Stupid Brecht’s

Went to Brecht’s this morning to pick up my car, it was ready but the paperwork was not. I loaded my things in the car and then noticed that the windscreen had not been replaced. My service advisor was not in so the front desk lady (who turned out to be from Brawley!) did some investigation and found out that the advisor had told the tech to put it in the body shop today, so I would need to pick it up on Saturday. Well, two problems with that – one, I’m going home to England this weekend and, two, he never called to tell me. In the end the manager agreed they would replace the windscreen as if it was under warranty at my next visit, and provide a free rental car for the overnight. Maybe I should have pushed it and got the oil change free, too?

But everything else got done: driver-side air bag cables and connectors, new rear wiper blade, emissions recall, rear wiper fluid sprayer was unclogged and the brake fluid flushed.

142 miles to go before the big 50,000, probably not going to hit that before I get back from Blighty.

Engine Braking Thoughts

So recently I asked about holding the car on the clutch rather than using the brakes and the response seemed to be overwhelmingly against it, even though I and almost everyone I know was taught to do that. But, times and techniques change, I am trying not to do it so often.

Today’s driving technique question is: engine braking, good or bad? This is something I do a lot, especially in slow traffic, but I know people who say that its plain wrong and bad for the engine. A mechanic friend of mine once told me “brakes are for stopping, the engine is for moving” – if you don’t plan on stopping, use the engine to adjust your speed. A generalisation, of course, but one that I invite the MINI elders who read this blog to give me their thoughts.

In MINI news, heading north from Balboa Park last evening I saw two brand new convertibles, one in purple (which looked very cool) and one in black. Both had their tops up despite it being quite nice, though.

Finance Rant

I don’t know if I was high on the joy of impending MINI ownership but I never knew until this weekend that the term of my loan is a whopping 66 months. I had it in my mind that it was a 4 year deal – five and a half years is a crazy long time to be making payments on a car. Now, its quite likely that the value of the MINI will stay high enough to pay off the loan in a trade-in before the time is up but I’m still shocked that I signed such a thing.

And I’ve ranted before about how Bank of America sends me monthly statements where the amount to pay changes based on how much ahead of the schedule I am. My most recent ‘demand’ was for $0.00 so they must be getting worried I’m going to pay the loan off too early. I’m not overpaying by much each month but I do hope to knock a few months off the loan schedule.

Gas-Powered Honda Civic GX Now Available in CA

Honda is making its gas-powered Honda Civic sedan available to the public in CA, customers can lease a home fuelling system which taps into their existing gas supply. Sounds interesting to my eco-friendly ways. The site says it can go about 200 miles on a full tank but it does take 12 hours to fill her up. My quick look at the website didn’t reveal anything about acceleration or top speeds though whatever they are I know they won’t be as appealing as the MINI. And the website quotes 34 mpg which I assume is some kind of gasoline-equivalent metric; that doesn’t sound real good but the real issue is the cost per ‘gallon’ and I have no idea what that is.

Anyway, good to see more options coming for those of us who want less fuel consumption and/or harmful pollutants. Roll on the hybrid (or diesel!) MINI.

Work To Be Done Next Week

Last night I found the paperwork I bought with Sarah. I do indeed have the 50k service warranty plan, and I also have something that guarantees something for 100k miles but I’m not sure exactly what that covers (something to ask Brecht next week!).

So anyway, here is the list of things I currently have for the 28th:

  • air bag light is lit
  • windshield has a stress fracture
  • read windscreen wiper will not squish water
  • perform brake fluid flush
  • perform coolant fluid flush

Not sure if there is anything else I should have them do – this will be the last chance to get free maint service so I should get whatever I can!

[Update] forgot to add the ECU upgrade for CA emissions.

A Week of Near Misses

Its been a bad week for near misses in the MINI. This morning, I get a green light to turn left into work, the car coming towards me not only doesn’t stop for the red light but turns into the two lanes and comes straight over to my lane. I don’t think she even saw me until she heard the screeching of my tyres and the 10 second blast of the horn. Of course she never gives me an acknowledgement of regret or guilt. Sometimes I really wish I wouldn’t brake and they can buy me a new car and pay for me to have some time off work whilst I recover from my injuries.

Its probably just a passing phase but last night I was thinking about trading Sarah in when she hits 50k and getting a hybrid. Right now I’m getting about 26-28mpg, spending about $200-$270 a month on gas and that is only going to get worse. A hybrid certainly wouldn’t be as much fun but it might make more financial sense as gas prices go higher. And I’m worried about the future service and repair bills. If Sarah’s history is anything to go by, there will be many things needing repair in the next couple of years and I really don’t want to pay BMW prices.

1000 to go!

Sarah turned 49,000 on the way to San Diego this morning, just under 1000 warranty miles to go. Its going to be scary after that, given how many things have gone wrong since I owned it, and expensive – its said that the 60k inspection service is about a $1000 to perform!

Looking through the service booklet last night I found out that every two years you are supposed to have the brake fluid and the coolant system flushed. I haven’t been doing that as I was thinking that every time I took Sarah in for the required service work that everything would be done. But now I wonder if those items have ever been done? I have an appointment April 28 for some repair work which will almost certainly be the last time I get anything done for free by MINI – if those items are under the service plan, maybe I should get them done whilst I can without paying for them?

Ready to pay $2.35 for gas?

According to CNN we’d better get ready to pay $2.35 for a gallon of gas in May. Well, I don’t know where these people live but I haven’t seen a price that low in weeks. I’m typically seeing $2.50 and upward for regular unleaded; yesterday on the way home I saw $2.99 for the premium stuff. So if the average is lower than $2.35, does that mean its still under $2 somewhere in the country?