March 2016

4 Things Every MINI Cooper Owner Must Know

If you own a MINI, you need to be aware of these!

The MINI Cooper is one of the more unique cars on the road right now, and being quite a bit different from other vehicles means their owners must be aware of some peculiar quirks and issues. It’s no secret that MINIs require more attention than most vehicles, so not giving this car proper servicing every now and then can be a recipe for disaster. Here are the top-four things that every MINI Cooper owner should know.

Engine Oil Level
One of the most common issues that automotive shops come across when servicing MINI Coopers is low or practically non-existent oil in the engine. The computer system in this BMW-manufactured vehicle is programmed by the factory to only come on once a year or every 15,000 miles (1st & 3rd generation MINI at 10,000 miles), which is way too long. To avoid this issue, take a look at the dipstick in your MINIs engine at least once a month and change it every 5,000 miles. If you find it needs to be changed, come on by the The Haus shop in Sherman Oaks and we will help you out!

Change Fluids
On all generations of MINI, the factory recommends change brake fluid every 2 years regardless of mileage. For the transmission fluid on 1st gen MINIs the interval was every 30,000 miles, and change the coolant every 4 years. On the 2nd gen MINIs and newer, **MINI states that the coolant and transmission fluid are “are lifetime fluids and are not required to ever be changed”. MINI also states that the power steering fluid is also a “lifetime fluid” and never needs to be changed on all models and generations.

** It is our opinion at The Haus that these fluids be replaced at some point, this is based solely on our opinion, and experience working on these vehicles. Please consult with your own mechanic for their opinion on “lifetime fluids”. We are of the belief that fluid is cheaper than replacing expensive parts like transmissions, power steering pumps, and radiators.

Mind the Timing Chain
If you hear rattling coming from the engine of your MINI, there is a good chance it is due to a faulty timing chain located on the front right side of the car. This rattling noise is especially noticeable when starting up the car and is a red flag to get your vehicle serviced immediately. Should the chain come loose, it will absolutely wreck the engine and end up being a very costly repair. Don’t let this issue linger, please call The Haus as soon as possible if you believe there is a timing chain problem in your car.

Carbon Build-Up Can Cause Problems
MINI Coopers S models use direct injection engines, which means that carbon tends to build up on the intake valves. When higher levels of carbon to accumulate on the valves it can cause problems. If you haven’t had your MINI serviced in a while and notice that it is suffering from hesitation or misfires this can be due to carbon build-up. The intake manifold needs to be removed so intake valves can be visually inspected for carbon build up. If there is carbon build then it needs to be cleaned by blasting valves with walnut shell dust. The walnut shells act like “sand blast” and remove the carbon. Walnuts are used because they are soft and will not damage the engine if some are left behind after carbon blasting has been performed.

              

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Seasonal Car Care Checklist for MINI and BMW Vehicles

Follow these handy guidelines to make sure your car is ready for the season!

Now that the new season is on the horizon, it is time to make sure your MINI or BMW automobile is ready. These maintenance tips are important for all car owners to be aware of and could make the difference in keeping you and your vehicle safe as the weather changes. If you find you need any of the following services done after self-inspection, please give The Haus a call to schedule an appointment.

Deal with any critical problems, check your mileage and get any regular service done: These should always be top of mind for all vehicle owners, regardless of the season. Any major difficulties—such as warning lights, problematic starts and concerning engine noises—should be dealt with immediately by bringing your vehicle in to the automotive shop. If there are no serious issues, take a peek at your owner’s manual and make sure you have had your oil and filters changed most recently within the factory’s recommended amount of time or miles. Ignoring these regular services can be the cause of bigger troubles down the road. With that out of the way, here’s some seasonal items to be aware of:

Refresh the coolant: Take a look at your coolant level and see if your engine has enough to get through the upcoming warm season. It’s critical to also check the condition of the existing coolant, as poor quality or low levels of coolant can lead to breakdowns as temperatures rise.

Take a look at tires: The two things to test here are tire pressure and tread condition. During changes of the season, there are often wide variations in pressure between the tires. Under inflated tires are a risk and negatively impact performance of your vehicle. Worn tread is also dangerous, especially during the hazardous wet conditions of a rainstorm. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need a tire replacement, or just need trained technicians to take a look and make the call for you.

Adjust hoses and belts: Take a look under your hood and see if your vehicle’s serpentine belt needs to be replaced. If there are any cracks, fraying or visible damage to this belt, you’ll want to immediately give The Haus (or your local automotive shop) a call to get it changed.

Replace old wiper blades: Sometimes nothing is better than adding a set of fresh wiper blades to your vehicle. The difference in visibility will be noticeable right away, as chilly temperatures cause rubber blades to lose their effectiveness over time. New wiper blades make driving your car more enjoyable and—more importantly—they can keep you safe during heavy rains and other difficult conditions.

 

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Understanding How BMW’s are Named

BMW has been around as a company since 1916 and making automobiles since 1928. Millions of cars have come off the German manufacturer’s assembly lines in those 80-plus years, which is why it can be quite helpful to understand exactly how they are named.

If you count yourself among those confused by the system that BMW uses for its luxury autos, don’t worry—you are not alone. A lot of people aren’t sure of the distinctions between a BMW 740iL and a 318ti, so The Haus is here to help you get a grasp on all the naming conventions that BMW employs.

 

Series and Models

There are 10 groupings that BMW utilizes for their vehicles. Here they are:

 

  • 1 series – small, convertibles, coupes, and hatchbacks
  • 2 Series – small, two-door convertibles and coupes
  • 3 Series – small, four-door sedans and sports wagons
  • 4 Series – small, two-door coupes and convertibles, also available as a 4-door Gran Coupe
  • 5 Series – mid-size, four-door sedans
  • 6 Series – mid-size, two-door coupes and convertibles, also available as a 4-door Gran Coupe
  • 7 Series – full-size, four-door sedan
  • BMW i – electric and plug-in hybrids
  • M Model – stands for “Motorsports”, BMW’s sports cars
  • X Model – SUVs and crossovers
  • Z4 Model – roadsters

 

Nomenclature

BMW vehicles follow a certain nomenclature, which is usually a 3 digit dumber followed by 1 or 2 letters. The 1st number represents the series number and the next 2 numbers traditionally represent the engine displacement in cubic centimeters divided by 100. This has changed in recent years though to use the 2 numbers as a performance index such as 116i, 118i, and 120i (all are 2.0 gas powered engines) that share the same engine block while adjusting engine power through turbo-charging and set up.

 

Fuel Lettering

As if the numbers weren’t tricky enough, BMW throws another wrinkle into their naming conventions with fuel letters. Fortunately there aren’t too many to keep track of and they represent which fuel the vehicle takes. You need to know the following:

 

  • i – fuel-injected, gasoline
  • d – diesel
  • There was a recent break to this trend, with BMW using ActiveHybrid to signify a hybrid engine

 

Other Lettering

Now that you know what BMW uses i and d for, it will be easier to note the remaining letters and what they stand for. Some are no longer in modern use, but here they are:

 

  • L – long wheelbase
  • C – coupe or convertible
  • ti – Touring International (hatchback)
  • T – Touring (station wagon)
  • e – eta/economy engine (smaller and less powerful, more fuel efficient)
  • x – all-wheel drive
  • g – biofuel
  • s – sport
  • es – eta sport

 

sDrive vs xDrive

This is fairly straightforward, with sDrive meaning that it is a 2-wheel drive vehicle and xDrive representing 4-wheel drive. xDrive and sDrive is fully spelled out to avoid confusion with the X model of SUVs and crossovers.   

 

Lines

BMW offers a number of lines that add further customization options for customers to choose on their vehicle. These include:

 

  • Sport – more powerful, upgraded wheels, steering, seats and more
    • M Sport – even more customization options and power to the sports line
  • xLine – enhanced wheels, rails on the roof, steering and more
  • Luxury – upgraded luxury wheels, steering, trim and more

 

Brand-Specific Vehicles

Within each series there are unique models, such as the below:

 

  • Gran Turismo – four-door sedans with wagon trunk and raised roofline
  • Gran Coupe – four-door coupe
  • ALPINA – a separate, BMW-owned company that makes upgraded versions of certain models

 

Still feel overwhelmed? Want to understand your BMW better or get advice before purchasing? Give The Haus a call today and speak with one of our expert technicians. Better yet, stop by the shop in Sherman Oaks, California with your luxury European auto for a free inspection.
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Regular Service

Regular Service
It’s critically important to have your BMW, Mini, or any other vehicle you may own serviced regularly. At The Haus, our highly-trained, expert technicians specialize in routine maintenance and always go the extra mile to provide outstanding service at a rate you can afford.


Establishing and scheduling your regular check-up is easy. Owners of imported European cars can contact us today in order to book an appointment or schedule a series of periodic check-ups. Consider coming by our shop in Sherman Oaks, California every 6,000 miles or 6 months–whichever comes first- for a variety of safety and oil services.


Don’t forget to check in with our Southern California BMW and Mini specialists every 30,000 to 60,000 miles for a more thorough inspection that includes a look at the tires and wheels, engine examination, body, interior, underneath the car, and more.


The Haus performs a rigorous 32 point inspection on your vehicle at every check up or at customer request, so that little problems do not become big problems later.
 
Brake Check
Safety should always be a top priority for drivers, so it should come as no surprise that regular brake checks and maintenance is key to keeping you protected while driving your domestic or imported vehicle. Brake fluid levels should always be tested, for having a low amount will cause soft brake pedals and delayed reactions. Brake fluid with high moisture content will boil at a much lower temperature than good brake fluid and this can cause brake fade- partial or total loss of braking power in a vehicle brake system. 
MINI & BMW both recommend brake fluid changes every 2 years, regardless of mileage.


The Haus is capable of servicing your European car’s front and rear brakes, installing new brake pads and anything else that may be necessary to upkeep quality performance and safety.
 
Engine Check
The heart and soul of your car is the engine, if something is wrong under the hood and goes unchecked, it could leave your vehicle catastrophically damaged. Should your check engine light come on for any reason- please contact us immediately in order to get an inspection and the service your vehicle needs before it becomes a serious issue.


Don’t let regular wear and tear bring your car down. A regular inspection at your local automotive shop, such as The Haus, is always a safe bet and worth the small investment.  

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