Rust in Peace

We lived in Edinburgh for nine years without a car, but when our son came along the merits of having one again became hard to resist, so in June 2010 we bought a second-hand 2002 Ford Focus.

It’s hardly been the fanciest car, but it’s done what we needed: shopping trips, day trips, countless school runs. We drove it down to Nottingham and up to Shetland, packed it completely full several times to go camping, packed three bikes on a detachable rack to go mountain biking, and packed in second-hand chairs and IKEA flatpacks and whatever else we could manage.

We’ve replaced brakes and suspension and multiple tyres over the years. For the past eighteen months it’s had some annoying intermittent electrical faults that caused it not to start in cold or wet weather and occasionally sent the dashboard haywire. More than one auto electrician failed to fix them, but one finally managed to earlier this year by replacing the speedometer.

I took it along for its MOT on Friday, which it failed, needing a couple of hundred pounds’ worth of work on the suspension. That’s okay—it’s cheaper than a new car.

But it wasn’t okay, and we need a new car. When the mechanics fitted the new parts, they discovered that the subframe at the front of the vehicle had rusted through. Seventeen years of parking on the street and sea air and salt on the roads in winter finally got to it. Replacing the subframe might cost upwards of £500, but even if we did that we’d never be sure when the next major part might go. In the worst case, a major rusted part could break while we were driving, which wouldn’t end well.

It was time to write off the car altogether. Today I handed it over to a wrecker, and for the next couple of months we’re going car-free again, before I get a chance to look for a new (second-hand) one in August. Back to bikes and buses and trains and feet.

Farewell, Ford Focus. You served us well.

Parked below our window, June 2010.

17 June 2019 · Journal