My car developed an annoying rattle a couple of months ago, and while I’ve not been using it much, it’s still been irritating as heck – every time the car hits 4000rpm a trim panel near the rear quarterlight resonates. And guess where the turbo hits full boost.
So, this morning, I dropped in to the local dealer to see if they could tell me what size Torx bit the trim panel bolts are, so I could run to Halfords and buy one. The service manager listened to my query, then turned a distinctly unflattering shade of ashen grey. “Does the car leak, by any chance?” Now, Roadsters are renowned for leaking from the door windows, typically around the wing mirrors and down over the speaker grilles inside. Mine, however, evidently had the doors put on straight and it’s only ever let in a few drops, even under sustained jetwash assault. My comment to this effect made the service manager’s face tinge vaguely yellow. “When did you last look at the engine?” she asked. Being a good boy, I’d checked the oil a month ago. The yellow taint didn’t lift. “Let’s have a look.”
Boot open, luggage cover back, roof mounts out, carpet up, and… uh-oh. Lurking on top of the engine cover, a pool of water. The underside of the carpet shows the early signs of mould, too. “What happens now?” I enquire.
“You bring it back in on Tuesday, then we take the whole body off, dry it out, and fit new carpets and seals. Then we try to put it all back together again better than the factory did in the first place.”
“That’s not a small job.” Ever-astute, me.
“We’ve got it down to three days’ labour, but it takes a day to dry and another day to cure the adhesive for the seals. So it takes a week.”
My turn to desaturate, as I tot up three times eight times the humungopounds per hour Mercedes charge for labour.
“Oh, don’t worry. It’s all under warranty, as is the loan car we’ll make available for you. And at the end of it, you have an effectively handbuilt car.”
There’s a brief pause while the news sinks in. “You really hate fixing this fault, don’t you?” I ask.
“Yup, it’s just about the worst job going. But at least we get to sting smart for screwing it up in the first place.”