Car post! Over March I clocked up another 372.8 miles - about the same as last month. I also fed it another 250ml or thereabouts of oil. Oil consumption seems to have stabilised at roughly 200ml/1000km, which is better than what the book says it'll drink (600g/1000km). Everything else is all as it should be, and I picked up a nice little digital tyre pressure gauge that actually works (unlike the spring-loaded stick-type ones, which are horribly inaccurate) and doesn't result in 0.1 bar of pressure escaping just through wrestling with the hose on the compressor.
Oh, and back in the middle of March I finally got fed up with the temperamental power steering, and so I swapped out the battery (which was looking a little worse for the wear).
This was probably worth doing even without the power steering issues, as the normal lifespan for a car battery is around 5 years and I'd been seeing other symptoms of a flaky battery. One giveaway was the lights dimming if the engine revs drop below idle - there's a stretch of stop-start traffic on the way back from work that I use as an excuse to practice clutch control, especially moving off from stationary on clutch alone (which is not something I could do in the turbocharged Ford Fiesta I learnt in) and if you're too fast on the clutch the revs will dip below idle before the ECU works out what's going on. Anyway, after a bit of research The GNU and I headed off to Europarts (where I surprised the cashier with a detailed spreadsheet - "where did you get that from?" "oh, I put it together from the numbers on your website") to pick up a suitable replacement.
That's not quite the highest capacity/current one available (there's an Exide with a 64Ah and 640A rating), but it's got a 5-year-warranty version which implies it'll hold the capacity better over time. Actually fitting it was surprisingly straightforward - disconnect the negative lead (which had a quick-disconnect lever), unclip the cover and unscrew the positive lead, then dig out a socket extension and undo the retaining bolt for the strap. The new battery is a bit wider but that's no problem - the MiTo had a plastic spacer in the battery tray that came out after a bit of effort. Then the new one drops in, the strap is secured back down, and the leads are reconnected in reverse order (positive, then negative). Unusually for an Alfa, there's nothing in the way - I recall The GNU carrying out this replacement on allegramente's 147 recently, and finding it a right pain due to the retaining strap being up against the engine with no space to get your hand in.
Of course being an Alfa there are some gotchas beyond the obvious of having to reset the clock and the trip computer zeroing itself. The MiTo has frameless windows that automatically drop about an inch when you open the door to clear the trim... except if the battery's been disconnected, in which case the window controller gets confused and doesn't know how far to raise or lower the window. At least it's easy to reset - just fully open and close the window. The radio on the hand is actually smart, and recognises that despite the loss of power it's still in the same car (or rather it's talking to the same ECU) and so doesn't need a code.
Hopefully this will solve the power steering issue. Certainly the lights don't dim anywhere near as much when starting now!