Thursday, December 02, 2010

Baby, You Can Fix My Car

Took my car in yesterday for what I thought was a leak in the cooling system. 

Turned out, it was a leak in the cooling system ...

The shop is called Mini-Madness, in Hillsboro, only a few miles from here. I did a web-search and found it, and while their primary business is hot-rodding Mini Coopers and Beamers, turning them into racing bombs -- they have a conversion kit that can coax 335 HP out of a Mini, which is madness -- they do regular repairs and maintenance.

They make most of their money souping up Minis and BMWs, and selling parts for others to do so, and if you are a car-geek, here's a four-minute video of an endurance race featuring a Mini Cooper and a Corvette. Not to give anything away, but don't bet on the 'vette ...

I talked to the owner, George Mehallick, and when I arrived, he asked a couple of questions, looked under the hood, and made his diagnosis -- probably the seal in the thermostat housing. Since these things are built like Swiss watches, he'd have to take a bunch of crap off to get at it, and it needed an oil change and could use new plug wires -- he showed me why -- it might take a while.

Whatever. I don't want to be in the middle of nowhere and have the temperature gauge peg and red light again. Been a long time since I owned a car upon which I could actually work. As Tom and Ray Magliozzi (The Tappet Brothers) offer on NPR's "Car Talk" Saturday mornings, shade-tree mechanics can't do the electronic diagnostics and modular stuff without a shitload of computer gear, and if you have a new car that needs work, take it to a shop. Fine by me -- when I had to repair stuff because I couldn't afford to pay somebody, I swore if I ever had enough money, I'd hire somebody who knew what they were doing. 

That was at eight-thirty a.m.. At three p.m. George called me. All done.


Wasn't cheap, of course, but at least it seems to be fixed. Guess I'll find out if it goes clunk while I'm on the road to silat, but failing that, if you have a Mini or a Beamer and you are in the Portland tricounty area, you might want to check this guy out -- when the mechanic opens the hood and starts talking -- and in the case of the Mini, just knowing how to open the hood latch requires specialized knowledge -- if he knows what he is about, you can tell. 

This guy knows.

A hint as to his attention to detail, he has a salt-water aquarium in his office, and has in it with the fish, a clam, and he grows his own coral. Tricky stuff, that. 


Jay said...

A mini is my wish car at the moment and would dig it.

As an old Blue Thumb and caretaker of many a saltwater vista, they are as hard as you make them and coral is actually quite easy to propagate. It's the start up costs that usually scare people off. With the rate of die off around the world, it may be a good idea for a lot of people to jump into the hobby to help repopulate the seas should the need arise!
the tridacna clams are really cool! Kinda a mess when they decide to spawn however...

Ed said...

Ditto on the wish car and maybe an extra one raised some (not to much) and 4 wheel drive - I always wanted a street legal go kart. The Street one would be fun up around NW Skyline (not the speed bumps) in good weather - of course with no one else on the road.

Down here it would be fun on the Old Mckenzie Pass Hwy 242 - not open in winter - really really fun on both sides of that!!!!

heina said...

My Pa recently pointed me at the new Mini Cooper Countryman. 4 doors, 4 wheel drive, Mini's take on the mini-SUV. Gas mileage is allegedly incredible, and looks cool too.

On the other hand, the rumor I hear today was that BMW might sell off Mini.

Hmmm, what to do.

Steve Perry said...

We looked at the Clubman Mini when Dianne was shopping her her new car. Saw it at a car show before it was available, and we liked it. Dianne wanted something a little bigger, which is why the RAV4.

There was guy looking at the car same time we were. He drove a 'vette. He said, "Geez, there's more leg room in this than in my Corvette!"

I liked the barn doors on the back, too.

Wouldn't hurt if BMW sold off the Mini Coopers. Deal now already is that if you want a dealership, it has to be a separate facility than the BMW building and not co-mingled. The cars are assembled in England, with parts from hither and yon, and when we got ours, the delivery was about four months. Of course you could design your own car -- go to their site -- colors and packages and engines -- so it was exactly what you wanted. Just so happened they had exactly what I wanted in the showroom when we went looking.