Water Pump Leak

Took Lucy into MINI of San Diego today for the next service, this one a regular oil change at 28k. After a little while my advisor came and said they had discovered that the water pump was leaking so they needed another 2-3 hours. I called a colleague and he came to get me. Of course he arrived just as they told me they had managed to find me a loaner for the day.

I’m glad they caught the leak before it failed though I’m a little concerned that I am having a few too many issues with this MINI, am probably going to be thankful I got pressured into the 100k warranty. Though I did learn something about that today – although the clutch is covered, it is only covered in the event of a complete failure. So even if I know the clutch is failing I have to break down and get a tow before they will fix it. This seems stupid to me.

My last clutch lasted 150k miles so wouldn’t be under warranty anyway, so perhaps it is all moot.

While I was at the dealer, I did very much fall in lust with the new JCW GP they had in the showroom. Sex on wheels.

My Underpowered MINI

This is my third MINI, all of them S-variants, and every time I am sure that my MINI, and my MINI alone, has some kind of power defect that makes it less powerful than all the other MINIs out there. Time and time again I am out accelerated by other MINIs (all variants), pick up trucks, smart cars and the odd tortoise. Well, maybe not the tortoise.

It would be interesting to let someone else drive me around for a while to confirm this. I suspect, of course, that isn’t the tool but the wielder of the tool. I’m in too high a gear, not enough revs or whatever. But this morning on the way to work being out accelerated from 30mph on the freeway by a Prius, I had to wonder….

Is there an echo in here (echo in here) ?

There’s not much to complain about in the MINI but the entertainment system deserves some mention. I’ve already ranted about being unable to play double CDs off USB thumbdrive, and I still haven’t found a work around for that. Fortunately (?) I accidentally vacuumed up the thumbdrive at a do it yourself car wash so this is no longer an issue 🙂

But another (mildly) annoying problem is with the HD radio playback. If I am listening to an FM station that is on HD I get regular echoes. I can hear the announcer say “and that was Lady Gaga” and then I will hear it again about 1.5 seconds later. This happens maybe every 4 or 5 minutes and I just get used to it. Doesn’t happen at all if I turn HD reception off or listen to a station that is only in standard FM.

Other than, the HK stereo sure does kick out the beats, one of my better decisions in the ordering process (though all credit to DB for making me do it).

Repair Update

Took Lucy to MINI of San Diego today and they diagnosed a faulty sensor in the seat belt latch that tells the system whether the seat belt is locked, and how tight it is. They don’t see this too often (if at all) so they had to order the part. And, bless them, rather than have me drive around in a death trap they gave me a loaner: an automatic Countryman in light brown.

Oh and Ian, yes I am sure you are right about the warning light 🙂

Time for another warranty repair

Last week, putting the key in the dashboard illuminated the air bag/seatbelt torsion warning light and it hasn’t gone off since. So it is back to MINI of San Diego on Friday for another warranty repair. Two in 12.5k miles is mildly annoying but it is what it is.

What is really annoying about it is that the warning light does not go away while driving so I can’t see the clock and, worse still, I can’t see the cruise control settings as the big air bag icon is in the way. The cruise control is a little flakey at the best of times so when I see my speed is 77, say, I’m not sure if I set it to that or I set it to 75 and we’re doing 77 anyway??

Hopefully Friday I’ll get a diagnosis and then I expect I will have to return to get the work done. Maybe I’ll end up Mayor on 4sq.

First Service

Last week I took my MINI to MINI of San Diego for her first service, a little bit overdue thanks to a business trip that got in the way. As well as getting the oil change done I wanted them to rotate the tyres (at a $14.95 expense) and check out the operation of the passenger seat.

It is rare that I have anyone sitting in the back because, well, I don’t know many pygmies or small children. But the one time someone wanted in the back it was very hard to make the passenger seat back fold forwards, unlike my past MINIs (and the driver’s side on this one) where that just happened when you pulled on the side tab.

About twenty minutes into the appointment, a technician came out and told me that the cable was over stretched and this being 2013 that means a whole new seat base. They had one in stock but it was a 90+ minute job on top of the one I already had going so I said I’d come back another time for that.

Time passed in the lounge and eventually I was called to get my key. While doing the tyre rotation they had found wheel locks but no key, the place in the tyre change toolkit moulding was empty. So they used their universal key to remove the locks and do the rotation but since they couldn’t in good conscience lock my wheels back on with no way for me to get them off, they put new locks on and made sure to give me the key. And, as a consequence of this “fault” by MINI, they waived my $14.95.

Very impressed with my first service visit, a mile ahead of my experiences with Brecht. Only complaint I have is that the TV in the lounge is always showing some Bourdain documentary where he is eating disgusting things, last week he was cooking with pig blood. Everyone waiting was grossed out.

5000 Mile Fuel Stats

I’m tracking fillup data with the Mileage app on my phone, and after 5000 miles here are some stats

Still loving the car, still hating the lack of automatic door unlocking.

Some Quick Opinions on the New MINI

So much for my plans of a “full review”, have not put finger to keyboard once to write about my new baby. The short review is easy: she’s an awesome ride and a great car. A few random observations though…..

  • It seems that having the speed in big numbers right in front of me all the time has made me drive more slowly when cruising on the freeways. I set the cruise control to 74 yet in the past I’d be right foot down doing 76/77 most of the way. Although cruise control isn’t motoring, it sure is nice on my 2hr freeway commute.
  • I originally thought the accent lighting was a gimmick, waste of time and money giving me a button with which to toggle through the colours. But now that I’m doing a lot of driving at night I find myself changing the colour often. Guess those MINI guys know more than me about what I like
  • The car is very fast to respond when asked, I don’t notice any difference from my old super-charged variety. If anything it is snappier, though I am still aware that I didn’t hear the whine. Miss that noise.
  • The colour is fantastic, looks great everywhere in every lighting situation. I get compliments on it all the time. I am so glad I didn’t go with the ice blue.
  • How can there be no gauges on the dashboard to give me any hints as to how things are going ?
  • The HK sound is totally kicking and I am very thankful to DB for making sure I ponied up the extra money to buy it. It would have been a big mistake not to have done so.
  • There seems to be even less access to the door storage than before, no way to get a hand in there

But I do have one complaint. I thought I would get over it but a few weeks and 2500 miles later I am still not happy…. I do not like that the doors no longer unlock when the engine stops. So I have to remember to unlock the doors with the toggle switch or do the awkward double door handle thing.

And the double door thing is ok except a typical scenario (just this morning), I get out the car walk round the passenger side to get my stuff of the seat and the door is locked. So I have to get the key and double unlock the locks with it to get at my things. This is really annoying, and I’m sad that MINI chose to take away the option that made so much sense on my old cabrio.

Anyway, one complaint isn’t bad, don’t you think? And I do love love love the car.

Great to be part of a community (not!)

Was driving my new MINI away from work this week and was aware of the driver of a green (earlier year) MINI checking me out in another lane. Eventually he pulls over to the lane next to me and at a traffic light we are side by side and he puts his window down.

Him: Hey, what model year is that ?
Me: It’s brand new, 2013! (smiling)
Him: Aw man, too bad, my mechanic tells me the engines in those are rubbish

Light changes, he floors it, conversation over.

I remember when MINI owners loved to see other MINIs and admire them, guess we don’t do that any more.