Monday, 11 December 2017

Winter MOT time... what's the damage?

So the wintery weather has come, causing a number of the MINI gremlins to venture out, Christmas has emptied our wallets and the dreaded MOT is upon us at possibly the worst time of year!

As I knew of a couple of faults, I thought I'd put it through the test anyway and see what fixes I needed to do. While the MINI was up on the ramp I had a little look over it - as you do - and saw one of the undersides has ripped, possibly been caught on my rugged driveway, so that looks a mess. Back to the test, and as it happens, there was nothing too drastic to worry about.

A couple of rear tyres and some bulbs out, which I knew about, but then also a track rod end and headlight re-alignment was required too.

I already had some tyres ready and a quick trip to the local autofactors saw me pick up the bulbs too. Once home a gave Mintech Spares, in Bury, a call to book in the track rod end change before cracking out the ratchet and spanners to change some bulbs.

The front bulb is easy enough, just reaching behind the bumper and unclicking the housing by rotating it anticlockwise. The bulb just slides out of its holder for an easy replacement. And yes I know the car looks a mess with all that tar on it - it does get cleaner later!

Replacing the rear bulb is easy enough too. This is not the first time I've had to do this either, despite buying some Heavy Duty bulbs - supposedly a thicker wire prevents them being damaged so easily.

To access the rear light cluster, open the boot and remove the relevant side panel. There should be a big bolt thread sticking out with a nut on it. Undo this, preferably with a ratchet spanner (else it can take a while), and then push the bolt thread out whilst holding the light cluster which should come free.

Remove the wiring connector by pressing the tab and pulling. You can then open the light cluster by pressing the two tabs and unclick the relevant bulb and replace it. Job done.

Later, I headed to Mintech Spares in Bury, where Dan, Neil and Martin had arranged to replace the dodgy track rod end.

I'd recently discovered they've got themselves a tyre changing machine too, so chucked my new tyres in the back with some new Mintex pads to try and kill a few birds with one stone.

After a friendly chat and brew, I went out to check on how our grumpy northern mechanic, Martin, was doing on the job. I jest. It's all in good fun!

Finding a decent replacement part from their massive array of stock wasn't hard and before long Martin had whipped the old part off and fitted a better one.

One job down, just the small task of changing the brake pads, a couple of tyres and swapping the wheels from front to back (best tyres at the front!).

The awesome guys at Mintex brakes have sent me some brand new pads to try out. I've pretty much always used Mintex brakes on my classic Mini, but as my MINI had new pads when I bought it a couple of years ago I haven't needed to change them yet. However, the brake pad light has come on and with the colder weather I have noticed more brake fade in recent weeks and just less confidence in the brakes - which is always a good sign to get them changed!

Looking at the remains of the pads, it seems there wasn't much life left in them anyway - so I'd say I got my money's worth out of them. You could say the same for the tyres.

These Hankooks were on test and I must say they didn't last as long as I was hoping, pushing around 16 months. Their replacements come from Dunlop - the Sport Maxx RT 2. They have straight tyre treads too which help their efficiency rating, but it made me question their potential traction in the wet and cold and longevity... only time will tell.

New rubber on and the wheels swapped, I remembered I had bought a wheel sensor that had been chewed up months ago. I pulled it out of the glovebox and handed it to Martin to plug it in. Another minor job fixed and hopefully ready to pass the MOT retest.

With the new Track Rod End and new tyres, I needed to get the tracking done again and wheels rebalanced. This also got done.

At the test centre, all went to plan - well almost. We spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure out how to realign the MINI's headlights (as I thought they were self-leveling - which they are, but that doesn't affect alignment). After some googling and a phonecall we found the headlight adjusters behind the front cluster and finally managed to sort my headlights so I'm not blinding other drivers. Lucky them!!

And.... we have a PASS. Great. All set for another year...  hold on, what's this..? Why is my window not working?  

Many thanks to 





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