I suddenly find myself needing to buy a car in England. I won’t bore you with why I had to let go of my beloved Audi but instead let me tell you that renting cars in England especially when you don’t drive stick shift is really really expensive.
Being a rather sensible person, at first I thought I should get a VW Golf. Firstly you can’t beat German engineering. Secondly, you get awesome MPG (I went thru 2 weeks in December on a single tank of gas with my rented Golf). Lastly, it’s small enough so I can still park it in London but it is roomy enough that if I want to throw my bike in the back, I can just lift the hatch, drop the passenger seats and throw the bike in there. When I mentioned my plans to my best friend I got a back-handed compliment – you are so good, you always pick the sensible option. Hurumph! It’s one thing to call yourself sensible but when others call you that what they really mean is “you are so boring” … it’s a good thing she’s an old friend and can get away with telling me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it.
And so began my odyssey for finding a new ride.
I really liked having a convertible so I wanted to stick with one. There are plenty of choices in England but being the _sensible_ person that I am I quickly discounted all cars but a handful because of resale value and purchase cost … I would love to buy an AC Cobra for example; alas, the bank manager doesn’t see it my way. And in case you’re wondering that is the only car on the face of the planet that’ll get me to learn how to drive a stick shift. But I digress.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Minis and really wanted one when I first moved to England. But the last time around the sensible choice was made and a Golf was bought instead. This time around I’m going for both fun and sensible: it is German in design, it’s small, it’s not very thirsty (depending on the engine picked), and it’ll be a heck of a fun ride when it’s not sitting in city traffic. Having decided on the Mini, I started doing my research to see which model/ year offered the best ROI when I ran across this article. If you can’t be bothered to read the article, what caused me concern was this: “Under high operating temperatures an electro-migration can occur at the circuit board installed in the additional water pump. This can lead to a failure of the additional water pump or smoldering and even a fire cannot be excluded.” Oh dear.
According to the Guardian, 235,000 cars worldwide were affected including about 30,000 cars in the UK (one car even allegedly caught fire in the UK). Mini has offered to replace the water pump at no charge and the process takes about an hour. I can’t imagine this exercise has been an inexpensive one for the company. Aside from being a PR nightmare, the recall will cost millions in material and labor (I tried to find a more exact number but unfortunately my handy dandy research department, Google, is not being very helpful). Anyway, I wonder what went wrong. Was it a manufacturing problem? Was it a design problem that could have been easily fixed thru simulation with FloTHERM or FloEFD? I guess we’ll never know but I wanted to write about this because the fact of the matter is in this day and age product recalls still happen. Even to the big guys. And they are costly. So it’s best to catch design problems before they become a PR nightmare. As for me and my Mini, I’m still going full steam ahead. I’ve got a couple of test drives scheduled for next week and hope to come home with a new (well new to me) car that’s already been retrofitted. I must admit that if I have to deal with London traffic then I’d much rather do it in a fun zippy car… even if I am going only 7 miles per hour.
Until next time,