Give me a break.. | Meet the Trudgians

Give me a break..

Posted by on Nov 18, 2021 in Featured, Trips & Adventures | 11 comments

Give me a break..

Do you ever have times in your life when you just mutter to yourself “Give me a break” or experience runs of bad luck that no end of logic or analysing will help solve what’s going on? Be warned, this is a long post, I can’t seem to separate the topic, its all quite integral, so grab a cuppa and let me begin.

It’s Saturday 30th October, and Angela would like to visit Glastonbury. We’ve never been and would like to spend a day out in the Somerset town. Full of good eating options, holistic shops and being just over an hour’s drive, why not. Chloe is staying at home as she has some homework she needs to complete and thinks Mum and Dad should have some time to themselves.

We head off, knowing we need to get some fuel on route, so we navigate our way towards Calne, where we can fill up with diesel and continue our journey. £95 later and ready to go, we head off. Through the town we travel and pop out the other side, on the A3102. As we pass through Mile End with the sun out and the trees looking majestic in the autumnal sun, with zero warning, out jumps a deer from the right and runs out into the road.

With the brakes fully deployed, swerving to attempt a miss, the car hit the rear leg of the animal. where upon, he got up and walked off. The damage to the car, wasn’t so light.

At 40MPH, we knocked the animal, causing it to land on the bonnet as opposed to being knocked into the front, so it crushed the bonnet downwards onto the light cluster, where it bent the wing and caused the bumper to deform and pop out. Causing trim pieces, clips and all sorts of plastic shards to spread randomly on the road. We did do the right thing and collect as much debris as possible, and contact the RSPCA, who thanked us for calling, but in reality, didn’t care as it was a wild animal. But… our day out was finished.

I drove home as Angela was quite shaken, the car apart from 3 panels and a wonky light, drove fine. In fact, even the screen wash still worked.

A week later, and despite many calls to the insurance company who never contacted us, (It seems a common thread with reviews of this particular company) made the decision for us. The car wasn’t worth repairing and so was deemed a total loss. The task of haggling the value of the car, including all the recent work we had done to the vehicle is a story for another day. Anyway, that pretty much brings us up to last week, where we started shopping for a new tow car. We are not cash rich right now, so our budget is tight, and options are limited. It maybe the final choice is a high mileage example, but we will shop around as much as possible. Our budget is a maximum of £6,000.00 for the purchase of the vehicle. I’ve reluctantly accepted the towbar may have to wait until the new year, depending on actual purchase price and cost of towbar fitting. I know these are not cheap, and it is not a job I can or would do myself.

I have spent many hours of researching, as you may have seen in our previous post of what tow cars we want from a future purchase. We have limited our search to the following contenders.

Volvo XC90
Much of our audience have Volvos. They are passionate and really give great arguments as to why the car is a great tow vehicle. I’ve seen many pictures and a few on sites, they do sit well on the road and according to their fan base pull well and are inexpensive to fix. Our searches are between £4,500 – £5,500 for a XC90, 2.4 D5 AWD with a range of mileage between 95,000 and 125,000, plenty of examples exist, and secretly – im most excited about these cars.

 

 

Mercedes ML
I’ve not seen so many towing, and not so many on site, but this car is more than capable on paper and has some great creature comforts. There 3 variants I’m looking at, all of which are V6 diesel engines, but have more power depending on the spec. So, I’ll be looking at the ML320 and the ML350. I think the ML280 is just too small, especially if we decide to get a bigger caravan. Our searching is between £5,000 and £6,000 for a ML320/ML350 and mileage currently starts at 118,000 miles for a 2007 vintage.

 

 

Volkswagen Touareg
Like the Volvo, the Touareg has a bit of a cult following. Indeed, there are a few touaregs around here that tow big trailers, horse boxes and occasionally caravans. They seem very capable on the specifications and out of all the cars I’m looking at is the only one that offers a low range gearbox. I will be focusing my search on the 3.0 TDI V6, and trim levels vary vastly so it’s one for a keen eye. Our searching so far has created a good list between £4,500 and £6,000 with mileage under 85,000 for a 2008 model.

 

 

The reviews
I found a car dealer in Newbury that had at least one of each of the cars I wanted to look at. It would be a great time to sit, play and drive each example and get a feeling for what I liked, didn’t like and try to focus my planning into what I wanted.

Car No.1, The Mercedes.
Ok, this one was an ML280, so wouldn’t be the engine size I wanted, but the size, trim level and features are exactly the same. I will say this was a lovely car. All was going well until I looked closely at the gearbox. Gear selection is on a stalk behind the steering wheel. Push in to engage Park, pull down for drive, and push up for reverse. Simple enough, except how could I lock it in a gear if pulling up hill? This is something I have done in the X5, and my 5 series. Even holding it in a lower gear when going down hill. This, simply wouldn’t be an option with this car or gearbox, but maybe I wouldn’t need to do this? Anyway onto car 2.

 

 

Car No.2, The VW
The example I sat in was a shed. A smoker, a dog, a messy family that clearly liked to break switches, destroy interiors and ruin a perfectly good car owned this before, it was awful. in fact it was so bad, the dealer still hasn’t uploaded any pictures of it. However. I liked the features, the gearbox was like a normal auto, the centre console was chunky enough to contain a drink or 5, the info system was clear and everything was laid out well. This one had the correct size engine and was the spec I was after, but I wouldn’t buy this car, it was too scruffy.

 

 

Car No.3, The Volvo
Ok, I tried to like it. I really did. In my mind, this was the car I wanted to compare against the others, I felt sure I’d like it and now be searching for a model I wanted. But, alas, I didn’t gel with it. The seats, the driving position, the random layout of the dash made me almost instantly dislike it. I was quite deflated to be honest and I’m sorry Volvo lovers, I really wanted to like it. I really did.

We popped into Lidl on the way home and got some lunch. We chatted about what we had seen and what we expected, and we all decided pretty much there and then we would pursue the VW route further. We liked the car, so started looking at insurance costs, reviews and road tax costs. All pretty much in-line with the X5 and is a tow car we can afford. I spoke with Neil at Ace Towbars who gave me a quote for a removable and fixed towbar, he gave me some points to check when buying the car, especially the rear bumper design.

Now bang up to date this is the current situation. Ive emptied the BMW, put our number plates on retention, siphoned the full tank of fuel and I’m now waiting for the BMW to be taken from the drive. Once the insurance pays out we are off to buy the new car. I’ve found 5 models within 80 miles of home that tick the box. Whether they are still available when we are ready to go, we will have to wait and see. But, as expected a tow bar will have to wait until the new year, as this will be quite an expense and right now we need to sink all available cash into the new car. So no immediate caravanning trips for us, again….

11 Comments

  1. Great choice in the VW Dan. We have the smaller Tiguan but has the same dsg gearbox. Very steady reliable cars and also very well made.
    Hopefully a new car will come with a turn in fortunes for you.
    Very much miss your vlogs

  2. Hi Dan and Angela so sorry about you’re accident it must have been really scary, but glad you are both ok that’s the main thing.
    We changed our car last year and got a VW Tiguan R line auto gear box, my husband says it’s a dream to pull the caravan with, we have a Bailey Cadiz, he initially wanted a Touareg but the insurance was much more than for the Tiguan, we are more than happy with our choice. First time we’ve had an auto gearbox too and we love it!
    Good luck with whatever you choose you may even be lucky enough to find a car with a tow bar attached.
    Happy caravanning looking forward to you’re next video best wishes Lin and Bry xx

  3. Dan,
    I’m sure there were other choice words in association with the “give me a break” statement.

    I too had previously been in a situation where I needed a replacement tow car quicky and on a budget. I ended up with a 57 plate Santa Fe. It did the job for a good number of years until diesel scrappage scheme allowed a step up to the current tow car.

    One thing, I did get the Santa Fe 2nd with a tow bar already fitted (fixed type). I did have it checked and never gave reason for concern over the nainy years of towing our caravan – including all the way to Scotland one year.

  4. C
    Hi Dan,

    I’ve been following and enjoying your YouTube channel for the last few months as my wife and I work towards our first caravan purchase.

    While it’s probably not surprising that the insurer has deemed the 5 Series uneconomic to repair, the damage looks, and sounds from your description to be, fairly superficial. I do wonder if you might have been better to keep hold of it and arranged to have it repaired using 2nd hand parts – it might not have looked pristine, but would at least have minimised the disruption to your caravanning, and at much less than the cost of replacing?

    In terms of replacement choices, have your researches included the Kia Sorento or Hyundai Santa Fe? These seem to be fairly bullet proof and we’ll regarded as tow cars.

    Whatever the outcome, here’s wishing you a speedy return to the campsite – and the best possible health to enjoy it.

  5. Life has away of sending some stinker and they unfortunately seem to come in clusters.
    Hope the good times are heading your
    way.
    That next caravan holiday will be all the more welcome. Good luck with the car and have a lovely Christmas and a happy new and prosperous new year. Remember you have helped all of us in some way with your videos that must make you smile

  6. I’ve had a Ml and now have a Touareg, with the Ml behind the steering wheel is a button each side which if you press puts the gearbox into manual mode same as the paddles but they aren’t visible so you’ll only know they are there by feel, it pulled well but our one got to a point at 135k and everything just started to go wrong with it so swapped for the Touareg which we are very much enjoying, both I think are very good capable cars at towing and solo.

  7. Hi Dan,
    Maybe get in touch with Salvage Rebuilds UK. They buy write offs to do up on their YouTube channel. They have just bought a Passat from a guy and paid him 1k more than his buyback from the insurance company.
    Love your channel and good luck with your search.

  8. aw Dan such a run of bad luck! Isn’t it always the way! At least you’re all safe and the caravan will still be there but I would be heartbroken too. Getting away in the van is such a nice way to unwind from the day to day stresses! I hope things sort them selves soon for you all! Take care Lisa & Andrew Goodwin

  9. I too had an accident in my Mercedes in September, like you done all the car searches to find none I liked for the same £6000.so thinking further afield I looked at a hyundai santa fe 2.2 and bingo fell in love with it CAMHC caravan cluband practical caravan .so maybe look at one yourself.

  10. Hi Dan and Angela,
    Any particular reason that you’re not choosing another BMW? Either X5 or 5 series Touring?
    I’ve had previous experience of Volkswagen build quality (my wife had a Polo from brand new as her first car), and they’re nowhere near as good as BMW in my experience.
    My dad was a Volvo man from 1986 – 2013, but is now on his second 5 series Touring, which he tows with, and he says it’s a better car in every way than the V70 he had before

  11. Hi Dan and family. You have been having a terrible time of things this year. Hopefully you have turned a corner now and can start to enjoy life again without the abnormal hassles that hat have been happening to you all. I was shocked to here that you have been suffering health wise and I sincerely hope you are seeing a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel now. I know how you must feel as I had a life threatening illness nearly 4 years ago, and glad to say I’m still here amid some life changes including having to retire at 56 yrs of age. You will come through this part of your life and look at things differently. In the meantime, take care of yourself and your family and thanks for the invaluable issues you have dealt with on your YouTube channels. Take care mucka and get yourself right and strong again. The Price family.

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