Is my car safe to drive? Watch

Jackieox
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About two weeks ago it was a really cold morning and I drove my car to uni. The whole way there (it's about a ten minute drive) the revs kept dropping, it would struggle to accelerate, the gears felt loose and the steering felt really light. Every time i'd pull up to a junction or traffic lights it would cut out altogether. So i'd have to restart my car to get it going again.

That same day about three hours later I drove it home from uni and it drove perfectly fine.

It didn't happen again. I put it down to being cold and just made more of an effort to let my car run for a minute or two before I drove so the engine could heat up.

The past few days its been doing it again, the revs will start dropping about halfway through the journey and it'll chug and splutter the rest of the way (even when i'm accelerating and in the right gear i can feel it struggling.) I'm a bit confused because it will only usually do it once and then it'll be fine to drive back home or i'll drive to uni and it's fine and it'll struggle when it gets halfway home but when I drive it again 20 minutes later it's perfectly fine.

I'm a bit scared to drive it because sometimes it's fine and sometimes it's not, it's not a consistent problem. I'm seeing the mechanic on Friday but is it safe to drive in the meantime? I drive it for work so I can't NOT have my car =/

My car:
Mini One
57 plate
1.4 engine

It's got 3/4 fuel and the right amount of oil
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IWMTom
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(Original post by Jackieox)
About two weeks ago it was a really cold morning and I drove my car to uni. The whole way there (it's about a ten minute drive) the revs kept dropping, it would struggle to accelerate, the gears felt loose and the steering felt really light. Every time i'd pull up to a junction or traffic lights it would cut out altogether. So i'd have to restart my car to get it going again.

That same day about three hours later I drove it home from uni and it drove perfectly fine.

It didn't happen again. I put it down to being cold and just made more of an effort to let my car run for a minute or two before I drove so the engine could heat up.

The past few days its been doing it again, the revs will start dropping about halfway through the journey and it'll chug and splutter the rest of the way (even when i'm accelerating and in the right gear i can feel it struggling.) I'm a bit confused because it will only usually do it once and then it'll be fine to drive back home or i'll drive to uni and it's fine and it'll struggle when it gets halfway home but when I drive it again 20 minutes later it's perfectly fine.

I'm a bit scared to drive it because sometimes it's fine and sometimes it's not, it's not a consistent problem. I'm seeing the mechanic on Friday but is it safe to drive in the meantime? I drive it for work so I can't NOT have my car =/

My car:
Mini One
57 plate
1.4 engine

It's got 3/4 fuel and the right amount of oil
I certainly wouldn't drive it - do you have breakdown cover?
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Tom07860
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I would say the clutch is slipping, meaning the gears don't align correctly, etc, but i'm no expert.
Drive if you feel it is safe to do so, if not then get the bus if possible? If you do drive make sure you take it easy and pull over if the car feels too unsafe.
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Jackieox
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(Original post by IWMTom)
I certainly wouldn't drive it - do you have breakdown cover?
I'm on my parents cover but i'm at uni two hours away from home so i'm not sure if they'd still come out
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Jackieox
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(Original post by Tom07860)
I would say the clutch is slipping, meaning the gears don't align correctly, etc, but i'm no expert.
Drive if you feel it is safe to do so, if not then get the bus if possible? If you do drive make sure you take it easy and pull over if the car feels too unsafe.
It just scares me cause sometimes it's fine and sometimes its not.. getting the bus isn't possible, I can walk to uni but my job is doing events and careers fairs and stuff for the Uni where I drive my car, a colleague and prospectuses and flags and stuff =/

Once i get it to the mechanic it'll be fine..just getting through the week
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Reality Check
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The engine issues sound separate from the steering and gears. Does it sometimes feel like when you try to accelerate it stutters? It sounds to me like it could be a faulty fuel injector. Has the engine light come on at all? The other thing it could be is a defective battery - if it's not holding enough charge the car won't drive properly to begin with, but the alternator will have charged it enough on the first journey that it appears ok on the return. Is the battery old? Is there any way you could test the voltage of it in the morning before you use it (i.e. do you have access to a voltmeter/multimeter?) Anything less than 12.5V is suspect.

The mechanic should be able to diagnose it. My diagnoses are just possibilities - I couldn't tell for sure because I've not seen/heard it.
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IWMTom
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(Original post by Jackieox)
I'm on my parents cover but i'm at uni two hours away from home so i'm not sure if they'd still come out
Isn't it nationwide cover? I don't know any breakdown cover that isnt..
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PTMalewski
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(Original post by Reality Check)
The engine issues sound separate from the steering and gears.
Yes they do.

(Original post by Reality Check)
The other thing it could be is a defective battery - if it's not holding enough charge the car won't drive properly to begin with
If the alternator works well, low power on battery should not affect the engine's work. I've had battery failures in my Panda and no such problems, old cars once started didin't even need battery at all, but the Mini may have CAN bus, and this thing is sometimes responsible for many awkward failures.


(Original post by Reality Check)
but the alternator will have charged it enough on the first journey
Alternator usually needs about 10 miles run to recharge. Flat battery would rather cause problems with starting the car.

(Original post by Tom07860)
I would say the clutch is slipping, meaning the gears don't align correctly, etc, but i'm no expert.
Slipping clutch would cause rpm's to rise higher than they supposed to with speed, and this does not affect gears change. Stick shift may feel lose only if the selector is broken and this has nothing to do with an engine. I suppose the OP may have strange feeling only because the engine is not working properly. I know it from myself- when one thing breakes down, an unexperienced driver gets paranoic about everything in his car.

(Original post by Jackieox)
I'm seeing the mechanic on Friday but is it safe to drive in the meantime?
Yes, unless you you're planning overtaking.

(Original post by Jackieox)
About two weeks ago it was a really cold morning and I drove my car to uni. The whole way there (it's about a ten minute drive) the revs kept dropping, it would struggle to accelerate, the gears felt loose and the steering felt really light. Every time i'd pull up to a junction or traffic lights it would cut out altogether. So i'd have to restart my car to get it going again.

That same day about three hours later I drove it home from uni and it drove perfectly fine.

It didn't happen again. I put it down to being cold and just made more of an effort to let my car run for a minute or two before I drove so the engine could heat up.
Looks like the engine issue is related with electricity. Materials dwindle when it's cold, so faulty circuit's isolation may cause a problem then, especially when humidity is high. This may be a faulty high voltage cable (if it's old). On the other hand it may be tens of other problems like faulty sensors or broken ECU- those should effect with "check engine" light on.
The faulty High Voltage cables should give visible sparks when a car is inside a dark garage with an opened hood, but not always. Sometimes it is necessary to spray them with water to find the faulty cable but I doub't if you can do this properly. I would just change the high voltage cables, if they were never changed, they surely had enough.
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Betelgeuse-
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Happened to friends car the other month... cant remember what it was called though. Nowt to do wit the cold tho
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Reality Check
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(Original post by PTMalewski)
Yes they do.



If the alternator works well, low power on battery should not affect the engine's work. I've had battery failures in my Panda and no such problems, old cars once started didin't even need battery at all, but the Mini may have CAN bus, and this thing is sometimes responsible for many awkward failures.



Alternator usually needs about 10 miles run to recharge. Flat battery would rather cause problems with starting the car.
Have to disagree, I"m afraid. In this case, a Peugeot 206, a defective battery was
to blame for the problems such as surging, cutting out at low revs and stuttering. It was a case of trying a lot of other stuff to get there. I doubt it's HT leads, as this would be evident on starting, and in high humidity/rain, not just cold. Hopefully, the OPs problem will be easier to solve.
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RogerOxon
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I'd guess a dodgy sensor. I wouldn't expect it to have HT leads, but I'm not familiar with that car either.
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Jackieox
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(Original post by Reality Check)
The engine issues sound separate from the steering and gears. Does it sometimes feel like when you try to accelerate it stutters? It sounds to me like it could be a faulty fuel injector. Has the engine light come on at all? The other thing it could be is a defective battery - if it's not holding enough charge the car won't drive properly to begin with, but the alternator will have charged it enough on the first journey that it appears ok on the return. Is the battery old? Is there any way you could test the voltage of it in the morning before you use it (i.e. do you have access to a voltmeter/multimeter?) Anything less than 12.5V is suspect.

The mechanic should be able to diagnose it. My diagnoses are just possibilities - I couldn't tell for sure because I've not seen/heard it.
Yeah sometimes it stutters when i accelerate, sometimes it doesn't.. The car is 9 years old but I don't know when the battery was last changed or anything, the person who had it before me only used it for short journeys and stuff, I'll have a look into getting one!


(Original post by IWMTom)
Isn't it nationwide cover? I don't know any breakdown cover that isnt..
I'll ask my dad but hopefully they'll come out cause they used a pretty big company I think
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Jackieox)
Yeah sometimes it stutters when i accelerate, sometimes it doesn't.. The car is 9 years old but I don't know when the battery was last changed or anything, the person who had it before me only used it for short journeys and stuff, I'll have a look into getting one!




I'll ask my dad but hopefully they'll come out cause they used a pretty big company I think
In that case, I think it could well be a faulty fuel injector, or maybe a faulty lambda sensor or something like that. Hopefully, simple to repair!
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Emma:-)
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(Original post by IWMTom)
Isn't it nationwide cover? I don't know any breakdown cover that isnt..
It depends on what level of cover you have. Different levels of cover, cover different things, e.g. home start, relay etc etc.
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IWMTom
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(Original post by Emma:-))
It depends on what level of cover you have. Different levels of cover, cover different things, e.g. home start, relay etc etc.
But that's irrelevant considering roadside breakdown assistance is the base package...
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PTMalewski
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Have to disagree, I"m afraid. In this case, a Peugeot 206, a defective battery was
to blame for the problems such as surging, cutting out at low revs and stuttering. It was a case of trying a lot of other stuff to get there. I doubt it's HT leads, as this would be evident on starting, and in high humidity/rain, not just cold. Hopefully, the OPs problem will be easier to solve.
Thanks for feedback, seems you're right.

(Original post by RogerOxon)
I'd guess a dodgy sensor. I wouldn't expect it to have HT leads, but I'm not familiar with that car either.
So, how do you expect to provide high voltage to spark plugs without them?

(Original post by Jackieox)
The car is 9 years old but I don't know when the battery was last changed or anything, the person who had it before me only used it for short journeys and stuff, I'll have a look into getting one!

The battery ought to have date of production or a serial number that includes this information and can be decrypted via manufacturer's website. If it's 9 years old, it should be replaced very soon anyway.
Another way to find out is the batt okay, is to twist the plugs out (usually hidden under a part of plastic cover on top) and check how does the battery plates look. If they look like damaged, suffering from corrosion (white "dust" like thing in this case) or even worse, they touch each other because of corrosion, the battery is too old and has to be replaced.


(Original post by Reality Check)
In that case, I think it could well be a faulty fuel injector, or maybe a faulty lambda sensor or something like that. Hopefully, simple to repair!
This should turn up on computer readout after connecting to interface in workshop.
In my Fiat there is a procedure that allows to read the codes of failures without using an interface, but I have no idea, does Mini has such procedure. It should be written in owner's manual.
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CurlyBen
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Sounds to me like a constriction in the fuel system, particularly as it works fine after it's left standing for a while. I'd start by changing the fuel filter then checking the fuel tank vent.

I think looking at the battery is a red herring. If the car starts well enough then your issues are elsewhere.
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RogerOxon
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(Original post by PTMalewski)
So, how do you expect to provide high voltage to spark plugs without them?
Most modern cars have a coil sitting on top of each spark plug. There isn't a HT lead, just a tube down from the coil.
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Jackieox
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So update: apparently the "Vanos Solenoid Unit" was broken or faulty or whatever, apparently it's a common problem with minis when they hit 75k miles, mines currently on 77k.. So yay for spending a ton of money to fix what I thought what a small problem =D
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PTMalewski
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So this broken thing is a variable cam timing system. (Other manufacturers call such systems VVC, VVTi or V-Tec etc.)
Obviously an example of bad engineering or material savings. This thing doesn't have to brake down so quickly. As far as I know, even Rover's VVC system is more durable.

Many cars don't have anything like that at all. If there isn't something, it can't fail. It's a good thing to rember If low costs are more important than high performance.
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