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.
A 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.
A 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.
One 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
Things 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
All 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.