With 25 years of service to motorists, PATROLMAN PHIL takes a wry look at the business of being a ‘breakdown technician’ and recalls stories from the roadside as well as offering the occasional helpful motoring snippet

PEOPLE are often surprised when their car won’t start or cuts out as they drive along.

‘‘It was OK yesterday’’ or ‘‘it’s never done this before’’ they often complain.

There are obviously things that one can do to prevent a breakdown but even the most reliable models will succumb to the odd puncture. That is something that I can sort out easily by fitting your spare wheel, so it’s worth checking your boot or underneath your car to see just where the spare is because there are a number of manufactures that don’t even give you one.

Some only supply an aerosol designed to inflate and seal your puncture, not a lot of good when your tyre has a hole a small child could fit through.

My motoring tip for this week is this: If you have locking wheel nuts check that you have the ‘key’ for them.

It’s usually with the jack but sometimes it’s in a small plastic box or bag in the glove compartment.

Another good idea is to check that it fits all four wheel nuts as these keys can sometimes be damaged by well-meaning Neanderthals in tyre centres (don’t get me started) who use an air gun instead of a torque wrench to put your wheels back on.

It’s best to check all the above, should we ever meet on the hard shoulder.

Having a spare set of keys (and please don’t keep these in the car) can also save you a lot of time and expense.

At least if you lock yourself out of your car at home you won’t require my services.

Most car keys these days have remote control buttons built in. Often however, the spare key doesn’t .

So if you need to unlock the car manually be sure that you know where the keyhole is. It can often be concealed by a small piece of plastic and is sometimes only on the passenger side door.

One chap waited patiently at home for me to drive 40 miles, only for me to walk him around to other side of his car.

Oops! In the spirit of camaraderie, I told him of the time I called out the boiler engineer, only to be walked to the bottom of my garden and shown (rather smugly, I thought) an empty heating oil tank.

Note to self: People in glass houses…

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