Belkin Auto Kit (Review)

This was MINI Dee's first Christmas, and she made out pretty well. Not only is she fully protected with a new OEM Alarm, but her interior was cleaned up with the Belkin Auto Kit for the iPod. My girlfriend chose a great gift. Thank you, Katie.
Previous Setup:
I had previously installed the AUX input and used that to get sound from my iPod to the factory head unit. The problem was that my iPod's battery would die in about a half hour. Using a Belkin Mobile Power Cord to charge the iPod while connected to the AUX input would cause the AUX to temporarily stop working. It had something to do with isolating the ground loop, which required a ground loop isolator, but that seemed too messy of a solution. In addition to that, the entire set up was rather cluttered with an audio wire for the AUX input connected to one end of the iPod and a car charger connected to the other. What I needed was a simpler solution that took advantage of the AUX input and cleaned up the wires that were visible.

New Setup:
The install was rather easy: just plug it in and it's good to go. What was unique about this setup was that it had an integrated amplified audio jack output with adjustable volume, perfect for the AUX input jack. Now all I have to do is connect the iPod with the dock connection from the Belkin Auto Kit, and it draws the line level out audio signal from the iPod while it charges.

Other Added Benefits:
Every so often, I would forget I had the iPod in the car and accidentally leave it playing. When I would come back, I would find the Ipod's battery fully drained. With this new set up, that is a thing of the past. Now, when I turn the car off, it automatically pauses the Ipod and conserves the battery. What a great little feature!

Also, with my previous set up, the volume level of the Ipod was rather weak compared with the radio and CD volume levels. There was a possibility that you could blow out a speaker if you had the volume too high and then switched to the radio without turning the volume down. Not so with this new set up. Now the levels are comparatively matched, thanks to the integrated amplified audio jack output with adjustable volume. Another great little feature.

One last feature is the actual dock connector at the end of the charger. The fact that it is not symmetrical makes it very easy to connect the Ipod in the dark. Belkin seems to be good with things like this because the Belkin Mobile Power Cord also has a raised label indicating which side is up.

Some Drawbacks:
Overall, I am extremely happy with this new setup. It is much better than what I had, and the audio quality is very clear. There is a faint hum when listening at very high volumes, but it is hardly noticeable. Also, the overall price including the AUX input, might be a bit high. The Auto Kit is $40 and the AUX input is about $40. Some might be inclined to spend a little more for the OEM Ipod Adapter or the Ice Link Plus.


My Ipod Nears Its End

I have had a 3rd generation 10 gig Ipod since Christmas of 2003 and it has been great. No problems with it malfunctioning or anything rendering it unusable. Lately, due to the cold I suspect, my ipod has been having a little trouble lasting the full length of my morning commute. I timed it this morning and it lasted only 39 minutes from a full charge until it died on me. My commute is about 45 minutes, so I need to have the Ipod charged a bit to make it without it running out of battery power.

Back in September, I filled out the Ipod settlement. It had been delayed with an appeal of some sort from other "objectors," but as of December 22nd that has been dismissed. Hopefully I can get my $50 towards getting a new Ipod sooner rather than later. Any donations for my personal "ipod replacement" fund will be accepted as well. :-)

Hope everyone has a great holiday.


MINI Dee Full Spec List

2005 Mini Cooper S... aka "MINI Dee"

Manufacturer's suggested retail price (including $550 destination charge):

Dark Silver Metallic:

No Cost Options:
  • Roof and Mirror Caps in Black
  • Anthracite Trim
  • Black Bonnet Strips
  • Space Gray/Panther Black Cloth
  • Included

    Rear Fog Lamp:

    Combo #1 Premium:
  • Multifunction Steering Wheel w/Cruise
  • Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof
  • Automatic Air Conditioner
  • On-Board Computer
  • $1,350

    Combo #2 Sport:
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
  • Front For Lamps
  • 17" Alloy Wheels (R98 Web Spoke) w/Performance Run-flat Tires
  • Xenon Headlights w/Heated Power Washers
  • $1,850

    Combo #3 Cold Weather:
  • Heated Washer Jets
  • Heated Mirrors
  • Heated Front Seats
  • $300

    Combo #4 Convenience:
  • Universal Garage Door Opener
  • Autodimming Rear View Mirror
  • Rain Sensor/Auto Headlights
  • $400

    Automatic Transmission w/Steptronic Paddles:



    My Mini Chrome Buttons including shipping (added 4.20.05 self install)

    Jensen 300W amp w/(2) 10" Subwoofers in Bandpass enclosure (added 4.22.05 self install)

    Door Edge Guards including shipping (added 4.22.05 self install)

    AUX Input including shipping (added 4.22.05 self install)

    Auto-Up Circuit including shipping (added 4.24.05 self install)

    R99 Silver Double Spoke replacment for R98 defect(added 10.26.05 dealer install)

    OEM Rubber Mats (added 11.9.05 self install)

    OEM Alarm (added 12.17.05 self install/dealer programmed)

    Belkin Auto Kit (added 12.26.05 self install)

    HD Dice iPod Integration Kit (added 5.8.07 self install)


    WMS 15% Reduction Pulley including installation by Randy Webb on MCSa (added 5.18.06 (7902 miles) @ pulley party)
    $120+$280+$85 = $485

    WMS HDI Intake installed by Randy Webb on MCSa (added 5.18.06 (7902 miles) @ pulley party)

    Milltek exhaust installed by Randy Webb on MCSa (added 5.18.06 (7902 miles) @ pulley party)
    $695+$170+$35 = $900

    205/45HR-17 Kumho Ecsta AST XL Tires From Tirerack installed by NTB on MCSa (added 8.25.07 @±19,000 miles)
    $337.32+$64.61 = $401.93

    Brake Rebuilt Kit From MiniCarParts.net installed by local shop on MCSa (added 10.8.09 @ 37616 miles)
    $254+$100 = $354

    Bridgestone Potenza G 019 Grid From Tirerack installed by NTB on MCSa (added 10.19.09 @ 37659 miles)
    $392+$83.96 = $475.96

    Replacement Battery From Autozone on MCSa (added 10.1.09 @ 37500 miles)
    $89.99 + 12.00= $101.99


    How I Got Hooked

    I first saw a mini cooper up close inside an Ikea as some sort of give away or promotion back in the Fall of 2003. It did catch my eye, but I was not in the market for a new car at the time, so I did not lose much sleep. I mentally filed it away as a potential purchase down the road, noticing the rather reasonable (IMO) sticker price, not knowing there was little flexibility with that number.

    I started falling for the MINI Cooper back in April of 2004 when I went car shopping for my mom. We test drove a number of cars including the VW Golf, Mazda 3, and a variety of other small hatchbacks. At the time, the Scion Xa had not reached the Chicago area, but would have been another on our test drive list. My mom ended up getting the Chevy Aveo, which was a new model for 2004, but she did consider the MINI. Some of the things that turned her off were the sporty nature and look, the lack of room of the interior, and the fact that it only came in a three door model (she wanted a five door car). The major turn off was the price, which was almost double of the Aveo.

    All good points, but none of those were issues for me. After test driving the MINI, I knew that I would get a Cooper as my next car. I felt that if I were to buy a Cooper, I would have to think of it as a premium sports car for a great price. At this time, the MCS was only available as a 6 speed manual, but a new MCS auto was on the horizon.

    Over the next year or so, I visited the dealer about once a week, test driving the CVT Cooper to get a feel of the car in general, and asking as much I could about the future MCSa; and, without the full support of my family, I went ahead and put a deposit for MCSa in October of 2004. The wait time was about two months, but I intended to take delivery in the beginning of April and did not want any surprise delays with delivery time. So I was put on the wait list and allowed people to go ahead of me as needed to get the car when I wanted.

    I ended up taking delivery on April 15th (tax day) just in time for some Spring motoring. I was extremely happy to say the least. Mini Dee was waiting in the show room, all nice and shiny. I even was offered to drive it out of the show room, but I opted not to for fear of hitting the door or something. My dark silver/black roof MINI Cooper S automatic had only 11 miles on it, if I remember correctly.

    Here's my original spec list:
  • Premium Package-sunroof, mfsw, auto A/C, and the OBC.
  • Sports Package-DSC, slack bonnet stripes, xenon headlights, front fog lamps, and wheel upgrade to R98 17" web spokes R99 silver double spoke wheels
  • Cold Weather Package-heated front seats, heated side view mirror, and heated washer jets.
  • Convenience Package-auto dimming rear view mirror, rain sensor, auto headlights, and the universal garage door opener
  • Rear Fog Light
  • Automatic Transmission with Agitronic Paddles
  • Gray Space Cloth Seats, anthracite dash

    Added Accessories:
  • My Mini Chrome Door Buttons
  • AUX input
  • OEM Rubber Mats
  • Original Auto Up Circuit from Ian Cull
  • 12/8/05

    White Roof, Black Stripes?

    Today was our first significant snow (over 4 inches), and MINI dee was all up in it. Since I do not have snow tires yet, she did not go far. After a few minutes back in the garage, the snow just slid right off. Here's some pictures. I even took a picture with her doing an impersonation of an old white haired Mr. T. Enjoy.


    MINI vs Mini

    I always wondered why some people would capitalize the word MINI, while others would not. After a little searching, I could not find a definitive answer as to why MINI is different than Mini.

    As far as I can tell, when someone writes about a MINI, they are talking about the new (2002-present) MINI, as opposed to the classic (pre-new design) Mini. I think it's fitting to capitalize the make of such a small car.

    I'll be sure to be a little more careful from now on.... I guess mini dee will have to be renamed MINI dee. We'll see how long that lasts. Here is a brief history of Mini cortesy of Outmotoring.com. Enjoy.


    MCSa in the cold

    Mark over at mdsbrain.com has observed a few odd reactions the MCSa had with presumably the recent cold weather. I personally have not experienced anything out of the ordinary, but then again, mini dee is kept in a heated garage and has never spent more than a few hours or so standing still in the cold. If I get a chance, I will let her sit out for a bit and relay any observations I might have.

    Quote from msdbrain:link

    The tranny shifts very strangely when cold. Like when driving slowly it will ride up to 4k rpm before shifting.

    I have noticed some jerky shifting occasionally, but I do not think its related to the cold because it also happens in the summer. It's one of those things that is rare and would be non-existent if I were to take her in for service.


    Heated Side Mirrors

    Now that its really cold around here, the heated side mirrors (and heated seats) are coming in really handy. I initially was a bit worried that I would not be able to tell if they actually worked since mini dee is kept in a heated garage. Also, I have curbed my winter driving since I don't think I could handle seeing mini dee so salty and dirty. I like to think she's hibernating for the winter.

    Anyways, during Thanksgiving, I took her out for a spin, noticing the close to freezing temps, not to mention the little extra kick due to the cold weather. For those in warmer climates, the mini has an audible and visual warning of potential freezing temperatures. When the temperature reaches 36 or 38 degrees, if I remember correctly, there is a distinct ping sound. It's a little different than the usual seatbelt pings, but along those tones. In addtion to that, the temperature flashes in your OBC for a visual warning. If the mini is sitting in cold weather at the start, the warning sounds before the seatbelt pings, so it may go unnoticed. Mini dee usually starts out in a warm garage then after a little while outside, she tells me its cold.

    So after a quick ride, I parked back in the garage and got out to feel the mirrors. The caps were frigid but the actual glass of the mirror was warm to the touch. It was very cool. There was no snow or ice for the mirrors to melt but it was nice to feel it working.

    In addition to that, I finally folded my mirrors in. I had never done that before, and I must say, it was funny. It was like mini dee was wiggling her ears at me. It gave me a good chuckle. Big thumbs up from DanC.


    RSS Feed Now Live

    On this wonderful Thanksgiving day, dcmini has now gone live with its own RSS feed. Feel free to link us up and get live updates. Courtesy of feedburner

    for both the RSS and non RSS capable:

    And to all, have a great holiday.

    UPDATE: I have deleted the previous link because it seems that was only for RSS Safari web browsers and would do funny things then clicked using a older version of Safari. Sorry about that. The other link should work fine, otherwise use what ever other method you like to access the live feeds. Foxfire has a nice way for the RSS feeds to display in the side bar.

    p.s. Being a non work day, I've been busy clearing out my draft posts. In case you missed them here are the links:
    Rubber Mats
    New Mini Accessories


    Rubber Mats

    My dealer had a service clinic a couple of weeks ago and I was invited by my SA to come and tour the tech shop. It was very cool to see where the minis are worked on and actually meet some of the technicians. I actually took a look at the underside of a mini as it was raised up on the lift. They pointed out where the stock front sway bar and oil filter were located which I kinda knew but had never seen it from that perspective. Over all it was a great time.

    Anyways, at the end of the clinic, I decided to pick up the mini cooper rubber mats with the mini logo on them. Just in time for any winter debris, this should prove to be a very smart move.

    I actually went back and forth over what rubber mats to get, the "S" mats or the "mini logo" mats. In the end I chose the "mini logo" mats for a more classy and subdued look. The "S" mats, I think, were too sporty for my liking. But other than that, they look really cool and I almost took those with me.

    So for while now mini dee smells like a new pair of sneakers. Its great to sit in and just soak in that new smell. But what I did notice is that these mats do attract and display the slightest little amount of dirt. The carpet mats I have seemed to hide this very well so once winter is well off, the carpet mats will come back.

    We have not had a major winter snow yet and I plan not to drive mini dee in the snow but just in case, the rubber mats are highly recommended and look and smell great.

    FYI, the difference between the second and third image was just the flash of the camera. Having the flash on really zeros in on how much dirt there is but the second picture is more realistic... I though I'd include both images just to compare.

    The rubber mats are available from outmotoring.com or at your local dealer parts counter. I just bought the front mats because no one goes in the back seat anyways.


    New Mini Accessories

    I have not received the official 2006 accessories brochure yet but sifting through miniUSA, there are a couple of new items that caught my eye... For the wrong reason I might add. Needly to say these are two options I will not be adding to mini dee.

    The first was the bluetooth phone integration kit that takes advantage of those two buttons on my steering wheel.
    The perfect marriage of mobile phone and MINI. Send and end calls with the multi-function Steering Wheel controls. Check caller ID and phone entries on your BMW stereo system display. Use voice-recognition dialing. And integrate your phone into your center armrest with a custom docking cradle that charges your phone and connects to an external phone antenna for enhanced reception. (Vehicle must be outfitted with armrest if not already equipped).
    This item fits years: 2003 – 2006.
    Separate Snap-In Adapter required for retrofit

    Sounds good, right?.. well if you had $1250 to throw away... oh and don't for get the $250 arm rest if you don't have it. I actually passed on this option when I ordered mini dee. MiniUSA just started offering it for March builds back earlier this year, so when I specced mine out, there was not a demo to be seen with the armrest. If fact, I did go to the Chicago auto show just to check it out back in February and found it to be rather flimsy and cheap. So I opted not to add it.... anyways.

    In addition to all of that, there is the "snap in" phone holder that is within the armrest...Add another $125! That brings us to a whopping $1625! Andd that with just parts. There's another three hours minimum of labor which could bring the total cost to about $2000! Ouch. Buyer beware, bluetooth earpieces are just about $50.

    The second item that caughtt my eye was the 'power modul' speaker upgrade. Basically, it just swaps out the existing speakers for some a bit better..Which is good but again the cost is $1650 which, if you go with aftermarket speakers, could get you an entire quality system installed.

    Designed for the MINI, this hi-fi system delivers unparalleled power, sound quality and style, courtesy of a Class-D digital amplifier, liquid-cooled tweeters, a 160mm front woofer, and 6x9 rear coaxial speakers.
    Item # 82 83 0 392 52

    Again buyer beware. Mini is a premium car but its not supposed to be completely out of reach for a great majority of mini owners.


    MPG Widget

    There's a new widget available for your mac os 10.4 as a free download from the apple website. Its already made it to the top downloads list so its seems that mpg is on the minds of a lot of people. It seems to calculate other data like cost per month and cost per year but given the fluctuating price of gas, that seems to be a bit unnecessary. And given that you just document the miles traveled per fill up, then mpg is easy to figure out. What would be nice is to figure out the actual cost per month/year but a quick glance at my credit card bill would do that. But these widgets are cool anyways...

    Here's a quote describing the application:

    Finally....The world seems to be taking notice of the waste of precious natural resources. How can you keep track? With this, the Miles Per Gallon widget!

    My MINI Cooper gets an average of about 34 mpg.....How does your car fare? With this widget, you can calculate how many gallons of gas your car uses.

    I calculated my mpg the old fashioned way back when I took the trip to the dells then again when I went to visit my girlfriend in Kentucky. I averaged 35 mpg for highway.



    Surfin' the Web

    I have done some snooping around and I have listed some other mini blogs of notable interest. Be sure to check them out as its a lot of fun to read about other mini owners and what they are up to.

    Some blogs I visit a lot are gbmini.net and mdsbrain.com because they also have MCSa's.

    If you have a blog or know of a good one and would like it to be added to my list, just click be added and send me your link.


    I Gotta Wave More!

    I have noticed that of the handful of minis that I pass on the road, many don't particularly make an outstanding effort to give a nod or wave in another mini's direction. I am guilty of this myself, but in my defense I usually am focused on the road ahead and not on oncoming traffic. If I come across a mini traveling my way, I am sure to throw a huge wave at them. And I am getting better at spoting minis from a distance.

    On my trip to Kentucky I came across five minis traveling in the opposite direction and one mini traveling in my direction. There might have been more that I didn't notice due to the extra wide interstate and such distractions as fluffy clouds and vibrantly colored trees. Of the ones I did notice, I was sure to throw a big wave in there direction.... And I only got two waves back!

    I saw two red/white copper and no wave.... an indi blue/black cooper and no wave... a yellow/white cooper and no wave... Of the six coopers I saw, the two that waved back were both pepper white/black cooper s'. The first was traveling in Kentucky on I-24 in the opposite direction when I was headed down to visit . Being a major divided highway, the other cooper went out of his way to wave and flash his lights. The gesture put a huge smile on my face.

    The second one was on my way home, somewhere in Iroquois county in Illinois, and a pepper white/black cooper s pulled onto the on ramp when I was passing under the overpass. I continued to cruise at the same speed but I spotted him in my rearview mirror not too much later. He eased up on my left side and gave a huge flap of the arm, to which I returned a happy wave. He then zoomed passed but I certainly enjoyed the camaraderie of coopers on the open road.

    So, the pepper white/black coopers certainly got their waving down. But I try to do my part and give the dark silver/black coopers a good name and wave as much as I can. I guess I gotta wave more often and keep a keen eye out for others as well.

    happy motoring!


    AUX Input Issue

    I did some quick internet searching for known issues about the aux input, that is available as an accessory from the dealer. I did find some threads describing a similar problem with having the aux input temporarily ceasing function.

    My Setup:
    I currently have the aux input that I was so inclined to install myself. The install is as easy as it gets, just plug it in the back of the head unit and that's it. Anyways, with the aux input, I typically use my third generation ipod. I keep the volume set at about 80 percent and the aux input level at positive 3. This setting is made on the head unit itself once the aux input is plugged in. Every once in a while, I charge my ipod with belkin ipod car charger or the griffin power pod. My set up is not very complicated and it get the job done. I am very happy with the sound quality and its relatively inexpensive.

    The Problem:
    Apparently the power going into the ipod via the car charger is a bit too much at times. In fact after the 7 hour drive to KYI pretty much tried every possible culprit it definitely is the charger that charges the ipod. It only happens when the ipod is being charged and it has more than about 30 percent charge. The reason I say that is because when I had a fully charged ipod, not connected to a car charger, the aux input worked flawlessly. As soon as I connected the charger it would cut out and the aux option on the head unit would not appear temporarily. I then tried it with a completely drained ipod that was connected to the car charger and the aux would work fine for about 40 minutes. Then it would give out again.

    My Guess:
    I'm no electrical engineer but my mind tends to seek a logical cause to a given problem. Given the results of the numerous little tests I conducted over the long road trip, my conclusion is that the ipod, after being charged from the battery being dead to about 30 percent, can no longer absorb enough current and therefore spits out the excess out the audio jack. It seemed to be consistent when I would play certain tracks with the battery fully charged and the car charger connected that the aux would cut out. And later with the ipod recently drained and connected to the charger, the aux would work fine while playing those same tracks.

    The Solution:
    According to the threads the solution is adding a grounding loop, readily available at radioshack. I will give that a try and let you know how that works. It is certainly annoying that I cannot charge my ipod to full capacity without the aux cutting out. But at least there is a good solution already known.

    The aux input is available from outmotoring.com


    Doin' a lil tinkerin'

    Judging by the title of this entry, it seems I've spent a little too much time in 'Tucky. I hope it wears off soon. Anyways, I've been messing with the color schemes of the blog, so bear with me as I pretty much am learning as I go. I think I like the monochormatic look. After all, mini dee is dark silver w/a black top and I think it matches better than the magenta I had before.


    Home on the Range

    While I was out in Kentucky, it was rather hard to find something interesting to do. After all there is not as much man made amusement as there is here in Chicago. So after a short time we thought what better thing to do than enjoy the natural environment and take in the local wildlife... This time I don't mean the people but actual wild animals.

    One of Katie's friends at college (who was a pleasure to have met) has this healthy preoccupation with buffalos. In fact, it's a rather fully developed obsession, complete with posters on the wall, plush bison on her bed and various other buffalo paraphernalia. And being such a nice person that she is, everyone decided to treat her and take her out to the local bison/elk range... As a surprise.

    So we all hopped in the car for the short drive to the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) and headed to the bison range. And boy did we see a lot of bison. I guess there had to be at least forty of these giant animals. It was quite a sight. Katie's friend was utterly shocked as well. She said the last time she went to the range, all she saw was elk and no bison. This time there was a ton of bison, but no elk. That's ok because they had one stuffed at the visitor's center.

    The range itself was basically just a 3 mile paved road that went through a natural preserve that was home to both a number of elk and a large heard of buffalo. Although, there was no elk to be seen, the buffalo were out in the open and easily spotted at the beginning of the trail. They were fairly close to the paved trail, grazing along, but the real close up views were to be had just outside the fencing that kept the bison in. So we thought we might get a closer look, get out of the car and steal a quick picture or two. Well, it didn't take long for the LBL ranger to heed us a warning not to get too close, because the bison have been know to charge through the rather inadequate fencing. We certainly did not want to go head to head with these animals so we snapped our pictures from where we were and headed on our way.

    And what a great time of the year to enjoy seeing these animals. Most of the leaves had turned, which made for a rather impressive landscape and the weather was perfect, a 70 degree autumn day.


    Goin' South

    Back in October, I had the opportunity to take mini dee on a trip to the dells, which was the first time I had taken her for a long drive. But I did not get a chance to fully document the important details of how mini dee handled the long trip. Other than the semi frequent ride into Chicago, mini dee has not had many chances to test her endurance for the long haul... Until this weekend!

    My girlfriend is currently going to college in Kentucky (don't ask why because I am not sure either) and I was planning to go visit her and to see how she lives it that tiny little dorm of hers. I requested Friday and Monday off from work so that we could spend the better part of the weekend together. And knowing that she would be swamped with homework, I used the down-time start writing this up and gather some details about the drive down.

    Right of the bat, this is probably the best statistic that most people care about for those long drives. I did attempt to calculate the mpg to the trip to the dells, but I estimated that I did about 30 mpg with my top speed cruising just below 70 mph. On this trip, I attempted to go a bit faster, hovering at about 74 mph, to see if my mpg would be dramatically less. Well, big surprise, it did. On the way down, the OBC registered 28.3 mpg and at the pump I calculated 28.05 mpg.

    This trip would ultimately tack on at least a thousand miles to the odometer so I was careful to keep track over every mile. On the way down I had to stop for gas once, having driven only 311 miles and needing a fill-up to make it the rest of the way. So on the way back home, I decided I would try to make it on one tank. That's 429 miles from gas station to gas station. This time I just reduced my cruising speed from 74 mph down to 69 mph. And what a difference! After the entire trip, the OBC registered 35.1 mpg and I calculated 35.06 mpg.

    On Board Computer Accuracy:
    I was concerned a bit that the on board computer (OBC) would spit out some numbers that were not at all too accurate. After reading some commentaries on the subject, it seemed that the OBC was not as reliable as the good ole fashion gas receipt and trip meter. Just to be safe, documented both what the OBC stated and my calculations at the pump. And to my surprise these figures were right on target with each other. The average mpg was within .2 mpg which is certainly acceptable for my standards.
    Since I have had the car, I usually keep the digital readout at the tachometer set to the current speed, eventhough I have the very large analog speedometer in the middle of my dash. And the readout between the two sources have always been right on. I am happy to say the average mpg readout is very accurate as well.
    As for the other readouts of the OBC, in my mind, they are simply for novelty. I have no way to test their accuracy but its is nice to see the average speed, range, and continuous readouts for mpg. But using this info seems to be primarily for show and not for accurate readouts. After all I have driven quite a distance with my range number at zero... Although I do not recommend it due to the high stress it evokes.

    The Next Day:
    After seven hours for constant driving and about an hour of local driving, mini dee needed her rest. There was quite a collection of road bugs that were sacrificed as well. So I let her rest over night. The next day while in Kentucky, I turned the ignition and she gave a little sputter. I think it has to do with the fact that I have the two 10" subwofers in the boot and having the music blasting for so long might have taken its toll on the battery. But the next time I turned her on, she was fine. Even when I got home, after the 8 hour trip back, I let her sit overnight, the next day she was ready to go, no sputtering.

    The Locals:
    It didn't take long to get a feel of what daily life was like in Kentucky. Being from the Chicago area, it was rather odd to see a number of buggies, dirt bikes and atv's roaming the streets as regular transport vehicles. There was also an overwhelming number of pick up trucks, with the token farm dog in the bed.

    And being smack dab in the middle of the bible belt, cars like this were all too common. This purple el camino (Spanish for 'the road') was particularly depressing. It had the obnoxious windshield decals spelling out 'plum crazy' in the front and a Chevy logo with a cross in the back. I wouldn't be surprised if a purple clad bible would be found in the glove box. And of course, this guy lives in the same building as my girlfriend. But you gotta love the south and all their deep fried goodness. :-)


    I've Been Spending Time with Mini Dee

    Please excuse my absence. I have been away on a rather long weekend on the road with mini dee. I will prepare a full write up shortly. I went out to Kentucky, visiting my girlfrend at college.... Boy I miss college life. I had a blast spending the better part of four days living in the girls dorms. That was awesome.


    The Media Train Keeps Rollin'

    The folks over at whiteroofradio.com were nice enough to mention the web spoke issue on their most recent weekly podcast #19. The whole purpose is to get the word out so that the problem is easily diagnosed and remedied. I know I was going a little nuts when I kept hearing the clicking but didn't know it was the web spokes. I certainly heard a few stories saying their dealer thought it might be the wheel bearings, or axle. Even one blaming it on the DSC.

    Thanks db, for sneaking the topic at the end of the recent news segment. Gabe also dropped a very good word about my dealer, which I agree with very much.



    Mini Dee Sports Some New Shoes!

    Mini Dee had her new wheels fitted on friday... and she looks hot! I am extremely happy with the choice! Here's some pics. enjoy.


    Motoringfile Posts Web Spoke Issue

    The folks over at Motoringfile.com were kind enough to post an article regarding the Clicking Web Spokes

    I and many others have been having issues with the R98 web spoke wheels, which have a tendancy of clicking after a while. And it seems to be driving a lot of mini owners a little batty. I just hope that the right people are made aware of this issue and a solution is made available. MiniUSA has been very slow to come up with a fix and are currently "investigating this issue"

    Here are some related links regarding this issue:
    Web Spoke Issue
    Clicking Web Spokes @ Motoringfile
    Calling All Web Spoke Owners! @ Mini2
    R98 Web Spoke Wheel Problem @ NAM


    My Web Spoke Issue Nears an End

    Post deleted due to privacy issues. Sorry.


    Chicago White Sox Win!

    As a Chicago Cub fan, I can certainly appriciate the feeling of success with a team that has not won a world series in such a long time. Like the sox, the cubs are long over due for a title. Although I wil not be converted to being a sox fan, I do hope they capitolize on their success thus far. And, I do enjoy a good ball game. Game one goes to the sox, three more wins to go! Go Sox!

    A Visit to the Dealer

    Post deleted due to privacy issues. Sorry


    Thanks DB!

    DB, of world famous whiteroofradio, was kind enough to add me to his links section of dbmini.us. Thanks a lot db. You're a gentleman and a scholar. ;)

    Be sure to check out the podcasts weekly, its great stuff. Its really a gem in the podcast world and in the mini world.


    The Power of the Internet!

    Post deleted due to privacy issues. Sorry.

    Apple Has Been Busy

    Wow, just after a week of introducing the video ipod and new imacs, they pull this out of there sleaves. A totaly ripped G5 power mac... Now thats a dream machine.. and pricey too at $3299! ouch. Apple seems to always impress me with the tech specs too. Four processors! I looked for other computer makers and I couldnt find a quad out there. Imagine all the pictures of my mini I could process with this muscle. ;)
    Oh, and they also updated their power books and came out with a pro application for photographers.


    Web Spoke Issue

    (edited due to privacy issues)
    I just wanted to take this opportunity and express my concerns regarding the R98 Web Spoke wheels.

    Back in April of this year, I took delivery of my Dark Silver Mini Cooper S Automatic. I opted for all the available packages (premium, sport, cold weather, and convenience), the rear fog light and the upgrade to the premium web spoke wheels. I have since added other items like the AUX input, the MyMini chrome door buttons and a bandpass sub box with two 10” woofers for that extra bass.

    I have been extreme happy thus far with all my options and additions... except for the web spoke wheels

    The Problem:
    Sometime in the middle of June I noticed a consistent clicking upon each revolution of the wheel. I initially noticed it coming from the front left wheel but after I had others people lend me their ears, I was told that it seemed to be coming from the other wheels as well.

    So I initially ran my hand over the treads thinking it was a rock wedged in the tread but nothing was to be found. So after a while of scratching my head over this I decided to visit my dealer and ask to see if they could give me a quick diagnosis, after all it could have been something serious with the brakes or transmission.

    So in July I had them replaced and, sure enough the new set also started clicking after about a week of use! At that point, my SA called the MiniUSA representative to visit the dealer and see what he can do to remedy the situation. What they decided to do is send my original clicking wheels to MiniUSA engineers to figure out what is causing them to click.

    The Cause:
    My diagnosis, which is the only one at the moment, is that since the web spoke wheels are a two piece system, the two parts seems to be moving or making and breaking contact with each other at the mating surfaces.

    A few conditions have to be met to cause the very noticeable clicking. 1. It has to be hot outside. 2. It has to be humid outside. 3. the wheels have to be broken in and rotating.

    If the first two conditions are not met then the clicking will not occur consistently. In fact, now that autumn is in full swing, the clicking has died down considerable. Now the only way for the clicking to be noticed is to have the car sit over night, preferable in a garage. The next day, turn the car on, put the windows down and let the car creep forward. The clicking will start and then stop after a full revolution. I am no MiniUSA engineer so I can’t tell you exactly why this happens but I can tell you when it is most likely to happen.

    The Solution:
    Well that’s what I am waiting for. It has been since mid June that I first noticed there was a problem and I still have these clicking wheels. I and strongly suggesting to others not to get these wheels. In fact I will gladly go with a different style wheel just to get the clicking to stop! Hopefully a solution will come very soon.

    Check out these threads for additional info.
    Calling All Web Spoke Owners!
    R98 Web Spoke Wheel Problem

    Also the problem was mentioned on Woofcast #17 of whiteroofradio podcast


    Ipods Officially Announced

    As mentioned yesterday, apple did release a video capable ipod. Along with a new version of iTunes to support the new sales of video downloads. And on the back burner was a new version of the popular iMac with a cool remote and media features.

    It seems that it takes on the form of the nano a bit but is just smaller than the 4th generation ipod. I still am a big fan of my 3rd gen ipod with the touch wheel and four touch buttons on the top. I did not like that you have to press relatively firmly to activate the button features of the new scroll wheel.

    But nonetheless, it is still very cool. So it seems that this will be the end of the griffin itrip as currently sold. Just like the nano, there is no power source for the fm transmitter to draw its power from. It seems that apple will be strongly pushing OEM solutions for ipod integration rather than the cheap itrip way for listening to your ipod in your car. Either way I have the AUX input in my mini so this will not affect her but I do use my itrip very often in my other car and at home.