Friday, 12 October 2007

pardon my french car for sale

Since no-one ever reads my blog, I can now be frank and open about my car. Which is for sale.

This car has a computerized everything. It is supposed to guess correctly when you need to gear down. For example, going up or down steep hills or when you accelerate suddenly, the car is meant to gear down just like a good ol' manual drive. But all by itself! When you turn the ignition on, the airconditioning is supposed to automatically blast cold air into the car till the temperature reaches "bearable" and then slow down to "regulate". Oh, the marvelous features of this car!

Alas, in reality, it does none of those things. It also doesn't do many other things. There was the stage, for instance, when it wouldn't turn off. Take the keys out, walk off, and realise that the car is still partying: windscreen wipers going, radio on, lights brightly lighting up the night. To stop this strange behaviour, I had to 1) crawl over to beneath dashboard of passenger side to pop the bonnet. 2) get out and lock the car (central locking only works with power) and then 3) disconnect the battery. 4) close the bonnet.

To re-start, unlock driver's door (only door with key entry). Crawl over to passenger side, and under dashboard, to pop trunk. Re-connect battery. Start car. Whereupon all systems freak out, and have to be re-set.

Try doing this in the pouring rain, and you will begin to understand.

It didn't happen every time, you understand. Certainly not when I took it to the dealership to show them.

Oh the deviousness of this car. The belts that have fallen out! The odd clunks and beeps and lights! But folks, it's the changing of tyres that really stumps me.

Now. I have changed many tyres, and I would say that it is a pretty simple operation. I have changed a tyre on a Mitsubishi L200, which is a pretty big truck with a pretty heavy tyre. I am not a wimp.

But I have not, in 5 years, been able to change a tyre on my car all by myself. They have a fancy, weird-looking jack... No. It is, in fact, a Jacques. So you get out this Jacques. But no! First, you must REMOVE the SPARE! To do this, you find a little bolt in the trunk, and very very carefully turn it 4 times clockwise and 2 and a half times anticlockwise (I don't know exactly, I never got it right) and the tyre is supposed to drop down. Now, if you are parked on uneven ground you are in trouble, and if your flat tyre is in back well God help you. Somehow you have to get the spare out from under there. No, no, you can't jack up the back of the car to reach the spare, silly, because the JACQUE is IN THE SPARE! This is french logic at its best.

Okay. You borrowed another jack. You have the spare. And the Jacque. Now, to jack up the car. Place the Jacque in the obvious place, and wind it up, right? Aha! WRONG! The Jacque is so weird, that it defies all sense. Consult the manual, and the little drawings, and you may, just possibly, get that sucker up. It took me a while. If a man stops to help at this point, smile sweetly and say "no, thank you!" because honey, he will not read the manual no matter how many times you try to explain that it's a Jacque, not a Jack. You will be there all day, while your rescuer tries to make it work.

Now. You have to get all of the funny little tools out. There is one for removiong the caps on the wheel nuts, and one for the weird-shaped wheel nuts themselves. Do not lose these small items, or you will have to order new ones from France. These are not, however, too difficult to deal with. Once you have your spare on, put down the back seats and pelt the flat tyre, Jacque, and all other tiny pieces into the trunk. Take the car back to the dealership, because honey, there is no WAY you are going to get the tyre back under the car from whence it came.

The cable which is for winding the tyre up and down under my car has been destroyed. I must have turned 2 anticlockwise instead of 3 clockwise, or maybe turned 400 times in the wrong direction? While cursing as fluently as possible in French? The dealership says that they can replace it for $1500 plus labour. We figured we could get one second hand off a scrap car, but what do you know? All of the cables, on all of the cars, are stripped. I guess I am not the only one who has been doing it wrong.

Recently I got a flat on the highway, just south of Chaguanas. I called my father-in-law, as it was getting dark, and asked him to bring his Jack. Before he arrived, a backhoe with an inebriated driver pulled up and asked me if I needed assistance. "oh yes please!" I replied "just pick the car up with your shovel and fling it in the bush over there."

Unfortunately my father-in-law arrived before my plan could be carried out, and between the two of them they managed to change my tyre. Marveling at the deviousness of french engineering.

Anyone want to buy a French car?

2 comments:

Victoria said...

Hee hee .. some people do read your blog :) And your car sounds like a "lovely" piece of work.

Flossy said...

ha ha ha, yes, you have to go Japanese nex time!