Category Archives: Long-Term Test Cars

Cars we own and put lots of time or miles on – we talk about the good, the bad and the ugly.

2009 JCW MINI Clubman 4,000 Mile Update

Arggh mateys and well met.

We here at The Pirate King of Cars (TPKoC) have had the MINI for 4,000 miles of real world driving.

Above all, and higher than the tallest sail on our imaginary ship – the JCW MINI Clubman makes the boring commute fun.

But it has not been a journey without trials.  Very shortly after purchasing the JCW Clubman one of the turbo air intakes came off.  This caused very erratic behavior and if the JCW Clubman were a ship, we were afeared of our lives.

It was straightened out quickly at the dealership (at no charge), but they convinced me that I needed new spark plugs and an oil change.  $500 down the tubes.

There are some other issues…  That cannot be solved so simply.  And while the turbo air intake tube came out again, now that the problem is known it is easily addressed.  Maybe someday I’ll even clean the oil off the turbo and off the inside of the turbo intake tube so it won’t come out again.

Ride quality on the streets of the United States of America…  Well, they were paving the streets near TPKoCs house and sadly they left a layer of highway ripped off for quite some time.  A layer of road that TPKoC drives perpendicular to once daily.

Let’s say the first time I took it like I was driving my wife’s minivan.  I heard what I thought was a gunshot.  There is a possibility that some poo came out.  After a bit of disorientation I continued on the last mile to my home in a slight daze.  Sadly, this isn’t the only time this has happened.  Sometimes, no matter how cautious, you follow a bit too closely and get a surprise with a side order of poo.

The next thing was that I got a service light for the rear brakes.  TPKoC has no idea when the last time the brakes had been done.  This, however, turned out to be an adventure.  Firestone was chosen to do the brakes, but they either missed or TPKoC wasn’t noisy enough about the fact that it was a JCW.  Oh, no, we can’t get that part on a Sunday.  Fortunately, TPKoC has extended family with cars they don’t use everyday.  Monday was an adventure in a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Driving the Jeep Grand Cherokee was better than driving nothing at all…  But the feel of this vehicle is like stepping in moist dog poo in bare feet.  Not fun.

Firestone then had problems with the passenger side rear caliper.  They were going to replace it.  Then, with lots of elbow grease, research on the internet and, pure determination – they removed the parking brake connection they were able to replace the brake pads on the passenger side rear brake.

TPKoC finally got the car back on Wednesday, sadly at a cost of another $500.  Next time perhaps I’ll buy the parts ahead of time and take the car to a place that specializes in German cars, er I mean British cars!

Finally, the past two days in the NorthEast have been showing the anger of the gods of winter.  Snow, some other kind of precipitation that isn’t quite snow or rain, and cold weather have besieged TPKoC!  Never fear!  The stock tires on the MINI seem to be tolerable in these conditions.  When the time comes, we’ll be sacrificing a bit of performance for non-run flat tires that are all season.

Oh, and to the tire guy in the Linden Sam’s club – yes, they do make tires that small.  I’d hate to see the look on his face if someone had a classic Mini for a tire change.


Oh, and the tire sensors and time for the front brakes are threatening me with needing to do them – but for as long as I’ve been driving the car – it seems like it is 1900 miles until they need to be changed!

Typical fuel economy has been 29 mpg.


The MINI community is awesome – and The League of Extraordinary MINIacs is a great place to learn about MINIs and be with MINI/Mini people!

Enjoy the pics!

2009 Mini JCW Clubman – First week in Review

Pieces of Eight me hearties – feels like platinum to drive this car.

Well, no, honestly, but it is damned good.

TPKoC (The Pirate King of Cars) loves driving this car so much that he nearly drove a thousand miles – starting miles 37040 – current miles – 38010!


TPKoC popped the clutch once late Monday and apparently one of the air intakes for the turbo were knocked loose.  The symptoms were unsteady idle.  Mates – TPKoC was ready to return the car and say “Never again” to used cars.

But no, a quick trip to the dealer and they were able to fix it quickly with no muss.  Paid for oil change and spark plug replacement of $300, though.  It is a new to me car and those didn’t seem like demanding TPKoC walk the plank…

Figuring out some of these buttons might take a bit of time – especially the fog light button.  Sometimes it lights the top, sometimes it lights the bottom, sometimes it lights both, but I can’t figure out how to make it do what?  Right now, it seems I can turn the top fog light on and off with relative alacrity…

Found out from friends on the web that you should warm the car up before setting off and this will hopefully save wear and destruction on the turbos.  Also, apparently, good practice to let the car idle for a minute or two before shutting it off.

Methinks TPKoC can handle that; however, he is sure used to just starting and going or stopping and walking away with most modern cars.  Not such a horrible thing, though, for having such a hot car!

While the onboard electronics have determined my mpg to be 28.9, using math and looking in to the air in the hopes of inspiration TPKoC has determined that the car got slightly better than 30 mpg for the second tank of gas.  This is dead-on similar to the mpg in TPKoC’s old Corolla, with a lot less fun to be had in that Corolla.

The 2009 (coincidentally) Corolla was so mundane it was helping to make TPKoC a boring person.

Now, TPKoC just wants to drive his JCW places and take pictures of it.

A 2009 JCW Mini Review

Arrrgh, mateys…  The first week of owning the 2009 JCW Mini Cooper Clubman!  It has been a week of ups and downs.  In the end it is all good.

I found this video review of a 2009 JCW Mini Cooper that is almost identical to TPKoC’s car!  From a technical perspective this is a great review.  Unfortunately, it is really boring.  TPKoC couldn’t imagine the great god Jeremy Clarkson’s review of a JCW Mini Cooper being boring.

Perhaps The Pirate King of Cars can take a stab at a video review of his car!


The youngest male pirate in the household called the Mini “The World’s smallest Limo!” and loved the door that opened just for him to use.

2009 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Clubman – 0001

Driving a car and driving a Mini Cooper are two completely different experiences.  Muscle memory indicating where controls are and how they behave should pretty much be thrown out the window.

There are so many good things about the car that little problems with the controls are not really an issue.  So far, this car starting with 37,000 miles – drives like a new car.