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The future of D.I.Y.

After what has been a truly grim summer, it looks as if we're set for a sunny bank holiday weekend.

It's times like this where I miss being back home in Cardiff. After weeks of rain my car's covered in a fairly substantial layer of filth, not to mention mud from a nearby building and site paw prints from whichever one of the neighbours' cats likes to curl up on the bonnet. It's in quite a state and, if I was back home a nice sunny bank holiday weekend would make an ideal opportunity to whip it into my parents' garage for a clean up and niggle-fixing session.

I've always enjoyed fixing things, I find it relaxing, and thankfully with a 16 year old car it's not difficult to get stuck in without getting stuck. Most of the car can be taken apart with simple tools, and there are few complicated electrical systems to disturb.

Or so I thought.

I recently had the misfortune of coming face to face with the great unknown that is dashboard wiring and, for a car which lists a cigarette lighter as a trim level luxury, the amount of wire hidden away is absolutely staggering.

With this in mind, I spent a weekend with a Titanium X spec 2007 Mondeo back in July, a vehicle festooned with enough features to put even recent luxury cars to shame. It got me thinking; if a car as mainstream as a Mondeo is this gadget-laden, what does the future hold for the home mechanic?

OK, as a general rule Mondeos don't attract enthusiastic buyers who want to keep them locked up in their garage for summer drives, but it's amazing seeing how much technology has come on recently. If my car has a weighty wiring loom tucked behind its miniscule dashboard there must be miles of it tucked into a new Mondeo, more than enough to bring tears to the eyes of a greasy-fingered hobbyist. Good news for garages, but bad news for the DIY mechanic.

That's a shame, I think. Taking my car apart has taught me almost everything I know about how it works and kept me entertained for hours. Somehow plugging a diagnostic machine into the car and asking it to tell you what's wrong doesn't quite cut it in terms of satisfaction.

But this weekend I'm 200 miles from my toolkit and bucket anyway, so the car is staying untouched. Thankfully I've found another way to enjoy the summer sun; it's the Peterborough Beer Festival this weekend, my first. It'd be rude not to.


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