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MINI Cooper Steering and Suspension Questions

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
edited June 1 in MINI
This topic is for discussion of problems, concern and component failures related to the MINI's steering system, including the steering column, steering rack, and power steering pump

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  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Lately, at various, but random, times (but it seems more so when car is cold) when I turn the steering wheel, I can "feel" a tiny little "click". Hard to describe, but almost feels like a little slippage between joints, like sometimes you get with your knee or elbow joints. Lubrication issue?
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Google "Mini steering wheel clicking" and you'll get more info. The problem is as you describe - a slight notchiness in the steering that seems worse in cold weather. Some people think it's the steering column and there have been some replacements. Later models seem to have the problem a lot less.

    This has been the only warranty repair I've had on my 2004 - they replaced the steering rack because of a hydraulic leak and that reduced the issue but it's still just barely there in cold weather backing out of the garage. Drive a mile or two and it's gone. I'm about to leave warranty and am unsure whether to have them take another run at it.

    - Mark
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    But is it a safety concern if you ignored it? Right now it's more of a slight annoyance since, as you've described, after about 5 - 10 minutes, it's gone. Would it get worse over time?

    Thanks!
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I've never heard of a safety concern and I would think the symptoms would be a lot more severe if there was something seriously wrong. Mine hasn't gotten any worse in two years; in fact, I think the problem has diminished.

    I still may have them look at it before the warranty expires... I'm sorta waiting for colder weather to see how it does. Right now in the current weather, I have to work to notice the problem, so if I'm having trouble, you can imagine that the dealer is ging to have trouble feeling it, especially after having driven 20 miles to the dealership.

    - Mark
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "...waiting for colder weather to see how it does."

    Good idea! Or else I would likely get the "could not duplicate problem" response! I'd need to bring it in within the next couple of months for an oil change anyway. It'd be a good time to ask them to check it out then. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    This topic covers the MINI suspension system, and any questions or comments you have about it. This might include problems with struts/shocks, unusual noises, erratic tracking or handling, or alignment issues.

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  • I am going to buy a mini and having a hard time really knowing the difference between the sport suspension and the one that comes standard, I love a strong ride, but I heard you can get a little beat up with the sport. Any info will help, I dont want to regret my choice. thanks....Dan Faust :confuse:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    I think the "problem" is with the sport suspension coupled to the Run Flat Tires. I've only driven the pre 2007 cars with sport suspension and Run Flats, and yes, the ride is extremely harsh. You should definitely test drive one with sports suspension before making up your mind, either used or new. If you can avoid or replace the RFTs, I'd do that as well.

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  • Hi...I am about to buy a mini cooper and if I want dynamic stability control, I will have to custom order it - i.e., wait for 4-6 weeks, because the dealers don't have anything with my specifications in their inventory.

    I want to know what your thoughts are on the MINI's dynamic stability control and whether it's a good feature to have in the car (more importantly, worth waiting for 2 months? ).

    Thanks in advance for your responses.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    Seems to me that because the car handles so well, and is so sure-footed, that if you have some skill behind the wheel, you wouldn't need it on a car like this. I always envision SC as more appropriate for large sedans or SUVs.

    You have to get pretty frisky to bend a MINI out of shape in the first place on the road.

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  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    Seems to me that because the car handles so well, and is so sure-footed, that if you have some skill behind the wheel, you wouldn't need it on a car like this. I always envision SC as more appropriate for large sedans or SUVs.
    You have to get pretty frisky to bend a MINI out of shape in the first place on the road.

    I think stability control is for bad weather and severe rain or snow not just driving around in the dry.
    I don't know if it can be fully shutoff. But if it can then I'd get it since I live in a snowbelt state and it might be helpful and if not would increase the resale.
    Waiting 4-6 weeks for a unit is pretty much the way it works no matter what you want. This is one of my gripes with them.
    Mini dealers don't really seem to want to trade with other dealers for stock.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    Yes I guess it would depend on the weather in your area and your level of confidence. No argument there.

    I'm not ordering it on my new MINI based on the above.

    Keep in mind of course that stability control can only do so much for you if you are skidding out of control. There's the laws of physics to contend with, too. SC makes corrections to the car's path but these are not dramatic.

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  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    I'm not ordering it on my new MINI based on the above.

    Are you saying that it can't be 100% disabled?

    Keep in mind of course that stability control can only do so much for you if you are skidding out of control. There's the laws of physics to contend with, too. SC makes corrections to the car's path but these are not dramatic.

    Yeah if you go into a corner too hot nothing is going to help you, no matter what you are driving. I had a pic of an M1 Abrams Tank where the driver was too fast and ended up with the entire Tank nose down resting on the front Gun!
    But except in snow I'd turn it off, sometimes the cars sensors are more sensitive than my butt. :D
    I think it's standard on the Sport Package but I could be wrong.
    Nope, I just checked it's standard on the Sport Package.
    Considering what you get it's well worth it. :shades:
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    I thought DSC is now standard on every Mini, other than the Cooper Classic?
  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    I thought DSC is now standard on every Mini, other than the Cooper Classic?

    I think it's now the law but I'm not certain. or sure soon it will be mandatory in all cars.

    Still if you go into a corner with too much speed DSC will not help you at all. DSC only prevents you from accelerating too much and possibly braking if the yaw angle gets bent out of shape but overcook it into a corner and you'll be in trouble before you can say "trouble".
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    You only get it if you order the Sport package; otherwise it's an option you can add separately as well. It's not standard from what I can see.

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  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    You only get it if you order the Sport package; otherwise it's an option you can add separately as well. It's not standard from what I can see.

    I think it's 2009 when Stability control becomes mandatory on all cars. I think I read that somewhere. I'm not 100% certain tho.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    Gee I hope not. I'd hate that.

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  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    ESC Mandatory in 2012!

    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/menuitem.012c081c5966f0ca3253ab10cba0- 46a0/

    Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Electronic Stability Control Systems
    As part of a comprehensive plan for reducing the serious risk of rollover crashes and the risk of death and serious injury in those crashes, this rule establishes Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 126 to require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 Kg (10,000 pounds) or less. ESC systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to assist the driver in maintaining control in critical driving situations. NHTSA estimates ESC will reduce single-vehicle crashes of passenger cars by 34% and single vehicle crashes of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) by 59%, with a much greater reduction of rollover crashes. NHTSA estimates ESC would save 5,300 to 9,600 lives and prevent 156,000 to 238,000 injuries in all types of crashes annually once all light vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    Interesting. One would have to be pretty crazy or might inept to roll over a MINI, but I guess you could skid off an embankment or something like that. However, if in fact DSC would reduce single passenger crashes by 59% (!!!--quite a claim!), one couldn't argue against it.

    As long as I can turn it off, I"m okay with "mandatory". But if it starts driving my car, and I can't turn it off completely, I'm not buying that car, no way.

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  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    As long as I can turn it off, I"m okay with "mandatory". But if it starts driving my car, and I can't turn it off completely, I'm not buying that car, no way.

    I'm always dubious of Gov't claims like that. Still mandatory is usually something you cannot turn off. Since it's optional now you can shut it off. In the future it might be like ABS brakes. I hate them for snow because no matter what it takes longer to stop with them as the snow won't plow up under the wheels. But you can't shut ABS off. I expect in all new 2012 car it will not be 100% defeatable.
  • I have a 2002 MINI Cooper S with roughly 38,000 miles. Bought it second hand last year.

    I've been noticing since this spring that I can feel a popping sensation through the steering wheel once in a while when turning or driving over rough or uneven pavement.

    Just wondering if anyone else has come across this. If so, any idea what the culprit was?

    I'd like to get an idea before heading to the MINI dealership.

    Thanks
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    They had both shock mount and motor mount issues as I recall.

    Here are TWO TEchnical Service Bulletins that might be of help to you>

    SI M 31 01 05
    Front Axle

    June 2005
    Technical Service

    This Service Information bulletin supersedes Service Measure M31 200 05 dated April 2005.
    SUBJECT
    Front End Clicking or Creaking Noise

    MODEL
    R50 (Cooper)
    R52 (Convertible)
    R53 (Cooper S)

    SITUATION

    Clicking or creaking noise may be heard coming from the vehicle front end when turning the steering wheel or when driving over bumps.

    CAUSE

    The plate of front strut mount (upper guide support) may be bent from an impact and over time has caused the rubber bushing to crack.

    CORRECTION

    Confirm the cause of the noise by removing the upper strut mount cap to see if there is a crack in the rubber bushing.

    PROCEDURE
    1. Check for any evidence of previous impacts from external force to the vehicle.

    2. Verify that the upper strut dome body has not been damaged.

    3. Do not replace the whole strut assembly.

    4. Replace only the strut mount per Repair Instructions RA 33 31 031.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------

    SI M 32 02 05
    Steering and Wheel Alignment

    June 2005
    Technical Service

    This Service Information bulletin supersedes Service Measure M32 200 04 dated December 2004.
    SUBJECT
    Power Steering Pump Noise

    MODEL
    R50 (Cooper) and R53 (Cooper S) manufactured before June 2004.

    SITUATION

    Customer may hear a knocking noise from the front axle area when turning the steering wheel.

    CAUSE

    The power steering pump bracket is not properly mounted and makes contact with the power steering gear.

    CORRECTION

    Move the power steering pump bracket down as far as possible to increase the clearance between the bracket and the steering gear.

    PROCEDURE

    Do not replace the power steering gear or the electro-hydraulic power steering pump.
    1. Loosen the two M8x12 hex bolts holding the power steering pump bracket. These bolts are accessible from the rear of the vehicle (under the power steering gear).

    2. Move the power steering pump bracket down as far as possible to increase the clearance between the bracket and the steering gear.

    3. Torque the bolts to 19 Nm.

    For additional information, follow Repair Instruction RA 32 41 030

    Improved assembly process implemented in June 2004.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------
    Also there is an April 2003 RECALL on the rear strut mounting screw, so make sure you've had that done, even though it doesn't pertain to your current problem.

    MOMMA MIA :surprise: -- I've been scrolling through the MINI Technical Service Bulletins, and there's an armful of them. Most are for older cars, and the newer TSBs on 2007/08 cars don't seem anywhere near as serious.

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  • hnewhnew Posts: 2
    2008 mini cooper S, left front tire has steel belting showing and blown on inside tread area, right front is not as bad. Both back tires has had to be replaced and is already showing ware on inside tread again. With only 10,000 miles on the car, seams odd that such major alignment problem has occurred. My boss is a friend of the owner of this car, and asked for my help. They bought car new and saying no curbs been hit. They thinking to getting rid of this problem by getting there daughter a different car. They are concerned if, and for her safety, that if the alignment was done and why it needs to be done so soon. With the cost of the type of tires and its a new car, any ideas to help?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    Alignment can be knocked out in an instant. It can happen ten minutes after you get an alignment. A pothole will do it. I don't see how they could know what ruts or potholes their daughter might have hit, or may even be unaware of. If you smack a hole hard enough, or often enough that's it---the car's out of alignment.

    Wear on an inside tread suggests to me that the car is out of alignment and has excessive toe in or toe out---meaning that the tire is being scrubbed across the road--not running straight.

    Unfortunately, you cannot properly align a car with tires that are already worn. You have to replace the tire, then do a full alignment. Also it would be a good idea to see if there is any damage under there.

    My gut feeling is that there is nothing basically wrong with the MINI but a lot wrong with whoever is working on the alignment machine.

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  • hnewhnew Posts: 2
    I didn't look under the rear of the car to see if a alignment is possible. after buying the car from new, they replaced the rear tires in december of 2008. 4 months later they needed replaced again, and the rear tires are wearing about the same on the inside. tread. now on the bad one that is worn to the steel belt I do agree that she wasn't telling or giving up what could have knocked the front so badly out of alignment.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    I'd need to see the wear pattern to tell you any more. Just about any car can be aligned on all 4 wheels although on some cars the way they do the rear wheels isn't pretty.

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  • I have a 07 Cooper S.
    Had 19 or 18 in can't remember. JCW wheels with the run flats.
    Living in L.A. we encounter many pot holes, one night on the freeway I hit a pot hole, with a huge large BANG. Busted my rim.
    Then after replacing the rim few weeks later another loud BANG! I ran over a pot hole AGAIN and busted another rim. Then I started to notice the rear wheels were wearing only in the insides. So I decided to ditch all 4 tires and rims and switch out to a 17 with a Yokohama Hi Performance tires.
    Outcome: Slightly less noisy and bumpy. But I was and still am but was too cheap to get the alignment. I've had my car almost 2 years ( a month short ) had to replace 8 tires so far with 32000 mls. I just got my car back from service had to get my left front guide support replaced I need to replace my rear tires replaced then do alignment on all 4 wheels.
    I just think the OEM suspensions suck I'm thinking to replace it with the KONI's any feed back????
    ALSO the JCW wheels are really delicate.
  • Hi can anyone please help me?

    My daughter's Mini Cooper is on ramps and I am trying to replace the steering pump, but I cannot find the two bolts that are mentioned in the manual and also in previous posts.
    Where do I start to look? I have removed the Nut, and assume that the cables, high pressure hose and flexible hose are more easily reached and detached when the pump is lowered.

    Perhaps I appear stupid but I really cannot find them.

    Any advice would be welcome.

    Arbytoo.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 46,003
    what year?
    which engine?

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