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Asking for guidance from Mini owners

First time behind the wheel of a 2012 Mini Cooper hatchback today and was wonderfully surprised...until I came here (and other sites) and spent the better part of the day reading and researching. I thought I wanted one but I've got real safety, reliability, maintenance cost & longevity concerns. I'm also a first-timer in asking for help so please bear w/me.

I've always had Hondas and Acuras and easily passed 100k w/o more than oil, tire & battery changes. I tend to take care of my cars and keep them close to a decade or more. Is this possible w/this car? How long can I expect to go before spending money...80k, 50k...gulp, 30k?

And I've read the links and comments: is this car safe? Front/back collision risks look decent but not side/top. And I want a sunroof. During today's ride, the only thing I noticed was a glitch in stability around several curves. Do I need 16" or 17" wheels/tires...and the dynamic traction option on the model I'd like to build? There's more but I'd like to listen to experiences from other drivers before I walk back into the dealer on Tuesday. Thanks!

Comments

  • kandrivekandrive Posts: 19
    Hi! We just purchased a 2012 MINI Countryman (4-door model), Base, automatic and quite a few hand-picked options. It was just delivered last weekend and we took delivery last Sunday. I'm thrilled with it!

    We, also, researched this car quite extensively. To answer your questions, I need some specifics. Were you looking at a Classic MINI (2-door), Clubman (2+suicide door) or a Countryman (4-door)? The Classic and Countryman have hatchbacks. Also, did you drive a Base model or an "S" (faster)? Was it a 2WD or ALL4? The engines and drive are different in these models.

    We thoroughly understand your worries about reliability - we keep our cars for years, also, and we were also concerned. We purchased an extended Maintenance Warranty (done by MINI) because of these concerns. One thing we know is that when the brakes need to be replaced you have to replace the rotors, too. As with all high performance vehicles, the brakes will need to be replaced earlier than some cars but it is covered under the standard warranty - 3 yrs., 36K miles. The brakes are included in the Maintenance Warranty. When the Mechanical/Electrical Warranty expires, we're planning on purchasing an extended warranty for those, too.

    Also, the MINI comes with "run flat" tires and there is no room for a spare. Some people dislike the ride of run flats but I have no problems with them. The ride in my Countryman is fantastic for a small car, but some people disagree and switch them out for regular tires and carry a repair kit with them. That being said, I think my MINI handles wonderfully! It's an absolute joy to drive and is extremely comfortable for a small car in this class (compared to others). I'm surprised you were concerned about handling issues.

    MINI is rated 5 in Safety - one of the top cars in this category. It is so much better built than other cars we found. I have absolutely no concerns about safety and we have the sunroof (moonroof) option on ours. When you close the doors, you hear a very firm sound with no shaking of the frame - we were very impressed. Also, freeway driving is fantastic and that is the type of driving we mostly do. The ride is smooth (again, for a small car) and, except for a little loudness from the tires, it is wonderful. I've had this car a week and am absolutely thrilled - it was worth the wait for it to be shipped with all the options I had built into it!

    If you have more questions, I'd be happy to help. Good luck!
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,447
    You have 2 errors in your comment above.

    1- Brakes on BMW products do need replacing, on the whole, more often, but whether or not rotors must be replaced every time depends upon the driving characteristics of the owner. My wife's 2005 Mini convertible has had both the rear and front pads replaced, but the car is still on the original rotors (70 K miles now!. The dealer has performed all services on her car. Granted, she is not a performance oriented driver.

    2- RFT's are not standard on the base model Mini, which still comes with a spare tire.

    To the previous poster, if you purchase a Mini you can expect to have some service issues well before 100K miles, but what and how much depends greatly on your driving style. I've seen may complaints from Mini owners comparing a Mini to a Japanese vehicle, but few drive Minis the same way they would drive a Corolla.

    From my wife's experience, most of the issues she has experience were those others experiences in the 1st generation Mini, but have been corrected/upgraded in the later model years.

    She still loves the car, and would have no issues at all in buying another new Mini.

    I hope this info helps...
  • kandrivekandrive Posts: 19
    I read your reply with interest and thank you for clarifying some issues I may have had incorrect. Specifically:

    1 - The dealer as well as 4 other independent repair shops that specialize and work only on BMW's and MINI's exclusively told us that rotors need to be replaced each time brake pads are replaced. I was only quoting the information I was given by reputable and knowledgeable professionals when researching our purchase of a MINI Countryman. I'm very happy to hear that your wife's MINI hasn't needed rotors replaced yet because it sounds like she and I have similar driving habits. Since I've only had my MINI a week, I have a ways to go to get to the point of needing brakes but your reply was very helpful.

    2 - Since we didn't look at any of the 2012 "Classic" MINI (2-door) vehicles, I am not knowledgeable as to what tires are standard or if they have room for a spare. Our search was only for the Countryman which the original poster asked about. I was only sharing on that model alone.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,447
    Well, 2 weeks ago I would have said all Minis came equipped with RFT's, until I was challenged and I personally checked out the Mini website.

    On the brake issue, it's certainly true that more aggressive drivers do replace pads/rotors simultaneously... But it all depends upon the rotor thickness at the time of pad replacement. An aggressive driver can probably expect to replace both. My wife got 50K out of the front pads and 60K on the rears.

    Aggressive isn't a word in her driving vocabulary...

    Enjoy your new ride!
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,447
    What you need to remember when you read comments on car forums is that there are primarily 2 types of posters, with a few other moderates sprinkled in...Complainers and fanboys.

    Complainers, some with valid complaints and issues, come to a forum to vent, and fanboys come to a forum to extol the greatness of their most-favored product.

    Moderates show up to learn about possible product issues and to share experiences, as well as help others get their questions answered.

    Every carmaker makes the occasional lemon, and every model has its weak points. Minis are no different.

    Weigh this into your apprehensive equation... Mini made something like 260k cars in 2011 and 242K cars in 2010. Now, compare that to the number of negative comments you find on forums.

    Or, check out the comments on the Toyota Carolla forums, one of the most popular cars of all time. Do the same comparison there.

    My suggestion is to read all you can before making your decision, but also talk to folks you know that actually own a Mini.
  • kandrivekandrive Posts: 19
    Busiris: I wish they had an "agree" button to click! Fantastic post and I couldn't agree more with what you wrote.
  • tylonaltylonal Posts: 2
    Hey!
    I am thinking about purchasing a Mini S Roadster, and would like to know what everyones opinion is on them. I know they are pretty new, so I wont be getting any "theyr great, iv had mine for 10 years" posts, but i still figured id give it a shot.
    I have never owned a mini before, but I am in the marked for a new car, as my last one was totaled. Mini's have always caught my eye, and the roadster looks pretty neat! I plan on going to the dealership (closest one is 3 hours away) to test drive one in the next few weeks.
    My main concern is how bad they can be with repairs. I mean, not all that long ago, it was standard to see new cars leaving the factory with warranties for 10years/100k miles, and granted, that has gone down significantly, but i look at a mini and its 3 years/36k miles....the first thought in my mind is "ok, what happens around the 40k mark to make it so that mini doesnt want to service the vehicle?"
    Also, I have heard horror stories about how difficult it can be working with a mini dealership when one DOES need to get warranty work done....thoughts? Experiences?
    I mean, I am no slouch when it comes to back yard mechanics. I can do most of my own work, and wont every penny pinch when it comes to keeping my vehicle up, but is it going to be a huge money pit?

    I would love to hear everyones thoughts.
    Thanks in advance.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,447
    The 3/36 warranty is bumper to bumper, and the drivetrain warranty is 4/50, unless it's changed recently.

    The short wheelbase makes for a more spirited ride, if you are so inclined to drive that way, and if not, the ride is still a bit "stiffer" than othe cars.

    We have owned a 2005 non-S convertible manual transmission (bought new) for almost 7 years, and it has almost 70K miles now.

    The maintenance cost has been reasonable, but more than a Corolla would probably have been. Then again, a Mini isn't a Corolla...

    If I were you, my main concern would be the distance between you and the nearest dealer. But, that's just me...
  • tylonaltylonal Posts: 2
    Well the nearest dealer to me right now is around 2 1/2 -3 hours away, however they are building a new dealership here in town (20 minutes from me) this year.
    I know a mini isnt a corolla, and you pay for what you get. Like they say, a 60 thousand dollar car likes 60 thousand dollar car parts. a $30k mini will want mini parts and i will pay the price for them. thats not the issue. all i am really worried about is reliability. I mean, I know the mini fan base is HUGE, and so mini has to be doing it right. however i also see when searching at dealerships or craigslist/autotrader/etc, that most used minis that they are selling have between 35k and 70k miles on them.....meaning they get rid of it RIGHT after the warranty is up. I take care of my cars, but im not someone who can afford to go out and just buy a new car every 3 years just because the warranty is up.

    Thanks for the input tho, have you had to do anything major to your mini in the 7 years that you have owned it? (anything with the engine/tranny/etc)
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,447
    edited June 2012
    Nothing major at all. A couple of items such as the thermostat housing and right top motor mount were replaced. The thermostat housing was a problem with the 1st gen. Minis, but seems to have been re-engineered. The motor mount was around $200 IIRC.

    Early model CVT automatics were questionable, but Mini doesn't use them anymore.

    No clutch issues, but there are a few questions about the reliability of the dual-mass flywheel equipped Minis (S) models. Google "Mini dual mass flywheel clutch problems" and you'll see lots of issues, but I know several Mini owners that have high mileage S models and have had zero problems. I don't mean to scare you, just to make you aware of it. You decide if it's significant or not. BTW, every manufacturer using dual mass flywheels has complaints.... Not just Mini.

    I would say that, if you generally haven't have problems with the cars you've owned in the past, you can expect the same from a Mini.
  • Thank you, everyone, for your help. I ordered a MINI with options suited to my needs, taste and budget and hope to pick it up around July 9th. I'll be on the lookout for brake issues after 30k BUT SINCERELY HOPE I DO NOT have issues with the dealership when it's time for maintenance. I bought the extended warranty for peace of mind. If nothing else, that was a huge take home message after reading.

    Is there anything specail I need to know about repairs when I drive it off the lot? Some folks suggested taking it easy for the few hundred miles and keeping some oil in the trunk. (Which I found odd as aren't I supposed to get all work done at the dealership to keep the integrity of the warranty?)

    Thanks again.
  • kandrivekandrive Posts: 19
    I got my 2012 MINI Countryman (base) in late May and I haven't had one single problem with it, including oil refills. Your Cooper will come to you fully checked out and detailed and they'll let you test-drive it before you leave as well as answer any questions you'll have.

    I hope you enjoy your new ride as much as I do mine! They're great cars, really!
  • ldt66ldt66 Posts: 2
    Mini Cooper S 2006 ....
    First 6 months new radiator and Thermostat ...Warranty
    Run Flats ... Waste of money...changed out to non-run flats at 5k
    At 35k new brakes ... I'm now at 50k ...
    Power steering hoses leaking $580.00
    Oil pan gasket leaking $515.00
    Lower control arm bushings No estimate
    Harmonic trans balancer $927.00
    Right side engine mount $709.38
    Some part I can't remember because I was in state of shock for $933.03
    Basically a year of car payments In one shot ...please note I maintained and serviced regularly at the dealership ... what was my baby is now my un-wanted step child . :lemon:
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