Bloody car

When I bought my car (which seemed good at the time), the bloke I bought it from reckoned when the fuel light went on, you had about another 50K on it. So far it’s never caused me trouble — I’ve never tried to do a Krameresque “how far will it go”, and it’s never actually ran out.

So I was driving along on Tuesday, and noticed the petrol gauge was almost empty, but the light was off. I was in a bit of a hurry, and decided not to fill up just yet. Parked at my mum’s place, and after a nice cup of tea, went to head home.

The car wouldn’t start. I was pretty sure the battery was okay, having replaced it just last year, and I didn’t think the fuel gauge would suddenly start being super-sensitive. The light hadn’t even gone on.

And of course, having let my RACV membership lapse, they’d be no help to me.

Thankfully Peter wasn’t far away, and after theorising that maybe the tank was empty enough to stop the car starting, went to look for a jerrycan. He found one all right, but didn’t have a funnel, just a rolled up piece of newspaper. He remarked that it was like Bush Mechanics.

After buying $10 of petrol from the nearby 7-11, we managed to get some of it into the tank, and then started the car. It worked.

I rolled it over to the pump and filled the rest of the tank and drove home.

It’s not a long drive, about ten minutes, and a bit over halfway there, the engine stopped. I didn’t realise what had happened at first, as we were still moving. The power steering went, making the wheel sluggish, and changing gears wouldn’t do anything. The electrics worked, and I indicated and drifted over to the kerb and cruised to a stop.


The engine started again straight away, and got us home.

We didn’t drive anywhere yesterday or today, but tonight I took another look. Thought I’d take it for a short test drive, and see if it happened again or if it was some freak occurrence that I could ignore.

It happened again.


This time, it took a couple of goes to start again.

So I’d better ring the mechanic first thing in the morning and take it up there, and hope it doesn’t stall too many times along the way. In fact I’m half inclined to drive it up there tonight while there’s no traffic around that I’ll get in the way of.

I think something similar happened a few years ago. Don’t remember what it was, but the alternator rings a bell. Or the spark plug? Okay I admit it, I have no idea.

And just as my bank account is almost looking healthy enough to get rid of it and upgrade, too.

Bloody cars.

11pm. Drove up to mechanic. Of course, performance was flawless. Will ring in morning and hope they can look at it.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

7 replies on “Bloody car”

Can’t be too much wrong. But really, if you can manage it, get a new or almost new one. Cars and reliability have moved on so much since your Magna was made. And although you are fond of your clutch, and I am sure it is a very good clutch, even Europe and UK are going towards autos. I heard a died in the wool clutch person praise autos.

Cars improved *before* the Magna was made too. Just that those improvements weren’t in the Magna.

A dirty fuel filter or ageing fuel pump might be the problem. It can also be an ignition problem or something as silly as a loose wire or dirty electrical connection in the ignition or fuel pump circuts. Right now I wish I knew as much about computers as I do cars as my computer (or the AOL software?) has been freezing up lately. It is probably something silly too but I am not a computer wiz and clueless about this one.

Fuel filter. You likely stirred up some dirt when the tank got low and it gunked up the filter. Easy fix.

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