Updated: Jun 15
Hello and welcome to the final part of "The Year Spirals Out Of Control" this doesn't mean the year isn't going to keep spiraling, it just means I've got a better grasp on it.
June has been a crazy month - I bought a car, I did a lap of the M25, I returned to iRacing....it's been...mad.
I Bought A Car!
I like to best describe Kiara as the titanic, absolutely fine (for about 8 - 10 years) until one tiny thing goes wrong - then, as soon as the water entered, she slowly began to sink in issues.
I passed my test in May 2019, and since then took over my mum's Kia. It wasn't until the following year that problems started to occur.
Now, I won't go into the problems, because they were lockdown-related (not driving), but it did revolve around the gearbox (car didn't recognise it was in park, didn't want to start, didn't want to change gear)
The following year, in 2021 - the fuel-needle got a little bit "funky" after I put half a tank of fuel in (during fuel crisis) - and since then, either the mileage left or fuel indicator have played up.
In 2022, Kiara really gave up the ghost - or well, almost - Will (my friend) detected what he thought was a crack in the exhaust (we were at a service station, so may not have been) The garage diagnosed a small gearbox leak "to monitor", and later on in the year, when my fuel needle and miles-left had completely stopped working, said that the fuel sender had stopped working (it's essentially a buoy on top of the fuel, in my case it had sunk/didn't sit on top of the fuel)
After Will searched around abit for one, we both came out empty handed - so, on May 27th, 2022 - I activated the search for a new car by sending Will a few links to some cars that tickled my fancy (automatic estates) - but they were all shut down pretty quickly.
I wanted - sorry, needed, an automatic, as I only had a licence (and skill level) to drive automatics, and wanted an estate as throughout my life (21 years), my dad has only had estate cars (before he had a mid-life crisis and bought an Abarth 124 and Jaguar F-Type after one another)
Will (a friend of mine) would suggest the car I would end up buying the very next day (May 28th), however as we mistook it for a manual, we disregarded it until the final day of Will's search on the 31st May.
With a budget of only £3k, and a requirement of an automatic gearbox, looking for reliable cars was certainly a tough job - especially as I was being very picky.
Cars would have corrosion, poor MOT records, sellers wouldn't reply, I'd decline cars because they wouldn't butter my taste-buds, other cars would sell - it was like wading through a lake of chest-height shite.
Little to my knowledge - Timon (the car I'd eventually buy) was always there, always watching over me - and despite his beige, grandad-esk and slightly tired appearance - Timon seemed to be the best deal.
Admittedly, I went for Timon a little out of desperation, and also because I knew it was the best for me.
It was what I asked for - a cheap, reliable, estate - and with a little work on it, Timon would look just as good as he did before his last owner left him.
And on owners - it was a one-owner car, and had done about the same amount of miles as Kiara had done.
On May 31st, I put a £100 deposit down to hold the car - I think the car was free to view on Thursday, but Will was only around on the Friday.
Fast forward to Friday (3rd June), and I was ready to buy a car - Will recommended I record a little video for the occasion, so after breakfast, I filmed a little intro, before going to the end of the road I was on and seeing Occy appear from around the roundabout.
I got in and we headed off on our little adventure to Solihull.
When I got in the car, I was asked again if I was nervous - and this time it hit me that I was going out to buy a car...a car that could last me a year or ten - a car that could see me go from me, to me and a woman, to me, a woman and a screaming bundle in the back seat. Yes, I mean a goat. I'm going to steal a baby goat.
Anyway, back to our journey.
After stopping for food (kindly provided by Will and Jodie), we were on our way again.
Upon arriving at the yard, we all desperately searched for the beige Octavia - and eventually found it (rather quickly)
The first impressions...I'll admit...were slightly less than favourable - she'd been sitting around for a while, had rusty old steel wheels, and the battery was completely dead (needing a jump-start).
Once getting the battery fired up (via a jump-start), with an unknown amount of fuel left, I took a bumpy drive around the compound she was being sold in.
Having never driven an estate before, and having just had new brakes - I needed more than just a compound to test the car - but I didn't have insurance (on the car) - and filling up the car and going for a drive may have made the seller nervous.
My decision to buy it came down to six things
1) Will's expertise telling me she (or he) was a good 'un 2) The time, distance and money spent to get here (not wanting to start from scratch) 3) The thought of the car-ride home and having to explain to everyone that I chickened out
4) The peer pressure of having Jodie, Will and the Seller there - didn't want to make it awkward 5) Will told me about how his other shitboxes looked when he first bought them 6) Will's friends and family also massively praising Timon.
So I bought the car, will did his haggling thing and haggled the price to £2,600 (even after the reduction due to the battery needed) and on the way to the petrol station, I was instantly sold. She handled well, had a bit of grunt to her, didn't make any noises whilst driving - she WAS a gud un. And she was going to look after me.
Okay, we had a bit of a drama at the petrol station as we couldn't get the filler cap off - and running out of fuel was a more pressing concern then turning the ignition/battery on and leaving it on.
Our next stop was Halfords - and already I was starting to fall for Timon - buying not just a battery (needed) but some plastic rims too.
After returning to the car, I replaced my first battery and Jodie attached my new rims.
Whilst tucking into a Tesco Sandwich, I talked about all the things I wanted to do to Timon (NOT IN THAT SENSE!)
After this, we headed back home, obviously via a quick toilet break and photo opportunity.
That night, myself (in Timon) and Occy and her...Occypants (occupants) headed back to Essex to show my friends my new car - it was a bit dark though, so it was a bit difficult to see.
I was just tired after a long drive and happy that I bought a car.
4th - 5th June, 2022
With the Skoda sorted, I just had to figure out what I was doing with Kiara, so on Saturday 4th June, I took her to my local We Buy Any Car and....
They wouldn't buy it.
I had left my V5C (and I thought service history) on the Isle Of Wight. Now, this WOULD have been okay, as I could have just nipped over there and returned on Saturday, when I was seeing Will to neaten up Timon...but We Buy Any Car loves to put a spanner in the works.
Apparently, it was We Buy Any Car Policy (or I don't know, just a thing that happens) to devalue a car more than 4 days after seeing We Buy Any Car for the first time/4 days after receiving a quote. Which meant Wednesday. Which meant...
Going to the Isle Of Wight (before Wednesday at 2pm), finding V5C and service history, returning to Essex, potentially returning to the Island (for Week 13 fun), and then returning to the mainland for Will's Service (and then going back to the Island for summer).
Even with a residents, discount, it was a pricey ordeal.
The only other option was to have the V5C ordered online - but this could only be done to the address the car is registered to - and not Essex.
Further still - neither of my parents were home (until later on) - and if they had been, they had the problem that the Post Office was closed on Sundays, meaning that had it been posted to the Essex address, if there was any sort of delay, We Buy Any Car would be instantly slashing the price off the car even before the V5C arrived. According to one of the people I was living with, apparently there was bad weather (on the Solent) on the 4th (when I was initially planning to go), so to ensure everyone was happy, I stayed an extra night - leaving very early on the Sunday.
That night, my friend asked me to take her to town to meet a friend of hers, and I did so with no dramas - a couple of hours later (ironically just as I was getting into bed to go to sleep, she asked me to pick her up, and since I'm a kind gentleman, I got my shoes on, got in the Skoda and drove to pick her up.
All Fine, she got in. As I drove to the end of the road, a Police Car stopped behind us. This was very normal as there's a Police Station opposite where I was picking her up from.
From my knowledge, I think I was going to go left, but seeing the Police Car, I then indicated right - just to see if I was being followed, or if it was just a coincidence, he followed me. I did a lap of the roundabout (from the junction we entered the roundabout at - essentially doing a lap and then going straight on) and the cop was still behind me, so I took the exit for straight on...and the inevitable happened, he lit up his blues and twos, I almost instantly pulled over and start panicking - "I've done nothing wrong, I've sorted insurance, I've not got anything illegal in the car, the car is totally legal - what is going to happen?" (I think to myself)
In a bit of a trembly voice, I explain to the officer beside my window that I've got temporary insurance, I've literally just bought the car today, I can bring documents into the station, (only thing I didn't have was internet access or knew where to find the email) - unbeknownst to me Jodie had sent me a screenshot of proof that I had temporary insurance - but in the haste of the moment, they had a more important call to attend to, so they whizzed off to attend the call.
I was left a little shaken, but we shortly headed back to the house.
5th June, 2022
My ferry back to the Isle Of Wight was booked for Sunday 5th June, so I stayed in Essex until the 5th, before leaving (with a good portion of my stuff - the stuff I could actually bring downstairs without waking everyone up) at about 10 or 11 to arrive at midday or so.
Unusually, Evie (who I was meeting up with) wasn't up for the typical McDonalds - instead, a Tesco Meal-Deal is what she desired - after driving out to get said Tescos, we'd drive back to Silent Pool to eat the food we bought.
After a little wonder down to the pools, we returned to the car.
There was the suggestion that we go for a little drive, but as time was ticking on - by the time we got to...wherever, we'd have to turn around and head back (as I had a 2 - 3 hour onward journey ahead of me) - Evie was okay with just heading back, so we did.
After dropping her off, I programmed waze on my phone (Sat-Nav is a WIP) and drove home.
When I arrived there were about 5 or so cars already there, so I pulled up in Lane 2.
By the time the ferry had arrived (and I finished my sausage roll from the cafe), I was the only one in Lane 2, so I got a very special spot - front row next to a Citroen Berlingo! Nice!
It was one of the rare occasions that I could see my car from the passenger area/cabin - and joked about how everyone would be flocking to the front of the boat to see the INCREDIBLE Mk. II Skoda Octavia sat on the car deck. I wish.
It was Timon's first time on the Isle of Wight - and whilst Kiara has gotten me lost (went straight instead of left), Timon told me exactly where to go and led me home.
I don't quite know the parent's reactions - I mean, I had posted pictures of Timon online, but I don't quite know if they know about the "shitbox culture" and how it runs.
Basically, there's two main principles
1) Age is just a number
2) Anything goes
I may have bought a car that's 5 years older than Kiara, but with Kiara's problems, under the hood, Timon is probably 5 years + newer than Kiara.
Timon may look old, rough around the edges and a bit of a "shed", but with constant care, maintainace and love, there's nothing stopping him from becoming a second Occy - 21 and still going strong.
The problem is, we now live in a consumer generation - it only takes a couple of days (weeks at most) for you to spot the newest plate - it's not that old cars are unreliable (some are), they've just been drowned out by '20, '70, '21, '71, 22 and soon '72 plated cars - and back in Occy's era (and maybe Timon's too) - manufacturers were making cars to last, instead of to last until next year's model comes out.
I'm a changed man - before attempting to buy Timon - I was looking for a solid shell - not caring about what lay underneath - I now see the beauty of buying a slightly worn shell, and a beautiful and well kept engine, gearbox and interior.
I've said this before, but a show-car is not what I need - yes, show-cars are nice - cars with modifications from tyre to roof are nice, but it's not what I need - I need a motorway cruiser - I need something that will eat up the miles -
In a drag race, Tom's fiesta will destroy Timon, but drive Timon and Tom's Fiesta from Land's end to John O'Groats - not once, but multiple times, Tom will need fuel, and Tom doesn't know how mechanically sound his car is - sure it'll get to the car meet and make noises - but will it do a lap of the UK without fault (or minimal fault?)
I need a big car because I have friends with infants - I NEED the boot-space, I'm here for my friends, and they're here for me.
It's also about personality - I like driving. Other than concerts, it's one of my most enjoyable pastimes, be that virtual or real - and what better car to get than one that can drive...a lot. It's got a turbo, and sports mode - so on that rare occasion Tom wants to prove how hard he is, I can at least give him a good race.
Anyway, I returned home and within about 15 minutes, I had found both the spare keys (they slashed the price because of this) and the V5C.
After quite the day and ordeal, I was absolutely shattered and headed straight to bed - but quickly before, ensured I had extended my temporary insurance on the Skoda
6th June, 2022
The following morning, I decided to boot up my computer and boot up some good old AI Racing on iRacing......but there was a problem.
I couldn't access AI Racing - last time I played with AI Racing, I messed about with how many laps the AI Races were - but every time I tried to load into an AI session after that, it would display an error message.
After many uninstalls and re-installs and deleting this file and that file, the problem was eventually fixed - and took iRacing to reset my UI files - I'm not sure how they did it - or what they did - but from a basic viewpoint, I think made it so that the default (when I opened the UI/An AI Race) was not 10000000000000000 laps, and instead the default 15 minutes/3 laps (or near that)
I think the problem was that the limit should have 24 hours, but the race-length of xyz amount of laps was BEYOND 24 hours and it started to freak out a little, so just denied access to Single AI Races or just broke completely.
But now all is fine, and I'm not touching race-lengths, and I'm having a smashing time on AI Racing.
On the 7th June, I packed the spare key, and KIA folder (which I still thought had the service history in it) and headed back onto the mainland.
With Kiara needing to be sold ASAP, and iRacing always taking its sweet time with deploying the update, I was more than happy to leave my rig and iRacing behind.
After a close call with about 35 miles left of fuel, I hit the road once again and arrived in Essex.
Upon arrival, It was about 6:40pm (ish), and after a few minutes in the house, we left for We Buy Any Car, but they were, obviously, shut.
This was a blessing in disguise as it gave us time to hoover the car, clean out the last bits, and remove the stickers - this all being done on Wednesday 8th June
Wednesday 8th June, 2022 -
Time was slightly against us. We had until 2pm to drive the car to We Buy Any Car, as it was already 9am - we had about 5 hours left before the reductions began.
We got to the car to the We Buy Any Car car-park for 10:30am.
Fortunately, he had already done the nerve-wracking bit of walking around the car and judging it - with both the spare key (and service record found in the glove compartment), We Buy Any Car was eventually able to buy Kiara off me for a whopping £2,588.54 (only £11.46 cheaper than Timon!)
Meaning, that Kiara is worth roughly the same as Timon despite *ahem*
- Potential crack in exhaust (not the stuff you smoke, that would increase value, not decrease it)
- Gearbox Leak
- Broken Fuel Sender - Two chips in the windscreen
Which I'm just amazed at and, me personally, I don't view it as losing £11, I've gained so much more than that - a car with (touch wood) a working gearbox, a friend, an a trusty Skoda - and plenty of learning experiences!
As I no longer had to worry about Kiara, I had to now ensure that Timon was 100% ready for the road - and that meant insuring him and whacking a black box in him.
A short palava later, I found I couldn't retrieve the black box out of Kiara and asked my insurance provider for a new one - they were so kind to freeze my telematics (continuation of the discount I received from having a black box) until I installed my new black box. Legends!
With everything car-related sorted, I headed back to the Isle Of Wight for a well earnt break!
iRacing Events I've Missed Whilst In Essex & Uni
May 28th: NEC (Nurburgring Endurance Championship - Round 3
June 4th - 5th: Major's (Hosted) Le Mans 24 Hours
June 4th - 5th: CES (Creventic Endurance Series) - 12hrs Of Hockenheim