One of the more annoying features missing from the US spec MINIs are auto-up windows. For some reason BMW decided to program out the feature for all MINIs in the US (nevermind that BMWs in the US have had it for years). Thus it was left up to one enterprising MINI owner came to the rescue a few years back.

Since then Ian Cull has sold over 1000 of his auto-up circuits and over the years it has come to be known as one of the best upgrades you can give your MINI. However when Ian Cull announced earlier this year* that he’d no longer be making the circuits, two enterprising MINI owners stepped in with a new design and a slightly lower price. Naturally we were keen to do some testing and see if this new MCAW Auto Up Circuit was a true heir to the throne.

I installed the MCAW auto up in my ‘03 Cooper S last weekend with little trouble. Installation took about 20 minutes from start to finish with the help of Gabe who has bit of experience behind the dash of the MINI.

The MCAW circuit was compact and generally easy to install. Its design is slightly different Ian’s circuit as it has no plug and ribbon lead. You simply press the circuit onto the back of the switch bank.

I choose to remove the support pillars of the center consul to make things more accessible. Neither of us have small hands so working through the small access door was not an option. You may be able to install the circuit simply by opening the door below the toggles and popping it in if your hands are narrow enough fit through.

Once you unplug the factory wiring lead you press the MCAW unit into place on your switch panel. The MCAW unit does not fit through from the front so you must press it in with the switch panel sitting loose in the dash frame.

Once this is done you reattach the factory harness onto the other side the MCAW and you are ready to check for power. The MCAW has a green LED to let you know you’re connected.

Once your switch bank is mounted be sure to seat the circuit board, I had a brief issue two days after the install my window went down and would not go up. I simply opened the access door and pressed the connection to seat it and since then the MCAW has performed perfectly.

Once the switch panel is in place programming is easy. However it is important to read the instructions and decide which mode your going to use because you have a little more than two seconds to input your desired mode before your automatically switched out of programming mode. I would recommend that this bit if information be included in the programming section of the instructions.

I switched on the key and started programming the switches but was bumped out of programming mode before I was done with both sides. The MCAW is kind enough to tell you this by partially raising the driver’s window. Lessen learned, I switched the key on a second time and quickly entered my desired mode.

With Four modes for the windows, single click up, double click up, click and hold (for one second) and one that offers single switch control for both windows, and a fifth for DSC auto off, MCAW is worth the time and money.

Programming is an easy series of clicking your window switches up to the desired mode number. If you make a mistake or lose track of the number of clicks, just reset (by pressing down) and start again.

The DSC feature is great for track days or Solo competition. Go into programming mode and switch the Door lock/unlock UP. Now your DSC will automatically turn off with in three seconds of starting your MINI. Programming this is so easy you could simply program the DSC off when you arrive and the track and forget about it. Reversing the program will disable all new features.

There are options for wiring your garage door opener to your door lock/unlock switch but it takes some further knowledge of electronics according to the MCAW instructions.

Having a MCAW auto up is a mod no MINI should be with out. The ease of installation, the quality construction, and the aware of options makes this one of the much have MINI upgrades.

Rating: 4.5 (out of five)

The MCAW Standard Circuit is available from for $42.00. The Standard Circuit features:

  • Auto-up window control
  • DSC auto-off control
  • Garage door opener (GDO) output
  • Generic Auxiliary output

MCAW also offers a Deluxe Circuit for $49.00 with the following features:

  • Auto-up window control
  • DSC auto-off control
  • Garage door opener (GDO) output
  • Two Generic Auxiliary outputs

*Since Ian originally announced he’d no longer be making the auto-up circuits things are changed slightly. Long story short, he now has built a new 128 unit batch of circuits that are available as of this review.