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Well, what a nightmare week it's been. My immaculate shiny 2001 Cooper started to make all kinds of strange creaking and banging noises from the front nearside suspension strut. Two attempts at removing the front wheel and inspecting bushes, balljoints etc didn't reveal a problem so bit the bullet and went to my local friendly dealer: Derek Woodman.
Phil the service manager was just as helpful as he's been described elsewhere on here and asked one of the MINI mechanics to come out and look in the rain (yeah, course it was raining!)

Diagnosis was a noisy top mount caused by un-modified front suspension struts and so the car was booked in to have these replaced.

The result: £387 later (!!) the front suspension and steering feels wonderfully tight, no slight steer to the left any more and everything is loveley and quiet when turning!

Unfortunately, see my gearbox woes thread here: mini2.com/forum/engine-drivetrain-tuning/159767-gearbox-woes.html#post3496798
 
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