Uriah Heap or Urea Hype?

Uriah Heap or Urea Hype?

English rock band or car trouble?


    The latter!


    It started with a single warning light, ‘UREA’. Then an orange image of an engine popped up in another part of the display. Then, a little later the UREA light started flashing which prompted, in a third location, a message which told me that if I didn’t rectify the fault the car would be prevented from starting in 700 miles. Alarmingly, this became 650 within the final four-mile run to the pub where we were stopping. I can say without doubt that it was the most condensed 50 miles I have ever driven.

    Because the lights started appearing on my dashboard just as we entered England’s most northerly county, I’ve called them the ‘Northumberland Illuminations’.


    I did stop when the first light went on to top up the Urea tank with 5 litres of AdBlue but the light stayed on. So, I put another 5 litres in. Nope! £24 poorer and the light still shone like a nagging beacon in black night of my mood.


    What is AdBlue anyway, and what for? Well, I had heard it’s partly pig’s urine, but it’s not. As I’d learned in basic biology at school, urea is a natural component of urine, but the Urea in AdBlue is synthetically produced from ammonia and natural gas. So, saying it’s pig’s urine is taking the piss. Much like my car is doing to me. Might as well continue the lesson…. AdBlue is housed in a large tank at the rear of the vehicle from where it is injected, via a pump and a nozzle, into the exhaust gasses to remove polluting gases.


    At breakfast we sat next to a chap who sympathized with my Urea problem – which I’d insensitively mentioned as he was tucking into his bacon and pork sausage. He kindly scoured the internet on his phone and found a garage a few miles away that appeared to be open Saturdays so may be able to help.


    Back upstairs in the room I made the call and discovered one mini frustration about being in a very rural spot (near Kielder Dam). I spent ten minutes yelling at the phone trying to make the lady at the garage understand my problem…..


    ‘I can’t hear you; can you hear me?’


    ‘You’re very faint. Hello, are you there?’



   I had to stand by the window and face east to get her to hear me. Eventually, after a good deal of fragmented conversation on both sides, she told me they were no longer a garage, just a filing station. In fact, they hadn’t been a fully-fledged garage for seven years! So much for the instant internet! That's ten minutes I've lost forever.


    Brainwave! Did I take out breakdown cover with my car insurance? Whoopee, yes I did. After a long conversation during which I was interrogated with all sorts of personal questions, I explained our problem in detail, and we agreed that a service vehicle would meet us at one of the car parks along Lake Kielder. However, before we left the pub, the driver of that vehicle phoned and said that because I had already topped up the AdBlue tank, there wasn’t really anything more he could do on site. ‘We need a service bay to have a proper look. After all,’ he said, ‘you are 35 miles inside a national park.’ But he did reassure me that the car should get us home without issue, despite all the flashing lights.


    Later, we were parked in the aforementioned car park having a tongue sandwich, when, quite out of the blue, an RAC van pulled up alongside us. I collared the driver; gave him a sob story and he helpfully popped his computer reader on our car to reassure me that the warning lights were not likely to end up leaving us marooned on a moor somewhere on the way home. What a helpful guy he was.


    So, we’re now home. My local garage, the one I have gone to for all my mechanical needs for about forty years, was loathed to touch the AdBlue system and suggested I took it to a main Peugeot dealer. ‘There have been all sorts of issues with these systems,’ he said, ‘I’d rather not get involved.’ That didn’t sound too promising.

    As we stand I’ve got the car booked in for a diagnostic test. ‘That’ll be just £118,’ said the helpful lady service-booking operative. I feel I may be in the early stages of a long haul.


    I read on various forums, with increasing gloom, that I may need a new AdBlue tank. This is because the root of the problem may be the pump, which is integral to the tank, so the whole thing may have to be replaced. That could be anything from £1,000 to 1,500.


    I’m not looking forward to my next insurance renewal.

    ‘Have you made any modifications to your vehicle?’

    'I've made a large dent in the rear end where I kicked the bloody thing with my gardening boot. Does that count?'


    Mind you, I can console myself to some degree. My friend has a very smart Jaguar whose engine has just blown up. Knackered, caput. Repair bill, somewhere north of £5k. If they can find a replacement engine. This one is a rare, uprated model, and they didn’t make many.


    So, car went in. I said a fond goodbye.

   Phone call later in the day. ‘It’ll be £1,069 for this that and the other. ‘The other’ is the expensive bit but it really can’t be avoided.


    ‘Yes, but we can do it for you n 10 month’s interest-free credit.’

    ‘OK, go ahead.’ What else could I say??

    He emailed a loan arrangement, I signed it electronically, and I was more than a grand less well off.


    Phone call two days later.

   ‘We’ve bust the exhaust getting the sensor off. Not uncommon I’m afraid and it definitely isn’t a workshop error. Just one of those things.’


    ‘A real Peugeot exhaust piece fitted, £360. A generic exhaust piece, £230.’

    ‘Oh.’ Again.

    ‘See, I’ve saved you £130 there.’

    ‘Yes, very generous I’m sure. Can you help me out in any way?’

    ‘I’ll do you 10% on the £230 if that helps?’

    ‘OK, go ahead.’ What else could I say? Again!


    Finally, I get the motor back two days later, £1200+ down on a week ago.

    My wife will have to wait a week or two for her new slippers.


    Have you seen the news? They’ve decided to ban sales of Nitrous Oxide to kids. Laughing gas. That stuff in mini torpedoes the hip, senseless youth of today inhales. You must have seen empty ones litter every nook and cranny. Plus, you may well have come across a dark, souped-up hatchback buried in a wall or hedge, the driver, staggering about nearby, completely shitfaced on torpedo inhalate!


    Regarding my car, the reason for the complicated, badly thought-out AdBlue system is to clean up diesel exhaust gases. As I said, AdBlue is injected into the ‘toxic’ exhaust gas somewhere between engine and tailpipe and the resultant crap comes out the back clean enough to breathe. Mmmm! And what, I hear you ask, has been removed via this expensive gas-scrubbing procedure? Wait for it…….. Nitrous Oxide. Yes, kid’s torpedo nectar.


    Perhaps as a way to help reduce the polluting effects of Nitrous Oxide, we should introduce AdBlue service stations on children’s playgrounds!

    At the end of the day, it's all a matter of Urea.

    Frankly, it’s taking the piss!