Irish Driving Tales from the Dark Side: The Diary of a Driving Instructor

Robin Piggott

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An alternative title for this article could be “Don’t think buying a new car will solve all your ills because it won’t!"

Fast rewind to a balmy summer’s day in 1997 and our intrepid Instructor is seen to approach his chosen Automobile supplier cheque book at the ready. A really exciting time, buying a new car for cash for the first (and probably last) time in his life, so you would think. Think again, the storm clouds are brewing (Actually I think they may coagulate)

It’s worth while pointing out at this stage that the car had been ordered some time before and a set of OEM Alloy wheels were to be fitted. Enter showroom with big smile on face, to be met with an equally expansive smile from the Service Manager, who was an old friend and Motoring adviser from many years previously. I am sure the Salesman would have preferred to have dealt with me himself but in this world it’s who you know not what you know, if you get my drift. Back in those days, before the glistening new stainless steel and glass Emporiums that we are used to today when we visit main dealers, it was a bit rough and ready and no cappuccino on tap. Still, all was calm, friendly, and full of expectation. At this stage no hint of what was to come.

Your car is ready Sir; the usual pleasantries of being ushered to the waiting Beast (and it did turn out to be just that!) and a silence while we were allowed time to gasp and smile and generally feel good about ourselves. The car did look magnificent with its metallic blue paint, gleaming alloy wheels and electric front windows and other niceties. This was a Wednesday, in the month of August, and the sun was shining, the birds singing (no rain for a change) and all was well as we completed the formalities and prepared for our new experience. It was indeed a great thrill but I was not to last! A few hours later with just 70 miles on the clock all the electrics went and out the window went my hopes, to be replaced with a foreboding that, as it turned out was wholly justified.

The first problem with the car would not have been so bad had it not been for the fact that my two Daughter’s and I were booked on the Irish Car ferry to the UK on the following Sunday at 8.00am. My heart sank as I realised that there were only two days or less to get the car roadworthy. In the event of the vehicle not being ready in time, a replacement car and the necessary Insurance cover would have to be ready by close of play on the Friday and this was now 2.00pm Wednesday. Not good!

Back at the showroom, with smiles long since forgotten, campers were unhappy to say the least. I forget which car we drove home and was preparing for the worst, which did actually happen. The fault could not be diagnosed and we reluctantly accepted another replacement car, slightly bigger, to take us on our adventure. We were all extremely disappointed not to be able to show off our new machine to relatives and friends but as it turned out, the larger car was a great benefit on the return journey with all the extra accumulations that a 2000 mile trip does to a small family car.

Two weeks later, safely home from an exhausting round of Family, Friends and Motorway overdose, we looked forward to retrieving our real car; as I am sure, it too, was looking forward to its new owner (or was it?) It transpired that two or three Auto Electrical Engineers had failed to locate the problem and with the hours ticking away fast to the arrival of the owner, some emergency action was required if a lynching (or worse) was to be avoided. Said Service Manager took the Bull by the Horns and proceeded very quickly, but quite by chance, to discover the malfunction. A simple short circuit on the steering column when the steering wheel was at the fully locked position.

Problem solved- Happy Campers again …not for long sadly! Never having had such a debilitating situation, (at least in the motoring sense!) with any new car before, over the previous twenty seven years, I felt confident that the worst was over . It was only just beginning and it would be come a lot worse over the next twelve months and beyond.

Clearly my plans for the future which included guaranteed, trouble free motoring, had taken a severe knockdown or as Jim Edwards would say a “Friday night smackdown”. Jim, as some of you will know is a master Internet Marketing Guru and Author although he doesn’t like the term. I will put his URL in the resource box at the end, for those of you who are interested in a real life success story. I have Jim to thank for helping me to get down and dirty with my word processor and who knows maybe one day I will be able to afford to walk into a Car showroom again and buy the damn place and then maybe, just maybe, I will get some service.

It’s just too exhausting, reliving those heady days, for more than an hour at a time, so the rest of the story and it’s a long one, will follow in the next chapter. In the mean time drive safely and remember learning is a lifetime occupation.

Robin Piggott has spent many years behind the wheel of his cars and quite a lot of time underneath. He has now decided that life is just too short to continue the goal of becoming a mechanic and is planning to spend the next decade in enjoying his Driving and passing on his hints tips and experiences to his pupils and readers. He is indebted to Jim Edwards, a noted Internet Author and Marketing Guru. Jim doesn't like this term but its wholly deserved believe me!

Astral School of Motoring is based in Limerick, Ireland:

Jim Edwards:


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