Tag Archives: Tincar

About Turn

The fact that I am now driving what is essentially a guided missile has reminded me of yet another incident which I had locked away into a dark hidden room in my mind (the number of dark hidden rooms in my mind may well be at the centre of a number of my problems).

It concerns what happened one evening after I finished playing a football match, and those of you who know roughly what age I am will guess that this tale is set long, long ago (near a football pitch far, far away – well, Dalkey, at any rate). It was back in the days when a football had the texture and bounceability of a Christmas Pudding, when the only diving was done by goalkeepers (into sticky, suck-sounding goalmouth mud) and when our fans, if we’d had any, would have celebrated our goals by whirling rattles and throwing their flat caps in the air.

In short, I was about 24. A few teammates and I were going out straight after the match, so we decided to shower in the house of one of the team. He lived just a couple of hundred yards from the ground. To get to his house you drove to the end of the road to a T-junction, then turned right.

As we were going such a short distance I didn’t bother changing, just took off my football boots and slipped on my shoes. I drove down to the T-junction as any 24-year old bloke would, i.e., as fast as possible, leaving it as late as possible to brake. That was when I discovered the problem I was facing.

The lace of my unlaced shoe was trapped in the door. While I’d had no trouble reaching the accelerator, I couldn’t reach the brake.

I had never tried a handbrake turn before, and to be quite honest I didn’t try it then either. What I tried to do was slow the car down with the handbrake while turning quickly right so as to make it safely onto the other road. What I managed to do, however, was turn the car in a complete circle. I ended up facing in exactly the opposite direction, though it felt as if some of my innards and the half-time half-orange hadn’t quite managed it. 

My car was now facing a teammate who was driving the car behind, who’d had to slam on his brakes as I’d apparently suddenly swung round to confront him like a duellist having reached the count of ten. I still remember the look on his face.

So if any of you are worried about how I’m going to manage driving a car with dodgy brakes, I’m sure he’ll tell you all you’ve nothing to worry about.

Though I noticed that he never, never accepted a lift anywhere with me after that.

Don’t Stop Me Now

I wrote recently about the letter we received from SEAT, which asked us to bring  the Tincar in to be checked. 

 The letter said that “the brake servo pipes may be prone to cracks, in which event the vacuum assistance for the power brake system may be affected”.

Today was the day of our appointment, and Mrs Tin duly turned up at the garage. “Don’t worry,” said the mechanic cheerfully, “we’ve had dozens of these in, and I haven’t seen a cracked one yet.”


Do I really need to say what happened next?

He checked it out, uttered a Miley-like “well, Holy God” (sorry, overseas readers, that won’t mean a whole lot to you), and confirmed what we had always suspected, that the Tincar is unexpectedly unique.

So unexpected, in fact, that the garage doesn’t actually have any replacement kits in stock. They’ll ring us, and in the meantime they’ve sent us back out on the road.

As a blogger I’m obviously thrilled by all this, as it has filled my post for today. In my slightly less important role as a parent, however, I’m a bit concerned about us ferrying three kids around in a car with all the stopping ability of a snooker ball on an ice-rink.

Apparently I shouldn’t be worried. The people who assured us that there was a very small chance of cracks appearing in the system have assured us that there’s very little chance of such cracks really affecting the vacuum assistance of the power braking system, which in turn would have almost no chance of actually rendering the brakes as effective as an umbrella in an avalanche.

Comforting, isn’t it?

Speed 3: Seat of Your Pants

If ever proof were needed that the Tinfamily are modest, humble folk, I offer in evidence the fact that our car is a Seat Ibiza.

It is known in these annals as the Tincar, and seldom can a nickname have been as appropriate. Going uphill seems to tire it out, mere falling birdshit leaves dents in its bonnet and driving over cobbles has the same effect on your bum as accidentally sitting on the jet in a jacuzzi.

In fairness it is nine years old, which is almost two million in car years. Other car-makes have come, had girls sit in bikinis on them at Motor Shows, won Car of the Year, fallen out of favour and vanished forever from the production lines while the Tincar has been doggedly chugging along. I described it here once as a VW Golf in casual clothes, and that pretty well sums it up – unremarkable, functional and safe.

Or not. Today we got a letter from SEAT concerning the brakes. Concern is the important part of that sentence, as apparently “the brake servo pipes may be prone to cracks, in which event the vacuum assistance for the power brake system may be affected”.

I’m not a mechanic, but I believe this is the technical way of saying “for fuck’s sake don’t drive down any steep hills”.

Recently Toyota discovered that a piece of metal the size of a tooth-filling was missing from its brake-pedal, and launched a worldwide media campaign recalling millions (thousands? hundreds? wasn’t really listening) of its cars. It is a measure of how highly Seat drivers are regarded that our risk of a high-speed brush with doom was notified to us by ordinary post, via a letter that took three days to get here.

It asks us to drive to our nearest Seat garage as quickly as possible. That, of course, is the problem. We may have no choice about that.