Car garages. Need I say more?
OK. I drive a Renault Grand Scenic. Not by choice, mind. When we had one baby I clung to driving my nippy, reliable, joyful and safe Ford Puma. The downgrade to the battlebus of a Ford Focus Estate was needed with the impending arrival of Baby 2, need for space to fit a double buggy and a week’s food shopping and mountainous nappy change bag. Not cool (burgundy…) but surprisingly powerful, reliable, safe and spacious. We reluctantly changed from estate to MPV exactly a year ago when we discovered that the battlebus wouldn’t fit 3 car seats plus 2 adults (plus buggy, shopping, nappy bag, blah, blah, blah). Factoring in costs brought our choices to Grand Scenic or Grand Scenic. Luckily, there was just one for sale in N Scotland, about an hour’s drive away, at a main dealers. We agreed a good price and part-exchanged the battle bus. It seemed fated and I felt good.
Well, I did see in all my research before buying that Grand Scenics were rated highly for everything except reliability. You’re not kidding.
We bought the car with some known defects (broken bits and pieces of luxury, pointless gadgets that we could live with, like a side window blind, the fan would only go up to ‘3’ because ‘4’ wouldn’t work, the back window would go down but never back up unless you locked the whole car, etc). We anticipated a few things to go amiss, because in a 5 year old car, they generally do. However…
In the cold, the car won’t accelerate well. Well, it got to -18degC here. And my driving is c/o the Stampy-Stampy School of Transit Vans. I learned of the automatic power and acceleration limitations alongside a cheery fault message just as I was overtaking a tractor with another oncoming. It takes time to think “OMFG, what the…? Eh? Oh. OH!” as well as footer with accelerator, then drop down a gear for more poke, then ultimately brake (hard) and steer tightly. My heart’s racing now at the recollection.
In summer, we discovered the air-con didn’t work. The dealer (let’s call them ‘Carnold Lark’ to protect their identify) declared it needed a costly repair. The local garage disagreed and suggested it might be because there was absolutely no fluid at all in the system. Yet there were no leaks. And when the fluid was replaced, it worked perfectly and continued to do so. They hinted that Carnold Lark had a reputation for draining the system, then charging buyers for ‘fixing it’ later on.
One tyre wouldn’t hold pressure. (Oh, did I tell you the fancy automatic tyre pressure sensors in each wheel didn’t work? The Boss assumed they did; Cynical Me assumed they didn’t. I won). Renault recalled it to reprogramme the handbrake, so we asked the Renault Dealer (Garage 1) to check for a puncture and repair the tyre. They changed the wrong tyre. Neither they nor The Boss spotted the error, either – it was me with my suspicious head on, 2 weeks later, because the tyre still wouldn’t hold pressure. Garage 1 refused to admit they’d done anything wrong (!) and wanted an additional premium charge to fit a new tyre on the original non-pressure-holding wheel.
We went to Garage 2, who said it was ‘leaking on a dirty bead’. They kindly took the tyre off and cleaned it out free. No joy. Still having to pump up tyre every journey. Went back to Garage 2. They’d been burgled in the night, said sorry we’re shut (or was it sorry we’re shit? I forget), so we took it to Garage 3. Garage 3 said definitely leaking on the bead, cleaned it up, and it’s been fine. Phew.
So you can imagine how upset I got when a week later *another* tyre got a puncture from the many nails left in the road from the building site next door… This time, the only hassle was that suddenly the garage (Garage 2 again) noted that the car needed “Special” tyres because of the all-up weight. That nearly doubled the price, and by now we were a zero salary family, on a hope and a promise of The Boss getting work soon. Garage 1 were cheaper, so we returned to them sheepishly, having complaining about their fit-any-bloody-tyre-we-like to Trading Standards.
It’s now annual service time, so we went to Garage 4. When it went, it worked fine. When it returned, operating the rear windscreen wash mysteriously directed water to the *front*. Turning on the rear wipers suddenly made you descend 2 flight levels and your radio retune to Radio 4. (OK I lied about the FLs and radio – just to keep you awake). I decided to live with this problem rather than take it back yet again because I feared what would go wrong with another ‘service’. And negotiating visits to the garage is worse than trying to get a GP’s appointment.
So, imagine the gnashing of teeth and bumping of gums when The Boss admitted that Garage 4 had said that the rear brakes were binding because the handbrake cable was stuck and that they’d detected a botch job of a random spring being fitted to stop the handbrake binding. Helpfully they took the spring off and affected surprise at there being no functioning handbrake. “Nothing to do with us”, they insisted. “We can’t even fix it”.
I can barely bring myself to write about it, I’m so angry. We limped on for a bit leaving the car parked in first gear and carrying a wedge of a rock to use as a wheel chock just in case. But ‘Safety First, Safety Second’, so we swapped £700 we didn’t have for one new entire handbrake module. Still, we got a free carwash (worth £2.50! Bonus!). And they kindly *delivered* a free hire car to us for the day – Twingo. With me, 3 kids and a double buggy shoehorned in to do the nursery run, ok it wouldn’t go above 45 mph on a slight incline, but I’m tempted to buy one, attach roof bars and botch-tape The Boss to them anytime we wanted to go anywhere as a family.
Anyone want to swap one for a crappy Grand Scenic? I’ll throw in its current fuel tank, some of the minxes’ toys and some ground up biscuits in the carpet for free.