I’ve had a mobile phone for 14 years and Interent for at least 10, but the potential of modern communications still blows my mind, especially after the call I received a couple of evenings ago.

I was loafing in the office at around 7pm, when my mobile rang. It was a friend who teaches at school just down the road from Autocar’s Teddington offices.

I was surprised to hear he was actually calling from a village in the Swiss Alps with a problem. He, the missus and four children had piled into his 1999 Mercedes E320 wagon, heading for Tuscany.

Stuck in the traffic in southern France, the car had cut out. After half an hour immobile, it re-started and delivered him to his first overnight stop in otherwise rude health.

‘What did I think?’

Well, I’m a long way from being a mechanic or technician. So I busked it. ‘Well, it was probably electrical and a fault that is affected by heat. Could be anything. An air mass sensor or something.’

Funnily enough, he’d replaced the air-mass senor a few years ago because of rough running. So I suggested getting it to the nearest Mercedes dealer because fault diagnosis is easier with a relative modern car. Plug the laptop and download the fault codes. Simple.