Published: Thursday November 12, 2015.

Torx dirty to me

It started, as these things invariably do, with replacement brake pads for my car. Well, OK, that’s not entirely correct, but it’s as good a start to a blog post as I can muster today, so shush.

I had a new and exciting warning light appear on the dashboard of my car. Something about the brake sensor. The light comes on now and again, and seems to disappear again without any rhyme or reason. I can’t recall the last time the brake pads were changed, and so I decided that it was the right time to get that attended to.

Typically, I’ll do what many people in my position do and let a garage take care of the mucky work. Supply and fit, get it sorted, pay the bill, all done — it’s the stuff commerce is built on, after all. Brake pads are not complex things. They work in tandem with a brake disc and slow the car down. There’s no firmware, no drivers, no special leads, no monthly subscription, no key combination to do a certain thing and they have almost no connection to working at a computer all day. With that in mind, I decided that Wednesday (yesterday) was the day I would buy my first brake pads for the garage to fit for me. I ended up getting brake pads, brake discs and some replacement headlight bulbs to better suit the rural darkness of wintery Cornwall. All the bits arrived today (Thursday) and in the spirit of getting things done I figured it would be a good day to swap out the headlight bulbs for the brighter, whiter replacements.

It’s literally like changing a light bulb — anyone can do that. A win from some proper work would be a perfect thing for my morning.

On every car I’ve driven and maintained, it’s been easy peasy to change the bulbs. Everything apparently changed with this statement when, after a particularly good month of affiliate earnings, 15 grand was plunked down on a brand new VW Polo 9N3 Bluemotion. This car has been a pain in my proverbial parts ever since. Changing the headlight bulbs on a Polo 9N3 needs a Torx driver and a removal of the battery. Like, completely. Not just a wiggle and disconnect of the clamp on the battery to avoid a short or shock, the whole danged thing must come out before the offside headlight bulb can be changed because the engine bay is so squished and compact. I mean, yeah, when it was bought in 2009, I was ooh-ing and aah-ing about how fancy everything was. The first car-savvy person who popped the bonnet had this horrified look on his face but was too polite to say anything at the time. Now, I understand what he was thinking.

I have Torx drivers. Lots of Torx drivers, actually, but they’re mostly for fixing phones, tablets, laptops and other technobabble things. Suffice to say car Torx and ‘puter Torx bit sizes are wildly different. It was at that point I remembered I had some larger-ish Torx bits on a multitool thingy. I was pretty sure that I had the right tool to remove the grille and bumper, and I was also sort of vaguely aware of the location of said tool.

It turns out, I was completely wrong. It wasn’t in the drawers of stuff that I searched. All I found was stashed stuff that had been left to die quietly, and it made me a bit sad. I’ve cleared a lot of the stuff out, recycled and disposed of other things and created two-and-bit empty drawers from the 4 I ransacked. Some of the things are going into storage, mostly to appease my packrat housemate who’s far less militant at this process and likes to — please note I’m generalising for effect here — keep all the things.

There’s a long way to go with what will likely be known as Project Discardia. I might even find my Torx bits that will let me do something as trivial as change a lightbulb. I’m in two minds as to whether I want to run this current car into the ground and then just scrap it out of spite, or tart it up for sale next year. I had a brief period this morning where I thought it would be good to have a double garage with room to work on a car. That, logically, turned into a shortlist of appropriate vehicles that would better suited for me, but that didn’t end well. The jury is still out as to whether it’s worth pursuing Volkswagen for compensation over the whole emissions bodging brouhaha.

The garage will be getting a phone call from me in the coming days and I’ll book an appointment to fit a replacement diesel particulate filter, brake discs and brake pads. I am determined to change the bulbs myself.

I’ll probably just buy a truck next year and be done with it.