It's time for Rob Griggs-Taylor to update PetrolBlog on life with his Skoda Octavia. Looks his car is suffering with soggy footwells, just like my Citroën ZX. Must be a PetrolBlog thing! Over to you, Rob...
Eleven thousand miles have been added to the 136,000 that were on my Skoda Octavia when I bought it just over six months ago and I'm still very happy with it. There are a few little niggles which have shown up over time but that's always the case with cheap cars and, although I'm not strictly following the Bangernomics rules, I'm doing my best to be logical about things.
The rear demist doesn't work. The light on the dashboard switch comes on when you press it but the rear window fails to clear. In the summer this wasn't terribly disturbing but during the recent colder weather I've found it to be everything from a mild irritation to actually dangerous. Reversing while trying to see through opaque glass is worryingly difficult and I have on occasion got out of the car to check for approaching pedestrians or vehicles before moving. At work and on my driveway I've started reversing in, as the window has mainly cleared after a reasonable drive.
This issue has been exacerbated by the leak that I've discovered. Like many of you (probably) I tend to have a car or motorcycle magazine lying around in the car. During some, ummm, let's say exuberant cornering the magazine made its way to the rear nearside floor where it lay for a few hours. When I rescued it to read some time later it was absolutely sodden, with water dripping off and many of the pages welded together. A hand on the carpet confirmed that there was a considerable quantity of liquid contained therein!
So far I've been unsuccessful in tracking down the source. The window and door seals seem OK. The Briskoda forum pointed towards water ingress under the dash via the front nearside floor, as the floorpan sloped towards the rear, but the front floor is bone dry. The car has previously had roof bars and the gaps in the roof remain, so I taped them closed with that friend of the bodger, gaffa tape (in matching black). It's still wet. My next plan is to borrow the dehumidifier from the garage for a weekend and fire it up in the car to try and dry things out. Hopefully this will then allow for a more painstaking search for the solution.
In less irritating but more expensive, news four replacement tyres have been sourced and fitted. New Goodyear EfficientGrips now grace the front alloys, with some part-worn Bridgestone Turanzas on the back. The car had Turanzas all round previously and they were great on roadholding but just a tad noisy and the Goodyears advertised 3dB lower noise on the new, and quite useful, European tyre labels. I couldn't afford new tyres all round just prior to Christmas, hence part-worns on the back.
Then, on the fifty mile drive home from the office a worrying grinding noise started emanating from the front as the suspension compressed over bumps. A very slow trip to Stones garage to get it checked out showed that the plastic engine bay under-tray had removed itself from some of its mounting points. Lee put the car over the pit and remounted the tray, using some additional self-tapping screws to ensure it doesn't happen again. Advice from the mechanics was unanimous that the trays are a complete waste of time on most cars and are best inserted into some form of waste receptacle, but in this case the front plastic inner wings are attached to it so this wasn't desirable.
An interim service, which included new front brake pads, made December an expensive month as that and the tyres added up to nearly £500. And that's what brought me to the decisional crossroads that I've been mulling over for the last few weeks.
I absolutely trust the mechanics at my local garage, and they've pointed out a few things that will need doing at the next major service, which at the current rate will occur in April or thereabouts. Things like the MoT, new timing belt along with the simultaneous (and very sensible) water pump replacement, rear discs and pads and some bushes in the front suspension. This is likely to add up to the thick end of £600 which seems a lot on a car which cost less than two grand.
This brings on the usual indecision - stick with a car that I know and invest money? Or cut and run for something potentially better. £600 added to the likely income if I sold the Skoda would allow me a bit over two thousand quid to spend on a replacement, so I went browsing. OK, we all need an excuse to wade through eBay, Auto Trader, PistonHeads and so on, don't we?
None of my circumstances have changed since the last time I looked for a car, so I still need something economical, with cruise control and which is interesting to drive. And, to be perfectly honest, I can't find anything that fits the bill better than the Octavia. Believe me, I've tried.
A Rover 75 is pleasingly comfortable and non-threatening to other drivers, but not as fuel-efficient. The Mondeo is still brilliant but if you buy one that needs the dual-mass flywheel replacing you'll be spending over £1,000 replacing it. The Volvo S60 D5 still appeals but again isn't as economical. None of the smaller diesel hatches have cruise control. And the VW Passat is still undeniably dull. So, for the time being, I'm saving hard for the next service and will stick with the Octavia for a bit longer.
My friend Al visited just before Christmas in his slightly newer Octavia Elegance estate and we chatted through the benefits. That, and the fact that my friend Pete has just ordered a new Octavia after thoroughly researching the market, suggested that perhaps it was worth keeping mine.
Driving home this evening confirmed that I think I've made the right choice. As I relaxed in the heated leather driving seat, set the cruise for a whisker under 60mph, and listened to the Pioneer CD player it was a very pleasant environment. Surprising other, faster, cars at roundabouts was fun too. And the average fuel consumption of 65.7mpg at journey end meant it was also cheap. Job done. Bring on the next ten thousand miles.
Read more from Rob here or follow him on twitter @robgt2.