Fast cars

I was trying to get some photos and/or video for a blog post I’m writing. I’m having trouble finding a source for part of the post, so in the meantime here’s a snippet of video from the pedestrian overpass above the Nepean Highway at Moorabbin.

I might be wrong, but it does appear to me that there’s more than one rev head in amongst this lot. But I’d be reluctant to estimate how fast they were going. Any guesses?

I wonder if they realised they were passing Moorabbin Police station?

Councils give warnings about overhanging trees blocking footpaths – why not parked cars?

From the City of Glen Eira web site:

Property owners are responsible for keeping trees and shrubs under control and trimmed back to ensure pedestrian safety and clear sightlines for drivers.

If a Council notice is sent requesting that trees or shrubs be trimmed, the work must be completed within 14 days.

Property owners who do not comply with a notice within 14 days will be issued with an official warning notice. This provides a further 10 days to complete the work. If action is still not taken within the required timeframe a penalty notice of $200 may be issued and a contractor engaged by Council to undertake the necessary work. The property owner is responsible for the contractorโ€™s fees.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they were as keen in preventing this far more common intrusion onto footpaths:

Car illegally blocking footpath

This is inconvenient for all footpath users, but can be downright hazardous for those in wheelchairs and other mobility aids, as well as pushing prams and strollers, and children riding their bikes (which is quite legal, I might add).

While you occasionally hear of people being rightly fined for it, it doesn’t seem to be very common.

It’s particularly galling when there is plenty of space on the street (or in the driveway they’re not quite using). People are just being lazy — as well as thoughtless and inconsiderate.

Perhaps a better way for Councils to deal with it would be to do as per the trees: first send a notice advising people not to illegally block the footpath… if they keep doing it, get a contractor to tow the car and charge them costs.

Lock up your motors

Unlucky pictogram manMy neighbour Bob had his car broken into this morning. He said he heard noises outside and went out to find a bloke smashing up the steering wheel and console, apparently trying to hotwire it.

When the bloke realised Bob was out there he shouted “I’m coming out mate, I’m coming out!” He did so, pushed past Bob and ran down the street. Sounds like the bloke wanted to avoid a physical confrontation.

Bob says he inadvertently left his car unlocked overnight, and suspects the bloke was just an opportunist. He also thinks he may have been affected in some way by drugs, alcohol, or something else.

I’d have to assume a pro could have hotwired a car in seconds, and not made enough noise to rouse people. Bob’s got an older Commodore — perhaps it doesn’t have an immobiliser, though it’s unclear if the bloke would have known that.

The police CSI team came and took fingerprints, but one would guess they won’t have much luck finding anybody… more likely they might pin that on him if they find him for something else.

I thought nobody would try and break into a car in a driveway, because the assumption would be that somebody’s home. The Lady Cop said you can never assume your car in your driveway is safe. Some people will notice an unlocked car and grab gold coins from the coin tray — you wouldn’t even know anything had happened.

Bob’s okay… he was just a little shaken. But his car will need some repairs.

It reminds me that although Bentleigh is a pretty safe, low-crime suburb, it’s good to take care. I sometimes leave my car open, windows down, doors unlocked if it’s a hot day and I’m expecting to go driving somewhere. The lesson I’ll take from this is to at least ensure the doors are deadlocked (which should also activate the immobiliser, hopefully preventing hotwiring) whenever the car is unattended.

Car servicing: dealer or elsewhere?

Car mirror with no glassThe other week my right hand car mirror lost its glass. I have no idea why. I had adjusted it because I noticed it was out of alignment, then a minute or two later, it fell off and shattered while driving. Bizarro.

I put a temporary $6 concave mirror on it, and in the process walked into Autobarn for possibly the first and last time ever.

But the broken mirror provided the impetus to go get the car serviced, along with the remote locking not working, which had been is a constant pain.

I had previously been going to the dealer I bought the car from, Alan Mance. As long as I was going to them for regular service for the first two years since buying it from them, the used car warranty stayed current, but that’s all over now.

So I thought I’d find the closest dealer, figuring that taking it to a dealer avoids delays with parts, or dodgy repairs because they don’t know what they’re doing. At least that’s the theory.

They had a look, and gave me some quotes (parts plus labour).

Transponder and key cutting… $260. And apparently it’s not the most expensive Holden, either, for keys. Ouch.

They reckoned it needs a new clutch pedal… $30. Yeah, okay.

New glass for the mirror… $177. Ouch. Lucky it was just the glass.

Plus the actual service ($225).

Bloody cars. Expensive.

Plus I had to battle horrible traffic in the rain to get there (remind me not to use Nepean Highway again in peak hour).

Dropping the car off, I knew it was a ten minute walk to the station, but the rain was coming down. A lady was waiting for a cab to the station, and the service guy suggested we split the fare. We waited. And waited.

After about 15 minutes, she noted it’d actually been about 40 minutes since the cab had been called. The rain wasn’t so hard at that point, so I bailed on her and walked. Ten minutes later I was at the station and straight onto a train — a little soggy, but on my way. I found out later the cab never arrived. Marvellous.

The pickup

Coming back in the afternoon, it was dry. I got there about 5:15, only to find (as I’d been warned) the car was still being worked on. It took until just after 6pm for it to be done and dusted, and although the waiting room is terribly nice, it wasn’t much fun to be sitting there, places to go, nothing to do but fiddle with my phone and watch the TV, silently wondering how the constestants on Millionaire Hot Seat could not know that “Northern Exposure” was set in Alaska (rather than Hawaii, Florida or New Mexico, and respite Eddie emphasising the obvious clue of Northern).

The dealer had also found a fault with the reverse lights (in short, they don’t work) for which they don’t have the part in stock. And it’ll cost another $110 including labour to do it. That’s pretty annoying too, but it’ll have to happen.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom: they came up with a rather clever way of avoiding paying for a whole new key, despite a little bit missing off mine which means it doesn’t all stay together well. A piece of electrical tape to keep it intact.

And they let me know what with that model of Astra, it really doesn’t matter if it goes a year between oil changes. Given I barely drive it, this is good to know. I needn’t feel like I need to rush back every six months for a pointless service.

Still, I drove home pondering if I shouldn’t have just gone to Ultratune in Mckinnon, which is a much shorter (especially in peak hour) trip, only a stone’s throw from the nearest station, and undoubtedly cheaper.

Some lessons from this

Dealers don’t necessarily have all the parts you need in stock.

Close is good, because driving through peak hour traffic is not my idea of fun.

Don’t bother waiting for a taxi in peak hour when it’s raining if you’re in a hurry.

Will consider using Ultratune next time, especially if it’s just an oil change and basic stuff like checking brake pads. It’s not like a continuous record of dealer servicing matters for re-sale value of a car that is already 12 years old, and that I have no plans to sell anyway.

What do others do when getting their cars serviced?