Talking Motors: Now how’s that for service?

The offending oil filter - or what was left of it
The offending oil filter - or what was left of it

With a couple of days at home alone, last weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to give my car a long-overdue service.

While my girlfriend was relaxing somewhere in the sun with a glass of wine, my own pamper session would involve oil-stained clothes, cut fingers and the calming aroma of Swarfega.

Giving an MG Midget a light engine service is a simple job. Two hours tops.

My list included an oil change, filter changes, new spark plugs, and giving the tappets a quick tweak. I was hoping to have the wheels off to check the brake discs, and then even give the car a thorough clean.

I had my day planned-out with the kind of excitement people pen holiday itineraries, right down to where breaks for coffee would fit into the schedule.

Until about half past two last Saturday afternoon, everything was going according to plan.

The oil sump had been unplugged, bits were scattered over the garage floor and a satisfactory amount of blood was pouring from my hand onto various engine components.

But then came the oil filter. To the uninitiated, an oil filter looks like a white upside down mug attached to the engine block. It should simply unscrew when it requires changing and if not, wrapping a filter removal tool around it will do the job nicely. Screw in the new filter and you’re done.

Would it budge?

My filter removal tool was rusting away in a tool bag at the back of the garage, and therefore useless.

So I tried hammering a screwdriver through the side of it to create a lever, but all that did was shred the filter when I moved it, creating a jagged edge like an open tin of beans. I broke pliers, adjustable wrenches and screwdrivers to get what was left of the filter off the car.

By half past six I was ready to give up – before an ingenious invention of using a screwdriver hooked inbetween the handles of some pliers did the trick.

So much for relaxation.