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.

Trying a new MINI Shop

No posts for weeks and then come three at once!

I did some research about places to get an oil change and found SD Mini which was advertising a $100 oil service including filter change, brake inspection etc. Even better was that it was only a few miles from work. They said to stop by anytime so I left work early.

When I got there I was greeted by Cooper:

I got a tour of the shop while the guy worked on the car. Naturally there were things to point out to me. I knew the brakes would be low, rear pads were almost on the metal. They also showed me a coolant leak which was obviously fresh.

I’m very close to the next Inspection so he offered me a deal on doing the Inspection right now. It wasn’t a great deal but better than nothing and it included some things that I don’t think have ever been done. Also, the service includes an alignment which I had already set up elsewhere, so that would save $80 or so. Finally it includes a full detailing inside and out so I decided to get the windshield replaced because it’s going to look like crap otherwise with big cracks in it while everything else looks factory new.

So I left the car there and they gave me a loaner MINI in the meantime. Not sure what year it is but it’s an automatic hardtop, original model. Driving it out I had a hell of a time mastering the transmission. In D there was absolutely no acceleration. I worked out how to put it in SD which seemed better but I don’t know if I was thrashing it or not, revs never went above 4k so probably not.

An expensive $100 oil change for sure but I’m hoping that a little preventative maintenance now at 116k miles will keep Carrie going for many more at minimum cost.

I Don’t Get This MINI Billboard

So, finally, there is going to be a MINI dealer in San Diego proper, rather than having to make the crappy trek up to Escondido. I pass the construction site (or rather the conversion site as it looks like they are transforming an existing dealership) every day on the way to work and I am always confused by the billboard that goes with it.

Don’t tell anybody? Why the heck not? I know many people who refuse to buy a MINI because they won’t go to Escondido but I’m not supposed to tell them to wait because there’s a dealer coming soon? Yeah, go buy that Fiesta, no dealers coming, no siree.

Maybe it’s just me, but I totally don’t get it..

No MTTS For Us

I had originally been thinking we’d try and do the first leg of MTTS and when I heard Ian would be in CA I was definitely going to try and work it out. But since then I’ve been sent (or rather I am sending myself) to our London office at the end of July and will then spend some time at home. All this means I won’t be back in CA until after everyone has set off from LA.

Hope you all have a good and safe drive.

New Spark Plugs

Inspired by the automechanical prowess over at dbmini I finally got around to changing my spark plugs at the weekend. I’d purchased them over a month ago but had never gotten round to buying the wrench and appropriate socket attachments. I’m a software guy, not many tools in my house.

The task was no less easy then db said it would be though I had changed spark plugs before, back in my old Mini Metro in the 80’s. Only one of the plugs gave some resistance, and I worried about trying too hard to get it loose and breaking it in the socket. Don’t know how I would get it out if I did that!

Can’t have taken more than 10 minutes for the whole thing, though I did scuff up some fingers: there was blood. Whole thing cost me $40 for the plugs and $35 for the toolkit plus tax and all. The garage that does my oil changes quoted me $260 so I saved me a chunk of change. So much so, that I bought some new leads to pretty it up under the bonnet.

Not sure there is any more DIY in my future. I wouldn’t mind having a go at the brake pads since everyone tells me that’s so easy but, again, no tools or anything so might as well just take it to someone who does.

This is April in SoCal?

It’s April 1st but this is no joke! On my way into work this morning from home (I was in Vegas for the first part of the week, but not at AMVIV) there was lots of snow on the ground in the mountains, and for about 10 minutes I was driving through it as it was coming out of the sky. First time, I think, that this MINI has been in the snow. Temps got down to 32F and the OBC flashed at me but didn’t ping like my ’02 MCS did so I might not have noticed the ice warning otherwise. Odd. My Dad is here and couldn’t believe he was in the southern-most part of CA in April in the snow – he could have stayed at home!

4 Rules For the San Diego Commute

We all want to get to work quickly, safely, and enjoyably. After several years now of driving on San Diego’s freeways for the morning commute, here some tips I’ve come up with based on my daily observations.

  1. When merging into evenly-spaced traffic, slow down to 40mph. This makes it safer for everyone – the cars on the freeway who have to brake to let you out, and everyone behind you who is now worried about how they are going to get out of the on-ramp at such a slow speed.
  2. When merging into tightly-spaced traffic, accelerate quickly past any space that someone opens up for you. Only the very last 10 feet of the ramp is actually available for merging. It doesn’t matter that you will have to make someone brake hard to let you out. They should have been making a space for you anyway, the rude monkeys!
  3. When merging into light traffic, be sure to merge in the first 5 feet of the ramp. The dashed white lines between you and the freeway indicates the “bad driver” zone, only bad drivers need that much space to accelerate and move smoothly out.
  4. If it’s 6am in the morning and pitch black outside, you must be wearing sun glasses so that everyone knows you are a prick. The exemption to this rule is if you are driving a BMW, we already know you are a prick.

Following these rules will make your’s, and my, life on the road much easier. Note though that these are more advanced rules, I am already assuming that you are talking on your cell phone, changing lanes without notice or space to do so, blocking people from pulling out etc. If you aren’t already doing those then I suggest you master them before moving on to the 4 steps above.