We’ll start with the good stuff. Even though the bad stuff is what we all love to read. With MOT advisories for corroded springs and a ride that felt pretty harsh even given my expectation of a 2011 Mini, I had all four replaced at my local garage. Perhaps unnecessary right now (and £600 it would definitely be nice to still have), but there has been an improvement. Or I’m telling myself there has been, OYJ less prone to crash through every imperfection and more settled down a road. Of course, the big step up would surely be some fresh dampers, but that seems a bit much for the moment.
And anyway, on some roads near me that have recently been resurfaced, the Mini feels fantastic: sharp as a tack, fast, great to listen to plenty grippy enough as well. You’ll know when the traction control cut in - these systems really have moved on lightyears in the past decade or so - yet it’s always later than expected. Front tyres will be on the shopping list soon, as there’s a bit of a mismatch between locked down rear and a front with not quite so much purchase. A younger me would have just swapped the wheels around. But two axles with really decent rubber seems a more sensible option.
Final bit of good news before we get to the juicy stuff. The Anker Soundsync Bluetooth Receiver recommended last time around works a treat for playing podcasts and similar, making long journeys much more palatable. Setup is a cinch, too. For £25, it’s highly recommended for those cars that only have an aux socket.
And the bad stuff? Well, I’m getting used to warning lights, put it that way. Just like a proper old British classic. First was the engine one, which is always a good kick off. When the Mini was left overnight somewhere that wasn’t home, it would start in a limp mode with an amber dash warning, struggling along like it had 50hp. On both occasions, however, turning the car off and on again has resolved it, with seemingly no aftereffects. I’ve also been told the brake light isn’t working when it is, although the tyre pressure bong did pipe up at the right time. And at least I’ve learnt a lot about clearing them over the past few weeks. Mercifully, the dash is clear the moment - let’s hope it stays that way.
Broken air-con probably needs attention first. Obviously, it first started playing up in the hottest weather; with other cars around recently and my partner between jobs, the Mini hasn’t been used as much and I didn’t think much of the problem. But keeping cool is pretty essential, and it needs to be sorted. Hopefully it’s just a regas - time to share your Mini A/C horror stories now…
I don’t think these niggles and gremlins are the end of the world, because it rather comes with the territory of buying an older car. For the majority of the time, my little Cooper S functions exactly as it should and I enjoy it a great deal. I won’t say the faults add to its character, but they don’t detract from its appeal, either. Sadly my partner Alice is already a bit fed up of it, keen to get something newer, cushier and with an automatic to make her commute easier. And she would put some of the money up. And Clio 200 EDCs weren’t that bad, were they?
Only kidding, the Mini stays for now. I don’t think it’s a pup (famous last words and that), I think it just needs a couple of bits sorting to be back near its best. Like so many cars of this age. Speaking of which, by the time you read this the Mini will be going in for a clutch change - yikes. The bite had been getting really high, it was occasionally whiffy, and I’m sure the shift wasn’t quite as positive. It’s a big old job, so it would be daft to move on after this. I wasn’t comfortable selling it thinking work needed doing, and I’m not sure there’s any guarantee of buying something slightly newer and slightly lower mileage is any additional guarantee - assuming something could be found, that is. An expensive month ahead, then - had to happen at some point. Good job I like the car, so hopefully there’s more fun to report next time. Then the MOT…
Car: 2011 Mini Cooper S
Run by: Matt Bird
On fleet since: February 2023
Bought for: £6,400
Last month at a glance: The reality of fairly old, sort of cheap car hits home
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