Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Squeaking into Basingstoke

At 12.30 p.m. under the leaden skies of a decaying anticyclone I squealed into Basingstoke.

For the first ten miles on the A303 from Andover, I fretted that the previous intermittent manic squeaking from beneath the car had decided to vanish - typical garage syndrome. However, on the outskirts of Basingstoke the revenant banshee scream was drawing glances from pedestrians and setting my teeth on edge.

This has been going on for months. Driving through France in June I had been panicking about some vital metal strut being severed by resonant sawing, but due to its wretched intermittency I refrained from going to the garage. Recently it's been getting worse, so here I am pulling up at the Toyota dealers, Inchcape of Basingstoke.

They're very pleasant people. I get offered a cup of coffee and while away the time talking to a salesman about the RAV4. This is Toyota's four-wheel drive version of the landrover which I have come to believe is essential for the rural winter rigours of our new home-to-be in Wales.

The answer, when it comes, is reassuring. Not "I'm sorry, we can't find anything wrong with your vehicle" but a rapid diagnosis that the rear brake pad was faulty and was binding. All the brakes have been checked and the necessary replacement made. And it's covered by the warranty so I pay nothing.

On the way back to Andover the Auris is handling like a gazelle. I wonder if this brake pad has been binding for months now, slugging performance and guzzling fuel?