Thursday, 23 May 2013

Which? complaints

Which? claims nine drivers in ten think cars should have spare wheels. That means nine drivers out of ten are either living in the Dark Ages of the motor car, or drive something old with worn-out wheels. They think they may need to get the Stepney out and affix it by the roadside. Don’t they realise life’s not like that now?

They don’t trust tyres. They trust engines and transmissions. They don’t carry a spare gearbox or camshaft belt, yet these are as likely to fail as a modern properly inflated tyre. Dear me yes father always had a spare wheel in the boot or, in our first Wolseley, in a metal casing on the outside of what would have been the boot lid. There it got wet, rusty, and was usually flat when you needed it. Come to think of it the cleverly named Jackall (jack-all, geddit) hydraulic jacking system you worked by pumping a handle through a hole in the floor didn’t always lift the wheels off the ground. Punctures left a Bad Taste.

Which? readers are cross because rascally car manufacturers provide a repair kit which is, “more expensive if you get a puncture because you’ll have to replace the sealant and the tyre each time you get a flat.” Each time. Scandalous. Furthermore, “Tyres can’t be repaired due to the chemicals in sealants. Water-based sealants, such as Honda’s, can be flushed out to allow a repair but only a franchised dealer can do this.” Disgrace. A Vauxhall Astra canister can cost £50 and a new tyre £148. “Conversely, fixing a simple puncture costs roughly £15.”

Which planet is Which? living on? The only people who seriously repair punctures nowadays must be driving very slowly on spindly tyres. Back in the Dark Ages we did drive until the canvas showed through. (I heard a TV Formula 1 commentator say that not long ago – he must have been a Dark Ages survivor too). But it was different with skinny tyres and slow speeds. “Give me a full-sized spare wheel anytime. I’ll put up with the weight and the slightly smaller boot space,” complain Which? readers. “I recently had a puncture and found my car has no spare wheel. Having to spend £200 on a new tyre was a bit much. A total rip-off especially if the tyre has thousands of miles left in it.” How do you suddenly discover your car has no spare wheel? Do people not look? Drivers like that should be condemned to drive on skinny Dark Ages tyres that last 50,000 miles so they will skid on the wet cobbles and get killed.

Nine Which? drivers out of ten have no idea how far we have come in tyre technology.

Pictures: TOP Continental Tyres 140th anniversary BELOW Wolseley 14 MIDDLE Dark Ages. Even record breakers carried spares. In 1924 Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird (a 350hp Sunbeam, here with stub exhausts) changed wheels between runs at Pendine. Boards prevent narrow tyres sinking into wet sands. Which? tyre test class winner. ContiSportContact3. BOTTOM Continental Tyres Cord: Moscow Fashion Designer creates a new trend. Pictures from splendid Newspress.

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