Saturday, 26 February 2011

Having Issues with the Disco

It was spitting with rain, but after a while it stopped doing that and started raining properly. I pulled into the verge and began setting the Land Rover for bad weather, which involved hanging a bucket from the rear view mirror to catch some of the rain that leaked inside the car, and replacing the fuse for the windscreen wipers that had developed a habit of switching themselves on whenever they felt like it.

Then I set off again. Very slowly. The suspension had given up behaving itself and gone flop. Not all of it, the front was still okay, but the bum of the car was now only about an inch off the ground so driving it felt like I was doing a wheelie.

Pootling along at 15 miles an hour, I couldn’t help thinking evil thoughts about Auto-Slaughter, and GBH; Grievous Banger Harm. It was all I could do to stop myself from pulling over, grabbing a branch and giving the thing a Basil Fawlty thrashing, or driving a stake through its heart.

Vampire, that’s what it was. It sucked blood. Some cars are nice, and some are just downright nasty, and this one was wicked to the core. The radio hadn’t worked since the day we got it, the heated seat would only work on the hottest days of summer and was so pleased with itself it would ignore all attempts to turn it off, and the electric windows would only go down, not up.

Fill it up with diesel and you empty Kuwait.

I pootled on.

The windscreen had cracked in the snow, a big split from one side to the other. Vampire car—where was the heart of a car anyway? The engine? Probably. That’s where I’d drive the stake. Hammer it in, all the way in, in the… the… well under the bonnet in the big metaly bit. I’m not great with mechanics.

Didn’t Stephen King write about a possessed car? Christine, I think it was called. My lump of Land Rover certainly wouldn’t have a girl’s name. There was nothing pretty about this Disco.

I pootled on.

At one point I had a string of cars and vans and lorries behind me. Along a straight bit I hugged the side and let them all pass, ignoring all the irritated hand gestures.

The thing is I need a big 4x4. I need something that will go off road and onto my land, something that will tow the animals about. I guess as much as the Land Rover hates me, I hadn’t exactly been kind to it. It hadn’t had an easy life.

Still, I felt no sympathy.

It’s amazing how bouncy it gets without suspension. Hit a pebble any bigger than a marble and the whole thing shudders as though it’s driving over its own private earthquake. But worse, much, much worse, is when it hits a pot-hole.

I hit a pot-hole just at the moment a Police car overtook me. I’m pretty sure it’s not an offence to drive a knackered car, albeit a legal one, slowly to a garage, but it’s still a worry. They went past slowly and I tried hard to look relaxed, like I do this every day. Then two things happened simultaneously, I lifted my hand in friendly acknowledgement, and hit a pot-hole.

I rattled about that much I could have lost fillings. The Police continued up the road, probably too busy laughing to bother pulling me over.

Cursing the vampire car, I pootled on.

Making the garage in record slow time, I pulled in.

“Well, I’m not certain what’s wrong with it,” I stammered, unable to meet the mechanic’s eye, “but I don’t think it’s serious. Just needs a bit of TLC, and it’s such a good car, never lets me down.”


  1. Oh dear, bloody cars! I had a car like that - it was only 2 years old but just about everything went wrong with it. When we wanted a 4x4 we looked at a lot of dicsos and they all had the same problems - bad brakes, leaking sun roof. In the end we got a defender - decided there was a lot less to go wrong. The only problem with that is that in the winter you have to de-ice the inside of the windscreen and the locks used to freeze so we traded that in for a Suzuki Jimny and it's a brilliant little car and was amazing in the snow.

  2. Oh dear, I truly sympathise. I'm sure all Land Rovers have leaky roofs, I've had two Defenders and loved them faithfully but needed a brolly or waterproof trousers for every downpour. My Dad has a Disco with the same suspension problems; it just sits down whenever it feels like it, something to do with air bags deflating at random intervals apparently. That's why I loved the Defenders - everything seemed bolted on and accessible, with no plastic or electronics to contend with. More recently we've had a Freelander, totally underpowered but quite comfy. It got us through the snow very admirably and even suffered us burying it in a snow drift but a week later the fuel pump went at vast expense; a week after that the head gasket went at even greater expense. It cost a fortune to fill up and repair but I was still sad when we sold it; we've now got a very sensible Mondeo in anticipation of our new arrival (amazingly, despite seeming spacious, the Freelander couldn't accommodate our two dogs as well as a pushchair and the seatbelts were too short for the baby seat). I will miss being able to park it anywhere though - literally anywhere I fancied :(