Archive for the ‘mini’ Category

First Flat

This week, I had my first flat tire on the road since high school. After some investigating, it wasn’t actually the tire, but the valve stem, which had cracked and broken its seal from old age.

Sadly I was without spare tire or duct tape, but I managed to get back on the road thanks to my tire patch kit: I put some tire patches behind the stem to keep it from bending back into the position where it leaked, and doused it all with rubber cement. I avoided highways back home and swapped to my summer tires. Who need roadside assistance?

These were my trusty old 15″ Nokian Hakkapeliitta’s that have been on my MINI every winter since 2005! Long past their usefulness as a snow tire (and not needed much over this mild winter), I was running them into the ground anyway, and avoiding installing my bent and wobbly summer wheels.

In a few months I’m going to need to address the situation. Do I spend the money to get my original X-lites straightened (A set of white OZ’s would be cheaper)? Do I go with all-seasons instead of buying two sets? Run-flats? (No way!)


New Driving Lights


I always loved MINI’s little chrome rally lights, but like many others mine disintegrated into rust. I managed to find suitable and affordable replacements and installed them this weekend.


R53 MINI driving lights were an expensive dealer-added accessory that I felt really completed the look of the car. But they were real chrome, and could not stand up to daily driving and the salt in the winter. After seven years, mine had completely rusted through. The insides were completely visible from the back! Only one still worked. A replacement set still runs $450 and just turn to rust again so I started to look at other choices.


Almost all aftermarket lights are over six inches and to me just wouldn’t look right on the mini. But after some searching I found the perfect replacements. KC Hilites 456 Apollos are a perfect 4.5-inch, black plastic to match my car (and not rust), and only $83! Installation was simple: aside from having to drill off the seized old lights, the new lights bolted right on to the existing mounts and spliced into the existing wiring. Of course I rarely ever use my high beams as I’m never in the country, but my MINI just wouldn’t look right without them.


Countryman ALL4 Test Drive


While the BMW was in for scheduled service today, I strolled over to the new MINI of Peabody to say hi and decided to take the new all wheel drive Countryman for a test drive now that plenty are available. The last time I drove a newer MINI was when were last shopping for a new car and ended up with the BMW.

Overall I was impressed. The Countryman didn’t really have the “big” feeling I was expecting. It was definitely much more floaty than my cars. But the grip was all there. What really impressed me was the all wheel. Getting a rear-wheel drive BMW has made me hate front wheel drive and its constant sliding and wheel spin whenever I pull away from a stop while turning. That doesn’t exist with the Countryman. Dropping the clutch in any gear (sorry!) translated to instant grip and go. Powering around exit ramps is a blast.


Not that I am considering one, but I need to keep tabs on things so I can have accurate opinions and recommendations. In fact, it is a perfect companion if you also have a first-gen mini when you want handling. We probably would have considered it more seriously than the other minis when we were shopping for a slightly larger but still fun hatchback (and then went with a 128 coupe—handling always wins!)

Posted from Peabody, Massachusetts, United States.

Good Impression

Waterless Wash

In New England, it’s impossible to keep your car clean for almost half the year— freezing weather, snow, salt, and grimy roads are stacked against you. With a tree covering my cars instead of a garage, birds really have their way with them. And frankly I just haven’t had the time to give them the attention they need. But the car care industry never stops innovating, and now they’ve come up with the “waterless spray wash.”

Available from Griots, Autopia, and others, the product is somewhat like a lubricating quick detailer with some wax as well. Unfortunately it is still water-based, so no washing below freezing, but it sure beats dunking your hand in a bucket of chilly water on a cold day. It is also potentially useful for a quick freshening say before a car meet, or while you’re off for a few days. In the past I dragged all my car washing equipment up to MINIsOnTop, here all that’s needed is a spray bottle and some microfiber.

I tried Ultima Waterless Wash Plus+, mostly for its cheaper price. I easily following the Instructions to mix a bottle from the concentrate. As I had a ton of heavy bird droppings, I instead went over with a very high-pile MF towel first. It works just like it says: spray on, and everything wipes away, transferring the dirt to the towel. For the most part it dries without streaking too.

While I thought this would be more of an experiment, I realized I will be using this a lot. It’s been years since I had the time to do a bucket wash every week, I sometimes goe months before dragging everything out. Now I can quickly and easily refresh both cars in between real washes with minimal time and effort. Of course, nothing beats a real wash, especially if you are going to wax afterwards.
Here are some before and after shots:

I went through about a quarter bottle per car, and of course at least one microfiber towel is needed per use. So be sure to have plenty of towels and solution. At Autopia, they have a Ultima Waterless Wash Plus+ concentrate kit, however I would recommend the much higher-pile Carrand “Microfiber MAX” Soft Touch Detailing Towel over the Ultima towel. Griot’s has the full line of their Spray-On Car Wash on their web site or you can get the Griot’s Kit from Amazon.