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An independent shop is fine for your car, as long as they can claim to have some experience with the MINI. If they work on BMWs they are probably pretty good---but it would be best if they've worked on MINIs before, and have the basic special tools and service information. There may be specific problems where the dealer is the best place to go (and a good independent shop will tell you when they can't handle something), but generally a good indie should be able to do just about anything for you--and at a cheaper rate. I take my MINI to independent shops for just about everything--oil service, suspension work, AC, tires, brakes, etc.
Under NO circumstances should you take your MINI to a quick-lube or a chain store operation, not even for simple oil changes. MINIs are tricky to work on, with limited access, so knowing all the "tricks" really helps.
Come back to see us anytime you have questions about your MINI! Fabulous car!
CPO is a very wishy-washy term these days. I personally would not pay a premium price for it, nor would I presume that a CPO stamp makes it any better a car. I treat it more like a marketing term than anything real. Just because the dealer "inspects 200 items" that doesn't mean he fixes any of them.
NHTSA offers a good analysis of what recalls do, and do not, mean:
_"The NHTSA cautioned that the numbers don’t factor in how many cars an automaker might sell in the U.S. annually, so the largest manufacturers tend to top the list each year. The agency also said its report is not an analysis on the overall quality of a particular car company. Toyota and Honda models, for example, tend to top the recommended ratings in magazines such as Consumer Reports. Recalls tend to vary by automaker based on how quickly a company might push new technology into its fleet, its tolerance of risk compared with other manufacturers and other factors, the NHTSA said. “Recalls are not necessarily a bad thing. They can represent a manufacturer that is proactive about addressing a vehicle issue,” said Karl Brauer, an analyst with auto information company Kelley Blue Book. Consumer-oriented ratings don’t just look at the design or functionality of a car, but also consider an owner’s experience, Brauer said. “If there is a problem and it is not addressed after you purchase a car, you are going to be less happy than with a company that addresses the problem,” he said" _
One year, somebody shot a moose that had strolled into downtown Talkeetna. We had moose tacos for months---and they were GOOD! I was driving a Dodge 4X4 then. Wish I had kept that truck.
I used to operate a Mobile Repair Service in San Francisco in the late 70s to early 80s. I had a huge Chevy wagon and I'd drive right to your house and work in the street. I'm sure modern mechanics would be appalled, but in my defense, a) the cars I worked on were far less complicated and b) my customers were always quite satisfied. Naturally I had to pick and choose the types of jobs I could realistically do; also, I had a little workshop in the basement of my apartment building so I could have access to a vise, a drill press, etc--when I could take the part home overnight and work on it. I even had a canvas cover for the tail gate on the Chevy so that I could park in front of the vehicle being serviced and drape the canvas over the engine bay. I also had a bicycle on the roof, so I could hop on and fetch parts nearby. If it got too cold out, I'd hop in the Chevy and turn on the heater for a while.
It was hard work at times but actually a great gig. No overhead, mostly cash transactions (or barter with some of the better bars and restaurants), a few romances, and I really learned to think on my feet, and use whatever resources were close at hand. I did tune ups, brakes, electrical, some front end suspension, oil changes, even put a fender on a car and painted it (came out rather well I thought). I had good relationships with alignment shops, parts houses and wrecking yards and I'd even funnel work I could not do over to repair shops, who, in turn, let me use their facilities now and then. I made enough money to go into publishing and never laid on the cold pavement again.
Of course, you could NEVER get away with that in 2014 San Francisco. They'd flush you out and scatter you in a day's time.
Life was so much simpler then.