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« Pubs in hospitals? I’ll drink to that! | Main | Dear Tracy Brabin »

I think I’m having a breakdown

It’s mid morning on a Saturday and I’m sitting in my car in the Novotel Hotel car park near Heathrow awaiting the arrival of the BMW breakdown service.

It isn’t how I hoped the day would go.

I left home at five o’clock to collect my daughter Sophie whose flight from Atlanta was due to arrive at Terminal 3 at 7.00.

On the M25, ten miles from Heathrow, a message appeared on my screen.

There was a fault with the drivetrain (whatever that is) that would result in a reduction in power but I was advised to keep driving.

Soon after that I noticed the car wouldn’t go faster than 60mph. Pretty quickly it dropped to 40.

A new message appeared warning me there was almost no oil in the engine and I should add a litre as soon as possible.

Stuck on the M25 with no service station ahead of me there was little I could do.

Smoke was coming from the exhaust and the engine was beginning to rattle.

I limped along, joined the M4 towards Heathrow but instead of coming off and turning right to Terminal 3 I turned left towards West Drayton.

At which point a third message appeared. Pull off the road and turn the engine off!

And that’s how I found myself in the Novotel car park at 7.00am.

A taxi took me to Terminal 3 to collect my daughter. The driver then brought us both back to the Novotel.

At 8.00 I called the AA but my membership had lapsed. I could either rejoin, they said, or I could contact BMW’s own rescue service that is valid for all BMWs that are less than three years old.

(Who knew? Not me!)

BMW Emergency Assist, to give it its proper title, said someone would be with us within 90 minutes, probably sooner because it was a Saturday and they weren’t too busy.

That was three and a half hours ago.

During that time I have spoken to three (four?) different people at BMW Emergency Assist, spending a combined total of one hour on the phone listening to muzak and recorded messages.

Each time I have had to repeat my name, postcode and car registration number. I have also had to explain - several times - what was wrong with the car.

At 11.00am, three hours after I first spoke to them, I was given a new time for the arrival of a technician - 12.40.

Judging by the smoke, the smell of burning and the engine rattle, I’m not convinced a technician will be able to solve the problem on site, but we’ll see.

My car, incidentally, has 5,000 miles on the clock. Oil and engine management should not be an issue.

And, yes, I know that BMW drivers deserve little sympathy but I’m one of the decent ones, honest.

Update: My daughter is asleep on the back seat and a text has arrived:

‘Your technician is on the way.’

I’ll keep you posted.

Update: The technician, when he arrived, diagnosed that the turbo charger had blown. A breakdown truck was called and the car was taken away.

BMW Emergency Assist arranged a hire car but it was mid afternoon before I was handed the keys.

After driving my daughter back to Birmingham I finally got home at 8.00pm, 15 hours after I left!

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