Adventures in German car repair…

The other day, Bill took my Mini Cooper convertible to the Mini dealer near Patch Barracks.  It needed services, but we also had a bad feeling that the clutch was about to break.  I had noticed the smell of “burning paper” after driving and was having some problems shifting.  We also heard a shimmying noise.

I once experienced a clutch failure in the United States.  I was a teenager driving my sister’s 1989 Hyundai and the clutch just up and died.  It was late at night and I was in the middle of nowhere.  We were well before cellphones.  I ended up driving that car at about five miles an hour to get back to Gloucester Courthouse, which is where I was living at the time.  It took forever and was super frustrating.  My dad, who had a ruptured Achilles tendon and a leg in a cast that went from his foot to his knee, had to come and get me

Not wanting to experience a busted clutch in Germany, we decided to be proactive.  Bill asked the mechanics to take a look.  First, they checked our owner’s manual and saw that the American mechanics never recorded their services.  We got a disappointing look for that.  Then, the guy told Bill that he’d need to keep the car until today because he’d run out of time to check out the clutch.  Yesterday was a holiday, so no one was working.

Today, the guy told Bill that indeed the clutch needs to be replaced.  So does some part that connects the clutch to the transmission.  It’s going to be an expensive repair because they have to take the transmission apart to get to the parts that need to be fixed.

My car is a 2009 model, but I don’t drive it much.  It has maybe 25,000 miles on it.  We did read that Minis made during certain years (2009 among them) have had some clutch issues.  Unfortunately, Mini never told us about it when the car was under warranty.  So this is going to cost us about 1500 euros (including the services).  Better get a VAT form.

Ah well… it’s only money.  And at least if the car is getting the clutch fixed, it’s being fixed in a place where people still drive cars with clutches.

In the meantime, I am reacquainting myself with our Toyota RAV4, which was once “my car”.  It’s totally different than the Mini is and has no clutch, which is very weird.  Hopefully, the Mini will be fixed by Monday.  I’m ready to put the top down.

My Mini before it was a problem car…

ETA: We ended up spending 2400 euros– about $2700– for an entirely new clutch system, new windshield wipers, and maintenance services.  It was painful, but Bill says the car now drives better than it did even when it was brand new.  I have a feeling the clutch was poorly manufactured and if I had driven it more, it would have been repaired under warranty.

Now that it’s fixed, time to put some miles on that baby.


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