Whoops

May 6, 2014

Our niece, who’s using our car while she’s home from overseas, had noticed an unusual noise coming from near one of the rear wheels.

She booked the car in for a check-up, took it in on Friday, locked it and gave the key to the receptionist.

A few hours later we got a phone call – a mechanic had unlocked the car, checked something, left the key in it and gone to do something else. When he got back the car had gone.

No-one at the workshop had seen anything untoward but the logical conclusion was it had been stolen so they reported it to the police.

A couple of hours later we got another call.

The car was on the back of a transporter en route to Christchurch.

The transport driver had called in to pick up a light blue Toyota Camry and had been given the key, with the registration number attached.

He’d ignored the information about the model and registration and gone for the colour instead – a light blue Toyota Corolla, found another key on the seat, used it to start the car,  loaded it onto the transporter and headed north.

We got a phone call yesterday afternoon to tell us the car had been returned, the source of the noise found and fixed and our niece had picked it up.

She reported when she went to get it, the car had been locked and the key was in the office.

Methinks they’ve reviewed their practice of leaving keys in cars while in the yard even though this time it was an honest mistake and not a theft.


Going, going . . .

August 25, 2009

Running out of fuel is rarely convenient for the people in the vehicle and any others they hold up. This gives me some sympathy for the plan to fine people who get caught short on motorways.

However, while in the past I might have thought running out of petrol was carelessness I’m now wondering if at least some of the time the fuel gauge might be partially responsible.

Petrol gauges in most cars I’ve driven regularly have had a half circle with a hand which moved from full to empty pretty evenly.

My current vehicle, a Toyota Corolla, has ten blocks stacked on top of each other.

choc

The first block lasts 150 – 180 kilometres, the next couple take me around 90 kilometres each, and so it continues with the lower ones taking lesser distances to drop.

The second last one lasts around 40 kilometres and the last one lets me travel about half that distance before the warning beep tells me the car’s out of fuel.

It’s not, but even if I didn’t live 20 kilometres from the nearest petrol station I wouldn’t be keen to find out when empty really means empty.

I’ve worked out that when the gauge shows the car has half a tank of fuel it really has only about a third, but unless I notice when it drops to half I can’t be sure if it has that much or less.

The mechanic who services the car said that was the way the gauges work  and the one in his car, of the same make but different model, also dropped faster as the tank emptied.

It might be the way they do work but it’s not the way they should work.

There’s a visual design fault to start with. Gauges like clock faces have a block of red near empty which reinforces the message you are running short of fuel. Two solid blocks don’t portray the same level of urgency.

Then there’s the lack of connection between what it shows and how much fuel there really is. It’s not so much a gauge as an indicator, and an unreliable one at that. Unless I’m very careful about keeping an eye on it I’m in danger of finding the distance I need to travel isn’t quite up to the fuel available for travelling it.


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