Mileage milestones

When you’re a car person, hitting a big mileage milestone is always an event worth marking. This is usually acheived by pulling over at the appropriate moment and taking a photo of the mileometer, which is what I did earlier today.

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With this milestone, I’ve now clocked up close to 12,000 trouble-free miles on my Outback in the last fifteen months. Aside from regular maintenance and replacing a few consumables – well, and someone driving into it – the only unexpected problem has been a blown exhaust gasket. Other than that, the car just gets on doing everything we ask of it, comfortably and effortlessly, and feels like it will happily do so for another 150,000 miles. And I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Fleet update, January 2019

2002 SEAT Leon 20VT

For the first time ever in my two and a half years of owning the Leon, I calculated the fuel mileage. After a fairly even split of 200 miles of commuting and 200 miles of slightly exuberant recreational motoring, it came in at 33.5mpg. That was better than I expected, and means it would probably not take much effort to be knocking on 40mpg on a run. The only other thing of note this month was capturing a pleasing odometer reading.

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Your daily driver need not be boring

Sure, you could buy that Fiesta or Golf. Most people would. After all, you want to be sensible with your money, and find a cheap but reliable daily driver. But why not find a balance between sensible and interesting? It can be done, as many have proven. In fact, in just the last few days, I have found three cars that would tick these boxes admirably.

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Fleet update, September 2018: The SEAT Leon

What you see below is a car that has just passed its MOT with no advisories.

Back in July, I knew that wouldn’t be the case, however. The front strut mounts were worn quite badly, the cheap Chinese tyres I had used as a stop-gap were cracking on the sidewalls, and one of the inner CV gaiters was torn. It was also leaking a little coolant from somewhere, an ongoing problem that I have been trying to diagnose for quite a while now, and like I always do before an MOT, I intended to give it a service. So I got the Leon up on jackstands, and used all the available daylight hours to sort out these few issues. Continue reading “Fleet update, September 2018: The SEAT Leon”

Why learning to maintain your car makes sense

Here I am pouring oil into the engine of my BMW.

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I do this a lot. Well, not oil changes specifically, but maintenance on my cars. If you’re like me and prefer to buy inexpensive cars, learning to do your own maintenance and repairs is key. If you rely on your local garage to do everything, you soon find yourself spending quantities of money that come perilously close to what you paid for the car in the first place. As I’ve written over on Not2Grand: Continue reading “Why learning to maintain your car makes sense”

Life with an old banger, two years on

Two years ago today, I got up before dawn, took a train to the south side of Glasgow, and returned home later that afternoon with this.

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Yes, I’ve now shared two years of my life with a 1999 BMW 528i. I’m starting to think about selling it soon – I’d never planned on keeping it anywhere near this long to begin with, and it’s time for a new adventure – and so I thought the two-year anniversary would be a good chance to reflect on the experience of owning this car. Continue reading “Life with an old banger, two years on”

How to cripple your engine in one simple step

Vacuum leaks can be notoriously difficult to diagnose, as they can range from small cracks in a hose or intake pipe, to a clogged crankcase vent system, to an improperly sealed oil filler cap. This is largely the reason I have ignored my E39’s minor leak, because diagnosing it would mean removing the whole air intake system to check everything over. Plus, barring an occasional stumble at idle, the car seemed to run fine. However, last week, when it started tripping the check engine light and logging fuel trim codes, I decided it was time to sort it out. Continue reading “How to cripple your engine in one simple step”

Can you find a Mercedes W210 that hasn’t rusted to death?

When I was younger, I remember thinking the W210-series Mercedes was a distinctly unattractive car. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m now in my mid-30s, or maybe they have just aged well, but as of late I find myself looking at them and entertaining thoughts of what it might be like to have one parked in the drive.

The problem, of course, is that it seems near impossible to find one on a bangernomics budget that has not rotted to pieces. For whatever reason, Mercedes’ of the 1990s and early-2000s, while having largely reliable running gear – there are lots of examples with well over 200,000 miles – seem prone to rust to death. You can search eBay for months on end and find nothing but examples that look something like this.

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Continue reading “Can you find a Mercedes W210 that hasn’t rusted to death?”