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Understanding Extended Warranties

In life there are situations that start out great, but sometimes end in an unfortunate, premature way. This does not have to be the case when it comes to the relationship between you and your car. There is a solution, and it’s called an extended warranty, and it can help keep your car a prized possession rather than a cumbersome money pit. In essence an extended warranty is an insurance policy for your vehicle that covers vehicle repairs, instead of collision or accident damage. An extended warranty can safeguard against expensive, unforeseen repairs. Extended warranties are really service contracts, since they cost extra and are sold separately. With all extended warranties it is important that you maintain your vehicle per the manufacturers recommended service intervals. In all the years I have been in the automotive business the only time I have seen extended warranty companies deny coverage it is because the vehicle was not maintained properly, abused, or modified in someway that was detrimental to the vehicle (such as raised or lowered suspension).

An extended warranty may purchased at the time you buy your vehicle or much further along in your ownership experience, but realize if you purchase after the vehicle is out of the manufacturers warranty the cost can be significantly higher.

If you are the type of person that likes to prepared for all eventualities, bearing in mind the ever increasing cost of vehicle repairs, then a service contract can make a lot of sense.

There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing an extended warranty, such as:

Average repair costs for vehicle repairs
Average repair costs for vehicle repairs

What is the reliability record of the vehicle you are buying? Take a look at the reliability history for the vehicle you are considering purchasing. Unfortunately MINI and BMW, according to Consumer Reports are not the most reliable vehicles on the road, so a service contract is highly recommended. As an example the cost of replacement for a new transmission on a MINI or BMW can range between $6000-$8000, so you can see how a service contract can be beneficial to you.

Ask who is behind the warranty that you are considering? According to Consumer Reports the top 5 warranty companies are: Endurance, Carchex, Warranty Direct, Easy Care, and AA Auto Protection If possible stick with one of these companies. From our experience we have found found that Fidelity and MaxCare are also good companies to purchase an extended warranty from.

Can repairs be performed at any repair shop? Some extended warranties stipulate that repairs must be performed at the dealership where the warranty was purchased, this can prove limiting and inconvenient. We recommend purchasing an extended warranty that allows repairs at any certified automotive repair facility. You will definitely appreciate this if your vehicle breaks down or needs repairs while you are on a road trip.

Is the warranty transferable? Some service contracts end when the person who bought the warranty sells the car. A contract that allows you to transfer the warranty to a new buyer is preferable, and it’s a great selling point.

What exactly is covered? Know what is covered, and more importantly what’s not covered.

Is a cash layout required for repairs? Some warranty companies  require that you pay the bill, send in the invoice or receipt and wait for reimbursement. It can take weeks, even months to get reimbursed by the warranty company. You will want a warranty company that pays the dealership or repair facility directly with a credit card.

Remember to compare all of your options before making a decision. Utilize the internet, many companies sell directly online, cutting out the middle man (i.e. the dealership). Shop around, once you have decided on the which brand of vehicle you want to purchase get some quotes from other dealers, it will at least give you an idea of what an extended warranty, with the coverage you want should cost. If you are a member of a credit union, check with them as most offer inexpensive extended warranties that can be purchased directly from them.

In warranty buying, as in many other aspects of life, it helps to educate yourself.

Feel free to contact us at The Haus in Los Angeles, California if you have any questions about the warranty you are considering purchasing, we would be happy to give you our opinion.

FREE Shuttle Service + Pick-Up/Drop-Off Service

FREE Shuttle Gets You There With Ease!

The Haus offers FREE shuttle service as a courtesy for doing business with our shop. Need to be somewhere? Well don’t let that prevent you from getting your car serviced by our certified technicians- we’ll shuttle you to/from home or work within the San Fernando Valley while your car is being serviced.  Our shuttle service operates between the hours of 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Shuttle will depart as needed, please give us a 3 hour advanced notice of when you will need to be shuttled so we can make the service as simple as possible. Our shuttle driver will arrive within 30 minutes of your scheduled time, possibly earlier (depending on traffic).

Pick-Up and Drop-Off Makes It Easy!

We understand how crazy life can be, which is why we want to make it as convenient for you to have the peace of mind of having your car in good working order. Call us @ (855)572-6464 and we can schedule a time to come by your home or place of work and pick up your MINI or BMW, then drop it back off to you when the repairs are complete.

We greatly appreciate your business!

High Pressure Fuel Pump Problems on R56 MINI Cooper S Models

If you are the owner of a 2007-2009 Mini Cooper S model you need to be aware of the problems Mini & BMW are having with their High Pressure Fuel Pumps (HPFP). This was a well known issue on the BMW N54 turbo engine and it affected thousands of BMW vehicles between 2007-2010, so much so that BMW issued a recall. Well the Mini customers are not getting the same love from BMW, and there is no such recall to replace these under warranty. Mini did however extend the warranty to 10 years or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first on the 2007-2009 S models only. So if you have a 2010 or newer vehicle or a vehicle over 120,000 miles you are not covered. It is important that you take your Mini to a specialty shop only, because if they are reputable and know these cars they would refer you to the dealer for warranty repairs. A lot of shops, especially general automotive repair shops are unaware of the extended warranty and might try and sell you one instead.

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So, how do you know if you are having the issue? Well that is a good question and it is not always easy one to answer. The HPFP does not always just die, it sometimes prolongs the issue making it confusing to diagnose unless the check engine light comes on. Some of the pumps have been reported to die all at once, with some even failing while driving at freeway speeds, causing the engine to die (very dangerous). The most common symptom that the HPFP is starting to fail is engine surging while driving. This is usually followed up by difficulty starting, and then when the engine finally does start, it runs poorly (feels like a diesel engine). When you get to this stage, usually the check engine light will come on and register misfire codes, thankfully making it easier to figure out.

Our recommendation is that if you are having any of these symptoms to get your vehicle to a certified Mini Cooper specialist and get your vehicle checked before it becomes dangerous, and so that possible warranty coverage may be verified.

Here is the text of the letter from MINI USA-

 

 

Checking for EVAP Leaks on BMW or MINI Cooper


The Evaporative Emission Control System or EVAP system as it is most often called, was designed to prevent gasoline vapors from escaping from the fuel tank and fuel system. When the computer detects a leak in the system it will trigger the check engine light to come on and warn you. A loose gas cap can cause the light to come on because the system detects that there is pressure loss. The system is designed to detect leaks as small a pin hole. BMW and Mini Cooper are equipped with a Leak Detection Pump (DMTL) for this purpose.

The most common fault codes for EVAP leaks are a PO442- Small leak detected, and PO455- Large leak detected. The PO455 code is most often caused by a gas cap that was left loose after refueling. The PO442 can be a much harder one to diagnose as it virtually impossible to diagnose visually. To diagnose the small leaks a smoke machine is used to find the leaks by feeding a mineral oil based smoke into the system under light pressure. The smoke may also have ultraviolet dye added to make it easier to spot under a UV light. These codes are most typically a result of intake system vacuum leaks, with the most common being cracked or otherwise leaking intake boots. The intake boots are an especially common problem on the 2nd gen Mini Cooper S model with turbos. On late model BMW’s that have a crankcase ventilation valve (most 6 and 8 cylinder models from the mid 1990’s to present day, equatable to a PCV valve) the common problem is the rubber check valve diaphragm ruptures, creating an internal vacuum leak.

Fixing small EVAP leaks can be a big problem even for professional technicians, and if you get a code for a small leak you will most likely have to take it to your mechanic for diagnosis as special equipment is required. The smoke machine diagnostic tool costs between $1000-$1500 depending on the manufacturer and requires some training to use properly. With EVAP leaks it is recommended that you always take your BMW or Mini Cooper to a certified repair facility as these can be nearly impossible to diagnose at home. Please watch our short 2 minute video as we demonstrate a smoke test on a 2007 BMW X3.

Looking for MINI Cooper Service in Sherman Oaks? Call House of Minis & BMW Today! (855) 572-6464

7 Common Mini Cooper Problems

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We put together 7 common problems we find with Mini Coopers to help you, the owner, understand what issues you may have while owning a Mini Cooper.

MINI Cooper Clutch Failure

Early clutch failure is not uncommon on the 1st or 2nd gen Mini Cooper. The early failure can occur on both the 5 speed and 6 speed models and can fail in under 20,000 miles. The problem is usually attributed to hard driving, but not always.

MINI Cooper Transmission Failure

Problems with the automatic transmissions were a notorious problem for these cars. The 1st gen CVT (R50) was the worst of all of them and BMW and Mini were the subject of a class action lawsuit forcing Mini to cover the transmissions under warranty for 8 years or 150,000 miles whichever comes first. These are all out of warranty now and there is no additional warranty coverage from the manufacturer at this time. The cost of transmission replacement exceeds the value of the vehicle and we would recommend steering clear of this model. The Aisin transmission in the Mini Cooper S and 2 gen models is better than the CVT model but they also have a harsh shift issue that is attributed to the valve body. If this problem is caught early, sometimes just the valve body can be replaced. If the shift issue is not addressed in a timely manner the transmission will need to be replaced or rebuilt. Most of the transmission issues are caused by the maintenance interval or lack thereof that Mini specifies. Mini states that the fluid never needs to be changed or not frequently enough and this is wrong. I tell all of my customers that fluid is cheaper than transmission replacement. Changing the fluid frequently, as much as once a year can save you the cost of transmission replacement. The 5 speed manual from 1st gen Mini was also a terrible design and failed prematurely. There is no maintenance for these that will keep them from failing, it is a poor design. I have a customer that had 5 of them replaced within 70,000 miles before his vehicle went out of warranty. The most reliable of the transmissions Mini manufactured is the 6 speed manual variation.

MINI Cooper Timing Chain Noise

The timing chain rattle (as discussed in an earlier blog post) is a common problem. The noise is usually heard at idle on a cold start and it is often referred to as “the death rattle”. This can be a major/costly repair and it is recommended not to ignore this noise if you hear it. This problem is usually caused by low oil, or the oil not being changed frequently enough. (see number 4)

We recommend oil changes every 6 months or 5,000 miles whichever comes first, especially if you do a lot of city driving.

Mini cooper Vanos repair

Performance Issues Related to Vanos (BMW version of Variable Valve Timing)

This problem happens when the oil is not changed frequently enough or if the oil level is too low. The Vanos system requires good oil flow to operate the system. When the oil is not changed enough, sludge builds up and blocks the small passages. If this happens we suggest changing the oil and hope that the detergent in the fresh oil cleans the tiny oil passages. If the passages are not blocked a simple oil change may completely correct this issue. We can’t say enough about how important it is to stay on top of oil level and change it frequently, this is a completely avoidable problem.

Water Pump & Thermostat Housing Leaks

The water pump on both generations of Mini is a fairly common occurrence and if you have more than 50,000 miles on your Mini it is good preventive maintenance to have it replaced. The thermostat housing on 2nd gen Mini is an all plastic housing, and over time almost all of these will fail. You can save yourself a lot of money and time if you replace them before finding a leak.

Front Radiator Support

Mini opted to make the front radiator support out of plastic rather than some other material. The radiator support holds the radiator, cooling fan, and condenser assembly. It sits very low under the front of the vehicle and is easily damaged. Even a light impact on a high curb can cause a lot of damage. The lower radiator hose sits even lower than the support and is easily damaged on parking curbs. Be sure to take care when parking your Mini.

Electric Power Steering pumps

The electric power steering pumps are prone to failure and were the subject of a recall. The failure is often caused by low power steering fluid or failure of the electric cooling fan. If you are lucky enough to still be covered by the recall (warranty), the dealer will make you repair all fluid leaks before they will install the new pump. We can replace the power steering hoses for much less than the dealer.

With all of that being said, don’t let this list alarm you. Mini Coopers are not that expensive to purchase and with regular maintenance, depending on the type of driving you do, these cars are designed to last a long time. Mini Cooper maintenance costs are in line or less than comparable performance cars.

If you live in Van Nuys, West Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Agoura Hills, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Canoga Park, Culver City, Encino, North Hollywood, Reseda, San Fernando Valley, Sherman Oaks, or Studio City and need a reputable independent Mini Cooper shop, Call The Haus today! (855) 572-6464

6 Most Common Repairs on the BMW E46 3 Series

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If you own, or are thinking about buying an E46  3 series that were manufactured from 1999-2006 there are some things to look out for or keep an eye on. These cars are a favorite among BMW aficionados  and were consistently named to Car & Driver’s Top Ten list. These cars can be a long lasting vehicle if maintained properly.

Valve Cover Gasket Leaks
These leaks are common after about 60,000 miles. Symptoms will include oil drips under the car and/or a burning oil smell from the engine compartment. It is important after the leak is repaired to pressure wash the engine so the mechanic can verify there are no additional oil leaks.

Rear Window Regulator Failure
The rear window regulators can fail causing the window to stop working, and in some cases cause the window to fall into the door. The regulators are built with plastic pulleys and thin cables so even with diligent maintenance they can fail. Replacement of the regulator is required to correct this problem.

Coolant Expansion Tank Leaks
An engine coolant leak may develop from the expansion tank. These tanks are made of plastic and over time may leak causing the engine to overheat. When a component in the cooling system fails it is important to inspect the entire cooling system. It is not uncommon to find additional leaks. The radiator and water pumps are also common problems. It is important if your vehicle overheats that you pull over as soon as possible and have your vehicle towed to a qualified BMW repair shop. Overheating can cause severe engine damage!

Power Steering Pump Failure
This is a common concern on the E46, when the power steering pump starts to fail it may emit a growling noise and there may be increased steering effort. There a few reasons the pump can fail. The most common reason the pump fails is due to low fluid, caused by a leak somewhere in the power steering system. There is also a filter in the bottom of the power steering fluid reservoir that gets plugged over time and can restrict fluid flow to pump. The filter is not serviceable separately and will require the reservoir to be replaced if you have this problem. It is important to check the fluid regularly, if it is low you most likely have a leak somewhere in the system.

Rear Sub-frame Tearing
There was a class action lawsuit brought against BMW in 2009 for this problem. It was not uncommon for the rear sub-frame to tear of crack. Owners should be aware of any loud or abnormal noises coming from the rear of the vehicle when traveling on bumpy roads and contact your mechanic for inspection as soon as you hear the noise.

Faulty Tail Lamp Wiring
The tail lamp wiring was the subject of a recall a few years ago. The affected models were the 2002-2005 3 series sedans, model numbers 325i, 325Xi, 330i, and 330Xi. If you own or are thinking about purchasing one of these contact BMW and verify that the recall has been done, or if it applies to your vehicle.

These are just a few things to look out for on these models, but there are more. It is always advised you have a pre-purchase inspection done by a qualified BMW mechanic before buying a used vehicle. Having an inspection done will keep you from buying a vehicle that that may need thousands of dollars worth of repairs.

At The Haus we perform FREE pre-purchase inspections for all of our customers.

Carbon Cleaning For MINI Cooper & BMW

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As we move further into the 21st century, many auto manufacturers are turning to engine management systems that employ “direct injection” fuel injection systems. Direct injection systems inject the fuel directly into the combustion chamber at the precise timing for optimum power and/or economy under a specific operating condition, or parameters.

The gasoline is highly pressurized, and injected via a fuel rail/line directly into the combustion chamber of each cylinder. With multi-port fuel injection the fuel is injected into the intake tract, or cylinder port. The major drawback with direct port injections, is although is provides more power and fuel efficiency it causes carbon build up in the intake valves, and over time reduces airflow to the cylinders, and therefore reduces engine power. Most fuel contains various detergents that can keep the intake valves clean, but with direct injection the fuel never touches the intake valves, as it does with a multi-port injection system. When fuel is no longer sprayed into the intake valves, it allows dirt and carbon from intake air to cake/build up on intake walls, even when there are air filters that prevent most dirt from entering the cylinder. The build up can become severe enough to cause sporadic ignition failures.

In 2003 BMW introduced a low pressure gasoline direct injection N73 V-12 engine. This initial BMW setup could not enter lean-burn mode, BMW introduced it’s second generation High Pressure Injection (H.P.I.) system on the new turbo-charged N54 straight 6 engine in 2006. This system used high pressure injectors, and this system surpasses may others with a much wider envelope of lean fuel burn time which increases overall efficiency. BMW in conjunction with Peugeot designed a line of engines (BMW Prince Engine) that made it’s debut in the 2007 MINI Cooper S model. In 2008, BMW released the X6 equipped with a direct injected twin turbo N63 V-8 engine.

The N54 and N55 twin and single turbo engines seem to be the most susceptible to the heavy carbon build up (although it effects all models). BMW and MINI dealers are happy to perform the de-carbon service for fees in the $850-$1200 neighborhood (much, much higher if you have a twin turbo V-8). The carbon cleaning is not terribly complicated on the 4 & 6 cylinder models but it does require removal of the intake manifold and a media blaster to clean the intake ports and valves.

If your MINI cooper or BMW needs a carbon cleaning/de-carbon call The Haus we can save you a lot of time & money compared to the dealer and provide the same quality of repairs and customer service.

We have a beautiful, state of the art facility and we have all of the amenities that the dealerships do, and we also provide a FREE customer shuttle within a 10 mile radius.

We proudly serve Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Van Nuys, Encino,Burbank, Hollywood,  West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, all of Los Angeles, Culver City, and Santa Monica.

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Common Oil Leaks For MINI Cooper

If you own a first or second generation MINI there are several common oil leaks to both models.

R50 & R53

On the R50 & R53 models the most common ones are the crankshaft position sensor o-ring and valve cover gasket. The valve cover gasket is a fairly easy repair as the valve cover sits on top of the engine which allows for easy removal and re-installation of valve cover. The crank sensor o-ring is on the side of the engine closest to the radiator (front of the vehicle). This o-ring is much harder to get to than the valve cover gasket and can be a much messier leak. It is necessary to remove the front bumper and support to be able to tilt the radiator forward and gain access to the o-ring. Once the o-ring is replaced we always recommend a good pressure wash of the engine for a couple of reasons. The first reason is to be able to tell if there are any additional oil leaks, and the second reason is to prevent any damage to other engine components. The lower engine mount is partly made of rubber, and if this rubber gets oil saturated it will need to be replaced.

R55,R56,& R57

On the 2nd generation MINI (R55,R56,& R57) there are also several common oil leaks. The valve cover gasket on these tend to leak, just like first gen MINI. If you have an S model the turbo oil feed pipe is a very common leak and can be dangerous if not repaired. The turbo charger is bolted to/part of the exhaust manifold, and here is where the danger part comes in, when the turbo pipe leaks it sprays oil on to the exhaust manifold. The exhaust can reach temperatures upwards of 1,000 degrees, and here is where the danger lies. There is potential for fire hazard if the oil that sprays on to the turbo/manifold is ignited. This is a very real hazard and cause cause serious damage to your vehicle. We recommend that if you have the turbo feed pipe leak, that you address it as soon as possible. Another common leak on 2nd gen MINI is brake booster vacuum pump which is located on left side top of engine (driver side of cylinder head). Both Cooper and Cooper S models are equipped with these. If you are lucky enough to have the S version the dealer will cover the vacuum pump under the California Emission Warranty which is 7 years or 70,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you have a base model it is only covered 4 years or 50,000 miles. Either way the dealer will charge you around $1000 to replace this part, at The Haus we can perform the same repair using original equipment manufacturer part for around 1/2 the price, and we give you the same 2 year/24,000 mile warranty on parts & labor as the local dealers. If you are looking for certified MINI technicians in Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, or Hollywood call The Haus and speak to one of our pros and schedule an appointment.
We perform a complete safety inspection of your vehicle on every visit to keep you in the know about upcoming repairs so there are fewer surprises. Check back soon for more advice to keep your MINI in tip top shape and save you money on repairs.

Timing Chain/Tensioner Replacement on 2nd generation Mini Cooper

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Often referred to as the “Death Rattle Noise”, this audible sound coming from the engine bay is the timing chain in your R55, R56, or R57. When you first start your car you may experience a noise coming from the engine bay on a cold morning, once the engine warms up the noise may go away. If you lift your hood up that noise is coming from the front of the timing cover. One of the possible causes for this noise occurs when the timing chain support rail loses tension. This support rail is made of a durable plastic, but with heat and time, the plastic can become brittle and break. If you here this noise, you should call a certified Mini Cooper technician immediately as you do not want to hurt the valve train or further damage the timing system.

Unlike most cars, the Mini Cooper uses a metal timing chain rather than a belt made of composite materials. One of the features of the BMW Prince engine is that the timing chain and tensioner are located inside the engine; the major drawback of this design is that when the timing chain or tensioner fails it can cause catastrophic engine damage. The most common cause of timing chain tensioner/chain failure is low engine oil. If you follow the MINI/BMW maintenance intervals an oil change is only recommended once a year or every 15,000 miles. This interval is far too long for the BMW Prince engine, especially if you have the turbo charged version. These are high revving engines that put out a lot of power for their size, and these engines are notorious for burning/consuming oil. We recommend an oil change every 6 months or 5,000 miles, if you follow this maintenance schedule the timing chain can last the lifetime of the vehicle. Performing an oil change is far cheaper than timing chain replacement or engine repairs. Engine replacement can run between $5000-$8000 depending on what repairs are done. Performing 2-3 oil changes a year will cost you less than $200.

If you’re in the market to purchase a 2nd generation Cooper or Cooper S. Be sure to review all service records to see if the timing chain has ever been replaced and that the oil was changed regularly. If you are buying from a dealer ask the salesman if the warranty or extended warranty you were to purchase from them would cover this expense?

Customers often call our shop and ask us, “ What are some things to look out for when purchasing a MINI Cooper?” This is a great example of a common issue. Check back for more Mini Cooper buyer information in future posts. If you’re looking for a Certified Mini Cooper repair shop in Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, or Studio City, California please give us a call at (855) 572-MINI (6464).

 

Grand Opening of Haus of Minis & BMW!

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Van Nuys, CA, USA – EA United Corp is pleased to announce the Grand opening of a BMW & MINI Cooper repair facility within the city limits of Van Nuys – Haus Of Minis & BMW.

“It is our philosophy to maintain each car as if it were our own.” This practice has proven to be the number one reason why our customers continue to enjoy their vehicles whether it’s a 1997 325i or a 2012 Mini Cooper convertible. Our service rates are up to fifty percent less than most dealers in the area, which allows incredible services at an affordable price.

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Haus of Minis and BMW employs certified and professional technicians from North American dealerships to do all necessary repairs. We specialize in maintaining our clients’ vehicles in pristine condition for the best value. Our honest and efficient staff will help you feel confident in making The Haus your number one option for repairs.

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To view a full list of our services, please visit the Services page on our website or give us a call for more information. The Haus is ready to earn your business for your next vehicle repair.

Now serving: Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks, Reseda, Sun Valley, Studio City, Canoga Park, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Granada Hills, Burbank, and Glendale.

Please call Haus Of Minis & BMW at (855) 572-6464 (MINI) or head over to www.hausofminis.com

Call Us Now!

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