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Ask Mowog

Dear Eager,

First of all, you need to be 4 foot tall and have 6 foot arms, Minis are definitely not the easiest of cars to work on! Anyone who has spent anytime on their Mini will understand the term 'Mini Back'.

However most jobs on a Mini aren't technically difficult and are within the scope of the average home mechanic. The first thing you will need is a workshop manual. There are three manuals available on the market - the Gregory's Maintenance and Repair Manual, Leyland's Concise Workshop Manual, and Leyland's Complete Workshop Manual. For the occasional simple job the Gregory's manual will suffice - its cheap and readily available so it doesn't matter if it gets covered in grease. I'll give a review on these manuals in a later newsletter.

Next you'll need some tools. 99.9% of all nuts and bolts in a Mini are imperial so a good set of imperial spanners and sockets are essential. Again there are three types of spanners on the market - the really expensive guaranteed for a lifetime ones, cheap chrome vanadium ones, and even cheaper alloy ones. If you can afford them, get the expensive ones but the cheap chrome vanadium ones are quite adequate. Avoid at all costs alloy spanners, they will bend or snap under any significant force. The most useful spanners to have are those which are a ring spanner at one end and an open ender at the other.

The same advice holds for sockets with one exception. The drivers supplied with cheap sets just won't last. Do yourself a favour and buy a good quality driver, and make sure your sockets are the half inch drive type - quarter inch is for babies. You'll also need an assortment of screwdrivers and pliers. A good quality chrome vanadium flat head screw driver is worth it weight in gold when it comes to releasing all those lock tabs found in a Mini.

Now we come to the optional extras. The next most useful item to have is a good jack. When buying a jack remember that a Mini sits at most six inches off the ground. Its not much use having a jack that won't fit under the car. If your going to spend any time under the car then body stands are essential - Minis might be small but they're still quite heavy! Finally the best time and effort saving device you get is a ball joint puller. This makes separating the ball joints from the control arms a breeze and won't damage the ball joint. Get the screw down type and not the lever type.

These tools will be sufficient for all but the most complex of jobs and if treated correctly, will last as long as your Mini does.


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