A tale of an exhaust

This morning I took my Golf round to the tyre and exhaust place I normally use on Churchfields.

I showed them the MoT failure certificate and asked them to fix the problem. First they went into huddle round the certificate as if there was something they didn’t understand. Then they put my car up on the ramp and for about 15 minutes a succession of people came and stared at the certificate and then peered at the car with the aid of a big torch. They would keep going and collecting colleagues to look at it and in the end one of them came and collected the manager from the reception and he did the same thing – stare at certificate, stare at car, stare at certificate.

Finally, the manager came out to reception to talk to me. He explained that whilst they had found a tiny hole in the exhaust, in their opinion it was much too small to be a failure, and might just about count as an advisory. Apparently, two of the people who had inspected it were qualified MoT inspectors and they both said that they would have passed it without a problem. They seemed surprised, I might even say outraged, that the MoT centre had found two major exhaust failures.

He then went on to explain that the failed section was welded to the catalyst and couldn’t normally be changed with the huge expense of a new catalyst. He said that in his opinion I had two sensible courses of action:

1. Fix the wing mirror and then take the car to them for an MoT. They would pass the exhaust, but of course they might find something else expensive which my normal MoT place had missed.

2. Take the car to a specialist exhaust place in Wilton which had the skills to make and weld on a new section of exhaust without needing to replace the catalyst.

I opted for (2) and drove round to Torque Technique in Wilton who advertise themselves as a company making custom exhausts for classic and performance cars. What I different establishment it was from ProTyre with its plush waiting room with large windows looking over the spotless workshop and clean attentive reception staff. I entered a pokey little reception with a strong smell of oil and pressed the bell.  After a while a well built gentleman with an oily overall staggered in and I explained the situation.  ‘OK’, he said, ‘drive it in and bung it on the ramp’.

I drove into a large and gloomy garage with bits of exhaust and various metal bashing machinery all over the place.  The chap I spoke to was the only person there and after lifting the car up in the air he invited me to stand underneath whilst we inspected the exhaust.  I have to say that this was much more my idea of what a garage should be like!

After a thorough inspection the mechanic expressed the same amazement as ProTyre that anyone could have failed the exhaust because of such a tiny hole.  However, he said that he could make and fit a new section for £70 and have it done by 15.30.  This seemed like a bargain for a hand made bit of exhaust so I agreed.

I then had the problem of getting home for lunch!  I elected to walk, but the route via the road is very sadly lacking in footway.  After plodding up The Avenue for some distance I found a gate leading to a track across a field.  it pointed roughly in the direction of home so I set off.  Fortunately, it did go in the right direction and after about 30 minutes I was able to climb over the back fence into the garden.

There was then the problem of needing to take Sophia to school at 15:45 and still manage to collect the car.  In the end I had a very hectic afternoon consisting of:

  • Drive Sophia to school in the Fiesta.
  • Drive on to Wilton to pay.
  • Drive Golf home leaving Fiesta at Torque Technique.
  • Walk back to Wilton via same cross country route.  Now wearing walking boots, but having to do the last bit along the road in the dark.
  • Collect Fiesta, drive home and then back to school to collect Sophia.

So, what can we deduce from this remarkably long winded experience?  Firstly, I was very impressed with ProTyre.  They could have simply accepted the MoT failure certificate and tried to charge me to replace the catalyst.  In the end they sent me elsewhere and didn’t charge me a penny.  I shall use them again.  I was also impressed by Torque Technique who seemed to know what they were doing and gave me a proper garage experience (sadly so often missing these days).

I was a lot less impressed by my MoT centre.  I am unable to understand why they would have issued a failure for such a minor fault.  It is possible – as some have suggested – that they are short of work and hope people will pay them a lot of money to repair minor faults.  This is possible, but I have taken both my cars there for 10 years and they know perfectly well that I do my own repairs.  It makes no sense therefore for them to try to rip me off in such a manner.  I shall have to give some thought to whether I continue to use them.