PH Fleet: Ford Puma

With every car I've owned, an impending MoT has always been a time of anguish and fear. It's always reminded me of the run-up to an exam when you're at school or university, except without the ability to control the outcome. Especially if, like me, you are about as competent with a set of spanners as your average small family pet.

Puma nestled between Lexus and Golf
Puma nestled between Lexus and Golf
When you're running a shed on a shoestring (and the Puma has form in that area, having started its PH life as an SOTW star), this angst is multiplied several times over, because the whole point is to run an interesting car, but with the minimum possible outlay. So whereas the non-shedder might lavish time and money on upgrades and general upkeep, the chap or chappess with a shed has to be a bit more careful about the money bit.

Thus, MoT time is a worry. Especially with the clonking nearside front suspension I'd been putting off getting sorted out for the best part of 12 months. Sure enough, AX51 GGA got a big, fat thumbs-down. Actually that's a bit unfair - it went through the test without even an advisory except for that dreaded suspension. Turns out the ball joint that connects the strut to the lower suspension arm was, to put it technically, knackered.

One old suspension arm...
One old suspension arm...
A quick search on eBay and I'd sourced a whole new nearside lower suspension arm (the ball joint and the arm itself all come as one piece) for 20 quid and, duly fitted by a professional (ie someone with at least an ounce of mechanical aptitude), the whole repair cost me just over £70. The only sting in the tail was that, because of the ruddy Jubilee four-day weekend, I couldn't get the retest done at the original garage (sorry Ma'am, I'm no republican or anything, but your timing was lousy in this instance), so I had to get the place that fitted the suspension arm to do a full-price MoT themselves.

Still, the Puma now has a shiny new MoT certificate to show for its trouble, and roundabouts and potholes need no longer be tackled with gritted teeth. Lovely.

My attention now turns an arm-long list of minor irritations that must be weighed in the balance to see whether they're worth the trouble of fixing, or whether it would not be in the spirit of true shedding to do so. Chief among these are ABS and traction control warning lights that illuminate when the weather is inclement, but work as they should in dry weather. I suspect water is getting into one of the ABS sensors and causing the problem, and it's something I might seriously have to put right.

...and one knackered ball joint
...and one knackered ball joint
The other issues really are a lot more minor: the aftermarket stereo doesn't fit properly in its allotted slot, drooping slightly on the left-hand side; the parcel shelf (which I've tried to secure by means of an electrical tape bodge) is about as secure as a piece of wet kitchen towel; the offside suspension tower has a missing plastic cap; and I noticed only today that the handle for the seat recliner has lost its placcy cover, too.

The big question is, will I have the energy to rectify them, or will inertia take its ugly hold? Find out next time, as they used to say...

Fact sheet:
 2001 Ford Puma
Run by: Matt Rigby
Bought: June 2011
Purchase price: 1,000
Last month at a glance: MoT failed, but at least Riggers has got that suspension sorted now

Previous reports:
Mysterious flat battery appears to be a one-off. So far...
Time to get AX51 GGA spruced up with a spring clean
Continental jaunts and Corrosion block for Riggers's Puma
Riggers is finding it tough to trust with his new Puma

Rubbish parcel shelf and
Rubbish parcel shelf and
...ill-fitting radio among remaining niggles
...ill-fitting radio among remaining niggles

Comments (35) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Shade 09 Jun 2012

    The ABS is a fairly easy fix, if it's the front anyway. Never heard of the back sensors going on these. Sensors are normally around £50 each though. The parcel shelf will never sit right, it's a Puma. Mine did the same, constantly bouncing out of place. The rest is cosmetic stuff, forget about it smile

  • Mavican 09 Jun 2012

    A puma might be next on the last, considering how much they are at the moment I'll be laughing. Might try and convince my mum to give me hers for a small fee. Just got to go through the joys of niggles!

  • ukaskew 09 Jun 2012

    Read with interest as I'm shopping for Puma at the moment, but the lure of the Sportka is also tempting (plenty at 2k now) as they are newer and generally seem to be better looked after.

    Rust is the biggest issue with the ones I've seen, what were Ford up to 10 years ago?! I have this funny feeling I'm going to end up with a Suzuki Ignis Sport again (options at £2k, newer still, as good as bombproof), just a shame parts cost a fortune.

  • shalmaneser 09 Jun 2012

    Seems i bit foolish to plump for a £20 wishbone that will have knackered bushes in 6 months time... especially given that labour was over twice the price of the part!

    Not a good economy there, methinks.

  • MG CHRIS 09 Jun 2012

    shalmaneser said:
    Seems i bit foolish to plump for a £20 wishbone that will have knackered bushes in 6 months time... especially given that labour was over twice the price of the part!

    Not a good economy there, methinks.
    I was thinking that you can get a new one for 20 when i had to get one for my mothers street ka.

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