Cry Once, Cry Hard

Quote courtesy of Mr. Benham.

It’s not very often that a car needs tires and brakes at the same time. In all of my years of driving, I’m 100% sure this is the first time it has ever happened to me. While I didn’t really need tires, as it turns out, I did. Front brakes only this time instead of the full round to save a few bucks. Rears are ok and can be done later.

Due to weather and other circumstances, I went ahead and let Jerry do the front brakes. Usually I would have done this myself, because it is a fairly easy job. I’m now reminded of the other reason I do it myself; to save money. It’s a good thing I had it in the shop for that, as something else happened this week that needed to be repaired.

Because you guys always want to know, the tires are Yokohama YK740 GTX. 60K mile warranty and so far, even with the candy coating still on them, they work really well in wet and dry, have a good ride and are quiet. After a few hundred miles are on them, I’ll try to find a stretch of twisties to try them out on.

Brakes are stock this time around. I’ve been hearing bad things about EBCs that have been recently produced so, to keep things simple and because #notracecar, I stuck to stock.

Fuel pump is stock too. Oh, wait, right, I didn’t tell you about that. I filled up on Monday and had the smell of fuel for a few days. I mentioned it to Jerry and he dropped the tank and pulled the fuel pump. The car didn’t think there was a leak, but there was one. Smaller than a pin hole. New one was sourced and installed the same day. This was warranty work and I’m glad for that. I replaced the low pressure fuel pump in Roxy if you recall. It was some time ago, but I remember the part cost about $200 from the dealer and the installation was pretty straightforward if you had 3 hands. That part for my car has doubled in price and with labor it was over $700 to fix.

Jesus. When did cars get so expensive?

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.