Anxiety, Part I

As you might have heard during the latest episode of White Roof Radio, I’m really having some anxiety over owning a MINI. I’ve been driving these cars since 2003 and never have I had these feelings toward any of the MINIs I have ever driven. I’m sure a good part of that anxiety is caused by this damned nanny screen.

Every little thing that goes wrong with this car causes all manner of error messages, lights and sirens. Every. Time. I start the car. Not helped by the fact that I really don’t like MINI Connected and never use it, but that’s a topic for another day.

Another reason for the anxiety started with my most recent break-down. This is the first time a MINI has left me stranded on the side of the road during the summer with 115 degree temps. And, I was exposed to these delightful temps for the better part of 5 hours. This is something that I really do not want to happen again.

The issues I have, besides the nanny screen this car has, is the fact that this is a 2013 MINI Cooper with 80,093 (as of 8/20/2018) miles on the odometer. We all know that I have officially entered the danger zone for this make and model of car. While I have an extended warranty that will remove the sting of a major repair like something going wrong with the top, or the inevitable turbo failure, there still exists that possibility that this could happen and leave me stranded in hot weather, in the middle of the Sonoran desert or both. That is something that is truly making me crazy.

What’s the fix? Getting into something newer would do it, but as I’m stuck with Hank for another year or two, I have some time to plan. Which brings me to the other point I made on the show; I think it’s time to leave the MINI brand.

That last part hurts and it hurts a lot. And this will be a topic for ongoing discussion I am sure. The short version is that I can no longer afford to buy a new MINI and can no longer afford to support care and feeding of a late model MINI. And, I really don’t have the time for all of the care and feeding the older cars require.

I’m looking for a replacement for Roxy. I want a car that I can put 300K miles on, drive for 10 years and only have to worry about wear and tear items. I no longer want a car where trim pieces come off in the car wash. Where mirrors fall off. Where interior bits fall off. Where very expensive mechanical failures are not the exception, but the norm. I love the car and I love the brand, but neither of those things love me back. To that end, I am pretty sure it’s time to move on.

Change my mind. Comments are open below. Comments on Facebook will be ignored (it’s a new thing I’m going to be posting about on the nerd blog later this week.)

I was waiting for this to happen

Let’s all be honest. I own a 2013 MINI Cooper with a turbo. Definitely not the pinnacle of vehicular reliability. After owning the roadster for a little more than a year, I finally got to be stranded on the side of the road due to something that had stopped working so bad he wouldn’t even run enough to get off the freeway.

Now that I am part of this club, are there hats?

Luckily, it wasn’t anything too major. Turns out, the fuel filter housing was cracked and caused all of the fuel remaining in the tank to not be available to the engine, rendering me, essentially, out of gas. Of course, I feared the worst; turbo failure. Because 2013 R59. I am glad to not be part of that club right now.

Otherwise, besides coming up on needing brakes and tires soon-ish, and not being able to drive with the top down because I’m a sissy and can’t handle that when the temps are over 110, this has been a blast to drive!

10K Mile Update

Been almost a year. It has been about 10,000 miles. An oil change and tire repair. 450 hours on the Openometer. Some quick thoughts about my extended time with Hank.

The Automatic Transmission

I am so conflicted by this, still and daily. While my daily commute is made slightly easier by the automatic transmission, and my feet are much happier, it’s truly horrible for my daily commute. The throttle response is nightmarishly slow. Turning on sport mode goes the wrong way, and makes the car too twitchy. Next time, get the manual. Or don’t drive in traffic every day.

Carrying Things

So far, as expected, I have had no issues carrying anything that I need to carry. The weekly shop? No sweat. Costco? Done. Sure, I can’t haul a Christmas Tree on the roof or carry any small furnishings from Ikea, but for normal use, it’s completely useable.

Carrying Bikes

Sure, daily stuff works great. Carrying bikes has been a challenge, but I’ve got it figured out. What I need to do is get the MNIDoMore trailer system and bike rack, but installed that is going to cost more than I paid for my bike. I’ll keep using the janky-ass Amazon rack for the time being. I might have issus with the tandem, but that is going to be an experiment for another time.

First Dealer Visit

This is planned for the next week to have a new battery installed and have the Navigation activated. Can’t say I’m pleased that I need to have a dealer install the battery or I have to own some Snap-On tool to reset things. I know it’s the future and all that, but there are certain repairs that I can and enjoying on cars. This that I am actually able to accomplish due to tool requirements keeps getting shorter and I think it sucks.

Driving around town and running errands, this car is great. Road trips have been fun as well. If there was a way to improve the throttle response, that would make owning this MINI, or any R5X MINI with the automatic, so much better. That is the biggest downfall of this car and it really sours the experience. But I started with a normally aspirated R50 with a manual. Roxy didn’t know how to spell throttle response.

Going to try to make some events this year. I’m hoping to get to San Diego for Southwest MINI Fest. I know that drive in Hank already and it’s fun! San Diego County is made for drop-tops! And, plans are in the works to try to make a good chunk of the Eastern side of #mtts2018. I’m doing my best gang, but no guarantees.

Thoughts About the Automatic Transmission

I've spent about 3 months with the Roadster (R59) now. Still can't stop thinking what a great car this is. I'm really enjoying it for commuting duties, running around town and even on the twisties. Just about the only thing that I am still slowing coming to grips with is the automatic transmission. While I am digging it, I find myself yearning for a clutch and 6 proper gears when I'm not stuck in my hellish commute. That said, I'm still finding my way around the transmission, mostly thanks to tips from you guys! Here are some of the things that I have noticed.

It's like 3 transmissions in 1

When I'm stuck in my commute, it's almost like a CVT. I can barely feel it shift, up or down. This might be me drifting off after work or mentally preparing for my day, but I'm not feeling it shift. In sport mode (lever to the left), it's like a proper transmission, complete with surges, shifts (up and down), but without having to use the clutch. In Manual mode (left left and shifting) it's um, different. While not the same as actually shifting, it does seem to really hold the gear until a shift is performed (or red line is reached). When it shifts, they feel like I did it with a manual transmission.


I'm used to down shifting into 2nd, releasing the clutch at the start of a turn so that I can power through the turn, even at slow speeds. This transmission doesn't do that unless you in manual mode, and even then, not really. The amount of delay in moving from the time the throttle is pressed until the transmission engages is something that I am still getting used to.


As I mentioned above, the amount of delay in moving is weird. Right foot down, count to 2 and then go. I'm not sure I will ever get used to this.


I've had the chance to drive the R59 in JCW trim, and in normal S trim, both with manual transmissions. In mine, I can get the yummy popping and cool exhaust sounds only when the sport button is pressed and the lever is moved left. In the manual cars, I remember is always being there. See my first point about it's almost like a CVT.

Overdrive has Overdrive

In manual mode, with or without the sport button pressed, I can be in 6th on the freeway and move the lever right. When I do that, it appears to drop into an even higher gear. I know it's not, just some software trickery, but it feels almost like going into overdrive. RPMs drop and everything.

I'm not complaining at all. I purposely looked for a car that had an automatic transmission (it was the 2nd check box after HK) because of my commute and the fact that Phoenix doesn't know how to run proper signals (they are all always red). Having an automatic has improved my daily driving but I'm still left wanting to have a clutch again, if only for 20 minutes per week.

This is ‘The Other Post’

Tracking back for the last few months and I see that I have taken to saying “but that is a topic for another post” quite a bit. Without further adieu, here is the other post

In talking about the Kia Forte, I said…

To be fair, my MINI is a cheap car. Come on, it’s an R56. Premium skipped this version, but that’s for another post.

And, in talking about the value of MINI, I said…

And since I don’t really like this car anyway (a story for another time)

This is the part where I bash on the first generation R56. If I can take a minute and be really honest, Bruce was a piece of shit. Roxy, with 305,000 miles on her when I traded her in, was a better car in so many ways. And I don’t mean in ways that are sentimental. The R50/R53 (even the earlier versions) was a better built car. It was more mechanically sound. It had a quality feel about it.

The first gen R56 that I had in Bruce did not have any of these things. Sure, he was a runner, but quality? Not so much. Weird stuff too like the drivers side sun visor. One day, it just fell off. The boot latch switch was completely rotted out. The body kit parts fell off easily and I lost both outside rear view mirrors. Sure, my R50 had it’s share of issues, but it was from things that actually broke, not from shit just falling off the car.

I have to say that with the R59 (the Roadster), build quality is what I expect from a car made by MINI. It is solid. It drives well. It has a good feel to it. This is the car I was expecting when I got Bruce.

Another that has come up more than once is the following:

It has an automatic (another story for another time)

For those of you that are playing the home game, you already know that I fought the battle diabetes and won (or am currently winning). With that come a particular set of issues that I am finding easier to deal with while having an automatic transmission.

Not only that, but I am finding myself less frustrated during my ridiculous commute. I am finding myself, once again, enjoying the journey. I am finding myself, once again, looking forward to spending time in my car. It might be the top, it might be the higher quality stereo, it might be the transmission. Whatever it is, the automatic plays a huge part and it’s helping to keep my feet from wishing they were cut off from my ankles.

Serously, wtf is up with your site lately

This is going to end up being a series of posts over at the other blog, but for now let me just tell you that I have sourced a new server for all of my sites (there are quite a few) and they all of been moved to that new server. I’m still trying to wrap my head, fully, around the cluster that became at the end so it will probably be another week or 2 until i get the words to to screen.

Now that I have gotten everything caught up and gotten you up-to-date, that keeps the plate clear for a more complete write-up of the Roadster. But, that’s going to have to be for another post.