Big MPG Test

Elwood: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Jake: Hit it.

Or something like that. More like I have a fresh set of tires, a new set of plugs and fresh oil in the crankcase. You get the idea.

Since the weather has been cooler and I haven’t need to use my A/C, Bruce’s MPG numbers have shown marked improvement, actually breaking into the 30’s (MPG) lately. Considering my daily drive is 23 miles each way and it usually takes me about 2 hours to round-trip, I’m ok with that.

The big test is this week. I’m heading out to spend the holiday with family, so I will be driving about 500 miles round trip. My thinking is that, with the fresh tune-up, oil and tires, I should be able to finally break into the high 30’s for MPG. I’ll be doing mostly highway driving with a little desert back roads thrown in for good measure.

Because I know you will ask, went back to the old standby of Kumho ASX. The boys gave me a bunch of great suggestions, but they were all out of my budget. For my needs, this is a great that has never steered (!) me wrong.

Next up, brakes! Pretty exciting to think about doing my first R56 brake job. I’m thinking sometime in December. Stay tuned!


What a Difference Air Makes

You might remember me complaining about poor MPG and performance on the drive to AMVIV earlier this year. Then, you might remember that I upgraded my air filter from factory to K&N (because K&N). I’ve been monitoring my MPG since and that small changes has been giving me about 2 mpg per tank during Phoenix heat and average speeds of less than 35MPH. 28 – 29 in those conditions isn’t too shabby.

This weekend I had the chance to drive to San Diego. The drive is mostly flat desert, with the cruise control set to 80MPH. There are 2 sets of mountains that need to be traveresed and I’m happy to report that Bruce was able to tackle them both without any issue. Sure, there were a couple of grades where I had to drop into 4th, but I was able to accelerate in 4th gear and maintain 75 – 80MPH over those hills.

Even pulled a respectable almost 36 MPH on the trip out. I doubt my return trip MPG will be as good since it is way more up hill going to Phoenix from the ocean, but I’m confident that number will be greater than 32.

The only down side to the trip was losing the front air diverter from the JCW body kit. I don’t think I hit anything, but passenger side came off on I-8. I stopped shortly after to check on it and sure enough it was gone and the driver’s side was about to fall off. I went ahead and removed it and will start looking for replacements. More on that later.

Every Little Bit

Last tank was +2 MPG after installing the K&N filter. Considering the average temps (105+), this is huge. Went from 27 MPG to 29. At this rate, the air filter will pay for itself before the end of the year.

It is the little things. Besides improved MPG, there is now a little bit of noise coming from under the hood and the engine has a little bit more to give. /me thinks it might be time for some mountain testing.


Making Better Air

Mod Log: 68,000.

The first “performance” mod on Bruce has been completed. I put performance in quotes because it wasn’t really a mod, more like an upgrade. Not knowing the history of the car, I have finally gotten around to replacing the air filter, but instead of OEM, I went with the K&N drop in filter (duh). Since I was doing filters, I went ahead and changed out the cabin filter.

I could tell that they filters had been changed recently. Guessing by appearance on the air filter, I would say approx 10K miles ago. It still looked ok, but was definitely over due to be replaced. The cabin filter looked much rougher, possibly not changed for years. It was pretty bad.

Amazing how well the A/C works now. Can’t tell if the K&N has made a difference yet or not, but I think it will, at least, help improve MPG.

Following up on the CEL, the decision has been made to change out the Vanos solenoid. I’ll have photos and more information as soon as that gets done.

Not for nothing, but I get more compliments on the overall appearance of this MINI than I did with Roxy. I mean, people would always say she looked nice, or looked amazing considering the amount of miles I had. But with Bruce, I get people telling me all the time that he looks bad ass or really cool. Part of that is the wheels, they are really sharp, even when dirty. The other part has to be the body kit. It really looks stunning.

Overall, short of a wet sand on the hood, I am very happy with the way he looks. Just need to get the performance sorted out.

Errors and Toys


As previously mentioned, Bruce has taken to showing me the CEL just like Roxy did. As you can see above, that is the error code I am currently getting. A search on the internet tells me this could be something simple like making sure the car has oil (it does) or something bad like OMGWTFBBQWEAREALLGONNADIE. I really <3 the internet.

I’m not a big fan of self-diagnosis and I am not a mechanic. I’ll get him in to have it checked out before too long. I’m keeping fingers crossed for sensors that have gone caput, but who knows.

You guys are probably wondering about the fancy screen shot above too. I’m sure you already thought “my code reader doesn’t look like that”. Being the nerd that I am, I am using a device called Automatic. Plugs into the ODB port and connects to my personal computing device via bluetooth. I’m currently testing the device with it’s default settings and full nanny mode. Configuration changes will be coming shortly.

I got this device because, not only does it read engine codes and tell me where I left my car and how far my last trip was and how much fuel I used on my last trip (you are getting the idea), it also ties in with the nerd machine, You can have it save CEL codes to your Evernote. Tag drives for business and save them to your Google Docs or DropBox. Have it turn on your Nest or Hue lights when you get home. All kinds of things.

I’ll have a full review coming in another week after I have spent some time with it. In the meantime, if you have any questions, the comments are open!