Why i Joined the AA (broken Toyota)

How does this relate to bikes then ? how do you get to your races ? you drive in your cars and vans, this is a shameless plug for the AA as they bailed me out big time and i am really really happy that i joined years ago, and this is the first time the little Tercel has needed a piggy back home.

So there i am i set off 9.20am from up north (near grimsby) after 50 miles the car dies, i coast past J1 of the M18 and cut up the southbound slip road, the car is dead, no power, wont turn over. Now rewind to 2006 when i got the car and started racing, i was coming back from the Churchill races and broke down (blocked fuel system) i worked out if i kept the revs to 1800 i could drive back at about 35-40mph, i nursed the car home, had all the filters changed and serviced and joined the AA, in case it happened again. So after being a member for a few years i needed them now, breaking down on the motorway is damn scary. So i call it in, within an hour Simon turns up in a HGV, no messing they know the car has had an electrical failure and shutdown, so Simon takes me down to Woodhall services to meet a mechanic.084_1

So lorry 1 and a 15 min wait for Matthew to arrive to assess my motor.085_1

At low revs the battery light comes on ! while driving it goes out, however the battery is not charging and i have been running on the stored charge, when this got down to 8.2 volts the car shut down, The men from the AA where impressed it ran that low as most modern cars with computers will shut down when it drops to 9.6 volts, a few tests, lots of multimeter action, then a whack on the alternator with a hammer and the charge light goes out (thats good) i am happy to carry on the battery is getting a healthy dose of volts, Matthew tells me to drive to the next service station Tibshelf, he will follow, as i leave the services the charge light comes on again and off at higher revs, as i enter Tibshelf the light comes back on. Heres the issue, i am a 4wd they have no info on my car (old ) and after Tibshelf i enter the M1 roadworks, no hard shoulder for a very long distance, i may get through the roadworks, but with no charging i will break down again, and being 4wd if i breakdown in the roadworks they cant tow me out i will need lifting to a lorry ( most recovery vans now lift the front wheels as this is safer than a tow bar and dosent require you to steer the car and break and stuff) some 4wd drive systems cant be unlocked for towing, you cant lift the front wheels if they are going to rotate as the rear wheels rotate.

So it’s piggy back time, within an hour Phil turns up in a lorry and takes me down to Strensham South, about 30-40 mins later John turns up in another lorry to take me back to Minehead.087_1

We stop for a quick break at Michaelwood, i need a whizz and grab a drink, i should have been home hours ago, slowly we are getting there, i have a class 2 HGV so am used to the Tacho rules and strict speed limits for lorries, i am going home, i will get home tonight and i dont care what time as it’s home.088_1

Little van in the background there doing someone else !

I get home about 7.15pm what was going to be a 5 hour trip has become 10 hours, i managed to drive about 50 miles of a 270 mile trip they did the rest, this is the first and last time the Tercel will be rescued, i went to the garage today and had a chat, the car is old, it was not going to be put through the next MOT in a few months anyway, depending on damage it’s a new alternator, funny thing is that one is only 3 years old and then it was the only one in the country and a pain to track down, the cost of repair against a few months MOT isnt worth it, we decided to retire the car. It has been racing with me for 4 years, it has done the dragons 2 trips to Fort William and allround Orkney and the west coast. It has been a field ambulance for practice days back with the South West winter series, people where stunned at how capable the little estate car was off road, it has lugged timing gear up to the very top of Avill ball, where the tractors couldnt go ! it did 2 winter series of that, i have only done about 35,000 miles in that time, but it has been a working car, and never failed to get me home, now is the end of days for the Toyota, it’s been awesome !

So there you go, when you make that 200 mile drive to the next race, who will bring you home ? you NPS racers from down south do serious mileage, Fort william back to Plymouth, dont even try to think of the cost if you dont have cover, DAMN glad i joined years ago, i got my moneys worth the other day, hopefully i wont need to call for a few years, but nice to know help is there.

Big thanks to Simon and Matthew and Phil and John from www.theAA.com

089_1They summed up my car quite nicely, the old girl will only have a short last trip to make.

  1. Morgan

    Lovely story Ace.
    I joined the AA when I started driving, and in my second year my 23 year old Ford Orion decided to break down on the M1 up to Leeds. It would trundle along if I floored the pedal, slowly building up speed, but if I took my foot off to slow then the engine would die.
    Managed to make it to the hard shoulder of my junction and called the AA. It was a busy Friday evening but the guy turned up within 15 minutes. By the time he’d got there the car would turn over so I followed him to a nearby carpark.
    A quick look under the hood revealed that the valve on the cold air intake had broken, meaning that when the temp sensor got cold it couldn’t open up to suck warmer air off the engine. As such it was sucking in freezing winter air, made colder by the high speeds, and freezing the top of the manifold off so no fuel could get through.
    Quick bit of wire and cable ties ensured the valve would stay open all the time, with the instruction to either get it changed soon, or close it come summer time to stop the engine overheating.
    What’s more he follwed me all the way to my final destination too to make sure I got there ok.
    Can’t reccomend the AA enough, especially to riders on a budget who’d rather spend money on bikes than on a beat up old wagon

  2. Mrs Ace

    Sad to see the end to a good car. It did great to get up to Scotland and back twice. Hope next car is as good.

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