Woke up this morning and saw no rain but the roads were very wet. Pretty much exactly what was predicted. I packed the Westfield with all the gear I thought I’d need, and more and met my old man in the local supermarket car park. Things were looking up – I was on time! For those that don’t know me this is a rare thing indeed.
With everything transferred across we set off. I’d originally planned to go via A/B roads but after an impromptu recce the previous day (encountering two flood signs in just the short stretch I drove) I decided I’d go via the motorway. Not particularly exciting, but I was unlikely to encounter a road-wide puddle. As I drove down the slip road the speedo stopped working. I presumed the sensor had come loose again (despite using threadlock this time) and if things were going well during the test I’d quickly (20 mins or so) fix it. If it had definitely failed before the speedo test I wouldn’t bother.
Eventually, after a stint through some 50mph average speed cameras (which are a problem with no speedo, but not with no number plates) I arrived at the Esso garage down the road from the VOSA centre. It was about 7:40 which was when I was expecting to arrive. Still on time – today was a special day indeed! The journey down was ok aside from the spray. I didn’t get too wet but the inside of the screen did. At the Esso garage I topped the tank up and wondered why it clicked off at 4.5l. Presuming the pump must not be a fan of the Westfield set up, I kept going and it dripped out the filler neck. Definitely full then and I’d managed 48mpg. My missus’ Fiesta can’t even manage that.
I left the petrol station and went to the VOSA station where my old man was, having spectacularly failed to spot the bright orange kit car in the petrol station he’d been told it would be stopping at. Grabbed a cup of coffee then parked the Westfield in the bay awaiting the testers. There were two vehicles being tested that day – my car and a minibus.
When the tester came out I informed him about the speedo and was happy that we look at it at the end if necessary. I moved the car forward and they began weighing it. A quick cursory glance around the car and the first iffy bit was the switches. The examiner suggested they sat too proud and the edges were too sharp. I explained that I was happy with that point as they’re not the usual switches everyone uses. I could source rubber covers for the switches to soften them up and fit some kind of bezel so they’re not too proud. However, when I came back after grabbing some parts for something else (covers for the sidescreen fixing points) he said they were fine. The sharp edges didn’t apply because if you hit them you were going to push them in thus closing the gap. I presume they also just squeezed into the 9mm limit. Phew! I was already thinking of the cost of all new switches!
The next point is the wipers didn’t park themselves (I only have off, on and fast settings), He asked if I’d read the manual and I said yes but didn’t see anything saying they had to park themselves. I guess there wasn’t because I heard no more about it (to give him his due, he did say he wasn’t 100% sure).
After doing the emissions test (another pass, though I wasn’t getting excited as the speedo was yet to come) I noticed a small coolant leak coming from the hose under the expansion tank. This had done this a couple of days ago so I just tightened the jubilee back up like before. However, unlike before the jubilee clip decided enough was enough and parted company with itself. A header tank full of hot coolant thus made a bid for freedom and freedom it got, all over the floor. Ever the professional I didn’t panic because I knew I’d brought coolant with me. Then I realised I didn’t actually bring any jubilee clips along. I started pondering if cable ties would suffice for the duration of the test.
The guy said they were going to take a 20 minute break and that’s how long I had to fix it. He suggested going to the garage I’d stopped at for fuel (at that point I was testing to see if the lower jubilee clip would fit at the top as I had a fuel pipe clamp the right size for the lower one). I took his hint and we popped to the garage. Great if I wanted an air freshener, but distinctly lacking in the jubilee clip department. I resigned myself to bodging this somehow, then spotted there was a pirtek place opposite. I nipped in and they duly found me a jubilee clip of the appropriate size. They didn’t even charge me. I made a mental note to forgive them for bending me over when I needed an autobox cooler pipe replacing the the land rover.
Back at the VOSA centre I replaced the jubilee clip and topped up the coolant with plenty of time to spare. Meanwhile, my old man swept the puddle up and it was like nothing ever happened. It was lucky this problem was fixed, else I’d not be able to continue and be looking at a full retest, with the full £450 fee again. Ouch! Amazing how that focuses the mind.
Whilst moving the car forward onto the ramps for a visual inspection I noticed the speedo was springing back into life. Today was turning into a lucky one. With the speedo potentially working the examiner asked for documentation on it. Being digital it wasn’t obvious what the maximum speed it would display is. I dug out the instruction manual, flicked through but there’s no mention of it. Undeterred, I browsed the race technoloy website but there was still no mention of it anywhere. The inspector rebuffed my feeble attempt of blagging it by showing a photo of it at 156mph. This would be a fail. If the car got through the rest of the test unscathed I decided I’d phone Westfield technical and get them to fax something over.
Lights was next and the beam pattern seemed a little off. I took them apart and there was no way the bulb could go in upside down and I hadn’t wired dipped/main beam the wrong way round. We managed to adjust our way out of that one though.
Back to the switches and the tester was unhappy with my choice of symbol for main beam (old photo):
As the car didn’t have spot lights, I couldn’t use the word ‘SPOT’. Not sure how I’ll get around that one. He said something like the normal lights would do. I have one with the numbers 3 and 4 on it so I might use that with a label above saying main beam or something. Either way, another fail and something I couldn’t fix there and then.
Much like buses, failures seem to come along at once. The reverse light decided to re-enact it’s mystical non-working issue again, last seen when building and disappeared on it’s own. That’s going to be the tricky one to fix I reckon.
Carrying on, I had issues with projections on the exhaust and track rod ends.
Onto the brakes and whatever those numbers mean they’re fine. One issue with the handbrake lever reaching maximum travel but it was efficient enough when it was there. I’ll have to tighten it up before the next test.
With the brakes tested the self-repairing speedo was looked at. Given how I hadn’t checked it like I wanted to (it was dead on the motorway) I was surprised to learn that it was within tolerance. It jumped about a little bit so I’ll have to reduce the sampling rate.
The tested then took it for a spin round the VOSA-ring and I think he set a new lap record. He didn’t seem fussed about self centring or maybe it’s better a speed. Either way, I hoped he enjoyed himself and so would forget about the previous transgressions.
The test drive went well, as did presumably the visibility test as it was parked up in an area looking like it was for that when I was called outside. He asked me to rev it to just under 5k and he’d record the loudness. I clocked an impressively quiet 96db. Woohoo!
That was the last test, so time to park it up whilst he crunched some numbers. As expected, I got my fail on the following:
- Parking brake must have reserve travel
- Windscreen pillars need covering (the covers Westfield sent wouldn’t stay on, so they’ll need bonding)
- Exhaust heat shield needs adjusting in towards the bodywork slightly, potentially the corner filing down
- Jubilee clamp holding the exhaust wrap down needs to move more in towards the bodywork (may replace with metal cable tie)
- Reverse lamp didn’t work
- Identification of main beam switch
- Fan switch positive wire needed further securing in engine bay
- Main loom could do with an extra cable tie under scuttle
All in all, as good as I’d hoped for (I never planned on passing first time). I wanted the fixes to be relatively simple and the car not be condemned so I did well. I think had there only been one or two issues like securing the wiring he’d have allowed me to fix them but to be fair I used up enough time resolving the coolant leak. There was little chance of me solving the reverse lamp issue there and then either.
Single page failure sheet in hand and it was time for the return journey. Sure enough, within a mile the speedo stopped working again. I think the car has done 100 miles in it’s life time. The speedo has recorded 14 of them.
The weather was dry, the roads had dried so I was in for a decent journey back. 20 minutes or so down the M4 and the crash pad starts coming away from where it’s had water going into the velcro. Pulled into the services, whipped the crash pad off and stuck it in the support car.
Back along the motorway, somewhere between J16/17 of the M4 I lost engine power whilst overtaking a lorry. Not particularly great timing but I had the momentum to pull in front and onto the hard shoulder without becoming a grill ornament. I thought the lorry sounded funny whilst I was overtaking it – it was me misfiring!
I opened the bonnet and couldn’t see anything wrong. I pushed the HT leads on just to check and shut the bonnet. The lorries going past made holding the bonnet in one place pretty tricky indeed. I restarted the car and it was fine. Hmmm… ah well, onwards.
A couple of miles later and the same thing happens. Much wider stretch of hard shoulder this time so I was able to get well away from the carraigeway and have a proper look. Still nothing obvious (hands up who knows what it is yet), restart and it’s fine. Away I go, wondering how long will it last.
Sure enough, within a mile and the misfire returns. I’m not far from the junction now, so I dropped it to 4th and kept pace with the lorry in front of me. I pulled off the motorway at the junction and stopped in a costa coffee. There are worse places to break down.
This time, the misfire didn’t disappear after cooling so it was time for the professionals. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any, but the RAC stepped in to help!
Making the initial breakdown report was interesting as I didn’t have a number plate. They said they could send a patrol out but they couldn’t recover me as I had no tax. I had fallen into the cop-out they used for not rescuing derelict cars.
The RAC man arrive pretty quickly (15 minutes after phoning) and after a discussion about the car he diagnosed it as the coil pack. Ah yes, of course! He didn’t have one in the van but did offer to pop to the motor factors to get one for me. No matter I said, I had one in the garage. I’d only changed them from what was on originally because the cradle was broken so I could take one of the originals off and fit to the ones on the intact cradle.
I limped the car to my parents house about 2 miles away then we went to mine to pick up the spare part. I don’t think I’ve ever found anything in my garage so quick! Probably because it was empty with most of the stuff being in the back of my dad’s car.
Got back, replaced the coil and all was well in the world again. I finished the journey off to the engineering place to have my sump made (err I mean IVA fixes). I should be able to sort the reverse light there and everything else is pretty simple.
So, I may not have passed the IVA and I’ve had a pretty eventful day. But, the car is where I want it to be, having the work done to it I’d planned to be done to it. I always planned to fail the IVA once (well, factored in rather than planned to) and with this list it should be just the once. I think I’ll book a retest for three weeks time.
For now, until I pick the car up next week, I don’t have to spend any more evenings in the garage. Yay!!