Broken belts and blisters

Some of you may remember that when I wrote about my Ireland trip in early December I mentioned that I’d left my van with my friendly neighbourhood mechanic to sort out a bit of a problem with it while I was away, but unfortunately it hadn’t been done before I got back and I couldn’t leave the van with him any longer as I needed it for work and a 4-week pet sitting engagement, also he was going away himself for a month. The problem was an intermittent squealing noise coming from somewhere at the front of the van, and though initially it wasn’t too troublesome it was a noise which has gradually got worse since early this month.
On the Wednesday two weeks ago, as I was coming home from work early that morning, something under the bonnet ‘went’ and a banging noise developed – instinctively I knew there was something seriously wrong but luckily I was only three streets away from home so I put the hazard lights on, slowed right down and managed to get back, calling out the AA once I was home. The guy said that two of the three front belts had snapped, with one having wrapped itself round something it shouldn’t be wrapped round ; it was a problem which couldn’t be fixed at the roadside but he knew where the mechanic’s workshop was when I mentioned it – fortunately not too far away – so he said if I took it easy I could drive the van down there and he would follow behind me to make sure I was okay. So that’s what I did, and resigned myself to walking to and from my various jobs while the van was out of action.
By the Saturday I hadn’t had any news on the van so I went down to the workshop to check, only to be told that they couldn’t get the right belts for it – they’d had belts from four different local car accessory places but none had been the right size. The ‘problem’ is that the van is a Japanese import and though it’s based on a common Toyota body and chassis it’s a luxury version with an odd name and not many people in the car trade know what it is – even many insurance companies have never heard of it! Back at home I rang a Toyota breakers in the next town, only to be told “ring back on Monday” which I did, and was then told that they don’t sell belts, however the guy I spoke to was quite helpful and gave me some good information on how to get the correct ones.
So on Tuesday last week I went to the Toyota main dealer’s with the information I needed and the very helpful guy in there looked it up on the computer and ordered the belts I needed – luckily the Toyota place is only round the corner from my evening job so I collected the new belts on my way to work the following evening then dropped them off at the mechanic’s on Thursday morning. Late last Friday afternoon I got a text to say the van had been done and finally, after ten days of it being off the road, I collected it on Saturday – the mechanic’s mate who had done the work was rather derisive when I said how much the belts had cost, saying he could get them for only Β£8 each, but then the generic ones he’d got didn’t fit anyway whereas the genuine Toyota ones I got did, so I don’t mind paying a bit more for something that’s right.
It seemed however that the broken belts hadn’t been the only problem – the one that had been making the banging noise when it snapped had actually gouged a hole in the power steering pipe and while the van was at the workshop it had been leaking power steering fluid all over the place. The pipe had been fixed though and the power steering fluid topped up, and though I’ve only driven the van four short distances since Saturday everything seems to be okay with it, and at least the squealing noise has stopped.
Work-wise my main problem has been that two of the places where I work aren’t on direct bus routes so I’ve had to do a heck of a lot more walking than I usually do. Here’s an example – Tuesday morning : home to work 2.5 miles, work to Toyota dealer’s 3 miles, Toyota to town 1 mile, (town to home on the bus) total 6.5 miles. Tuesday evening : Job 1 to Job 2 – 1.25 miles. Thursday morning : home to work 2.5 miles, work to mechanic’s 2.5 miles, mechanic’s to home 1 mile, home to boss’s house and back 2 miles, total 8 miles. Friday morning : home to work and back 5 miles. Luckily, for my evening job I’ve been able to go most of the way on the bus but I’ve still had to walk three quarters of a mile from the bus stop to work and back again afterwards from Monday to Friday. So over the five days last week I did a total of over 28 miles of brisk walking, and that’s not counting the three days walking I did the previous week or all the walking about I do when I’m actually at work – no wonder I ended up with a blister on each foot and a worn out pair of trainers!
I must admit that in the nine years I’ve been driving the van that’s the first time I’ve ever had something major go wrong with it, so for a vehicle that’s 24 years old this year it’s done well so far. A broken fan belt or two is something that could happen to anybody due to wear and tear so I’ve just put it down to being one of those things – at least now I’ve got the van back I can get to and from work a lot easier, and it’ll save on blisters and trainers!

15 thoughts on “Broken belts and blisters

  1. You’ve had a busy time of it Eunice.
    I hope your blisters are soon healed and at least you know your van is sorted now, although I think I’d be tempted to find a new mechanic. X

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    1. The blisters have had some of my own Mouse House treatment and they are healed up now πŸ™‚ It’s good to have the van back but I doubt I’ll be using it for work today – the snow just here will make it difficult to even get out of the street 😦

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  2. What a time of it you’ve had! I’d never have known your van was 24 years old by looking at it, It’s a good recommendation for Toyota I have to say. Over the years we’ve always stayed with the main dealership for services, spares and repairs. I know they can be more expensive than other garages but your mechanic seems to have let you down somewhat. You’re back on the road again which must be an almighty relief for you, especially now that the weather has turned so bad. I hope your blisters heal quickly and you have many trouble-free miles from your van.

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    1. Even I can’t believe the van is as old as it is as it looks quite modern – I can’t speak for newer Toyota models but the older ones are certainly very reliable. The blisters have healed now, and I even got some new trainers last weekend πŸ™‚

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  3. glad the van is back on the road, with the modern way of living – we unfortunately are so reliant of a vehicle – but your garage sounds a bit …. lax. if they’d sorted it out the first time (Ireland) you surely would not have had this latter ‘adventure’ and expense.

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    1. You’re right in your last sentence, though I would still have had the expense in replacing the belts (they were obviously getting worn, causing the squealing noise) though I wouldn’t have had the ‘adventure’. At least I got plenty of exercise over the ten days! πŸ™‚

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  4. Oh dear!!!! Think we know how you feel, with all our horrors last year with the car. 2 breakdowns whilst towing our caravan & having to be towed. One in Queensland & taken to a mechanics, and second time being towed back home at the start of a holiday. The other breakdown was when we had to do an emergency trip to Sydney for my brother who was ill. Hopefully you have no more troubles & neither will we. Take care.

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  5. Breaking down in a car is bad enough but breaking down while towing a caravan must be an absolute nightmare. Hopefully we’ll both have lots of trouble-free motoring from now on πŸ™‚

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  6. Oh poor you, I sympathise with the cold feet 😦 I hope whatever’s wrong gets sorted soon and you can get warm again. I suppose sourcing the belts myself meant I only had to pay for the work, which was actually quite cheap, so I didn’t get landed with a big bill at the end.

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  7. Strewth, when you told me you had had “a lot of extra walking” I hadn’t realised just how many miles you had covered.

    Do you have the option of finding a different mechanic for future work? Going forward I would not have a huge amount of confidence in this chap . . . and your van is so important to you, not just for daily transport but for your trips away too.

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    1. To answer your question, there’s no-one else in the immediate vicinity and there are several reasons why I use this guy, one being that he’s only a short walk from home so is more convenient than someone in another area would be. He’s not normally so lax, he knows I need the van for work etc so on previous occasions when I’ve had to use him he’s usually on the ball, so I’ve just put this down to unfortunate circumstances. Oh, and I owe you an email too πŸ™‚

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  8. I’m not so sure about the health and fitness ‘benefits’ – years ago I used to walk or cycle to work every day but back then I only had one job. Now I have to go to several different places in different areas, some days three in a day, and though I’m reasonably fit with walking the dogs this really did take it’s toll over the ten days 😦

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  9. A 24-year-old van is a reliable vehicle. Our Eliza Does-a-lot is 25. She still does quite well for driving around town and short trips. As long as her repairs are still a few hundred dollars, the cost is far better than purchasing a new used car. With all that walking you did, Eunice, you must be even stronger.

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