Evening all! I’ve got a bit of a conundrum for you, if you’ve a mind for it… but I’ll explain the back story first. (Scroll to the bottom for a TLDR...)
Some of you may remember that, in the dim and distant past, I bought a Jaguar XJ8 Sovereign, in a very fetching Navy Blue colour, from Hooli – who I believe is no longer of this parish? Anyway, to facilitate the buying and running such a beast, it seemed prudent to get myself something small, economical, cheap and reliable to run around in when I wasn’t wafting along and waving peasants aside in the Jaaaaag. So, I duly sold my rather nice B6 Passat Highline to Sims00 and set about hunting for something to fit the bill.
I eventually turned up a reasonably looking V**xhall C*rsa Sxi+ in resale silver. It was just shy of a bag, with less than 80k miles on it. Not what I’d choose to drive around in, I thought, but if it meant I could smoke around at the weekends ensconced in cream leather then it was worth the sacrifice.
I called the vendor (The listing was on Autotrader) and chatted about the car, and it seemed like it was worth going to see. The advert suggested that this was being sold by a dealer, and I assumed the sale would be done at said dealership. I think I’ve referenced my ability to predict things correctly before, in the thread about my Audi A4 Avant…. But to save you the trouble of looking, I’ll tell you now that my ability leaves something to be desired. I was given the postcode of the meeting point to look at the car, and set off on a dark, cold December afternoon being chauffeured by the long suffering Fatherw44. Whilst en route to the destination, the vendor called me, and said he would be late to the meeting as he was busy selling a hearse to a German customer. Slightly odd, but never mind, he pledged to leave the car out and unlocked for me to have a look over.
We arrived at the meeting point. This is where I realised that my prediction abilities have not improved since the days of the A4. There was no dealership, merely a very dodgy looking lockup, a warehouse and a concrete area outside on which was parked a silver Vauxhall Corsa….shudder…
I looked the car over, the tires seemed reasonable, interior was in good nick, outside not bad either. No rust visible underneath, engine bay not dirty but also had not been pressure washed to hide any leaks. So, pending a test drive, I was pretty much set on buying it as I was sick of not having a car.
The seller then arrived, a gentlemen with a coarse beard, a stout build and an accent that indicated that he hailed from Essex. For reference, I do not have a coarse beard, or a stout build and my accent indicates that I hail from the home counties – I was, as you might imagine, a trifle nervous and fingered my cravat anxiously… Not only this, but he had brought his friend with him, who was of even more substantial proportions.
The vendor handed me the keys, and fatherw44 and I set off in the C*rsa for a test drive. The car felt as tight as a drum, no knocks or rattles, it got up to temperature just fine, the brakes felt strong – all was in order. We agreed to return and offer slightly less than the asking price.
Upon our return, the vendor was there waiting for us and he engaged in negotiations with us, whilst his friend moved cars about in the lockup behind us. I made my offer, which he refused. At this point I was less keen on the car, as I didn’t think it really worth what he wanted to charge for it, and so I said that perhaps we wouldn’t buy it after all. This did not amuse the vendor, and he made this clear, all but accusing us of wasting his time. At this point, his friend stops moving cars and comes to stand just behind him in a somewhat menacing manner.
At this point, I realised I’d not been terribly sensible – the best thing to have done would to have been to simply return home upon finding the Corsa outside a dodgy lockup in the dark, but that option was out of the window now. As I didn’t know the vendor or his customer relations habits, I wasn’t sure what was likely to happen. I said that I didn’t want to fill out the paperwork and make the transaction out in the middle of nowhere in the dark, and asked if he had an office we could go to where we could do this instead. (My thinking being I could text the address to someone so our whereabouts would be known – paranoid I know!) He said that he did, and eventually agreed that we could go there to fill out the paperwork.
This, ladies and gents, is where things got a little bit weird.
The vendor proceeded to tell me the code for the automatic gates, and provide me with the address of a local stately home. A substantial, red-brick pile nearby. So, we got back in Fatherw44’s car and drove over there. The vendor had been as good as his word, and the gates parted when we entered the code, so we could crunch up the gravel drive to the house. The vendor arrived moments later, and took us to the door of the mansion where we were greeted by the owner, an old money country gent type. It became clear that the vendor rented the ground floor of the gaff from the owner, and he lead us inside to his living room. There we met his dog, and he invited me to play his grand piano, which I did. At this point, his (until now mute) friend arrived. To our surprise he struck up a conversation with us and turned out to be a lovely chap. I filled out the V5, the vendor signed it and promised to put it in the post. I handed over the cash, which he duly counted and wrote me out a receipt for the transaction.
Then, to my surprise and amusement, to give me the keys, he emptied out a rucksack full of keys onto the table and plucked both Vau*hall ones from it and handed them over! We said our good byes, I arranged insurance and we drove home.
As I drove back, I thought over the experience in my head. I had been relatively sure in my head at the time that the vehicle wasn’t stolen – I don’t see the benefit of nicking a Corsa and then selling it for £995. Surely the risk outweighs the profit. Had it been a remarkably nice looking BMW 5 series that was quite new and suspiciously cheap I would have smelled a rat straight away, but this didn’t seem like that sort of scam. Nevertheless, through my own foolhardiness and desperation for wheels I had been to view a vehicle in the dark, which is never a good idea, in a location I didn’t know, from someone I didn’t know and had essentially been intimidated to the point of paying a price I wasn’t totally comfortable with for it. A lesson had been well learned that evening, and I vowed to myself to be more careful in future.
Anyway, back to the matter in hand. The Corsa drove home just fine, and I wasn’t pulled over by Plod wanting to know why I was merrily speeding along in a car that had been reported stolen a week ago and was red hot. So all seemed well! I was reasonably pleased with my purchase and convinced it would provide good, cheap service from here on in. I don’t need to highlight the error here, I’m sure.
The first issue, was that the tracking was a mile out – being a relatively inexperienced shite buyer at the time I didn’t really notice this on the test drive. So, within a month of two, the tires had worn well down on the inner inch of both front wheels, ruining a perfectly good set of tires. Not to worry, I thought, and new tires and an alignment were successfully acquired!
I then provided service for, ooh, at least two more months? At which point the clutch slave cylinder shat itself. Whilst annoying, this did at least allow me to make my first steps towards learning the essential shitter skill that is driving without a clutch. I drove 25 miles to my parents where I could use the driveway to take my shitbox to pieces – much to their delight, of course. Thankfully, one of the few advantages of owning such a fantastic piece of automotive wonder, is that parts are as cheap as chips. So a new slave cylinder was sourced and I spent a frustrating couple of days wrestling the gearbox off, changing the cylinder and wrestling the gearbox back on again. Whilst I was at it, I took the sump off the gearbox and changed the fluid, as well as replacing the sump gasket.
This lasted me about a month, before the Corsa got bored and developed a new fault. This time, a quite dramatic clunking from one of the CV joints when going around tight bends. Again, thankfully, parts are cheap so I sourced to replacement drive shafts and fitted them, solving the problem.
As I usually do when I buy a new car, I had given the corsa a full service straight away, in the hope that this would buy me favour with the Gods of shite. Sadly, it was not to be, and about a month later I took the Corsa in for an MOT. I made the fatal mistake of taking it to a Halfrauds Auto Centre, having been enticed by their £10 MOT offer. They failed it on an enormous list of things, various bushings, brake imbalance, front brake lines being corroded and various other things I can’t remember right now. The naive young man that I was, I studiously rectified every fault they had come up with. This involved replacing both lower suspension arms, both track rod ends, both drop links, one front headlight cluster and both rear number plate lamps. Not being comfortable yet with replacing brake lines, I took it to my local garage, whereupon the tester there said that he had been testing cars for 30 years and that the amount of corrosion on my brake lines was barely enough to warrant an advisory. As such, they simply painted and greased the joints of the front brake lines and had done with it. I returned to Halfrauds for a retest, and had a battle with them over why I hadn’t had the brake lines replaced. They conceded and gave me only an advisory for them when I put up a fight. (They’d been very serious with me about them, telling me how dangerous it was and threatening to fail it again on them, until I actually stood up to them at which point they disappeared out the back to “Take advice” and came back and agreed to make it only an advisory – a money grabbing scheme methinks. Since this experience, I’ve decided to only use the local garage, as they are reasonably priced and fair when dishing out advisories and faults.)
With the MOT sorted, the Corsa promptly started dribbling oil gently wherever it went. The oil dripped down off the aircon compressor, and so I thought the gas was leaking from it and that there was some sort of lubricant in there too to keep the compressor healthy. As such, I left it, assuming that eventually it would all leak out and the leak would stop. I just put an oil pan under my car whenever I parked it!! However, a couple of weeks later, when I dipped the oil in the engine I realised this wasn’t the case, as I knew it was generally considered a good thing if your engine had some oil in it. Mine did not. So, after hastily topping up the oil, I set about diagnosing the fault. The cam cover had oil seeping out from around it, so I replaced its gasket, to no avail. Eventually, out of idle curiosity, I took the connector off the oil pressure switch – releasing a gush of oil. I’m not sure quite what goes wrong with these things, but when I did some research, it’s a common fault – the pressure switches just seem to fail and turn themselves into and oil drain valve.
A week or two later, I had just pulled out of a parking space in the town square and begun to accelerate away, when I lost all drive. The engine was running, but I could shift through all the gears with no use of the clutch and none of them provided any movement. These were the symptoms I had experienced before, when the clutch slave cylinder went, so I assumed it had gone again. However, when I recovered the car the next morning and began stripping it down, I noticed that one of the drive shafts I had fitted and had worked itself loose from the gearbox! It turns out I had been sent the wrong one, and I didn’t look at it carefully enough when installing it – the one I fitted didn’t have a small retaining circlip in the end to hold it into the gearbox. I contacted the supplier of the drive shaft and explained what had happened. They were very apologetic and sent me a replacement straight away, which I got fitted.
At this point, I thought the car had become something like Trigger’s Broom – there was simply nothing left to go wrong with it. But again, my predictive powers let me down.
Unbeknownst to me, the gearbox had been gently seeping fluid ever since I had taken the sump off to change the fluid. Evidently, I had failed to clean the two mating surfaces well enough for there to be a good seal around the gasket. Over time, the gearbox developed a bit of a whine. Then a bit of a crunch now and then. And then it became very difficult to change gear. It was at this point, that I gave into it, and angrily hit eBay in search of a used ‘box. One was acquired for about £60 and I did the whole, gearbox off, gearbox back on, bleed the hydraulic clutch, replace the gearbox fluid dance that I’d done before.
At this point, I was so pissed off with the ungrateful heap, that I said I would do no further maintenance on it – I’d just drive it until the sodding thing terminally shit itself. And I have been doing so ever since.
However, it has recently developed a new mystery fault. It started running cold, all of a sudden, and I relinquished my rule and did some maintenance – I replaced both the thermostat and the temp sender to cover all bases. I then took it for a test drive and it still didn’t get up to temperature. I assumed this was because I hadn’t bled the cooling system properly, and there was air trapped around the temp sender. So, I ran it on the drive stationary, whilst massaging all the coolant pipes with the cap off the expansion tank to try to bleed out any remaining bubbles. I plugged my OBDII reader in, and got a real time temperature reading as well. On the driveway, both the car’s temperature dial and the OBDII reader displayed a healthy 90 odd degrees C. I was happy with that, and packed up for the day.
The next day I drove it for a good hour and a half, a reasonable proportion of which was on the motorway. It did not reach running temperature, except for a brief five minute spell where I was stuck in stationary traffic in Oxford. I’m at a bit of a loss as to what’s going on here – does anyone have any ideas? I expect I’m being as thick as the proverbial short planks, and missing something blatantly obvious, but I can’t think what for the life of me. Any thoughts/gentle mockery/expressions of disgust at my choice of vehicle etc etc are very welcome!
TLDR – My Corsa is runnin cold AF m9 plz halp?!