However, whilst randomly airing some views and pictures on Facebook, fellow MINI owner Jimmy Hedivan informed me of MINI's 12-year paint guarantee. Interesting, if true, I thought, and certainly worth enquiring about.
So I contacted our friends over at Bowker MINI in Blackburn. Speaking directly with the Service Manager, Stewart Rose, he indeed confirmed that all MINIs have a 12-year paint guarantee and as Charlie was built in 2004, he qualified to be inspected. Great!
The car was booked in and Stewart, in his smart suit, greeted me and took me into the workshop to explain the process. He said that they would check the depth of the paint on the car to see if it had been repainted. This was because the MINI Paint Guarantee only covers the original factory paintwork. Because MINI uses robots to spray each car to a specific density the depth of paint is almost impossible to replicate outside of the factory by human hand.
Stewart tested around the areas of the panel where rust had developed for silicon splats and using a paint depth guage (a magnet) he checked the paint depth to see if the panel had been repainted. A measurement of over 40um would indicate this.
On Charlie, he had originally been fitted with twin stripes centrally from front to back, but when I bought him only the roof stripes remained. On the boot, above the registration plate, where one area of rust had appeared, it was obvious it was previously beneath the stripes. I suggested that perhaps the stripes had trapped some moisture beneath when being fitted. However, there was no excuse for the second area of bubbling rust around the rear light cluster.
Once Stewart had finished his 30 minute inspection, it was clear to both of us that the car had not been repainted and that, in theory, it should qualify for the free rust repairs. He said he would have to send the paperwork and test results to HQ and wait for them to come back to him. Then he sent the car for a courtesy wash and valet too!
A few weeks later I received a phone call from the local MINI-approved bodyshop to book Charlie in. They said it would take four days - which I thought was pretty quick, but then again, I suppose they have to be efficient.
The local bodyshop was actually in my town, so not far to travel, and I was offered a courtesy car - initally something horrid, so I pressured them into giving me a MINI, and was served up with a 2015 MINI Countryman One, with little over 2000 miles on the clock.
To cut a long story short, the 4-day job took around four weeks to do, after MINI had apparently wanted to double-check something or not sent the new panels to the bodyshop because of paperwork or something like that. Either way, in the end they got the job done and I got to knock around in a wobbly Countryman One with buggar all power for a month. Still, the MPG was amazing!! and the kids loved it.
Finally the day came to pick up a rust-free Charlie and get some power back under my lead foot once again. What can I say? He looked amazing. Perfect new panels and paintwork and they had even fixed a few little bits of trim that were loose. Top work, I couldn't have been happier.
When I initially dropped Charlie off for repairs, I cheekily pointed out to the guy taking it that there was a little dink and paint loss on the edge of the driver's door. I think had been done against the side of my house (where I park) by either me or the kids. I asked if, whilst they were there, they could fix that little bit too pretty please. By the time I got Charlie back I'd forgotten I'd asked. However, once I went to get in I could see how different it looked. It wasn't perfect but it was a big improvement and I just gave the guy a big smile and the big thank you.
That was it. A bit of a wait, but there were no major hurdles, just checking the car to see if it had been repainted. I've heard horror stories since I had Charlie done of people saying MINI wouldn't repair their paint because they didn't have a full service history, or that they weren't the original owner... well, this is my story, and I believe that if you make a guarantee you should stick by it. It makes no difference who services it or who owns it... it's not going to affect whether there were impefections in the panels or paint application process is it?
Any problems, drop me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org