Doctor Diesel

Spare thoughts

Sehen - LichtWhere have all the sensible people gone? We all recall when the front indicators on most cars were located well away from the main front lighting units and could more easily be seen, whereas now most, if not all, seem to be located within the main front lighting units. Whilst I can appreciate that there may be a significant cost saving in such an approach, with less parts being needed for the unit, but I wonder if I am alone in having problems, especially at night, in seeing an indicator flashing, immediately adjacent to a dipped headlight?

On another issue, I note that very recently the spare wheel (to have or not to have?) debacle was raised by one of the big daily rags. In what was a very well written and quite balanced article (which makes a pleasant change! Doc), it seems that, where no spare wheel is the default option, as seems to be increasing the case, even if you could manage to effect a temporary puncture repair with the compressor and sealant provided (probably to be an Olympic sport in a few years time), it is almost impossible to remove said sealant afterwards to allow a proper puncture repair to take place; hence a tyre with a simple nail type puncture repaired temporarily that way may very well be essentially scrap. My view is quite simple; opt for the spare wheel every time, the cost of which with my present car was a £100 option. A proper spare wheel can be used as many times as is needed and with a simple puncture, the repair cost is pretty minimal – in Belfast, approximately £10 to £15.
Eddie M

I’m still here Eddie! So is Ian Robertson! I do share your frustrations. Have you actually tried changing a headlight bulb lately? Sometimes it’s more like what one imagines obstetric surgery must be like – you can’t see what you’re doing, you can’t get close enough to the action, and as for not putting your (greasy) fingers on the glass of a halogen bulb – well, they really must be joking!

As for spare wheels, often the only option for some cars is still only a space-saver wheel and tyre, not a full-size one. This of course applies frequently to more upmarket model variants, where the wheel and tyre size is significantly bigger than the base level model, for which the spare wheel housing was carefully designed. A lot of the problems here come from European manufacturers who design cars for the majority of their markets, which in continental Europe is not obsessed with big alloy wheels and fat tyres, like Britain. I read a piece recently, I think it was in Volkswagen Driver magazine, which showed how, by fairly easily cutting out a relatively small piece of black vinyl trim (invisible, under the carpet and boot floor), you could actually fit in a full-size spare wheel instead of a space saver, or the puncture repair outfit. I’ve fortunately never yet had to use one of these kits and I hope that I never will – I think if it were to happen, I would possibly just ring the AA and sit and wait for “the man who can” to arrive and sort it out for me.

Funnily enough though, the technology of the gooey stuff in these kits does seem to work well with bicycle wheels and tyres, and my bicycle is now running on inner tubes pre-injected with the stuff, and I’ve had no punctures to date, and the pre-injected inner tubes only cost about £6 to £8 each. But it’s obvious to me that the manufacturers are not trying that hard to get round this problem and one of the main tricks is to use the absence of a spare wheel to bump up the boot volume figures. Another trick now is to have two boot floor levels, with the higher level serving to give you a large flat area (but reduced height and volume) when you tip the rear seats, but giving a big step when using the lower boot floor level that you used to have on the previous model! If some manufacturers can do it, like Honda and Mazda, and offer other rear seat folding permutations, why can’t the others? You get all this sometimes annoying electronic technology that is actually pretty cheap to offer, but they don’t seem to address some more basic problems. Good to hear from you Eddie.
Doc Diesel

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