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Shoe-string motoring: why's Craig so 'elated' this week?

Shoe-string motoring: why's Craig so 'elated' this week? Shoe-string motoring: why Shoe-string motoring: why Shoe-string motoring: why
Published on: October 23, 2012
Published on: October 23, 2012

Shoe-string motoring: why's Craig so 'elated' this week?

I'm feeling much better this week. Elated even. I shall explain.

While running an older car is always going to be fraught with some expense along the way (even if it is just a yearly service and consumables), buying a car for €300 has got to mean some expense in the near future surely?

The blue Fiat Cinquecento that I handed over €300 for has been performing well. So well in fact that I am going to keep it on the fleet and report on how it gets on. With this in mind I have set out to put right the few issues it has, ready for NCT time.

First - the knocking exhaust. Turns out the rubber mounting blocks are past it. These are just a few quid, or free if you have a Seicento with a duff gearbox cluttering up the drive... However, more worrying was the knocking sound coming from the passenger footwell, or front passenger side wheel on acceleration. The first mechanic I phoned after telling them the symptoms said it sounded like a driveshaft issue. But to be sure bring it down for them to look at, but next week as they were all booked up for now.

As I wanted to get it sorted so I can pre-book an NCT two months before the current one expires in December - and not wanting to do any further possible damage (not knowing exactly what this noise was) - I decided to see if another garage could do the work sooner. So I visited another in person and explained the symptoms and what the other mechanic had told me. They drove the car and then got it up on the ramp to have a look. After around ten minutes had passed he returned and told me it was the CV joint. But they could not do the work for a while as they were fully booked all week.

Now having two different possible diagnoses I visited another mechanic, just to be sure, and they said that it appeared to be a CV joint issue after describing the symptoms to him. So he ordered the part and it was booked in for two days' time. I also asked them to do the rubber brackets for the knocking exhaust while it was on the ramp. After leaving the car with them on the day, I got a call some hours later saying that the CV joint was fine. No issues with it whatsoever. However, there was a gearbox mount that was worn and the mechanic felt that could be making the noise. Quote for the mount plus fitting? €100 all in. The mechanic said that he had, at least, done the exhaust brackets.

So I was booked in again for the gearbox mount five days later. On driving home, I noticed the exhaust was still knocking. Once home I checked to find the furthest back rubber mount (the one most easily seen) had been replaced, albeit not by a brand new shiny one, but the others were still split and loose allowing the movement of the exhaust.

Feeling a little sceptical, cheated and untrusting I went to another garage. These lads spent around half an hour checking it over for me after telling them the tale of woe I had suffered. The car went up on the ramps on two occasions. In total two mechanics had a look over it, and a lengthy test drive was done. Every possibility of the noise was clearly explained to me, and I was also invited to see the components in question.

After thirty minutes or so, all was sorted. It was simply a lose engine mount. That was it. Noise gone. Cost? €30 for the time, expertise and use of the ramps. More than fair, and considering I would have paid €100 at another garage and still had the noise I was very happy.

If anyone needs an honest opinion of a mechanical issue, or work done at a fair rate, I would personally highly recommend the lads down at the Blarney Auto Centre in Cork - 021 438 1528. Having saved so much money and time thanks to their dedication, I duly ordered my tyres from them. Another surprise - just €45 each. Happy days!