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 armrest?
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).
p>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?
p>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.
p>RobO: What is the best way to make sure my next leased MINI is available when my current MINI lease has ended?
p>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 production?
p>MA Answer: Unfortunately you'd most likely be on your own for finding something to drive while you're waiting.
p>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?
p>MA Answer: Not answered because I don't work in Canada.
p>Erik: I plan to purchase an '05 MCS when the Limited Slip Differential is available (said to be 01/05).
p>When would be the best time to order? I am assuming sooner than later.
p>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.
p>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?
p>MA Answer: The keyed airbag de-activation system is unavailable in the US. I have not heard that the seats are weight sensitive.
p>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.
p>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.
p>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 cupholder?
p>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 one.
p>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 feature?
p>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.
p>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?
p>MA Answer: This is correct. As of 2005, 8-Spokes will be an aftersales product exclusively and no longer a factory option.
p>Sunil: In order to have a full set of switches on an MCS, what options need to be ordered? Both front and rear fogs?
p>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.
p>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?
p>What would it take to get MiniUsa to offer the British Voice accent again for the American Nav Models?
p>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.
p>Jose Garcia: Is it normal that there's no “aerokit” option when buying a MINI in Portugal?
p>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.
p>GBMiniGirl: Why are MINI dealerships having such a hard time getting the 05 catalogs? Do you know when they are going to become available?
p>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….
p>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)
p>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?
p>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 wipers.)
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 available.
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 workloads.
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.
p>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 well.
p>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????
p>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 sense.
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.