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Old 02-24-2009, 02:20 AM
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Question Ask the MINI Tech

Ask the MINI Tech

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Welcome to a new series where we want to help you! We all have varying degrees of knowledge about our cars, from novice to quite experienced, and throughout those degrees we have questions--lots of question: Have you ever brought your car in to get serviced and have been too shy to ask how something works? Are you stuck on a mod and canít figure out what to do next? Have you ever just wanted to know what a MINI Tech does, and what gets them excited? Nowís your chance!

This is the first in a regular series of articles presented by motoring|underground to have your burning questions answered by the MINI Tech. We have gathered some thoughts and questions to start with, and if you would like to submit a question for a future article, please send a PM to MINI Tech.

Now, letís get started! What better way to kick this off than getting serviced at the dealer. Does it seem like you could get better service, and maybe save some money, wear and tear, or maybe increase gas mileage? Here are a few tips to help you get better service and hopefully save some money in the long run.

The first and most important rule: PROPER MAINTENANCE! Many of you are still under factory warranty and maintenance. However, there are some things that you are still responsible for that will save you money and headaches in the long run.

Here are some tips from the MINI Tech:

  1. Tire pressure: CHECK IT REGULARLY! Donít wait for the flat tire light to come on and then take the car to the dealer thinking there is a problem with the car. If youíve waited until the light has come on, more than likely you have already added unneeded wear to one or more tires, or you picked up a nail or something that has caused one tire to go flat. Your tire monitor light will come on when one or more tires lose a certain percentage of pressure, relative to the other tires. If all the tires lose some pressure and you continue to roll the dice and drive on under-inflated tires it will lead to bad wear condition.
  2. Donít fill your gas tank with the car running, and be sure to always make sure the gas cap is placed back on correctly. Failure to do so can cause another check engine light and will certainly waste your time bringing the car in for service it doesn't need.
  3. Check your oil! Even though you are under maintenance, you may still need to top off the oil or other fluids between services.
  4. Check your coolant!
  5. Be aware of the overall condition of your vehicle. Does it drive straight? Does it stop straight? Does the steering feel good? Are there any leaks, creaks or odd noises?

If you take notice of these simple things you will definitely have a happier driving experience and will most likely increase your MPG, which will save some gas and money.

Bringing your car in for service? More tips from the trenches:

  1. When describing the issue, be specific! If you have a rattle or clunk in the suspension, try to duplicate the condition. Chances are that if you canít duplicate the condition, we might not be able to either! We want to fix your car right the first time you bring it in.
  2. Be aware of the condition your car is in. Has it had a coolant or brake flush recently? When did you last rotate your tires? Are there any other leaks or issues?
  3. Ask for recommendations for services, alignment, tire rotation and accessories! What can we do to make your visit more convenient?
  4. If you can call ahead for an appointment, we may have a loaner car available to help get you on your way. If you leave the car, it helps us to get cars in and out in a more timely manner.
  5. TSB's: First, what is a TSB? A TSB is a "Technical Service Bulletin" released by the manufacturer to disclose a repair, preventative maintenance, or known issue with a car. However, unlike a recall, this action is optional and may not be required. Just because there is a TSB, it doesn't mean you need to have it done. If your car has concerns that are similar to a TSB then you may need the service, so it may be worth mentioning, but it may not necessarily apply to your issue. For the most part a TSB is internal paperwork showing a procedure for a given complaint; it is not a recall by any means.
  6. If you have multiple concerns, write them down on a piece of paper with a description of the concern. Not only will this assist in describing all the issues, but it will help the Service Advisor document the issue and helps us diagnose the problem.
  7. If you have a special request, such as not washing your car after service, please make sure that your Service Advisor writes a note for us!
  8. Are you planning to wait for your vehicle? If so, please be reasonable in your expectations. If you have an 8 AM appointment for an oil service, you will be out shortly. However, if you bring your car for an oil service, along with a check engine light and a rattle or other noise please understand that waiting for your car may not be the best bet, unless you are very patient and are willing to spend the day at the dealer. Sometimes diagnosing the problems can take hours, and then the car still has to be repaired. Always keep your expectations and time constraints in mind and let the Service Advisor know up front. Everyone will be happier that way and, above all, we want you to be happy!

Thank you for checking out our ďAsk the MINI TechĒ series. This article gets you going with some tips, but our next article is dependent on you! Please send us your questions, whatever they are, and we will try our best to provide some quality answers. Donít be shy, we want to help you and see you happy, so please send them over via PM to MINI Tech.

Happy motoring!
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