PetrolBlog Fleet update: March 2012

I’ve been planning a PetrolBlog Fleet update for a little while, but for some reason I never seem to get around to doing it. But following quite a busy month for the Fleet, I figured there’s no time like the present to kick things off. So, pinch and a punch, first day of the month…

1990 Saab 9000i

After a relatively uneventful winter, it’s the Saab that hugged the limelight in March. Following a routine oil and filter change at the start of the month, I received the road tax renewal form through the post. Now ordinarily, this would signal the time to put the car up for sale and go in search of the next £500 chariot. But instead, I found myself reaching for the debit card and heading off to the DVLA’s website in order to re-tax the Saab. Not for six months, but for 12. Yes, the 9000i is a keeper.

Only there was a problem. According to the website, it wouldn’t be possible to tax the car because it didn’t have a valid MOT certificate. Surely there was some mistake? Surely I couldn’t be so absent minded as to let the MOT run out? But yes, sure enough, the MOT expired a day earlier. Drat.

Saab 9000i in for its MOTA quick call to the excellent Tavistock Tyres in Devon and she was booked in a few days later. Fortunately I had the Skoda Octavia vRS on loan, so the old girl wasn’t being used anyway. Doesn’t excuse the fact that I let the MOT slip though.

Step forward problem number two. In all my years of car ownership, I’ve only had one MOT failure. This was a 1981 Audi 80 GLE, a car that failed so badly, my Dad was advised not to drive it home from the garage. As a penniless student, I cut my losses and sold it for spares.

Sadly, probably down to the lack of preparation of my part, the 9000i became my second failure. Chief problem was a nearside CV joint boot, with the handbrake and headlight adjustment also being faulty. All relatively simple to fix.

New number plate lights for the Saab 9000iA seemingly trivial issue involved a failed bulb in one of the number plate lights. It must have only just failed as it was working a few days early, but nevertheless it needed replacing. Which wouldn’t have been a problem had the screws which hold the lens in place not rusted to uselessness. With no other option but to break the lens, we had to source a new unit. As it had to be flown in from Sweden, I took the opportunity to replace both lights. Despite being £24 each, I now have the satisfaction of knowing I’ll be okay the next time the bulb goes.

So with a fresh MOT, the tax was renewed for another year and I can look forward to another 12 months of safe, no frills Swedish motoring.

New 15" Ronal alloy wheels for the Saab 9000iOne last thing on the Saab. It will soon be time to remove the excellent Goodyear UltraGrip 8 winter tyres, so I’m currently researching the best summer tyres. The plan is to remove the wheels and tyres and store these until October. In readiness for the changeover, I’ve sourced a set of period 5-spoke Ronal alloys from eBay. I’ve been searching for a set of these since I bought the car and although they’ll need a refurb at some point, I’m looking forward to seeing what they look like on the Saab. Good times.

Total cost for the Saab this month – £702.86, including 12 months road tax, MOT, service and new alloys.

Current MPG – 29.93

Mileage since purchase in September 2011 – 8,703

Mileage this month – 886

2002 Audi A6 Avant 3.0 sport quattro

Audi A6 Avant 3.0 sport quattro on PetrolBlogThings have been less eventful for the Audi A6. I’m slightly surprised that’s coming up to a year since it was pressed into service as the replacement for the urS6, but since then it’s done a fine job of ferrying the family around in comfort. The 3.0 V6 engine remains delightful, with the Multitronic gearbox providing a relaxed drive when necessary. My wife tends to favour the automatic mode, whereas I prefer the sequential option whenever possible.

There have been two problems this month, one much easier to identify than the other.

A blown sidelight bulb gives me the ideal opportunity to replace both lights with a pair of white bulbs. Call me picky, but I prefer the sidelights to match the white glow of the xenons, rather than the standard fit orange bulbs. I’ll be off to PowerBulbs for the replacement set.

On a more serious note, the car refused to start last week. Without warning, the engine turned over but failed to catch. After plugging her in to the diagnostic equipment, the fault was put down to a dodgy engine switch. It remains to be seen if the problem has been cured. Fingers crossed.

Total cost this month – £131.26 for diagnostics and switch

Current MPG – 24.8

Mileage since purchase in July 2011 – 7,186

Mileage this month – 540

1989 Citroën AX GT

Citroën AX GT on PetrolBlogAll of this expense and hassle has meant that the Citroën’s emergence from hibernation has been put on hold. After some initial enthusiasm when, after four months without use, she fired into life at the first time of asking, the AX GT has been confined to the dehumidified garage.

With the recent fine weather, it’s been frustrating to have the only true drivers’ car on the fleet sat dormant in the garage, but hopefully by the end of April she’ll be back on the road.

In the meantime, I have to put up with the sight of her with two flat tyres and being without tax, MOT or insurance. Sigh.

Total cost this month – £0 (sadly)

Current MPG – 0 (annoyingly)

Mileage since purchase in October 2010 – 987

Mileage this month 0 (frustratingly)

If I can maintain momentum, there’ll be another PetrolBlog Fleet update at the end of April.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

18 comments

  1. April 1, 2012
    #Project924

    Glad to see the Saab is earning it’s keep. Always gutting when an MOT lapses, even more so when it fails.

    It’s a great lineup, saved the best until last, in my eyes, that’s a particularly good shot of the GT too. Shame about all those zeros for the AX. Very frustrating to have a great drivers’ car sitting there that you just can’t use.

    Reply
    • April 1, 2012
      MajorGav

      Hopefully it’s just a matter of weeks before the AX is on the road again. Fingers very much crossed…

      Reply
      • April 1, 2012
        #Project924

        I’ll keep them crossed here too!

        Reply
        • April 1, 2012
          MajorGav

          Ha! Thank you.

          Reply
  2. April 2, 2012
    darrenvleslie

    Good to read up on the fleet, and happy that your keeping the Saab for a bit longer at least. Running several cars, especially when all the expense happens at once is not for the faint hearted, ouch!
    A suggestion for you, get that AX on the road asap, as before you know it, the spring / summer will be gone and it’ll never see the light of day again due to ‘other things’ getting in the way.
    Oh, and any chance of a brief write up on how the UltraGrips faired over the ‘winter’?

    Reply
    • April 2, 2012
      MajorGav

      Glad you like the alloys. I must say, I’m rather pleased I was patient and waited for the right set to come along.

      As for the UltraGrips – yes, a full report will be completed this month.

      Reply
  3. April 2, 2012
    Ton D. (@Tonsty)

    Reading about the Saab reminded me of the ‘extended MOT’ of my 968 when I imported it. It’s like the regular MOT but done properly. The essence are the last two words, as some MOTs are done by blindfolded chimps that probably would’ve let that Audi 80 GLE pass with flying colours.

    Anyway… After a serious attempt to find faults with the 968, they were about ready to give me the green light, when they noticed neither of the number plate lights were working. Being German, the screws came right out and I could buy two new bulbs at the DIY center across the street and get the green light minutes later 🙂

    Reply
    • April 2, 2012
      MajorGav

      Now that would have been much easier!

      Reply
  4. April 3, 2012
    BrightonEd

    Nice update. Re: Non-starting Audi, I had a similar problem with my old 530d. Intermittent non-starting. Turned out to be an iffy cam sensor. The car ‘thought’ there wasn’t a cam attached to the engine & wouldn’t let it start. Bloody frustrating.

    Oh, & get the AX out on the road!

    Reply
    • April 3, 2012
      MajorGav

      Thanks. To be honest, I’ve always found the Audi sensors to be a bit iffy. On the urS6 they had a tendency to report issues that simply weren’t there. As you say, sometimes the car wouldn’t start as a result. Interesting that the next generation A6 has the same issues, along with your old BMW. Come to think of it, my old Passat did the same thing too. Must be a German thing. Trying to be too efficient?!

      As for the AX. I know, I know…I’m on it. 😉

      Reply
  5. April 4, 2012
    Simon Hingston

    Aah the MOT. That’s about right having something as daft as the lamps cost so much. The Forester here was back on the road with new MOT (£550 cos some of it I couldn’t do, grr) tax and insurance. Just as well as I ended up in hospital 40 miles away with 6 inches of snow and the wife having to get out to feed the ponies. That car is quite the mountain goat. Next protect the underside, ever used POR15 or any other to convert and protect rust?

    Reply
    • April 4, 2012
      MajorGav

      Hospital 40 miles away? What on earth happened?

      I’ve no experience of POR15. There are quite a few reviews on the interweb. Most seem positive, but point out that getting the application right is crucial.

      Reply
      • April 4, 2012
        Simon Hingston

        Ahh that’s local! Was having one’s gall bladder removed yesterday but hate the places so home today 😀 Bit sore mind.
        Was looking at that and some of the Bilt Hambler (cos their shampoo, clay & wax is fab) bits as Forester might survive these roads a bit longer now lol!
        Glad you stuck with the Saab I always liked them (not as much as a C6 mind) but not had one yet. That amount spent on an ‘old’ car sounds daft till you add up the cost of a new one doesn’t it!

        Reply
        • April 4, 2012
          MajorGav

          Ah, well good luck with the recovery process.

          Agree 100% with your old car/new car comparison. The way I see it, £700 for a year of motoring isn’t too bad, even better with your £550 Forester. No depreciation, no finance, no bother.

          Reply
  6. May 16, 2012
    Classic Hub

    I’m a bit behind but glad to see the ol’ girl’s still providing sterling service! Every time I have a long drive, I do miss those super-comfy seats…

    Reply
    • May 16, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Hello Ian. Good to hear from you. How are the Citroëns?!

      Further update on the 9000 coming up soon…

      Reply
      • May 18, 2012
        Classic Hub

        Citroens are in various states of repair. Three of them to look after at the moment, and a Ford Maverick. And the wife’s Mini.
        Look forward to more updates!

        Reply
        • May 18, 2012
          Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

          It was a stupid question. I only had to visit your site for a full update! Loving the Maverick – another ‘interesting’ choice! 😉

          Reply

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