I finally did it

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I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 12:47 am

You guys know of my quest to find a small car. Something unique, good on gas, fun, and something I had not had before. Something different, I guess. I wanted a Mini Cooper since they came out in 2002. I heard all the scare stories of the myriad problems with these little cars. The 2002 thru 2013 models were powered by a 1.6 Liter engine built by Citroen/Peugeot with all the traditional problems of French cars. Cam drive woes, overheating, head gasket failure, oil leaks and a delicate CVT transmission were undesirable features of the cars. Starting with the 2014 hardtop and couple Mini's a turbocharged BMW three or four cylinder engines were introduced backed by a real 6 speed Steptronic automatic transmission.

A problem I was having was with the dealers themselves. They seemed to be an independent lot. They acted to me like they could care less about my business. I had given up trying to find a Mini and a deal I could live with. I was having problems convincing myself to let go of the money they wanted for one. The resale value stayed fairly high, but dealing with a BMW dealer had been sheer misery.

Last weekend, I was surfing Craigslist, looking for an older Buick. I found older Buicks, but they were parts cars, hoopties, or just plain junk. Just for grins, I typed "black Mini Cooper" in the search box. Immediately, a 2014 Mini "S" hardtop with just over 7,000 miles popped up. A local BMW dealer had taken it in on trade. I inquired about it, got a quote $10,000 above Kelley Blue Book value. I emailed back and told them that my lowball offer would have to be good enough in order to "get my hormones flowing." To my surprise, the Internet Sales manager countered with an offer of about $2500 less than I thought would take to buy it. Almost $12,000 less than they had it priced on the internet which was almost as much as a 2016.. The recommendation of buying the end of the month may work after all......

Long story short, that little (really little!) Mini is now sitting in my driveway. I parked it radiator to radiator with my Buick and it barely comes back to the front door handles of the Buick! The advertising hype of "go-cart" handling is spot on. Like driving a go-cart with good seats and air conditioning. The thing has the best seats of any car I have ever owned. It rides like a dump truck. There is absolutely no "give" to the suspension. All the wheels hit the same bump at the same time. The only vehicle I have encountered that will outrun it from a stoplight is a motorcycle. It is the smallest vehicle on the road, minus a kid on a skateboard or a motorscooter. Every other vehicle is bigger. Like riding on a creeper going down the road. It stops, steers and goes like the wind. Everything else is along for the ride.

German engineering is not without its quirks. The driver's footwell is lit at night. The door handles, window switches and mirror switches are lit. There are lights under the armrests on the doors like lights in a movie theater. These can be adjusted so they change colors as you drive. There is the "Mini light" in the center of the dash that get lighter and darker with engine speed and vehicle speed. You can set them like strobe lights that flash to music on the radio. You cannot get a CD player in a MINI. There are all kinds of docks, so I have to get into the 21st century if I want to play music. It has AM-FM and XM radio. The headlamps do not come on automatically at night. GM cars have had this feature standard for almost 30 years. The wipers are rain-sensing if set to do so. There are no ignition keys. Just a toggle switch to start the engine. (Like dad's old '41 Chevy truck was.) There is no engine dipstick, no transmission dipstick, the battery is hidden under in a cubby in the firewall. Prompts tells you your average speed, average fuel economy, oil level, coolant level, coolant temp, electrical system voltage, miles to empty, when you start the engine. You have to flip the toggle twice to shut the thing down. Once to kill the engine, once more to stop the accessories. The little "Mini light" on the dash and a couple other lights stay on and do their thing for about three minutes after you shut the car down, lock the doors and exit the area. If you shut the car off without the second toggle, it shuts down automatically after three minutes. The cooling fan and oil pump run for as many as three minutes after the engine stops to cool the turbocharger. There is a gong and a lady talking in the radio to tell you if you left a door ajar, if your seatbelt is not fastened or if you leave the headlamps on after locking the doors. Lots of features are programmable utilizing the "Mini Connectivity" feature. I would never have ordered a car with all this technical junk on it and I won't use that stuff. Thankfully, there is no "Ultimate Mini" package with backup camera, windshield displays and other technical junk that I'm not smart enough to use. It says "Hi, Welcome to MINI" when you start the engine. If you roll the window down, you can hear the turbocharger whistling in the exhaust. The exhaust is tuned to not only sound rather cool, but is quiet enough to not sound like a "tuner." There is no engine visible under the hood. Just a black plastic cover that says "Mini Twin Power Turbo." I have no idea if there are squirrels in a cage or just what powers this little thing. Supposedly a 189 horsepower 2.0 liter, 122 cid turbocharged, intercooled, direct injected four banger. The BMW salesman told me the engine holds 8 quarts of oil. I have no idea, but that sounds like a lot. I have no idea where all that oil would be stored. They want you to change the oil once a year or every 10,000 miles, using Mini fluids (Mobil 1) only. The car has Pirelli P205-45ZR17 run flats on it. It can go 50 miles at 50 mph on flat tires. This I gotta see. (This would make a good car for a police chase when they set out the spike strips!). I would not have ordered those on a new car either. There is a switch on the center console for "Green, normal and sport." The green setting shuts the engine off when you stop at a light. I hate this feature. It also shifts the transmission sooner. The normal mode does not shut the engine down except when the engine idles in gear for three minutes or longer. The sport mode lengthens shift points, changes the waste gate settings, fuel delivery settings. It is known as the "Oh my God" mode in Mini-speak. If you switch the traction control to "off" you can get scratch when you take off in sport mode, pretty easily, actually. Rolling Eyes

I had decided to forget finding a new car and just drive what I had. There are lots of good arguments for that. The frau wanted something newer. She likes my old stuff, but appreciates newer stuff too. We are not getting any younger and we can't take "it" with us. We are working so that death and bankruptcy happen on the same day. The frau is afraid of the MINI so far. She will probably cabbage onto it, since it is for sure cute. Ugly, but cute. We are looking forward to our bit of "Farfigneugen". Time will tell how smart this decision was. If the thing is a pain in the butt to keep running, it won't be ours long. If it is reliable and behaves itself, it will be a blast to drive. This thing just fell into our laps, so maybe it was meant to be. Wish me well.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:50 pm

I realize this is not "Car and Driver".  At least one member has asked about my MINI, so I would like to add this.



I have owned this car for a little over a week.  I like it.  I like the driving position.  I like the seats.  I like how it rides.  I like the power it has.  I like the gas mileage, averaging a tad over 30mpg on the first tank of gas.  I like the build quality.  I like the LED lighting.  I like the little MINI features, like the "Be MINI" on the display when I turn off the engine.  The lighted door handles.  That silly little MINI light in the middle of the dash that turns colors depending on what function it is turned to.  

I do not like that it requires premium gas.  I do not like the ambiguity of the maintenance schedule.  Nowhere does it say how much oil the engine holds, how to check the power steering fluid, what type of coolant it needs.  This information is top secret, between the key fob and the MINI service team.  Horse feathers!  I don't like that I am dependent more on electronic monitoring than I feel comfortable with.  Every other BMW and MINI owner are in the same boat, for what that is worth.  The wife's son has a Mercedes that he has trashed on for over ten years with electronic monitoring and it is still running with over 300,000 hard, abused, non-maintained miles on it.  My plan is to play the "MINI game" until the warranty expires, then develop and follow a maintenance schedule to my liking, since it will be on my dime.  I'm still not convinced that there will be a huge bill at 30,000 miles for "intake system de-coking."  That situation occurs when people run cheap gas in them, mostly on the Peugeot-Citroen engines in the older models.  I know personally of a 2014 with over 60,000 miles on it and no such service was required.  So we'll have to wait and see.

I like the car now, but I will save determining how SATISFIED I am until about 50,000 miles.  Driving maybe 5,000 miles per year, that will be awhile.  I can live with the yearly free oil change, since that makes the interval about 5,000 miles or so.  The powertrain warranty is 4 years/50,000 miles.  I will have about 20,000 on it by the time it is four years old.  My old transmission guy can service the transmission, so I can take it to him after the warranty expires and take care of that.  That will give me peace of mind if nothing else.  The owner's manual says zipkus about the transmission.  I have been told it is an Aisin, much on the order of the transaxle used in a Toyota Camry.  I do know that BMW took so much grief over the French-built CVT transmission used in the older models that they wanted a more dependable unit for the redesigned 2014 models.  BMW does not have front-drive architecture, so they borrowed the Aisin transaxle for MINI use.  The 2.0 litre turbocharged four in my MINI is the same basic engine found in the BMW 3 series, only with twin turbos in BMW service.  The MINI has a Nippondenso starter and alternator.  So we have a British car, German-built, with a Japanese electrical system and Italian tires.  



The "trunk" is a little cubby behind the rear seat.  I have a windshield shade and my "MINI kit" there and that is it.  Under the shelf is a small took kit.  A jack and lug wrench.  No spare tire, of course.  There is a sticker giving the number for "MINI Roadside" in case you have a lockout, dead battery, run out of gas, or have a flat that the run-flat tires cannot deal with.  The rear seat is cute, but that is about it.  I would not ask a friend to ride in the rear seat unless it was a matter of life and death.  A little kid or a small dog would be about it.  The rear seat folds down nearly flat.  We have a bed there for our overweight 104 pound golden retriever to ride in.  There is not enough room for her to turn around.  She has to walk straight in, lay down, get up and back out.  Fortunately, she has a sense of humor.  

There is more leg and headroom in the front seats of our MINI than there is in the Tahoe.  The seats are great, with nearly infinite adjustment.  Up, down, front, back, and it has bolsters on the front edge of the seat that can be extended to support your legs better.  The gong for the seat belts will never shut up if you do not fasten your "safety belt."  That is annoying.  The upside is that I now wear my "safety belt" religiously.  That system cannot be defeated.  There are allegedly eight air bags in that little car.  Where, I have no idea.  The stereo speakers, all six, are not that great.  But again, how big of speakers can be installed in an itty-bitty car.  I have seen more catalytic converters and rear differential housings in the past week than I have seen since I quit wrenching on cars.  I have to keep in mind that every other vehicle on the road, save a Fiat 500, another Mini, a Smart for two, or a scooter is bigger than my MINI.  I give the other driver the benefit of the doubt.  When in doubt, I stop and let them go ahead.  I do not need a "mashed MINI."  







[
This little car is all engine, tires and brakes.  It goes like a turpentined dog when you get on it, even a little bit.  It stops and turns on a dime.  It is a blast to drive.  If you live in an area with good roads, no snow, a MINI might be a consideration.  If you have a family, are robust in construction, live on a gravel road or experience lots of nasty weather, a MINI might not be a good choice.  You need to be a stickler on maintenance as well.  If deferred maintenance ever gets the upper hand, you are pretty much screwed.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by willy3486 on Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:53 am

Years ago I worked with a fellow who was born in England. This was about the time these had just been reintroduced to the USA again. He had to go back to England as required by US law. When he came back he had driven one of these over there. He and I both were around 6ft 2 inches. He said they were really nice and roomy. He said he might even consider one. Recently I had thought about one of these when that piece of junk neon I had died. I thought about it and my wife has bad knees so I thought that was out of the question. I settled for a Honda CRV. It has great room and can haul a decent load. It gets roughly 28 mpg for me and I can live with that. If I made the cash I would get something like a cooper just for a going to work car. But I am tired of all the upkeep on a fleet of cars and I don't bring enough home to get that many autos either. Congrats on the Mini.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:51 pm

My wife has a knee replacement and a horribly bad back. This car is more comfortable for her to ride in than most anything else. She likes the seats in our Tahoe, but these seats are actually better. We cover the leather in the MINI, since I hate to clean leather and I can be sloppy. The seats have black piping and stitching and the sewing is arrow straight. You can swim in the front seat, but you would have to be in love and really young to mess with the rear seat. I had to fold the front seat forward to put a half gallon of milk on the floor of the rear seat. You can move the front seats almost against the rear seat. Gravel roads would be a killer for this car. I can just imagine all the brake issues with the huge exposed rotors.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by Greg Davis on Mon Nov 09, 2015 1:52 pm

I did something similar. Before leaving WA I sold my '87 MR2. When I got to Houston I decided I needed another "toy car". After looking around for a couple of months I bought a 2002 Audi TT in amazingly good condition. Fun to drive, and all the luxury appointments my wife appreciates (heated seats, electric locks, electric mirrors, cruise control, Bose sound system, and so on).

Congrats on your new toy. May it bring you years of pleasure.
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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:24 pm

I have a friend who had a TT. He loved his. The MINI does not have heated seats. All the other stuff it has. The heated seat option in AZ may not be a big seller. Thanks for the kind words.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by 75X11 on Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:00 pm

Congratulations and the best of luck with it!
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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:56 pm

Thanks, 75.  The MINI is entered in its first car show on Saturday.  We are gonna park it right beside the Buick.  One of the guys in our car club has a Model A Ford and a go-fast Mustang of some kind, maybe a 2014 or 2015.  He shows them together, so we decided to see what happens.  The show supports a good cause, and is sponsored by our local Sheriff's Association.  They give you a window sticker for your car that states you support the local sheriff.  You never know.....

My car does not have a CD player. MY understanding is that CD players were included on the options list, but were not actually available for the 2014 and newer MINI's. There is a USB port and some other connection for music. I took "Thumb Drive 101" the other day. Apparently, they make 6GB thumb drives costing just a few dollars. How I manage that, I have no idea. I guess "Managing your Thumb Drive 101" will be next. Why do we have to mess with progress? I only abandoned cassette tape a few years ago in favor of CD. Now they do away with that.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by 75X11 on Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:48 pm

If you can make a folder with album cuts , all you have to do is save it to your thumb drive instead of your computers' hard drive. You can also transfer what you have to it from your files. Try it by transferring a CD over to the thumb drive.
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Re: I finally did it

Post by jerryhawthorne on Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:16 pm

Greg, see I remembered, so glad you jumped into a MINI! That car has to be a total blast to drive. I am surprised not by the premium gas requirement (turbo and no doubt a resulting compression ratio), but surprised on the low MPG for a car so light with a 2.0L engine. Do doubt you stick you foot into it a lot. I may have to go drive one or drive up to Sedona when we are there and let my drive your! I will fill up the tank.
Best, Jerry

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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:10 pm

You could come down here to the desert and we could go for a spin.  I was told not to test drive one if I did not want to buy one.  Good advice that I will pass on.  30+ mpg for a GM big block guy is pretty good.  I have seen 49 mpg on the computer and I have little doubt that I could get 40+ on the road.  My old Pontiac with 180,000 miles on it gets 36 plus, and it is a tank compared to the MINI.  The 2.0 in the MINI has a 9.6 to 1 compression ratio.  The book says that premium fuel is "recommended" but that 89 can be used "under conditions where maximum performance is not expected."  Pre-ignition and deposits are more of a concern that the compression ratio.  Most BMW/Mercedes/VW-Audis use premium fuel.  It costs 40 cents a gallon more than regular.  That is a cost of doing business.  It still costs me less than ten dollars a week for gas.

The base MINI has a three cylinder version of this same engine.  It is turbocharged and is quite adequate as far as power goes.  The "S" has more power, but it also includes nicer interior, exterior trim and nicer wheels as standard.  If you bought the base model equipped like a standard "S" you would have more invested that just buying an "S".  Mine has a center arm rest, LED lights, run-flat tires, spoiler, automatic transmission and metallic black paint as the only options.  It listed for a tad over $30 grand new.  I still have the original "MINI invoice" off the windshield.

I initially thought a bunch of the electronic junk on this car was optional equipment. It appears to be part of it as standard. One can personalize the way the remote control works, one can program the "welcome lamps" if he wants to. What are welcome lamps, you ask? Dome lights. And the headlamps are automatic. Yeah, you can program that, too. Mine are now automatic.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by Dr. Radio on Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:53 pm

I know you will treat it well, and I can hope it treats you well WC. I'm happy for you.

Does it have blue tooth connectivity?

Just remember though Smile in 30 years there might not be compatible fuel, but the Buick will still be running, while that Mini will fit in a person's hand and will say PEPSI on the side... Very Happy
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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:07 pm

I think it has Bluetooth compatibility. There is a "phone" input in the menu. There is a connection on the console that, I think, is for that.

I remember my grandfather in 1963 when we got that Buick. He said his old '37 would still be running long after the new '63 had been put in a demolition derby. He was wrong. I adopt stuff for life. I keep something around just because, especially if it has given me good service. I will still have the MINI when they bury me, unless somebody runs over it in the meantime. Thanks, Doc.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by jerryhawthorne on Tue Nov 10, 2015 1:25 am

Sorry WC, I thought somewhere you said 28 MPG. My bad and old age I guess. Even our VW polluter has all kind of programing for the interior lights that I have yet to explore. The bad is that they don't have an option (that I have figured out) to turn the headlights on at dusk and off when you stop. How cheap is that?
Enjoy the German drive.
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Re: I finally did it

Post by Doug Burskey on Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:58 am

Someone around here has a vintage British Leyland Mini. Lime green-yellow and left hand drive. From what I read there was 2 versions, Mini only and a Mini Cooper this one is a regular Mini. I don't think BL sold very many of them in North America.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:01 pm

I have never seen up close a real British Mini. Only pictures, unfortunately. The one I have has little resemblance to the original. It is lots bigger, for one. Jerry, the Mini has a position on the switch (all the way to the left) where the headlamps are automatic. I don't know if VW is like that or not.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:26 pm

MINI/BMW does not know, (or won't tell me) what kind of transmission is in my MINI. That answer has never set well with me. I NEED TO KNOW!. So, thanks to modern electronic technology, I know a hell of a lot more than I did.

My 2014 MINI is equipped with an Aisin F-21 six speed automatic transaxle. Aisin surpassed GM as the largest builder of automatic transmissions in the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Aisin_transmissions

I was told that my MINI has a transmission much like a Toyota Camry. This fact is somewhat true. Toyota owns Aisin. Actually, my transmission will be closer to that used in VW's. Apparently, it is a fully serviceable, dependable automatic transmission. IT is rebuildable, and it is not necessary to be held hostage by BMW and it vague maintenance schedules and ridiculous replacement costs. The F21 Aisin uses T-IV spec transmission fluid, which, as I understand, is a synthetic transmission fluid listed for extended service or long life. BMW/MINI does not recommend transmission fluid be changed "for the life of the transmission." The "life" of the transmission can be extended by servicing the unit and changing the oil and filter. This transaxle holds approximately 6 liters of fluid. The fluid level must be checked at temperatures between 35 and 45 degrees Celcius. There is a rather convoluted level check procedure, but it is no worse than any other transmission once you get familiar with it. Service intervals of between 30,000 and 60,000 miles are generally recommended, depending on driving conditions. 25,000 miles sounds even better. There is no reason to suspect any shorter life from this transmission than the ones I am familiar with if it is serviced regularly and properly. I still do not have one question answered. Will the warranty be voided if I service the transmission before 50,000 miles?

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Re: I finally did it

Post by jerryhawthorne on Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:26 am

I suspect your in good shape with that transmission. The VWs, many used a dual clutch transmission known as a DSG. A six speed with no torque converter. Like most German engineering complex and expensive to service. Certainly shifts great and very fast, service suggested every 40K and expensive for the filter and oil change. Don't even think about doing it yourself with out purchasing a "kit" that includes a fill adaptor that goes in the drain plug after the transmission is drained. You pump the new juice up and into the adaptor and when it reaches the proper level, it flows out around the adaptor if that makes sense? Replaceing the filter for the transmission is not quite as bad, remove the battery and a lot of air lines from the top of the engine.
Jerry

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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:50 pm

It does shift fast and surprisingly firmly. Like a Turbo-Hydramatic 400 with a shift kit in it. If you run the transmission in Drive, it will be in sixth gear by 40 mph. If you run it in Sport Mode, it locks out sixth gear until about 60 mph. The engine runs about 500 rpm higher when it shifts. Surprisingly also, my MINI gets two MPG better fuel economy in Sport rather than Normal. I also like the feature of when the transmission is in Sport, and you touch the brakes, the transmission downshifts and holds the car back. That sure seems easier on the brakes. The Aisin transmission reminds me of the old Dual-Range Hydramatics in GM cars of the 1950's.


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Re: I finally did it

Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:05 am

Apparently, the T-IV spec trans fluid is pretty expensive. I got some quoted at $12 a quart/liter. If you need six, that would be $72 alone for fluid. So a couple hundred dollar bill for a good service is not unreasonable. The DSG dual clutch automatic is serviced and filled very similar to the Aisin. You need to check the fluid at a certain temperature and let it run out until it just drips. You have to have a scan tool to do it properly, so that lets most DIY'ers out of the equation.

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Re: I finally did it

Post by jerryhawthorne on Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:17 am

WC, the DSG in the sport mode doesn't shift until getting close to the redline.  A little to "sporty" for me!  In drive, much like you indicated, a touch on the brakes and it down shifts and holds to slow you down well.  Another touch and down again.  Brakes should last forever!
At 65 mph it turns over at about 2000 rpm in 6th on the freeway (CA) about 2200rpm at 75 (AZ).
Jerry

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Re: I finally did it

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