When it has not been raining it has been exceedingly cold in the Great Outdoors lately, so I have not felt much inclined to stand/sit/lie around out there fixing the defects in the campervan. Instead I have found a local garage of the type that I used near our previous home for many years. Mardy Motors, Cardiff (02920 795959) are about a mile away on a bus route between my house and the city centre. They were highly recommended by a neighbour who has used them for several years and they have done some work for me already.
To summarise the VW story briefly: I bought the campervan a few months ago and had it inspected and initial remedial work carried out by the local VW main dealer. In total this work came to £1,164. It included the replacement of all brake discs and pads, one new tyre, the renewal of brake fluid, wheel alignment, the renewal of the driver’s door lock, alternator belt and power steering belt and one trackrod arm.
Four months (568 miles) later I returned to the main dealer for a major service (£277) during which they also compiled a list of “advisories”, ie. work that was recommended though not necessarily urgent. To be honest most of this was unexpected, as I had thought that such matters would have been included in the initial inspection. The “advisories” amounted to about £2,000. By this time I was coming to the conclusion that (a) they were being extremely fussy and (b) impressively expensive (at around £90 per hour for their work). I was pleased that they were picking on every defect whether urgently in need of attention or not – this highlighted precisely the information that I wanted about the van if I was to achieve my aim of returning it to as near new condition as possible. However, their prices made quite the wrong impression so this was when I started to make enquries about small independent garages in the area.
Next the clutch started playing up. In a matter of days it went from a rather noisy bearing to causing lively vibrations at the pedal to almost refusing to work at all. So Mardy Motors supplied and fitted a genuine VW three-in-one clutch kit at a total cost of £580 including VAT.
Apparently the VW T4 has a common problem affecting the clutch pedal in that the bracket supporting the pedal is not strong enough for the job and, eventually, it will break, causing the pedal to collapse and become useless and probably damaging the master cylinder, leading to another expensive repair. I discovered this from the T4/T5 Forum online which also enabled me to order a reinforcing bracket from its enterprising independent maker. Just for a change, I fitted this myself. It took all of five minutes!
The first, and smaller, instalment of the work on the “advisories” was completed by Mardy Motors a few days ago. fitting a new brake caliper, freeing the brake compensator (which had been sticking previously), renewing the handbrake cables and the reversing light switch and supplying all the parts plus a set of spare bulbs for the exterior lights. The total cost was £387.
The second (and last for now) batch of work is underway as I write. This will include replacing lower wishbone bushes, antiroll bar bushes and the nearside front upper balljoint. A broken heater control cable will be replaced and the spare wheel carrier, which I have de-rusted and treated to copious amounts of Hammerite, will be refitted. The cost of all of this is expected to be around £500.
Meanwhile, for my birthday recently, Granny Anne has very generously given me a shiny new digital/FM radio/CD player to fill the gaping hole in my dashboard. It was fitted at our local branch of Halfords. I bought the van complete with said gaping hole and also a tape player which had filled that hole originally. All my efforts to reinstate the tape player came to nothing – I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t work anyway and I decided that I didn’t want a tape player after all having recently converted several taped tracks to MP3.
That summarises the work on the campervan to date (not forgetting the new windscreen fitted late last year). It has been my aim, so far as it is possible, to ensure that the van, about which so little was known at the time of purchase, would become a known quantity which, with regular inspections and proper servicing and maintenance, could be expected to be reliable, rather than a constant source of worry about what might go wrong next.