Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Getting to know you - the first 500 miles

As with any second-hand car, you're almost certainly taking some sort of gamble by owning 'used goods'. But then some may argue that the previous owners would have got all the niggles sorted and run the car in so that it's ready for the next owner's enjoyment.

As you know, my background is in classic Minis, so there was some learning to do. For the money I paid, I never expected the car to be top of the range and in tip-top condition, but what I really wanted was someone who knew what to look for, to take a good look at the MINI and tell me what would need fixing.

My first port of call was my local MINI dealership in Blackburn - Bowker MINI - as I thought no one would know MINIs better than MINI. They offer 'The Bowker MINI Inspection – Giving new pre-loved MINI owners peace of mind' for £25 and so I booked in.

In the meantime, the miles were clocking up and I noticed a couple of little issues - the first being the Tyre Pressure light - after googling the obscure symbol! This decided to come on intermittently, and I had made a few return trips to the petrol station to check the air pressure in the tyres. There did seem to be some slow air release through the front passenger tyre, but looking at the tyres they would probably need replacing soon anyway. What I didn't want to start doing is start spending willy-nilly on the car. I wanted it assessed first before buying bits.

One particular issue that really started to annoy me was the Rangefinder in the rev counter, telling you how many miles you have left. Great stuff I initially thought, but then I fill up the tank and drive home - which is about a mile away - and already the Rangefinder has knocked off at least five miles from my range...   so now I've decided to just look at it now and again to see how much fuel is roughly left and switched the gauge to show my mph. In my mind I was thinking that the car might not be as efficient as it could potentially be because I haven't had it checked out and fixed yet.

While I'm at it, I might as well mention the gears - all six of them. Ok so I haven't driven Bruce for over a year now, but even he, with his standard four gears would probably question the need for six gears in the Cooper S. As first I found myself driving as I would have done in a five-speed but I was finding I the gears and clutch were 'snapping' as I moved up a gear, and over time I've trained myself to judge the car's speed better and regularly skip gears now... jumping from 2nd to 4th and 3rd to 5th. I'm not particularly happy about it, I guess it's the just the nature of the beast. I personally, don't see the need for an extra gear, although I haven't really done any long-distance motorway miles yet.

A helpful symbols guide - now on the love:mini site
Not long into my ownership and I was bewildered again by another dashboard light. This one was a bit more obvious than the tyre pressure light as it looked like an engine. What I love about classic Minis is, if anything goes wrong, you can generally have a go yourself at fixing it. In this MINI, if something goes wrong, you're up the creek without a paddle. Now I'm not so naive that I don't know what an ECU is or that mechanics plug in their diagnostic machine to read what the fault light/codes are. However I'm not a mechanic, nor do I have said diagnostic machine, but I knew any engine light isn't going to be a good thing. Even after a Google of the potential list of faults I was none the wiser.

So I can't exactly remember when the fault first occured, and no doubt many would say take it back to the seller, but it was obvious when it happened that the car was running on three cylinders and not four. A misfire for some reason. It doesn't sound nice, and is still not resolved permanently, but turning the car completely off and on again fixes it. 

I can tell you that it only happens when idle. Traffic lights are its favourite time to do it, and I can hear it, and sense when it's going to happen through the vibrations of the car. I sit and watch the empty display first show an engine light, then not long after for the engine light to start flashing. That's my cue to restart the engine. It's not ideal, but it's not catastrophic (yet) so until I can afford further investigation, it will remain.

Elsewhere there are a few cosmetic issues that will need addressing too, such as the wheel arches, which have a couple of broken clips; the aerial which is broken and missing; a couple of rust bubbles; and the heavily kerbed wheels and tyres which will need replacing.

Next time - diagnostic & results

No comments:

Post a Comment