Mini John Cooper Works MoT fixes

Published on 12 January 2024 at 10:14

Why is it that work is so much more fun when it's on something you want to do rather than something you have to do? I normally love working on cars as a hobby but the minute I have to do something on my daily driver as a matter of necessity all the fun goes out of it, so it was this week with a whole raft of issues on the JCW Mini.

It had failed the MoT big time, I'm not used to that, normally my cars either pass or just need one or two bits that I have missed. The list was much longer than it needed to be though with numerous faults all relating to the same couple of things. The first example of this was due to the car having it's catalytic converter removed - the previous owner had done that in an attempt to get an extra couple of horse power out of it. Sadly that's not legal so that is the first failure point. Because it's not there it can't do it's job so there were another 4 failures relating to emissions being too high although I was not given the test sheet to show me what they actually were. There were then another 4 failures all relating to one front brake caliper being a bit sticky, a new caliper at 36 quid soon sorted all of those. There was a front side light bulb had fallen out and one of the two rear position lights was out so although it lit up it was with one bulb instead of 2. 

Then we get a strange one, he said the handbrake efficiency was too low. Well it's fine for doing handbrake turns and if you try and pull away with the handbrake on the wheels will skid rather than turn so how it could be any stronger than that I simply don't know. The van passed it's test and the handbrake on that is utterly hopeless compared to the Mini. If I apply the brake with one finger - ie very light pressure on the lever it is impossible to turn the wheels by hand. I have cleaned it all and lubed the pivots etc but I fail to see what else I can do other than getting the anchor off a cruise ship and using that instead. 

some welding was required, as we were at Malc's I didn't have arc and I haven't had enough experience with MIG to be sure I could do a decent job so my mate Russ did it. He did a fantastic job as usual, it is stronger than factory now.

When I bought the car it came with a really nice pair of Pagid vented discs, I thought while I was at it and had it on the lift I might as well fit them. They do look rather nice although I suspect they will wear the pads pretty quickly. When I fitted them I became somewhat unhappy with the caliper that had tested ok, the piston seemed a bit stiff and the pad wear wasn't even. I have ordered another calliper so the entire brake system at the front is all new, the rear is all recent, about 6 months old.

I won't get the caliper until tomorrow, I tried to get one locally but the price was absolutely ridiculous. I bought the left hand one on line and paid 36 quid with delivery, the price I was quoted for the right hand one at our local factor's was exactly 100 quid more, or just under 4 times the price. I don't mind paying a bit extra for local goods and services but that is plain ridiculous. I did a sanity check on line and nobody was asking that sort of money. I suggested it may have been a mistake but was assured that it wasn't and that they had it there on the shelf. Yeah, I expect it will be on the shelf for a very long time.

Next job was an almighty pain - the passenger side door handle didn't work - I didn't think it would be an MoT failure because it shut securely and could be opened from the inside handle but I was wrong. A new handle is about 30 quid but the whole door has to be stripped and the glass removed before you can get at the handle. There are two bolts that go through the glass that have to be removed, they are a nightmare to get at. There are God knows how many bolts in total, it's a truly horrible job that took me half a day to do. If you attempt to do it make sure you have an extendable magnet because it's inevitable that something will drop somewhere really awkward. I bought a brand new handle as I never want to have to do that job ever again.

Next thing was another one I don't agree with -- headlamp aim, apparently both of mine are too low. I think they are just right, the tester says not. I will have to do some measuring and double check. I had to have the left one out anyway as I had a leaky washer bottle that I have been meaning to get to for some time, I had bought one some time ago so now seemed like an ideal time to sort that.

I need to get a new front number plate, the UK gestapo get really pissed off if their automatic speeding tax cameras can't read your number plate properly. It was judged to be ok but if Mr Plod disagrees and has nothing better to do you can still get done for it.

So anyway, that should be it for another year, knowing me I will have swapped it for something else by then. I doubt it will be another Mini.

The box of bits in the boot is quite large, 2 brake discs, 2 calipers, the decat pipe, the old washer bottle and a broken door handle. Next job is to fix the broken front bumper from where it got ripped off on the shitty Lincolnshire roads, trouble is the dip is still there and it hits it every time. The council say it's fine, I am sure it would be different if one of them lived down my road.

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