Thursday, 6 August 2015

Running gear now on track, not rails... yet

Following the visit to Bowker MINI and the laundry list of complaints about my newly-purchased MINI, I was quickly building a comprehensive list of jobs that needed to be done and slowly working through it. So far I had managed to address the dangerous shock mounting bush, and had a wheel bearing replaced. 

Whilst getting the bearing and suspension mounting fixed the mechanics had a look over the front end running gear and checked the bushes for play in many of the components. One wishbone was found with a bit of play in it... which after being replaced they said to me would have been OK for a little while. But anyway, prior to that nugget of information I was under the impression the passenger wishbone bush needed replacing. The car had been pulling to one side a fair bit too, and when dipping into potholes the car would veer left, so I thought this could be the reason for this also.

A few enquiries found that you can buy the wishbone bush separately, but it's such a pain in the arse to fit that it is easier and more economical (labour rates) to buy a whole wishbone replacement part. So again, some ringing around at the usual suspects for parts and another trip to BBC.

Prices this time weren't so bad - around £20 each, plus fitting, but the actual fitting job isn't so easy. Again, I went back to my cheap friends at Tyre Bay in Nelson, who struggled over two days to get the jobs done. 

Apparently the bush had become stuck on the pivot point and lack of access made it difficult to remove the passenger side wishbone. Even with the blowtorch and a handful of big bars it took so much time that I had to return the next day.

Upon my return the next day the lads had been successful in removing the wishbone and trashed the bush in the process. Fortunately, fitting the new item was a lot easier and once they had finished I was very gracious and headed home.

Indeed the knocking from the bearing had gone and the pulling to one side had been severely reduced. So I carried on as normal, but then started to notice another, different, knocking noise and I could hear a lot more engine/road noise than I had before.  Hmph... how frustrating and puzzling.

With this and the ABS sensor thing the last time I used them, I was questioning my wisdom in using them. However, with any complaint, you should always go back to the source of the problem in the first instance, so I went back and spoke to the bossman, who agreed to check out my problems.

As soon as we'd put the MINI up on the ramp I could see that the stabilizer link bars were not attached! Clearly this is a result of the last mechanic not reattaching them properly - although there was some denial of this.

Regardless of this looking at the link bars, they were knackered. One thread and bolt had snapped off and the other was loose and about to lose its nut. Speaking to the owner of the garage he agrees to fit the new link bars free of charge.

Great - another trip to BBC - my favourite place at the moment it seems. So prices, for the link bar were about £8-11 each but when ordered they told me they had some Heavy Duty items for just a few pounds more, so I opted for them at £11.79+VAT each.

Back at the garage and about half an hour later the new link stabilizer bars were on and secure - and yes - the newly discovered knocking noise had gone again. The car was now driving a lot better, in a relatively straight line, but still not perfect - like it's 'on rails' like it should be. However next time I think I might look for a different garage to use.


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