Change, change, change. That’s what life has been full of recently. At times it is utterly exhausting, but there’s certainly no chance of me being bored in the near future and I’m one of those people who seems to thrive from being busy.
One of the latest big changes has been saying goodbye to my trusty old set of wheels and buying a new (to us) car. It’s not a step that I was expecting to take as I’d always assumed that my old Skoda estate would keep going forever. I’d had it since LMC was only about six months old and since then it had been on numerous trips around the country, carted a tonne of baby and child related paraphernalia in its spacious boot, and in the last year or so had a roof box strapped to the top of it to enable us to go on family camping trips. It had done us amazing service and was one of those cars that you describe as a real workhorse of a car, hardly ever letting us down.
It brought Master C home from hospital and over the years the kids had created their own world in the back of it – full of handprints on the windows, sand in the footwells, small toys everywhere and even the tactically placed plastic bowl between them for those times when you hear a cry of “Mummy, I don’t feel very well….”
We managed to find someone prepared to give us a cheaper than the dealer quoted turbo replacement a few years ago and I was beginning to think it indestructible. At the start of the summer getting the air conditioning re-gassed was on my to do list and finally I got sick of it feeling far too hot in there and popped along to a local garage to get it done. When I reappeared over an hour and a half later I was a tad surprised to see three blokes in overalls all gathered around under the bonnet and you know when the guy behind the counter starts a conversation with a sharp intake of air (much like a builder does before giving you a quote for some work) that the news isn’t going to be good.
It turns out that the air conditioning needed a little more attention than just re-gassing. In fact they did re-gas it and it made no difference at all. Very kindly they didn’t even charge me the £45 I was expecting to pay for the air con service, but instead they told me that it was probably going to cost me about £600 in parts and labour to get it fixed. Hmmmm.
Combine that expensive news with the logistical fact that fitting three people in the back of that car, when the two youngest of them require car seats, is impossible. We tried. Several times. But the simple fact is that it doesn’t work and so we had no way of transporting all three kids around comfortably. Cue several evenings spent madly searching online for secondhand cars in the local area that can seat three kids, or more, comfortably.
It wasn’t long before we worked out that a Ford S-Max was going to be the family’s vehicle of choice. With a total of seven seats it meant that there was plenty of space to cart around our three kids, all their associated clobber, plus have space for an extra child or two for a playdate. Heck, there’s even enough space to do a day out somewhere with Granny in tow – although knowing my two she might be relegated to sitting in the boot. Sorry Mum! It is simply huge inside and at times feels like I’m sailing a cruise liner around the streets of St Albans. The spacious feel has led to it being given the name “the bus” and I think it’s a nickname that’s going to stick.
Buying a second hand car can be a slightly scary business. You want to make sure you’re not buying a heap of rust or anything like that, but if you don’t know a huge amount about cars it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to asking intelligent questions. We made sure we were to a reputable dealer as neither or us felt confident enough to make a private purchase. Nowadays though it is possible to find out quite a lot about a car online with a simple search on the registration. Just putting that in can tell you when the car last got its MOT, give you a full list of all the MOT tests on it and whether it passed or failed them, and, if the latter, on what grounds. You can even see when the tax is next due (useful if like me you forget to make a note of these things) and there is also other useful information about the car itself, so you can verify that it is the exact model that the seller is telling you it is.
As with all big purchases, it is so worth doing your due diligence before parting with any cash. Apart from buying property, a car is often one of the biggest purchases you will make, so make sure you get it right. Now I’ve done that I should go and practice parking my new bus. Turns out parallel parking can take a bit of practice in a new car.
Car dealership image from Shutterstock.
Ford S-Max image from Shutterstock.