Noise detective: episode two

Finally I found some time to write down the second episode! For those who wish to read the first one, here the link

How much to repair?

I have been waiting some news from my usual retailer regarding the cost of repairing the differential. During the second half of January I finally received the “official” answer: the price of the differential is of about 5’000 CHF. To the already high cost of the mechanical part I should add the work needed to make the repair: the total amount goes up to 6’300 CHF.

In the meantime the noise did not change. Sometimes, mostly when I leave the car rolling, it changes tonality and seems to be louder. Funny enough, if I drive faster than 100 Km/h, maybe around 130 Km/h, the noise fades almost completely.

TCS: a neutral point of view

Given the high cost of the repair I thought it would be a good idea to have the Swiss Touring Club (TCS) double check if the noise was really coming from the differential. Past Saturday I took the car to their workshop and after some routine checks we put the car on the auto lift: I stayed in the car and once it was high enough for the mechanic to stand below it, I started accelerating as agreed with him. It was quite strange to be “in the air” giving gas and changing gears. Around 100 Km/h the noise is the loudest and once I reached that speed I told the mechanic to start listening: he went below the car and with help of the stethoscope he was able to recognise the noise and to define that the noise was coming from the right end of the differential.

It was really helpful having a neutral point of view. And of course, although I would have preferred that the answer was something different, possibly less expensive, I am now happy to have the source of the noise confirmed. The whole operation, being member of the TCS, cost me 50 CHF.

Worth speculating?

Every mechanic I speak to tells me that it is very unusual for a differential to brake down. This led me to play with the thought, that maybe it was just a dose of bad luck and that actually, although an expensive repair I might have luck for the next years to come. Spending 6’300 CHF is still way less than 40’000 CHF for a new car. And as the car itself is still looking absolutely good I am kind of recalcitrant to change it. Also, as I use the car to go to work, reaching almost 35’000 Km per year, I do not want to invest in a new one. Ideally today’s car would be awesome.

But… a few days later, I got proof that my thinking was too optimistic: the emission control light turned on. Of course this happened the day before leaving for a business trip of about 4 hours drive. I decided to swap car and use one which the company has at disposal for such events.

This is the symbol of the emission control.

Once back from the trip I took the car to the mechanic: in 30 min time he was able to tell me that the issue is most probably related to a fan not working properly in the exhaust vent. Nothing to worry about. Still, in case it would turn on again I should consider changing the exhaust vent, with and estimated cost of about 1’300 CHF. I drove to work hoping not to see the light anymore.

But there it was! In the evening, as I started the car to drive back home the yellow warning light was staring at me, with a rather static expression! Oh well… between the noise in the back and the yellow light in the front, for sure I was not feeling alone!

Now what?

Given the value of the car which is around 10’000 CHF everyone is suggesting to leave the car as it is and to buy a new one and I am seriously taking into consideration that option. I believe that all in all I am going to stay with the same model of car as love the roomy interiors and the big trunk, but I am seriously considering to change from diesel to the natural gas engine. 2019 version is a 1.5 L with 130 HP which should be enough for my driving style. In a few weeks I should have the possibility for a test drive: I guess it will be the topic for our next episode?! 😉

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