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This is why I'm a Mini owner for life

Posted: February 25, 2009 in Cars & Driving

Back in 1995, I purchased my second new car; a 1995 Chevy Camaro Z28. It was a great driving car, and well designed, but not well built. Over the course of my 5 year warranty, the car was in the shop over a dozen times. Well over a dozen. In fact, the car was usually back to the dealer 3-4 times per year.

Every time I brought the car in for warranty service, a bill would be waiting for me when I went to pick it up. Since the car was still well within the original warranty period (not to mention the extended warranty I purchased), I was understandably miffed about having a bill for repairs that were clearly warranty items. Each visit would inevitably lead to a shouting match between me and the service manager before I would finally get my car back without paying for something that I shouldn't have been paying for.

That's GM quality, and GM service.

Fast forward to 2006. I finally gave up the American V8 muscle cars and purchased a Mini Cooper Sport. The service and treatment by the dealership have been second to none. On top of the three years of free maintenance that's included with the car, you also get a free loaner whenever you leave your car in for service (and a Mini to boot). But that's not what this post is about.

The summer before last, I started hearing a noise from the transmission in 4th gear. Nothing horrible, and it would go away once the car warmed up, but I still noticed it. This past summer, I started noticing a random noise from the clutch when starting off in damp weather. Again, nothing that affected how the car ran, and it would vanish once the car was warm.

Just to be safe, I dropped the car off over the weekend to have it checked out. Today I got a call from the dealer. Imagine how nice the following was after being accustomed to fighting with my old Chevy dealer about a gushing oil leak not being covered under the drivetrain warranty, or after Chevy telling me that I needed to pay $287 for a new strut for my hatchback that failed when the car was 6 weeks old, sending the 150+ lb lid crashing down onto the back of my neck.

Here's Mini's response:

  • They could not reproduce the clutch noise, so they're going to just go ahead and give me a brand new clutch, flywheel, and all related parts.
  • They heard the transmission noise, but rather than try to repair it, they're going to go ahead and give me a brand new transmission instead.
  • Oh, and they fixed the dashboard rattle that used to bug the hell out of me.

This is all on their dime, and being done while I drive their loaner car.

A few months ago I took the car to a local shop to have it aligned. They could not perform the alignment because the tie rod ends were seized. They wanted $150 ea plus labor to replace them. I called the dealer, and they told me to bring it in. They replaced both tie rod ends, then did the alignment. For free.

This is all on top of the fact that this is one of the best driving cars I've ever driven, and probably the best car I've ever owned. It's comfortable, fun to drive, and gets 30-something mileage even under the worse of conditions.

Why would I ever go back?

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