#3411 – it ain't paradise

who said i wasn’t participating in national novel writing month ?

Pretty much since I’ve bought my Mini, it’s had a hesitation when starting up – usually I need to hold the key in the start position for 3, 4, 5 seconds (or even more!) in order to get my Mini to start. I can’t find any consistency for this. I’ve taken it into the dealer a before and they can’t seem to find anything amiss and have instead updated the car’s firmware.

Anyway, about a week ago my “get your engine checked out soon” light came on and I took it into the dealer and mentioned the hesitation issue. Apparently the light came on because of a low-fuel misfire, but that’s not really relevant. They updated the firmware for a second time but it hasn’t seemed to help with the hesitation (apparently there is supposed to be another firmware update later this month or sometime in December that might help as well and they suggested I bring the Mini in then).

That was Friday, and otherwise the car has worked fine until this morning.

– I put my iPod into my IceLink cradle and started the car – first thing I noticed was that it didn’t automatically start the iPod playing as it usually does, but no big deal. I tried to skip tracks and change the volume with the controls on the steering wheel – that didn’t work, so I tried to change tracks on the stereo instead. Even that didn’t work, and I had to change tracks on the iPod itself.

– Later on that drive I tried to use my turn signals, but they didn’t appear to be working (I later discovered that they were working, but I wasn’t getting any indication inside the car).

– I arrived at work and parked the car, and as an experiment I shut the car down and started it back up, but the controls still didn’t work. If I remember right, at this point the remote key fob was able to lock the car.

– Later I went out to the car to check the fuses, figuring it was something with the turn signals (I hadn’t yet discovered that they were in fact working). Popped open the fuse box, and based on the hieroglyphics on that fuse diagram (it sure is confusing!) I think I checked the turn signal indicators and they seemed ok. Put my iPod back in the cradle, but now the stereo wouldn’t recognize it and only wanted to switch between cd and radio. The iPod appeared to be charging, though. Also, I think I saw the emergency brake light not lit while I was in the car listening to the radio, but later after turning the car off and back on again it was lit up as it should be.

– When I left the car then the key fob wouldn’t let me lock the car remotely, so I had to manually lock it. The headlights were off, but the rear brake lights were on. I again tried turning the car on and back off but they still remained lit. I even tried disengaging the emergency brake in case that had something to do with it, but they still remained lit. (I thought of the path-lighting feature, like that had been activated by accident, but I didn’t toggle the headlight stalk in a way to activate it).

– Went out again about an hour later, but the brake lights were off. I tried turning the car on and back off again, and the brake lights stayed lit again. I figured maybe I’d try to unplug the positive terminal from the battery for a few minutes and see if that reset anything, but didn’t have any tools to unscrew the bolt on the terminal so I left it alone. 5-10 minutes later I noticed the brake lights were back off.

– Drove home a few hours later: iPod still not being recognized. I turned on the headlights, and after a short drive down the road wondered why they didn’t come on – turns out that they did, except I didn’t have any lights on the dashboard except that little screen on the tach for the mileage and temperature, and the odometer screen on the speedo (the needles on both worked fine, I just couldn’t see them). Unplugged the battery when I got home, connected it back up after a few minutes, and now the key fob works and the lights on the back stay off, but the iPod still isn’t recognized. After removing the battery, putting the iPod in when I started the car caused the screen to show as if it was being discovered by the IceLink for the first time and instructed me to shut the car off and start it back up, but the radio still will only let me switch between radio and cd player. I unplugged the IceLink from the harness in the boot, but that hasn’t changed anything. In fact, the dashboard lights still don’t come on after all that.

I’ve checked through more of the fuses for (what I believe to be) the tach/speedo and they seem to check out ok. I’m going to try checking more of the fuses when I get a chance to tomorrow (found a list of a few to try here), but my big question is if this could be something that the software update may have caused? It seemed to be working fine for a few days after it was updated, but it’s also seemed to not take as long to start up now that these lights are acting up (I could also just be imagining things…). Can I get my firmware downgraded if need be?