Flindt on Friday: A trusty old farm truck is hard to beat

(C) Kathy Horniblow

Spare a thought for my farm truck. It’s a 2007 Hyundai Terracan, and it doesn’t get the love and attention that most of the other farm kit does. It’s not like the combine, for instance, which gets a thorough front-to-back clean and service once a year, and all for about six weeks’ work.

The two tractors get regular oil and filter changes, normally at about 500 hours, because that’s our annual usage. See also: Read more of Charlie Flindt’s columns I’ve even started using the main dealer to service the loader tractor, because its reliability history since it arrived here only 18 months ago suggests that the last thing I want is some tooth-sucking cop-out claim that it isn’t being maintained properly.

I’ve got the bill, the half-used grease cartridge and the nearly full bottle of windscreen washer fluid to prove that, yes, I have used the main dealer. But the Terracan? It gets washed once in a blue moon.

It still has dodgy van numbers hastily written in the mud from years ago.

Short-distance runner

It has a rough life: most of its journeys are a couple of miles round the farm, hardly time to warm up properly. Luckily, it’s a pre-DPF diesel, so there’s nothing to clog up. The Skoda Scout does the high miles.

Apart from an exploding Delphi fuel pump, it has been pretty reliable. Some of the suspension components don’t stand comparison to, say, a Land Cruiser, but my fantastic local independent garage manages to source drop links without trouble. I wouldn’t say it flies through its MOTs, but it’s usually home within a day or two, with occasional advisories.

My son once proved his newly acquired driving skills by ramming it into the grain trailer – even the NFU wouldn’t cough up the GBP2,000 straightening bill for that. Best of all, it was a bargain; bought for a whisper under ten grand in 2009 – the days when we’d never see snow again, and 4x4s were the very work of the devil, and a dealer would happily deliver it from Norwich to be rid of it.

I’m not a fan of pickups – I like my vehicles to handle reasonably well, and occasionally I use multistorey car parks

But now, it’s getting tired. The central locking sulks occasionally, the screen-washer pump gave up, the wiper linkage popped off the motor the other day (although it could be my fault for not freeing them up in the frost first), so it’s just had another session at the garage.

On the way out of the garage, just moments before heading out on to the high-speed A272, the brakes failed. I nudged it into a three-point turn and headed back into their yard, using nothing but the handbrake and first gear.

Tempting fate

Two thoughts struck me: first, how good is my Guardian Angel (another half mile…), and second, maybe it’s time for a change. But what with?

I’m not a fan of pickups – I like my vehicles to handle reasonably well, and occasionally I use multistorey car parks. I did like the look of the basic Mitsubishi L200, the new Jimny looks like it’ll be gone almost as soon as it arrived, and I’ve been drooling over the Land Cruiser three-door Utility – the non-commercial one, because I like to use windows at junctions. Trouble is, GBP35,000 for 4,000 miles a year?

But then again, it’ll still be trundling round the farm long after the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles is conveniently forgotten. A couple of days later, wipers, washers and brakes were back to 100%. Apart from the hideous out-of-balance front wheel, the trusty Terracan felt good as new (if you also ignore the rip in the seat, the leather peeling off the steering wheel and the mind-of-its-own radio).

Change it?

It’s got years in it yet.

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