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Author Topic: Breaking down in France  (Read 427 times)

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TheBoy

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Breaking down in France
« on: 16 April 2018, 18:21:16 »

Andy H's breakdown on the M25 has reminded me of when I broke down in France in 2005.

We'd (Me, Mrs TB, our holiday buddies and 11yr old daughter, his bro and wife and little one, and a random child we'd borrowed) had enjoyed a fabulous, if somewhat bizarre/hectic/surreal/weird holiday in the south of France, and were now driving home in convoy.

Unusually, I was lead car (having the quickest car usually made me tail gunner, as easier to play catch up) with my beloved Silver Bullet.  I'd had a oil level warning around Montelimar, and had stopped and topped it up. As we approached Dijon, on the autoroutes, all of a sudden every warning light came on, including an Automatic Gearbox fault on the MID, and all power was lost. Being desperately near a services, and having been doing xxx KPH, I shoved it in N, and coasted all the way to the slip road, and nearly up the hill. Naughtily, we towed it to the services carpark, and unsurprisingly, it didn't start.  I wasn't entirely sure what the fault was.  It was getting towards 6ish by this time, and the kids were hungry, so we had a bite (spaghetti - strange I remember that). We walked back to the car, and it started.

Deciding I should be lead car still, in case it happens again, off we set, but after about 5 mins, it all cut out again, but managed to restart almost immediately, so off we went again, only for it to die again. Managed to coast into a small emergency area....   ....though 3 cars in it were a bit of a squeeze ;D

Called the breakdown insurance, but due to being on a motorway, they said I had to call the local Gendarmerie to be towed off, which I did fro the roadside phone.  Now whilst I can order a loaf of bread and 2 coffee's, my CSE French lessons did nt extend beyond the intricacies of mon Voiture kaput Monsieur, but we muddled through, and a transit turned up. It wouldn't start for him either, so he called a tow truck, told the rest of our party they were not allowed to wait, and buggered off.  I sent the rest of our party off towards our prebooked hotel in Troyes, saying I would keep in touch.

Proper dark by the time the tow truck turns up. He spoke less English than I can speak Mongolian, but I think he was trying to tell me the cats were shot.  Anyway, get car up on truck, and we jump in the cab with the driver, and he starts driving us into the middle of nowhere. And its now proper, proper dark o'clock. After way seems like hours, we end up at a garage in a village called Sacquenay.  So I call the breakdown people, as the guy wants his 144 tow fee. Breakdown people speak to driver, and arrange all the payments, and the lady speaks to me again, saying to go with driver as he knows of a git to rent in the village, and that she'd called ahead (as it was getting proper late now).

The git owners spoke as much English as the truck driver, but did their best to take us to our git, and explain how stuff worked.

Mrs TB was getting read for bed when the breakdown people texted me with some questions, so I called the lady back up, but I had to go outside to get a cellular signal usable enough.  I remember it was absolutely pitch black except when a security light popped on if I moved...  ...which I didn't as I was trying to maintain a poor signal. I was also mostly undressed as well ;D. I thought I felt something on my (bare) foot, and flinched, which caused the security light to come on, allowing me to glimpse what must have been a snake.

I also called the rest of our convoy, only to find they'd had to pay a taxi driver to help them find the Formula 1 hotel (a particularly cheap chain in Europe, think along the lines of 15 per room, and they are receptionless - credit card in the door to get in, only if you've booked), and then because I'd booked 2 of the 3 rooms, and I had my credit card with me, all 7 were in a room together ;D. And my lovely git must be far more luxurious ;D

Walked back in git, wedged a towel at the bottom of the door, went to sleep, not mentioning the snake to Mrs TB in the morning, as she would have freaked.

The next morning, after a continental breakkie at the owners house, we were told to get any necessities from the car, as we were getting a taxi to Dijon to pick up a hire car. The taxi was due at 2pm, but turned up after 3pm. Took an hour to get to the hire car place, and a bit of faff sorting out hire car - and even longer for them to come back out and accept there was a massive dent/scrape down one side. They then marked on the paperwork that every panel was damaged...  ...something that would work into our favour later.

So get out of Dijon, on the motorway, and thrashing the nads of this 1.7cdti Opel Astra-H. Mrs TB called our holiday buddies, now back home, to see what the last crossing time was for the Seacat.  At this point we were well over 200kph, basically flat out, as fast as this thing would go, when all of a sudden we hit a crow/raven.  Fortunately the windscreen, whilst cracked everywhere, held together, and our buddy on the other end of the phone asked WTF was that ;D.  Mrs TB wasn't in a great frame of mind at this point.  We kept going like that for another hour or so, but decided it was unlikely we'd get the ferry, and we hadn't eaten or drunk since breakfast, so stopped at a services for a meal, and inspected the damage to the carr - entrails everywhere, grill smashed, bonnet badly creased, screen damaged, roof dented where it meets screen.  After the break, we then carried on at a far more sensible pace to Calais...   ...only to see on arrival the Seacat just leaving  >:(

Managed to find a hotel after several attempts, and boarded as a foot passenger in the morning, and picked up another hire car in Dover.


The Silver Bullet arrived back about 10 days later, with a very flat battery that would never recover, and MDTM (on an earlier forum) suggested crank sensor, which cured it :y

I cannot fault EuroAssist and my handler there.
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TheBoy

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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #1 on: 16 April 2018, 18:22:46 »

Mrs TB found this all a bit much. Me, things rarely phase me.  She regularly repeats, after I told her this must be a common occurance, that she still hasn't found anyone else breaking down abroad.
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #2 on: 16 April 2018, 18:44:44 »

My neighbours abandoned a Mk3 Mondeo somewhere in the Eurozone a few years ago after breaking down in Switzerland.  They got trucked to either Northern France or Belgium where it all became such a faff (and I suspect that Mrs Neighbour was getting hysterical) that they decided to leave the car to it's fate and got the train home!  ;D
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #3 on: 16 April 2018, 18:47:19 »

My neighbours abandoned a Mk3 Mondeo somewhere in the Eurozone a few years ago after breaking down in Switzerland.  They got trucked to either Northern France or Belgium where it all became such a faff (and I suspect that Mrs Neighbour was getting hysterical) that they decided to leave the car to it's fate and got the train home!  ;D
I shall tell that to Mrs TB, preceded with a "somebody else broke down abroad" ;D :y
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dave the builder

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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #4 on: 16 April 2018, 19:00:54 »

sounds like Mrs TB went to the same school of Panic and flap primary that Mrs Builder went to  ;D

when things happen ,you just have to remain calm and deal with them
in the most cost appropriate manner  ;D
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #5 on: 16 April 2018, 19:03:37 »

sounds like Mrs TB went to the same school of Panic and flap primary that Mrs Builder went to  ;D

when things happen ,you just have to remain calm and deal with them
in the most cost appropriate manner  ;D
Bless her, because I lead an "interesting" life, she has had to put up with a lot ;D

She's still a bloody lucky woman, though.
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #6 on: 16 April 2018, 19:10:15 »


Bless her, because I lead an "interesting" life, she has had to put up with a lot ;D

She's still a bloody lucky woman, though.

Mrs Builder puts up with alot too  ;)
I'm doing a cylinder head in the recently built new kitchen today
she knows not to moan and winge mind  :y
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #7 on: 16 April 2018, 19:18:36 »


Bless her, because I lead an "interesting" life, she has had to put up with a lot ;D

She's still a bloody lucky woman, though.

Mrs Builder puts up with alot too  ;)
I'm doing a cylinder head in the recently built new kitchen today
she knows not to moan and winge mind  :y
Hope you've cleaned all of the parts properly....in the dishwasher.
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #8 on: 16 April 2018, 19:22:01 »

Quote
The Silver Bullet arrived back about 10 days later, with a very flat battery that would never recover, and MDTM (on an earlier forum) suggested crank sensor, which cured it

At least I carry a spare in the 3.2. (notwithstanding Nick's disagreement with this policy. ::))
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TheBoy

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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #9 on: 16 April 2018, 19:22:42 »


Bless her, because I lead an "interesting" life, she has had to put up with a lot ;D

She's still a bloody lucky woman, though.

Mrs Builder puts up with alot too  ;)
I'm doing a cylinder head in the recently built new kitchen today
she knows not to moan and winge mind  :y
Hope you've cleaned all of the parts properly....in the dishwasher.
I've not put carparts in the dishwasher for ages, I'll have you know.  Certainly not this week.
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #10 on: 16 April 2018, 19:23:06 »


Hope you've cleaned all of the parts properly....in the dishwasher.

Tempting , it never gets used for the pots

I did wash some parts in the 1500+ sink
has a nice tap with like a parts washer shower head on  :y
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #11 on: 16 April 2018, 19:25:41 »


I've not put carparts in the dishwasher for ages, I'll have you know.  Certainly not this week.

but what dishwasher tablet to use ?
won't the detergent attack the aluminium ?
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #12 on: 16 April 2018, 20:06:45 »

Finish Powerball I believe currently :P
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #13 on: 16 April 2018, 20:08:40 »

Quote
The Silver Bullet arrived back about 10 days later, with a very flat battery that would never recover, and MDTM (on an earlier forum) suggested crank sensor, which cured it

At least I carry a spare in the 3.2. (notwithstanding Nick's disagreement with this policy. ::))

Same here... one in both the road legal 3.2's... cheap insurance  :y
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TheBoy

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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #14 on: 16 April 2018, 20:10:30 »

Quote
The Silver Bullet arrived back about 10 days later, with a very flat battery that would never recover, and MDTM (on an earlier forum) suggested crank sensor, which cured it

At least I carry a spare in the 3.2. (notwithstanding Nick's disagreement with this policy. ::))
Since this issue, I've always carried a spare on long runs.  This has proved a good move the next time it failed near Birmingham...
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #15 on: 16 April 2018, 20:14:50 »

Quote
The Silver Bullet arrived back about 10 days later, with a very flat battery that would never recover, and MDTM (on an earlier forum) suggested crank sensor, which cured it

At least I carry a spare in the 3.2. (notwithstanding Nick's disagreement with this policy. ::))
Since this issue, I've always carried a spare on long runs.  This has proved a good move the next time it failed near Birmingham...

Last one to pack up on me was on the A40 just past Stokenchurch (Well it failied in Londinium earlier but had reached site and manged to get it back so far on return)... engine may have been a little hotter than normal due to chicken shit canyon  ::) :D
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #16 on: 16 April 2018, 21:22:16 »

In our Carlton days ( the one that later got stolen to order from a locked car park in Leicester) we went on one of our Europe trips.  This one was Spain and Portugal averaging 10 hours driving each day.

On the last day belting back through boring Northern France we suddenly ground to a halt. No doubt crank sensor. Tried to get an Opel garage 200 yards up the road to come and have a look. No chance as we are now closed. It was Saturday. So rang Breakdown company ( I think it was Green Flag) and they were brilliant. We stayed in a hotel Sat and Sun night waiting till Monday. We didnt have much cash and they paid on the understanding that we would reimburse them on our return.  Car fixed on Monday and again they sorted the bill.
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #17 on: 16 April 2018, 21:37:31 »


I shall tell that to Mrs TB, preceded with a "somebody else broke down abroad" ;D :y

The best breakdown(s) abroad I know of, is a mate who drove from Edinburgh to Cape Town in a Discovery 2.  :y  He broke down so often it took him two years!  ;D

The two breakdowns of note were:

1) Head gasket went in Bengazi, Libya.  Unfortunately, the Eid holiday was about to start so everywhere was closing for a week, but his visa expired before the holiday ended, so he had to get out of Libya and got trucked to Cairo.  He spent the rest of Eid kicking his heels in a dusty flyblown campsite before finding somewhere to fit a new head gasket.

2) Gearbox packed up in Ethiopia.  Not sure where, but he again kicked his heels in a campsite in Addis Ababa, while a recon box was shipped from the UK.

Among a myriad of other breakdowns I think the head gasket went again in Zambia, where this time they traced the cause to a partially blocked coolant pipe somewhere.  ;) 

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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #18 on: 16 April 2018, 21:39:11 »

I praised Green Flag earlier, but the local agent they send to my home when my crank sensor failed did not know where the sensor was and no idea where to find the OBD port either! He concluded that it was a faulty fuel pump and made to leave, when I insisted that he made a check to confirm.
He opened the fuel feed and petrol poured out when I cranked the engine!
I offered him the new crank sensor that I carried in the boot, but he did not have a clue what to do with it, so I suggested that he went forth and multiplied.
Albs (migV6) came to my rescue soon after and fitted it in a trice - thanks Albs.  :y :y :y :)

Ron.
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #19 on: 17 April 2018, 09:09:24 »

I broke down twice in France but as I was living there I had to pay to get towed home.  Add to that both times were on the Autoroute I got royally spanked with the bill both times.

Never, ever, get a firkin French car.  Ever. Period. ::)
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #20 on: 17 April 2018, 10:30:04 »

Fortunately the Galaxy managed to complete a trip to the centre of France a couple of years ago now without incident - and a lap of Ireland the year before that.

I don't think SWMBO could cope with a 200kmh dash across France but the bird strike would have given the kids something to talk about....

Both my previous Omegas had one CPS fail each in 100,000 miles - the MV6 hasn't failed on me (yet) but the spare is in the boot.

The Galaxy is really a VAG with a Ford sticker on it. I used to believe that VWs were solidly built but I discover some new design failure every time I have to fix it. The pump is a weak point but there is no point carrying a spare because the engine mount and cambelt have to come off to get to it >:(
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #21 on: 17 April 2018, 10:33:12 »

I have a road trip to Paris coming up (combining a work trip with a booze cruise as the cellar is empty) in an attempt to avoid any fallout from the strikes.  I am using kitty which has been doing 100 miles a day for the last 6 moths without skipping a beat but reading all this I am a little twitchy about the drive to France now. :-\
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #22 on: 17 April 2018, 11:56:12 »

I have a road trip to Paris coming up (combining a work trip with a booze cruise as the cellar is empty) in an attempt to avoid any fallout from the strikes.  I am using kitty which has been doing 100 miles a day for the last 6 moths without skipping a beat but reading all this I am a little twitchy about the drive to France now. :-\

Booze cruise? Are they still economically viable? I remember years ago tasting wine at a French Vineyard. It was very nice but when we got it home it was err not very nice. 
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #23 on: 17 April 2018, 13:14:17 »

I have a road trip to Paris coming up (combining a work trip with a booze cruise as the cellar is empty) in an attempt to avoid any fallout from the strikes.  I am using kitty which has been doing 100 miles a day for the last 6 moths without skipping a beat but reading all this I am a little twitchy about the drive to France now. :-\

Booze cruise? Are they still economically viable? I remember years ago tasting wine at a French Vineyard. It was very nice but when we got it home it was err not very nice.

It's a "I'm going anyway and the cellar is empty" scenario, I never go with the pure reason of buying booze.  You have to know how to transport wine so as not to subject it to big changes in temperature.  Also bear in mind that if you are offered a tasting then the bottle is rarely opened up for you, it has been open for some time and had an opportunity to breath properly.  I often decant most of my wines as it speeds up the process.  I also make sure to spend at least 10 quid a bottle in bulk, once you take Import duties and the additional VAT imposed on wine in the UK it can compare to a 20 quid bottle from waitrose or (heavens forbid) tesco.
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #24 on: 17 April 2018, 13:33:01 »

Back in my Euro-lorryist days, I always stopped at Calais on the way home for a few cases of plonk and never paid more than 2 a bottle.  :y

I think it probably tasted as shitty on this side of the channel as the other!  ;D
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #25 on: 17 April 2018, 13:37:07 »

Wine? That's the red stuff that hasn't quite turned into useful vinegar or cognac  isn't it?
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #26 on: 17 April 2018, 13:51:59 »

Wine? That's the red stuff that hasn't quite turned into useful vinegar or cognac  isn't it?
I've drunk wine, on several occasions.
You know when you go to a party when you're young, and everything starts to go downhill at around midnight? No beer or spirits left, people starting to wander off. Well, us hardcore drinkers would refuse to leave until there was absolutely no alcohol left on the premises. If there was only wine.....so be it  ;D
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #27 on: 17 April 2018, 14:04:51 »

Wine? That's the red stuff that hasn't quite turned into useful vinegar or cognac  isn't it?
I've drunk wine, on several occasions.
You know when you go to a party when you're young, and everything starts to go downhill at around midnight? No beer or spirits left, people starting to wander off. Well, us hardcore drinkers would refuse to leave until there was absolutely no alcohol left on the premises. If there was only wine.....so be it  ;D


We could usually round up enough drivers to go street racing at that point
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #28 on: 18 April 2018, 20:28:39 »

a mate of mine who was a baker opened a shop in a prime area of York with the help of his nan,s money. before the shop opened he decided to have a short break camping for a few days in France with his wife & two small children. his nan invited herself too (much to his dismay . whilst in France he decided to go across to Spain for a night., again nan tagged along. however when the next morning came nan was still not up (usually she arose first) when they looked they discovered she had died. panicking they didn't know if their insurance would cover them for their soiree into Spain so decided to go back to France with nan wrapped in a sleeping bag & ground sheet . although they were only a hours drive from the border they stopped for a toilet break & refreshments. they was not happy when they discovered their car had been nicked. this was back in the days when Franco was ruled Spain.
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #29 on: 18 April 2018, 20:42:59 »

God that is fantastic. What on earth happened next?

Mygood friends dad took the family to Spain in an Austin A40 in 1963 I think. The road over the Pyrenees was just dirt
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Re: Breaking down in France
« Reply #30 on: 18 April 2018, 22:10:46 »

Bet they never stole another car :o
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