Episode 190. Vauxhall Omega. Y841 TBK. (Part 2).

With just two days before I was planning to go to Germany, and with Mrs. Clint, whos words of wisdom still hanging in the air that I'd better sort something out to take us on our holiday, as she would not be cancelling our trip! There was no real time for a test drive before heading off. In short, the drive across Europe would be our test drive. I've got to admit, I felt a little bit uneasy about this, but I knew full well that there was little to no point in discussing this with her Worshipfulness, no point in us both worry if we were going to make it there and back without any dramas is there? Besides, most cars that have been looked after are pretty reliable, right? Well, thats what I thought, and as evidenced by the fairly good folder of receipts and MOTs this Omega has been looked after, so in my tiny mind it should be fine...


So then, first impressions of this quite lovely 2001 Vauxhall Omega, well, as I said before, when I collected it, it had nearly a full tank of go-go juice which I think is a good selling point, so 294 miles after the buying the Omega, here's the obligatory first fill up shot...


This took place somewhere on the E10 in Belgium, and by now I had plenty of time to give my first impression of life with the Omega, and I've got to say that I like it! It is big, comfy, nice to drive, powerful, I really like it. I juiced it up, and headed off to meet my friends in Köln. 120 miles later I pulled into the parking lot of the hotel, I had now travelled 414 miles that day, and I thought the Omega was going well. As I sat there over dinner telling my friend about my £950 Vauxhall Omega bargain he became interested, and wanted to see it for himself. We wandered out into the car park, and he had a look round it. He told me that he was quite impressed, and infact he had been offered a near identical Opel Omega estate, and had been toying with the idea of having it. He then asked me to start it up, and take him for a little spin in it, BUM... It started up ok, but immediately a selection of idiot lights lit up the dash like a Christmas tree. Still, not to worry, I decided to shut it off, check all the fluids, and start again. So I did that, all the fluids were still where they were when I left good old England, and everything under the bonnet seemed ok, so I started it, and this time I had no idiot lights, phew, and we headed off into the night. The next day was spent driving about Köln, and the Omega did this without idiot lights or incident. This pleased me as the following day I had another 305 miles to drive to my friends house in Vilseck. The following day, we jumped into the Omega, flicked the key, and it fired straight up as ever, once again, no idiot lights. By now I was feeling pretty confident that the lights coming on a couple of nights previously was probably due to some sort of small electrical fault, so we headed off to Vilseck. However, forty miles outside of Frankfurt, Oh dear...


On came the idiot lights again, and within about five minutes we coasted to a halt beside the E35. My Brother asked me what was up, and I said that I didn't know, but in my opinion we had possibly run out of electricity. He then got his phone out and started fiddling around with it for a bit. Ever the comedian before we had actually stopped his phone was blearing out Kraftwerks 1974 hit Autobahn which peaked here in Englad at number 11 in the singles charts. (in Germany it did slightly better, which is to be expected, but still only just made it inside the top ten by peaking at number 9) Oh how we laughed! So once we'd listened to all 3 minutes and 28 seconds of this little gem while sitting the other side of the armco on the autobahn we contemplated calling the RAC. I have not been a memeber of the RAC for very long, and I can honestly say that they are utterly rubbish! Sadly, in the last six months I have had to call them twice, both times from Germany, and both times I have been very un-impressed with their service or lack thereof. So, I called them up, gave them my membership number, and told them I've broken down at N 50.34809° E 8.16778°.


The first thing they said, was exactly what they said first of all the last time I called them, and that was that I didn't European cover. I said, yes I have, I bought your most expensive cover, with every single option. Oh yes, said the voice, so you have, but do you have your confirmation letter with you? What?! No of course not, why would I? iIhave the membership card with all my details on it, why would I need a letter you sent me seven months ago? Listen, I said, my car is has broken down beside a busy autobahn, I have my Brother with me who is a diabetic, my wife with me, and we have our two little girls with us. Ok said the voice, well there's nothing I can do for you, you'll need to phone the European headquarters in France. OK I said, can you put me through? No, said the voice, here's the number, and he quickly read it to me! Ofcourse foolishly I wasn't ready for that, and didn't have a pen and paper to hand, so I asked him to repeat it to me once I'd got something to jot it down on. He did repeat it, but with all the attitude of a stroppy teenager! So then we tried to call this number, now for some reason our phones wouldn't let us dial an international number from our current location, so we called the RAC back, and explained the situation, and asked if they could help us? No came the reply, you need to call the European assist number for help, do you have the number. Yes I do I said, but listen very carefully, I cannot call a European number from my phone in Europe for some reason, if we could, I'd be talking to them, and not you, could you put me through please? Sorry, came the reply, I don't think we can do that!! While this was going on my brother was busily trying to work out how to call the European number, and eventually he managed it. By now, we had been sitting by the autobahn for a couple of hours, and I was starting to get pretty cheesed off to say the least, and I could feel another outburst coming on that might not help the person on the other end of the phone to want to help us quickly. Realising that my big stoopid mouth was probably about to get us in trouble, I elected my Brother, who is far more diplomatic than I am when dealing with idiots deal with the conversation with the European branch of the RAC, and I sat quietly rocking in a corner! So, he calls the European branch of the RAC up, tells them our location, and what we think the problem is. Ok says the polite French lady, we'll get something sorted. A couple more hours go by, and now we were all getting pretty hungry, and my kids were getting bored. Still no tow truck, then the phone rings, it's the RAC asking have we been picked up yet? No I said, and we've been here for over four hours now! I'm guessing that you're all probably very busy, but I've got two small children here, and a diabetic adult who is going to need to eat something soon. Ok says the voice, I'll get someone on it. Three hours later, the European branch call to ask if we've been picked up yet, I told her we hadn't, and that now we'd been there seven hours, and luckily for us, we had food with us, so we'd eaten, but I was still pretty ticked off. OK she says, someone will be with you very soon, and half an hour later...


Finally, we're picked up! To be fair to the recovery driver, he said they only knew about the breakdown for about an hour, and they had been trying to organise a garage to take it to so that the fault could be diagnosed, and repaired. We were taken about 7 miles to a beautiful little town called Bad Camberg, where the local Opel dealer, Auto Müller GmbH on Frankfurter Str. 102, 65520 had stayed open late in order to receive my stricken Omega. The owner then asked me to call him in the morning, and they would let me know when it would be ready for collection. 


The recovery driver then took us all to a little hotel in the town called Hotel Taunus, which is at Caspar-Hofmann-Platz 2, D-65520 Bad Camberg. Honestly, it was very nice, and the owners were really helpful. I would recommend it as a nice place to visit, and to be honest, it was a lovely little hotel, in a lovely little town. If we didn't have other places to go, I'd have been happy to have stayed a while longer. Anyway, we were relieved of about 200€ (about £144 in proper money) for a couple of rooms, and breakfast for five of us in the morning, which I didn't think was too bad. Besides, as I remember according to my RAC policy, if the car can't be fixed there and then, and we need to stay in a hotel I believe my policy covers it. As suspected the Omega had indeed run out of electricity, and would need a shiny new alternator. Having said that, the Opel dealer said they had an alternator on the shelf, and if the RAC had got us picked up sooner, it would've been fitted that day, and we'd have been on our way! In the morning I called the Opel dealership who told me the Omega would be ready for collection at 15:00hrs, and parts and labour came to just under 400€ (again, in proper money that's about £288). So we went down, paid him the 400€ in cash because for some reason none of our cards seem to work in some places in Germany, and picked up the Omega complete with it's new alternator. 

My Brother and I then drove it back to the hotel, picked up her Worshipfulness and the two little Monsters, flung our luggage in the cavernous bootspace, and once again hit the autobahn. Just as well have a photo of the Omega outside the lovely hotel too! honestly, it really was very nice there, well worth a visit.


Before hitting the autobahn again for the final 217 miles to get to our friends in Vilseck I decided to treat my little family to a no expense spared lunch of currywürst at the local Imbiss. As we sat there reflecting on the events of the last couple of days we decided that it wasn't all bad breaking down, as we had visited Bad Camberg which we all thought was lovely. However, we all thought that the treatment of a so-called professional outfit like the RAC was extremely shoddy! I asked my kids what they thought of the trip so far, my biggest Monster thinks that its like living an episode of Top Gear, and my monster just replied with, never a dull moment Dad! 


As for the rest of the trip, well that went without hitch, and the Omega performed and drove very well, here's a quick photo I took of it reflected in a building window while I was blezzing through Brussells looking for some sprouts! Despite the inconvenience of breaking down, I really think that this thing could grow on me!

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