£600 and a couple of extractions later

It began in a workshop with a whiff of diesel next to a village green in South Cambs and it finished in a medically clean room in Cambridge. Everything worked out just fine but I was left some £600 poorer.

I drive a Saab 9.3 diesel. It’s about 10 years old, I bought it as a pre-reg ex showroom model, and we’ve done about 100,000 miles together. Like me it’s been finding it a little more difficult to start in the morning.

My usual garage gave me a swift diagnosis. They said I needed to extract and replace two glow plugs and that if I didn’t do so then one morning my car just wouldn’t start. They quoted me a couple of hundred quid to replace them but …

‘The problem is’ they said ‘it’s not that easy’. They explained that these glow plugs haven’t moved for 10 years and given the conditions in which they operate they’ll likely not going to be easy to extract because they’ll be seized up and won’t unscrew. Then they suggested that I’d be in for opening up the engine, some sort of open heart surgery, in order to make a repair. That would be a £1000 job. Given that the trade in value of my car is only about £1500 that seemed to be quite an expense. But they went on and suggested that often it’s not worth doing the repair and you simply write off the car. Then of course I’d be up for £10-20K to replace it.

I didn’t really like what I was hearing and got the impression that my garage really didn’t want to know so I did what we all do nowadays in such circumstances. I went onto the Internet and did a Google search. I quickly found several specialist companies which said they could do the job (100% guaranteed!) and that they wouldn’t need to open up the engine. One company said it would do it on my driveway, all I had to do was to supply the glow plugs. But were these guys legit? I watched YouTube videos which all seemed to make it seem a simple operation so I decided to go ahead. But who with?

Back to the Internet and I found Cambs Injection Services in Comberton. A very pleasant lady on the phone took my details and said she’d call me back. She did and asked me to bring my car in on Wednesday and that Stuart would do the job. ‘No’ she said ‘he won’t need to open up the engine.’

So I delivered my car to CIS on Wednesday soon after 1030. At about 1500 the lady rang me back and told me my car was ready for collection and that Stuart had replaced all four glow plugs whilst he was at it. Job done, no open heart surgery but a £300 bill. Better than the alternative.

On Friday I had an appointment at my dentist for a more orthodox extraction: one of the molars top right. I’d ‘volunteered’ for this because I’ve had a succession of abscesses and my dentist told me that they were just going to continue because there was an infection at the base of the tooth. I had a choice: either root canal treatment for about £1000 or an extraction for £300.

Root canal treatment preserves the tooth which is a good thing but it might not work. It’s also a long operation. By contrast an extraction is quick, it will work plus, in this case, it would eliminate the dirt trap between this tooth and the one behind it.

I had some early rather traumatic experiences with dentists and until recently the idea of having one out horrified me. However my dentist these days has restored my faith and with his skill and modern technology I have become almost blasé about extractions. Trouble is this one would be done by a new dentist. Would Danji be as good as Max?

So at 1230 I was once more in my fully reclined business class seat suggesting to Danji that she should be generous with the anaesthetic. She was and started a continuous commentary of what she was doing. ‘This might hurt’ it didn’t, ‘this might be a little uncomfortable’ it wasn’t and ‘you might hear a cracking sound’ I didn’t. All the time she was chatting to the nurse and all three of us were listening to Radio 2.

Maybe 10 minutes later it was job done and the tooth was out. Danyi showed it to me. It had not broken, hence no cracking sound, but it was not healthy and she confirmed that root canal treatment would have been a waste of money and would only have resulted in a subsequent extraction. She finished off with a little light embroidery to tidy up my gums and we were done. No pain, root canal decision vindicated and another £300 bill. Again, better than the alternative.

It’s now Saturday and my car starts easily. I slept well and the gap where my tooth was seems OK. I started the week worrying about both extractions, I certainly tensed up in anticipation of my dental work, and that took an overnight to disappear, but now I’m fine: no need to think about buying a new car and an end to gum infections at least for the time being.

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