Finances & Money

The MINI is healthy again!

I mentioned yesterday how the MINI Cooper was sick and had to be towed to the dealer. They said they wouldn’t get to work on it until Thursday night, and sure enough I got a call this morning that they were done. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a loaner so we’ll have to drive out to pick it up.

Commenter Amanda mentioned the “MINI Reunite” program where they would drive it back here, but I decided that Stacie and I could use the time to go out to eat in Virginia (the car is in Sterling), maybe to my friend’s restaurant, Saravana Palace (did I ever mention it was ranked #21 on the Washingtonian’s Cheap Eats list?).

So what was wrong with the car? Well, I sent it in because it wouldn’t start and the coolant tank was empty. Here’s what they came back with:

  1. They replaced the battery
  2. They pressure-tested the coolant system twice and couldn’t find a leak so they just refilled the tank
  3. They found a leak in the power steering pump so they replaced it

And all this was free of charge under warranty. I didn’t even know there was anything wrong with the power steering, so kudos to them for finding it!

So luckily Stacie will have her baby back before New Year’s Eve, when we’ll have over a dozen guests hanging out, playing Wii and drinking Kahlua.

Oh, and FYI, I only have about 17 more stars to get as Luigi in Super Mario Galaxy. I have to say some of the levels are tricky since he runs and moves so differently than Mario!

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Hmm, the coolant was entirely empty, but they couldn’t find a leak?

    That seems pretty fishy to me.

    When I bought my house about 10 years ago, after a couple weeks the AC stopped cooling. I called out the HVAC guy, who said “The freon is all gone. I’ll refill it.”

    I was confused, because surely the freon was gone for a reason, and refilling it wouldn’t solve the problem. But he seemed confident, so OK. Sure enough a couple weeks later the freon was gone again.

    In other words, things like freon (or coolant) don’t just disappear. If the coolant is empty, it’s a sign of some problem that the battery and power steering won’t fix.

  • At least they have to fix it if the coolant runs out again. How much longer does your warranty last? If it’s a whole year, then hopefully it’d show up before then if there’s another problem.

    Hope she stays healthy!

  • I agree with post #1 and 2. The things they fixed were nothing related to your coolant being empty. There must be a leak somewhere as coolant doesn’t just go away or burn up from use. If you have little left on your warranty, they are for sure screwing you over so that you have to get it repaired out of warranty.

  • All: No doubt I asked them why all the coolant was gone if there was no leak; it had to be going somewhere. However, they tested it and didn’t find anything, so I’ll be keeping my eye on it. I’m sure I’ll have to go back in again within the next 6 months to get something fixed, but you can’t fix what you can’t find.

    The factory warranty lasts until April 2009, or 48k miles. We only have about 33k miles on it right now.

  • From CD’s description in his previous post, the coolant wasn’t gone. It was just the overflow tank was empty. Perhaps I was wrong, but that’s what it sounded like. This in and of itself is not a problem and is actually quite common. In fact, when a car has been off for a while and is cold, it’s normal for the coolant to remain in the radiator. It’s only when it heats up and expands, that’s when you see more coolant in the overflow. Either way, it was nice of them to add a bit more.

    It’s nice they found a leak in the power steering. Well,.. at least it’s nice that they found it – not nice that it was there, of course.

  • Ty,
    You can loose coolant one of three ways. It can evaporate, it can leak, and it can be burned up if you have a bad head gasket.

    Evaporation isn’t much of a concern, especially over the relatively short period that they have had the Mini.

    Leaks are relatively easy to diagnose. Just stick a piece of cardboard under the car where you park it or just keep an eye out for puddles under the car. Any moisture you find can be any number of things, but coolant will normally be green.

    Burning up in the engine. This is a big one. If your head gasket has a flaw or is damaged in some way, your coolant can burn up. You will notice this by excessive smoke coming out of the tail pipe and decreased performance.

    Only the head gasket issue is cause for concern. Especially with respects to the warranty.

  • I’m happy to have my Mini back! In response to CD’s previous post on how those who serviced his Honda can be “shady”, the Mini came back just the way I left it–on the same radio station (no buttons changed), no blasting AC, and minimal (if any?) miles. I had to reset my clock (but I figured that this is b/c of the battery). They even left my gas tank just about empty (like it was before they got it)–if anything, I wouldn’t have minded if they had filled it up (for free of course!). Overall though, it seems like the Mini of Sterling treated my Mini well! 🙂

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