In addition, the central locking had been playing up (the first time it happened was outside oldbloke's house six months ago, and then it did it about once a month until a couple of weeks ago) and stopped working altogether this last Sunday, with the result that it's impossible to lock the doors — but I'm fairly sure this is down to a mere broken wire. And for the last few weeks it's been shuddering a lot during low-speed manoeuvres, which made me suspect the clutch was wearing out.
So I sent it to a Citroën service centre. I deposited it at about 9am, and at 4pm I rang them to see if there was any progress. They were still making a report of the work needed.
At about 5.10pm, just as I was getting on a bus to come home from work, my mobile rang with the news that the repairs add up to somewhere in the region of £2,000. Ouch.
Apparently in addition to the clutch — and flywheel — being completely worn out, the back brakes are practically on the bare metal and need discs and pads. They want to replace something else that I didn't quite catch (tensioning pulleys?), and apparently when connecting their computer to try to diagnose the central locking problem they couldn't get any response at all and have thus decided that my "comms 2000" needs replacing (I assume this is the car's CPU, so to speak). But they did in fact find and fix the broken wire while they were looking at things, and I think they said that means the central locking is fixed. (But perhaps this story is garbled — I'd also asked them to look at fixing the automatic headlights that come on even in bright daylight, with the comment that it wasn't important and I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it.) This is all in addition to the 75K mile service, of course (which apparently is quite a big one). And the air conditioning needs re-gassing.
So, they want £300 to do the brakes, £800 (!) to do the clutch, £200 (or was it £300) for the flywheel, another couple of hundred for the comms 2000, some for the bit that I didn't quite catch, £100 for the air conditioning (although of course that one's not essential) and £400 for the service that I originally sent it in for (though for that price they were going to throw in the next service and two MOTs as well). And so that's why they didn't start doing any actual work, because it's pretty close to — or maybe more than — the value of the car.
What Car? says² that I might expect to pay a dealer about £2,100 for a used car of this age. It's a Citroën Xsara LX 2.0 HDi Hatchback, 02-reg with 73,800 miles. I'm kind of expecting one of the garage's sales droids to call me tomorrow and offer me some deals on used cars.
The value of my current car is now approximately zero as it's bound to fail the next MOT (August) unless the brakes are done. (That having been said, it does still have a few litres of diesel in it and five month's tax and the engine itself is probably basically sound.)
Therefore, the question becomes: would I pay £2,000 or more for my old car, or would I prefer to spend the same amount on a different one? The chief disadvantage of paying for the existing car to be repaired is that on the face of it it seems silly to fork out the cost of a whole new³ car just on repairs. (And the fact that there's a dent in the passenger door.) And you don't know what's going to go wrong with it next. The chief advantage would be that I'd be getting a car with lots of new parts in it, and if you buy another one you never know what's going to go wrong with that. Also it's in a sense more "green" to fix something than it is to throw it away and get another.
Obviously I need to know if the garage is trying to fleece me, so I may have to ring a local garage and ask how much they'd charge to replace the clutch, flywheel and rear discs and pads. Anyone who gets up earlier than me and would like to add a number to the mix, the more the merrier…
Ho hum. I really didn't want to be back to looking for cars so soon after the last one.
²Or said, as for some reason it won't offer me an opinion now despite the fact that it did at 4pm today.
³Obviously not "new new", just "new to me". You know what I mean.