14th November 2005: More Polo Stuff
I admit to paying a backstreet garage to deal with an issue with the timing belt. I couldn't find any problem with the timing belt (but we all know that awful screech which says 'timing belt') - there is no fanbelt, as such - the radiator fan is direct-drive from an electric motor. The garage claim to have replaced the fanbelt, at £16 for a £1 belt, but what they have actually replaced is the timing belt. That was my suspect, and given how critical the timing belt is, I knew I needed to replace it, and I also preferred to pay a pro his half-hour fee to do it, rather than do it myself.
Still seems strange that they claimed that it was the fanbelt - their motto is "who do you trust?", and I have always trusted them in the past with my other cars, and had a good deal from them.
Anyway, they have replaced the timing belt, and it's running like a good'un now.
I've not got around to other minor updates - I've replaced the ugly yellow aerial with a standard chrome aerial, the MP3 Player is nicely integrated now (the cassette adapter has just enough length to get into the tape deck if required, or to sit on the glovebox if not wanted, and the other end of the cable comes out of the dashboard by the cigar lighter (now fixed) so the MP3 Player can sit there easily. Photos will follow, honestly! - it looks fairly well integrated now, though I do need a black adapter - the white one does not fit the black dashboard at all).
In the meantime, family have been asking what I want for Christmas, and to be honest, without wanting to sound smug, I don't need anything, so all I can think of is ideas for the Polo. So I've asked them for things like a voltmeter (so I don't have to borrow my Dad's!), cosmetically it could do with a new grille, and Argos have a v. bling grille for £20, but it's a bit too bling for me. I think I'd prefer a plain black plastic grille with a VW badge - it would fit the car a bit better.
Another thing which does need to be dealt with is the two 6x9" holes in the parcel shelf - again, Argos have some Bling!Bling! speakers for < £25, so I'm sure that some disceet speakers must be available. I did rip out the existing (mains!) cables which had previously powered some rear speakers, but a little bit of upholstery work should get some proper speaker cable installed (and at no greater cost than buying a "proper" parcel shelf). Even though I've never bought a copy of Max Power in my life, I would never run audio over mains cable, so that is no loss whatsoever.
Still, I think I'll also go for a higher performance battery - the rear-window demister is now working (after shuffling around with some relays) but it's very slow at its job (a demister is basically just a huge resistor, so its role in life is to suck enough electricity to melt ice), so I'd hope that a more powerful battery would improve that performance - as we come into winter, that will be more of an issue.
I will still have to deal with the heater fan issue (it only works on full-blast, thanks to a design flaw (German engineering?!) which means that on full-blast it bybasses the blown fuse, but the fuse is hidden, and current investigation implies that replacing the fuse means replacing the entire heater unit - I'm too Yorkshire to accept that as a resolution), and the detail that the headlight switch turns green on sidelights, but doesn't turn on when on headlights (not a problem, the fact that the headlights are on should be obvious, and the dash lights up anyway).
I don't think that I realised how much fun I would have with this car before I bought it - if it fell over and died tomorrow, I'd get another banger. The cosmetic stuff is, of course, cosmetic, but being able to play with a car is so much fun, especially when compared with a company car (don't touch it) or a car under warranty (again, don't touch it). With a small, old, but working car, there is lots of potential. My wife does not understand why I love the Polo when we've got a perfectly reliable Mondeo (Only #79 on Top Gear's survey, out tonight, but Good Enough) but what I love about the Polo is its potential. Yes, adding speakers, radiator grilles, etc, is just appearances, and I hope to use Christmas to improve the car's appearance, but I also want to use this to learn more about cars, and to know what I'm driving. The Mundano simply doesn't give me that opportunity - the Polo opens itself up, and lets me play with every aspect of it, limited only by my ability, and my capability to learn. That is fun.