Avoid RAC breakdown

edited 24 September 2021 at 1:22PM in Praise, vent & warnings
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edited 24 September 2021 at 1:22PM in Praise, vent & warnings
Not a regular on this board, but I wanted to share this recent experience of the RAC's breakdown.

I drive a 2003 car that's on its last legs. It seemed sensible to have breakdown bundled with the insurance as it will, inevitably, break down. And soon. It's had a couple of hiccups in recent years and the AA (bundled with previous insurance) chaps have been lovely and make it go.

Car had been left unused for some months, and would then not start. Call the RAC. RAC man is unable to make it go, and after 10 minutes waving a multimeter around, and looking at the on board diagnostics, diagnoses it with needed a new "ECU", which, he says will cost £500+, and it isn't worth it on a £300 (if it worked) car. He advises me to not have it towed to a garage and instead get a local scrap merchant to take it away. Basically, it's written off. He leaves, with me still there with a not-working car. 

I [an accountant who knows nothing about cars] google the problem. I follow the guide of charging the battery (obviously, it's been unused for months, I know that much!), and cleaning up the fuse box. Remarkably I am able to get the battery out, charge it overnight (cost, £25 charger, £4 for a 10mm socket), clean the fuse box up with some WD40 (had some) and get it to go back together.

And it works. No £500 bill for a new ECU. ECU would seem to be perfectly in order.

My feeling is that the RAC man couldn't be bothered to clean the fuse box up, so made something else up which wasn't the case. A quick google tells you what you need to be doing, if he didn't already know. What's more, he told me to write the car off rather than wait for the tow truck to take it to a garage. 

Best case, it's a shocking lack of skill being told to throw away a £300 car when the first result on google gives you a step-by-step youtube video of the answer. No one should be paying money for such a poor level of service. Worst case it's shocking laziness and making stuff up to actively avoid providing the service paid for. 


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