Here are the answers for the third iteration of “Ask an MA”. A mentioned before, with this version of Ask an MA our Motoring Advisor unfortunately wasn't capable of answering technical questions. So if you're question didn't get answered don't give up. Our next session might have a more technical side to it.

On with the answers…

Joe K.: Has there been any sightings of the new factory

MA Answer: The new factory armrest will not be available until
January '05 production, so most likely there haven't been any. Gabe is
the rumor king on this one. (Gabe: since this was written we've
obtained photos and pricing info on the armrest – several stories below
this one).

Deborah: I'm curious about the trade-in values of early model
MCs and MCSs at dealerships. What are MINI dealers offering if you want
to trade-in or trade-up?

MA Answer: Trade-in values vary from region to region and even
between cities in the same region. You are probably better selling it
yourself, as with any other car. Remember that EVERY car depreciates
(even if it is VERY minor with MINIs), so since dealers are going to
offer your wholesale value for your car, you're not going to get as much
as you would if you retailed it yourself.

George: I really appreciate your willingness to do this.
Perhaps this falls under the technical category, but I'll try anyway. I
have an MCSC being built this week, and I've noticed a lot of buzz about
problems with the convertable roof – mechanical and fabric wear. Is this
actually a problem, and is there a fix in the works.

MA Answer: I haven't heard anything through official channels,
but as MINI has shown before with other warranty related issues, I'm
confident that if there is a problem, they'll take care of it.

RobO: What is the best way to make sure my next leased MINI is
available when my current MINI lease has ended?

MA Answer: Talk to your dealer or your MA to work out the
timing. Only they know what their availability is like and what the
projected waiting time might be.

I waited about 3 months to get my first MINI so I was wondering what
would happen is one leased ended, but my next MINI was still in

MA Answer: Unfortunately you'd most likely be on your own for
finding something to drive while you're waiting.

Ed Mackay: A question regarding the recent extension of the
rust warranty to 12 years on 2004 models, it is understood that the US
benefits by this; does Canada also have the same provision?

MA Answer: Not answered because I don't work in Canada.

Erik: I plan to purchase an '05 MCS when the Limited Slip
Differential is available (said to be 01/05).

When would be the best time to order? I am assuming sooner than

MA Answer: Again, talk to your local dealer. All dealers have
the ability to enter your order for January production right now, but
some dealers aren't willing to do that. None have pricing for the LSD
yet, though.

SteveW: UK spec cars apparently have a keyed passenger airbag
de-activation option. This option seems to be unavailable in the US.
Please confirm or correct. Also in US cars is there a passenger weight
sensor that de-activates? If so what is the cutoff weight?

MA Answer: The keyed airbag de-activation system is
unavailable in the US. I have not heard that the seats are weight

Franz: I have seen many reports on Mini2 and NAM that the 2004
HK stereo has a good bit of vibration in the doors and boot at moderate
to loud volumes. By reports, this is fixed by putting sound dampening
material inside the doors and around the speakers themselves. For the
price tag of the HK stereo, I am surprised that this is not done at the
factory. Is there a plan to do such on the 2005 models? I hope this is
not too technical for this session.

MA Answer: I don't know what MINI's plans are regarding sound
deadening materials, as I am not privy to product planning information.
My '05 MCS with H/K doesn't rattle excessively that I've noticed.

Mark: On the MINI USA website, the front cupholder is listed
as an available accessory, but from some of the articles I have read
lately on this website, it sounds like it now comes standard. What is
the story with this, and is it possibly to order a MINI without the

MA Answer: The cupholder is standard as of 2004, and has been
re-designed for 2005. Both are easy to remove if you choose not to have

GSKChicago: Okay, since the '05 models being built sometime in
early January will be available with a LSD… If we have an '05 that was
the first run of '05's delivered… Can we have the LSD added at the
dealership (or anywhere else MINI approved) if we wish to add this

MA Answer: I doubt that would be a very affordable option, but
it may be possible. Since NO ONE at the dealerships have any
information about the LSD beyond “It's coming,” there is no way to say
definitively whether it will be possible or not.

Kevin: For 2004, Cooper owners had a choice between the 7-hole
and 8-spoke (R82) wheels as no-charge options. I've heard that the R82s
will no longer be a no-charge option for 2005- is that true?

MA Answer: This is correct. As of 2005, 8-Spokes will be an
aftersales product exclusively and no longer a factory option.

Sunil: In order to have a full set of switches on an MCS, what
options need to be ordered? Both front and rear fogs?

MA Answer: Yes, but rear fog lights are no longer available as
an option on US-Spec cars because they're not 50-state legal. There
will most likely be a retrofit kit available soon.

MacGuruTX: The recent release of the NAV system changed to an
American Accent. With some of the Aftermarket Nav systems you can select
the Voice that is used?

What would it take to get MiniUsa to offer the British Voice accent
again for the American Nav Models?

MA Answer: I'm sorry, but this whole nav system accent thing
seems like a tempest in a teapot to me. The best way to get it changed
would be to make your feelings known to MINI USA either via 866 ASK-MINI
or through writing to headquarters in New Jersey.

Jose Garcia: Is it normal that there's no “aerokit” option
when buying a MINI in Portugal?

MA Answer: I don't work in Portugal, so I don't know what's
available there. I'm sure your local MINI subsidiary did a TON of
research about what's legal/suitable for your market and may have
determined that the Aero Kit was not one or the other.

GBMiniGirl: Why are MINI dealerships having such a hard time
getting the 05 catalogs? Do you know when they are going to become

MA Answer: MINI has told the dealers that the catalogs will be
available at the end of August. Probably in the next week or so. They
were just really unprepared for the model year switch is my theory.
Either that, or MINI USA didn't finalize the available options until the
last minute, which just pushed everything back.

Mark: OK…Let's see if I can make the cut this time.

I realize that through my research and attempts to have this feature
fixed that this anomaly is inherent to the entire MINI line. Will there
or have there been any changes to this feature in the new model year to
correct this problem?

MA Answer: Mark, you made the cut! My '02 MCS didn't even
have the convenience opening feature, so I didn't know it existed until
I started as an MA. In my experience with EVERY car I've ever tried it
on, it is a hit or miss function. All kinds of things can cause this
not to work, seemingly including the amount of pressure you maintain on
the switch during the process. If you let up even a little bit, it
quits. So, to answer your question, I don't know. It seems slightly
more reliable on 2005's by my estimation.

tsukiji: Can I order an '05 painted dash and fit it into my
'03 MCS?

I have retrofitted the '05 'Utility Box', what other updated or
redesigned items can be retrofitted?

MA Answer: MINI doesn't give us a list of things that can be
retrofitted. Your best bet is to wait until someone in the aftermarket
figures out how to do it, or wait and see if MINI offers it in the next
accessory catalog.

Bart: I just took delivery of a 2005 Hyper Blue MCS (it's a
GREAT car!) but I have a dilemma of sorts: I ordered the BMW body kit,
paid for it at the time of sale, but now I'm hearing from my dealer that
MINI has not released the paint formula for Hyper Blue! ASK-MINI told me
that Hyper Blue won't be available until 1/05… but I think there must
be some wires crossed here somewhere. Can you shed any light on this? I
took delivery without the body kit until this could be sorted….

MA Answer: It is entirely possible that MINI has not yet
provided the dealers with Hyper Blue paint yet. I'm sure you'll be fine
if you can just be patient until it's available. I believe that
ASK-MINI is referring to Hyper Blue not being available on the Cooper
until January, as they are usually clueless about parts/service issues.

Chris: I ordered my 2005 MINI COOPER S CONVERTIBLE and it just
went into production. How long will it take generally from beginning of
production until delivery?

MA Answer: This is generally a 6-8 week process, but all kinds
of things can happen to delay the process. For example, the hurricanes
heading toward the east coast of the US will most assuredly delay cars
heading for the port in South Carolina.

joe: Any word on special paints for the MINI, I recall hearing
a while back about paints that reflect/fade to different colors
(couldn't find the article from the search)

MA Answer: There have been several dealers in the UK that have
offered these paints, but they are not available from MINI as an option
from the factory, nor do I know of any dealers in the US offering them.

Nate: I just ordered an MC and have been tracking it. My
question, is this? I notice that when I go to see a review of my order,
the sport package and premium pacakage (which I ordered it with) do not
show up. Everything else the exterior color and the interior color show
up. Does this mean that the order is wrong?

MA Answer: No, your order is most likely correct. If you're
worried, ask your MA to fax you a copy of your MSRP sheet from DCS. For
some reason, '05's in the Owner's Lounge have not reflected the
configurations in the dealer ordering system.

Kal: My question pertains to the MINI scheduled 3yr/36000 mile
maintenance program.

I have an 03 MCS which I drive about 6,000 miles/year. I got the oil
changed at the one year mark, however I was told by my dealership
service advisor that I have to wait until the car hits 10,000 miles
before I can get the pollen filter changed under the program. I have
heard from other owners that they have had both the oil and pollen
filter changed at the one year mark regardless of mileage. Please could
you clarify what the schedule is for MINI's that are driven below the
expected yearly mileage totals. I am afraid that when I hit the 25,000
mile level and my car is past the three year time limit, I will be told
that I have gone over the allowable time limit and will have to pay for
the 25,000 mile service.

MA Answer: Every dealer seems to have a different policy about
this, and they're all counter or contrary to MINI's official policy.
Your service will be done at 1-year intervals until you hit 25000 miles,
at which point your Inspection I service will be performed. If you are
outside of the 3-year period when the 25,000 mile service is due, you
will have to pay for it. That's one of the drawbacks of a 3-year/36,000
mile limit.

Mike: Hi. I'm interested in getting an 05 MY MCS w/ the new
auto transmission. Will the hp in the automatic MCS be less than a model
equipped with a manual? Also, will the auto transmission MCS's be
availible with the LSD?

MA Answer: Horsepower numbers should not be any different, but
we won't know until we get more information from MINI about the
automatic. According to a MINIUSA memo the LSD will not be available
with the automatic.

Pepe; Im expecting delivery this week or next one of my 2005
Mini Cooper S, as I live in Mexico City, we dont get the chance to
configure our cars “exactly” as we like it, but we have 3 “combo
packages”, and neither of them comes in mexico with the Garage Door
Opener in the mirror, well my question is, if I buy the mirror in the
USA, can it be installed in my MCS in Mexico?

MA Answer: I would doubt it, since there would be extra wiring
required to run power to the mirror. Your best bet would be to wait a
couple of months to see if MINI offers a retro-fit kit or if someone in
the US successfully does it. (Gabe: I was just told my a MINI tech
that this may be possible but only if you have the rain sensing

Jay: How soon can I order a 2005 MCS with the new auto
transmission (yeah, I know, but I have a bad knee — give me a break).
Assuming I can order it in September, will the projected delivery date
be in February (I am in Dallas).

MA Answer: You can order one now! Dealers have the ability to
pre-configure cars in advance of their actual allocation assignment.
This means that they can order all of the upcoming options now, but the
car won't actually go into production until those options are

Zach Senders: Throughout the US, about how much time does it
take to recieve your MINI after the date of order? Obviously the
timeframe fluctuates due to location and other things, but what is a
round about figure on how long it takes from order to delivery?

MA Answer: 6-8 weeks, depending on location and dealer/port

David: Great cars. I have my order for a third (a MCSC) in
house now. Which brings me to my question. I am planning a trip to the
northern hinterlands just before my scheduled delivery in Feb '05, the
date of which I would LOVE to move up anyway.

It will be cold. No, I mean, C O L D. Is there any noticable
difference in the insulating qualities of the metal vs. cloth roofs?

I can't imagine it's just a piece of fabric.

I guess a better question is, does BMW plan on marketing the MCC
variations in Scandanavia, etc?

MA Answer: Some of the first spy shots of the convertibles are
of them being tested on a frozen lake in Sweden north of the Arctic
Circle. I'm sure you'll be fine.

A. Sadwin: Two questions.

What sort of oil consumption should I expect?

Why do all MINI Cooper Ss have a dark oily looking film on the
inside of the tailpipe? I am sure the car is not running that rich.

MA Answer:Hopefully none, if your car is burning oil, take it
in to have it checked out.

This is just a carbon build-up. My '02 did it, and my '05 does it as

Robert: Miniusa in it's wisdom are now delivering 05 cars
minus the extra toggle for the rear fogs. Had them in 04 builds. But
again in 05 removed them. What were they thinking????

MA Answer: The
only thing that has changed from '04 to '05 is that rear foglights will
be a dealer installed kit and will not be fitted from the factory. This
is due to California and Oregon having restrictions on how low rear
lights can be. Of course this is ridiculous since you typically want a
fog light as log as possible. Unfortunately the new dealer accessory rear foglight
kit isn't out yet for the 2005 MINI.

Matt: I am getting my new MCS on Nov. 1 with the HK sound
system upgrade. I need to know can I get the Bluetooth kit installed at
factory with this sound system or not? I hear different stories about
all of this…

MA Answer: Geez I wish dealership employees would just read
their parts bulletins! If your car is built after 09/03, the currently
available Bluetooth handsfree kit will work in it. Period, no matter
which stereo you have.

GSKChicago: What about gas mileage. I am averaging about 18 to
19 mpg with both city and highway driving combined into that average. I
have an '05 MCS. I do accelerate somewhat quick and of course, being in
Chicago, stop and go traffic is innevitable. Is this mileage normal?
Will it get better as I add miles and she is broken in more?

MA Answer: My mileage has improved as the car has broken in.
My experience is that they don't REALLY break in until about 4500 miles,
so your fuel economy will most likely gradually increase until then.

gz: What will be the HP in the 2005 MCS with the 2005 JCW?

MA Answer: I don't know, since it isn't available yet and MINI
has not told us. The rumor mill is saying anything from 205 to 220.

gz: I have seen after market performance enhancers such as
cold air intake systems and performance pullys and air filters ect which
individually claim to add as much as 15 hp. Will any of these invalidate
the warranty?

MA Answer: Almost definitely. You are on VERY shaky ground
regarding warranty claims once you modify your car in any way. If the
warranty is that important to you, my advice would be to not risk it.
(Gabe: traditionally dealers will only invalidate the warranty on
parts directly effected by the aftermarket parts.)

BillW: Someone already posted something similar but…

I am ordering an '05 MCS with the limited slip later this fall for
early '05 delivery. Getting the Octagon Red Cloth/Black Leather combo.
in a Pepper White MCS.

Details I know, but can I order a Chili Red dash and have it
installed at the dealer?

MA Answer: Maybe, but it will likely be very expensive.
(Gabe: if you could order the parts you could probably do it your
self fairly easily.)

Tom Sizemore: When the heck is BMW going to get with it and
allow MINI's to be serviced at BMW dealerships? My closest MINI
dealership is around 100 miles and two hours away. The closest BMW
dealerships are 25 and 39 miles away. There are seven BMW dealerships
within 100 miles of me. With the service department at my “local” MINI
dealer not having any Saturday service hours and working 8 to 5 Monday
through Friday, how the heck am I supposed to get my car serviced
without burning a day's or two pay. I have a number of issues that need
attention, including a non-functional passenger window, but just
starting a new job I can't get or afford to take the day off. And a 200
mile, four hour round trip for a “free” oil service just doesn't make

While I love my MCS and hope to replace it with another with a LSD in
a few years, the service issue could be a spoiler on this. Before I
ordered my MCS it was hinted that eventually either there would be a
closer dealership opening up or I would be able get it serviced at BMW
dealers. So far none of the above has occured. If you can get a Lincoln
or Mercury serviced at a Ford dealer, a Cadilliac or Buick serviced at a
Chevy dealer, an Audi serviced at a VW dealer and so on, why can BMW put
this together?

MA Answer: MINI has spent a great deal of time and effort
separating the MINI and BMW brands. Authorizing BMW dealers to service
the cars would likely blur that separation too much for comfort for
them. You can't get your Rolls-Royce serviced at a BMW dealer, either.
Unfortunately this is a burden you accepted by purchasing a MINI despite
the lack of a dealer close to you. I have sold several cars to people
in New Mexico, where the nearest dealer is no less than 5 hours away.

Our service department will service any brand of car if you bring it
in and are willing to pay. No dealership would turn away business like
that. The difference is whether it's going to be covered under warranty
or not. Most manufacturers require that warranty work be carried out by
a certified tech, so I think you might run into problems trying to have
your Audi repaired under warranty at a VW shop.