Our cars : MINI First – four wheels on my wagon
They say that you need four wheels on your wagon, and although they do drive pretty well in that state – but after a bit of an unfortunate incident, I came away having come to the conclusion that cars really are better with five. It was the end of a long week, and driving on some back lanes to avoid a rather annoying traffic jam on a dual carriageway, a moment’s inattention led to us clipping a kerb…
There was a bang from the nearside front, that woke us up, and before we knew it, we were slowing down – already suffering from that sick feeling in the stomach knowing the tyre’s gone down. Once parked up in a safe place, it was time to inspect the damage, and it wasn’t good. The front tyre was indeed down, and worse than that, the wheel had a whacking great dent in it. Bugger.
Popping the boot and having a look under the boot floor, and we were reminded of the fact that MINIs don’t come with a full-sized spare wheel. In fact, it’s worse than that – there’s no spacesaver either. Like so many new cars, all you get now is a can of tyre sealant, and a 12V compressor for re-inflating the standard fit Michelins. Yup, if you want a spare wheel, you can have a spacesaver, but only if you specify it as an optional extra.
And looking at the image above, it was fairly obvious this puncture repair kit wasn’t going to cut it. We did try, but – yeah – not a hope of reinflating our tyre on its damaged steel wheel. Time to call MINI’s emergency helpline. A few minutes later and with our co-ordinates passed on, we were reassured that a recovery truck was on its way to pick us up. The friendly operative asked where we needed to be, and I just suggested we dump the car at the local dealership, Wollaston MINI, and we’ll make our own way home.
Being less than priority, we were in for a wait. A little over to hours later, the car was being recovered and we were on our way home. The next morning, and I was on the ‘phone to Michelin ordering a new Energy tyre (a British-made tyre from Dundee on my British-made car), and then on the blower to Wollaston enquiring after a pair of replacement steel wheels (yes, the rear also received a small dent, too). The good news was that Wollaston had the wheels in stock, but the tyre was going to take a couple of days…
I was keen to ensure we had a matching tyre to fit, so was happy to wait. Equally fortunately, Wollaston was happy to keep hold the car while the tyre turned up. While they were at it, the guy who originally sold me the car (and AROnline reader, as well as classic Mini owner), Paul Raynes, spotted a little dent in the rear flank (seems it glanced a wheelie bin at some point) and suggested I have it seen to while it was in at Wollaston.
While the MINI was in the shop, my partner ended up running my Dacia Sandero (that’s another story), and I put the potential cost of all of this out of my mind. Two days later, and Paul drops me a line – the new Michelin, which cost £89, was on the new front wheel, and the dealer’s tyre fitter swapped my rear off the less-damaged wheel and onto another for £25. On top of that, the dent had been sorted for £35, and it’s all been washed and valeted, and ready for collection. Talk about excellent, and unobtrusive, service. I suspect it might have been a whole lot more painful if it wasn’t running on those cheap, yet stylish, steelies.
As for service - the MINI dealer was excellent, MINI Assistance was, too, despite that long wait. The lack of a spare wheel is a real irritation (that many people suffer from these days), and I’m now considering sticking a spacesaver in the boot. Just in case…