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Component based servicing

This has nothing to do with Spain. Well other than the fact that it happened, is happening, in Spain.

The Mini has a very simple dashboard display. The sensors and chips dotted around the car put up warnings on the display. It says in the handbook that this component based service ensures that service is timely and cost efficient. Right.

A SERVICE message in red came up the other day. With a bit of faffing around I worked out that this particular code meant brake fluid. Isn't component a posh word for brake fluid?

Now topping up brake fluid is not a difficult task. Open the bottle, open the brake fluid reservoir. Transfer an appropriate amount of liquid from bottle to reservoir. Close various containers and Bob it is. I did it on a regular basis on the MG.

But years ago brake fluid used to be hygroscopic, it attracted water and self diluted, so that it needed to be changed on a regular basis. Mind you the brake fluid I'm talking about was made from the roasted shells of cashew nuts shelled by exploited Indian peasants. I'm sure the synthetic stuff we use now is produced in some chemical works somewhere. Whether it still needs changing regularly I have no idea.

So did the warning light on the dashboard mean that the fluid needed changing or just topping up? If it's just a top up why should I pay 60€ an hour (plus VAT) and an inflated price for the fluid. Well for two reasons. First to get rid of the annoying red warning light on the dashboard. Second, and much more important, to ensure that the Mini people don't have any wiggling space if anything serious goes wrong in the warranty period. Talk about short and curlies.

So I drove out to the God forsaken industrial estate where the main agent have their premises (why are they never on bus routes or within walking distance of home?) and booked it in.

By the way the photo isn't from my car. The temperature didn't drop below 21ºC today and at noon we were close to 30ºC. Anyway my motor's done nearly 30,000km


  1. Back in blighty there are moves afoot to stop people servicing their own cars - chemicals like brake fluid are getting much harder to come by.

    It's the same in other areas; I re-took my minibus test so I could have the pleasure of driving sweaty DofE children for 3+ hours back from Yorkshire to Cambridge (yes, they were getting quite rank and I had to turn off the heater). Now it used to be that if you passed you car test that you could drive a minibus but now, apart from the council insisting on an extra test (fair enough), the minibus code is NOT part of a drivers licence - you have to undertake a full PSV (or is it PCV) test, just like a coach driver, just to be able to drive a 15 seater minibus. It's going to kill off school/youth trips.


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