BREAKDOWNS? They’re a thing of the past, aren’t they? Cars parked at the roadside, steam pouring from beneath the bonnet and, often, from the driver’s ears, are sights from bygone days, surely?
Well, not entirely, it seems. They’re certainly not as common as they were in past years, when British Leyland ruled the road, for instance, but they still happen – and when they do, they’re still a cause of stress and frustration.
Every year when my RAC membership comes up for renewal, I consider ending it. Then I think of the peace of mind it brings, especially when Mrs Mouth is out on her own somewhere. Membership covers both of us in any vehicle.
And although years go by when we never call on their services, we are always relieved and grateful on the rare occasions when we do have to summon the RAC for help.
Coincidentally I was involved in two breakdown adventures in the space of a couple of days last week.
The first came when, 25 miles from home, I returned to my car to find the battery dead. Completely and utterly dead. There had been no clue that its expiry was imminent.
After considering all options, I phoned the RAC. A man came within 40 minutes and was a true knight in shining uniform: calm, polite, cheerful, reassuring and efficient – everything I could have wished for.
He tested the battery, his machine reported that it was totally kaput (modern batteries often die like that, apparently, with little or no prior warning) and he sold me a replacement, which he quickly installed for me.
The old battery was the original, fitted when the car was new eight years ago, so it had done good service, and what had begun as a small crisis had been solved before it could become a drama. Thank you, RAC.
Three days later I pulled into a lay-by to make a phone call when an elderly driver got out of a car nearby to ask for help. His car had broken down, his mechanical knowledge was sub-zero, and he was unable to make his mobile phone behave.
He was an AA member so I called them on his behalf and set his rescue in motion. He was pathetically grateful and I drove on feeling virtuous, and quietly proud that I was able to make my mobile phone work!
So breakdowns to still happen. The big difference nowadays is that we have mobile phones and usually we’re back on the road within a pretty short time.