We enthusiasts, we love the cars. But the cars do not always love us back.
My then-fiancee and I moved to Washington D.C. from Texas in late 2012. We sold our cars before we did, thinking public transit, walking and Zipcar would fill the void for us. It could have worked and it has for other people. But not us.
I got tired of Zipcar late fees, and, more than anything, not owning my own damn car. So a few months later we buckled and bought a used Mini Cooper S. That blue guy, up there.
I knew all the things people said about Mini Coopers and their reliability, or lack thereof. I knew all that and I bought one anyway. We got what I thought was a good deal on a small, efficient, incredibly park-able car that was a ton of fun, when it worked.
When it worked.
Buy a used Mini, figure in at least $1,200 a month in repair costs. That’s a nice healthy budget to have. Besides normal wear and tear, which was plenty expensive, we had oil consumption issues, blue tailpipe smoke, a very fickle sunroof, timing chain failures and one check engine light after another. When we moved back to Texas, we sold it and I was thrilled to be done with the son of a bitch.
Now, I know the Onion headline here is “Man Who Bought Unreliable Car Is Shocked To Find It Is Unreliable.” I know that! But I didn’t have to like it, and my wallet didn’t either.
Even now when I hear a Mini Cooper go by, and I listen to its 1.6-liter turbo PSA Peugeot-Citroën engine rattle down the road, I am filled with dread. I have Mini PTSD.
What did we buy after it? I wanted a Mazda3 but Mrs. PG insisted on something faster, so we got another Mini. The new one this time, a 2015 Cooper S. So far it’s been perfectly reliable. Zero problems. Luckily I have a nice, dependable backup in case something happens: my 32-year-old German car and all of its 1980s electronics.
What car were you happy to be done with?