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MINI Cooper Care & Maintenance



  • zgrrrlzgrrrl Posts: 147
    I bought one that was WAY overpriced. I regret buying it from one local Chicago dealership because another MINI dealer would have let me purchase it for half the price I paid.

    So, be careful when purchasing. If you have a few MINI dealers in the area, shop around. Tell them you got a better offer from one and see if they will match it or go lower. They will budge on price.

    Buy extended ONLY if you are going to be keeping your MINI for over 5yrs.

    Brake replacement and oil changes will be worth the price ONLY if you negotiate with dealers. Find out how much full brake replacement and a couple of oil services will be, and work off that number for negotiation.

    Good luck.
  • We have a Mini with roughly 80 k on it and it goes through a quart every 3 k. What do you think?
  • shark715shark715 Posts: 382
    edited October 2010
    Not usual at all for any car with 80k miles, especially a smaller engine that turns higher RPM's. Unless there are other symptoms, it's nothing to be concerned about. Just check the oil level regularly, and have a quart on hand, ready to be added when needed. Do you notice any oil drippings under the engine after it's been parked? Part or most of your oil usage might be a leak rather than the engine burning it. If you do determine that there is a leak, you might want to have it looked at. Depending on where the oil is leaking (and how much), there's some possibility it could cause an engine fire, for example if it were leaking onto the exhaust manifold. It's not a likely scenario given that yoiu are losing only a quart every 3000 miles, but worth checking, given the consequences.
  • jcihakjcihak Posts: 60
    I have owned a dozen small engine Hondas and Toyotas and never had them burn oil. All but one were high revving 4 cylinders. This is the reason I bought a Honda instead of a Mini last month. The Minis are notoriously unreliable. Consumer Reports just rated them one of the worst. The mechanics I asked about Minis told me the same - unreliable and very expensive to maintain.
    I'm sure 40 years ago it was normal to burn oil at 80k. But not today with much tighter manufacturing tolerances and better materials - unless the manufacturing or materials are cheap.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    edited October 2010
    Let me guess---your mechanic doesn't work on Minis.

    Mine do, and they love the cars. It's a Porsche shop that just took on MINI. Why was that? So that they could expand their business to include cars that attract enthusiasts.

    First off, then---- with any car, one must differentiate between models, years and generations before making sweeping statements about reliability. With the MINI, the model you pick and the options one chooses make all the difference.

    Secondly, of course the MINI costs more to maintain---it's a different class of car than a Civic. It's built to the same standards as a BMW.

    Last of all, it's fun, it's fast, it handles like a go-cart, it's cute and it has great resale value. I, personally, would not be happy in a Civic or Scion. I know, I've tried.

    All cars to their purpose, and all cars to their owners' needs.

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  • jcihakjcihak Posts: 60
    When I was seriously looking at buying a Mini I spoke with independent mechanics who had Minis in their shops and had worked on Minis. They all told me the costs of repair were high - like BMW, and they came in for repairs often.

    There is certainly a class of car that is fun to drive but costs a great deal to maintain. Alfa Romeos, and old Jags were like that. Its unfortunate that they, and BMW's and Mini's standards of quality are so low. People are paying a high premium for poor build quality. That is the reason it is leaking oil.

    I'm glad you are happy with your Mini. I could not afford to own one - (and I found the interior very cheap compared to most other cars).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    edited November 2010
    Well sure you're right, they are expensive to maintain, but a MINI is also, with options, close to a $30,000 car. You can't really expect it to have the parts of a $12,000 car on it. And again, it depended entirely on which MINI you bought. If you bought a base engine 1st generation MINI with automatic, the likelihood of you having problems must have been 10X that of buying a supercharged 6 speed.

    Alfa Romeos were very good, well-built cars. People often confused them with Fiats, or had experienced with one or two badly neglected examples. Old Jaguars do suck, I agree, but here again, that was due to the notorious XJ6 models.

    The MINI is a very solid car. Having owned a Scion xA and a Subaru, I can say that build quality, interior materials and driving feel are like night and day.

    If you check resale value on a MINI, you'll find that the general public is not as discouraged as you might be. I'd encourage you to give one a try after you've sifted through the pros and cons and picked the best possible year make and model.

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  • Mr Shiftright. How do you see reliability for the turbo vs supercharger? My Toyota is 12 years old, incredibly reliable but i am looking for something more fun. i do not expect it be as reliable as the toyota, but i do want it to be reliable enough so that I can see it more often than the mechanic.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    I'm not turbo kinda guy in the first place so I'm biased toward SC cars. Turbo cars can be peaky, they generate a lot of engine heat, etc.---but modern turbos are pretty reliable. So my "complaint" is more about driving characteristics rather than reliability.

    I like a supercharger because, even though they require a belt drive, they also require less plumbing---the SC also gives you boost right from idle speed on up, whereas a turbo has a spool a bit.

    My personal preference is for superchargers on small engines and twin-turbos on larger displacement "V" configurations.

    In terms of doing modifications, I think turbos offer more options for the enthusiast.

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  • I believe that BMW's quality standards are very high.
    I have heard that Mini's are not to the same standard as BMW's and that is a sales ploy to say they are. Curious where are Minis made, same factory, same country as BMW?"
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    Cars are made all over the world these days. MINIs are made in the UK, as are Rolls Royce and Bentley as you know. All are German-run.

    MINIs are solid little cars. I haven't found anything "cheap" on them so far. Certainly not cheesy like my Scion was. (which to be fair was a helluva car for $13,000 brand new).

    Is the MINI 2X that car for 2X that price? yeah, I think so.

    Of course, all cars these days use plastic parts, and if you ram your front air dam into the driveway like I did, it's gonna break.

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  • I read in Consumer Reports that the 2008 Mini is the most reliable model. It also has a good safety rating. Both ratings were similar to a Toyota. I decided to buy a 2008 Mini instead of a Toyota or Scion. I'm just trying to figure out whether it's worth paying for the maintenance warranty over paying for services at a non-Mini repair shop. Does anyone know? I know that individual services at the Mini dealership can be very costly.
  • Hi Everyone. I have a 2005 Mini Cooper S and I checked the oil levels the other day before taking a little road trip. It showed my oil level exactly between the two marks. My manual says basically that if it falls below the bottom mark, to contact a mini certified mechanic (or something to that effect). Can I add some Royal Purple Full Synthetic oil since I'm still about 7000 miles away from needing an oil change (or so says my car when I start it up)?

    This is my first Mini, and with my other cars, (I've had a Honda a Saturn and a Suzuki), if it was below the top mark, or somewhere in between the two marks, I would put in oil accordingly, but with my Mini, I'm afraid to do it especially since my car's sensor is telling me the oil level is fine. I've read that depending on the way that you drive, you could use up more oil than other people, but no one says what to do about it...whether it means I need an oil change sooner, or whether I need to add some oil, or whether it's fine until my next oil change?

    Does anyone know. Thanks!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    Sure, just add the same kind of oil that you put in there last oil change. But be sure to check the oil properly---level ground, engine cooled down. And don't OVERFILL--

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  • Mini has issues. Overheat light coming on going off and the engine really was overheating. Warranty is not good. Service is dependent on your local dealer. Way too many items that can leave you stranded by side of road because IF YOU DRIVE with any warning light on you have voided your warranty even if to get to a safe place off side of road or an exit. I used to recommend but now knowing what I have researched this is a car that will leave you stranded. Their must b e some poor quality parts and they must still have design flaws. Stay away. Anyway you shape it, it will cost more than most cars in this class to maintain.
  • shark715shark715 Posts: 382
    edited January 2011
    No question the early Minis had a few teething problems, as so many new models often do. I’m the original owner of an ’03 Cooper S. I now have 135k miles, the car is still a blast to drive, and I would buy another. Sure, there’s no question that in general a European car is not going to be as reliable as a Japanese car, but reliability is not the sole criteria for many buyers. The car has been relatively problem free, with three exceptions, each of which are very common on the early model years. The most serious (and granted it’s very serious) was the power steering pump (it’s electric on this car) failing at 91k miles. The repair cost $800, but the replacement pumps have a better design that won’t fail for the same reason. In my mind, Mini should have replaced all the original ones with a recall, and I do fault them for not doing so. The driver’s power window motor failed, but that was under warranty. And the electric radiator cooling fan has not worked on low speed for many years due to a bad relay, but I’ve never bothered to have it fixed. I must know two dozen owners of early cars, and they all had the same three problems. A few had a couple of other minor issues. Make no mistake about it, the car is a BMW that happens to be assembled in England. Numerous BMW parts are used. But like almost all BMW’s, it is a great driving car, and parts and service tend to be on the expensive side like most German cars (but the Americans and Japanese seem to be catching up in that respect). Another negative is that there are far less Mini dealers versus BMW or Mercedes, so if you are not in a major Metro area, the closest dealer could be far away. But normal maintainence parts are readily available even in rural areas, although “dealer only” parts could be a challenge if there is no nearby dealer. It’s not at all that difficult to find an independent shop to work on the car. Most shops that work on German cars will have no issue. Modern shops use the internet to reference service information, and it’s all readily available. For the most part, a good shop will not have trouble working on the car as most of it is no more unusual than any BMW. For anyone who is mechanically inclined, oil changes are very doable with the correct socket for the oil filter (available on the internet for less than $20), and brake pad and rotor replacement are about as easy as it gets. BTW, my car uses a quart of oil about every 5k miles, not bad at all for a supercharged 4 cylinder engine at 135k miles. Jcihak mentions that he has had several Honda and Toyota engines that have not burned oil at 80k miles. That’s great, and overall both of them make very reliable cars, but it’s not uncommon for any 4 cylinder engine to use some oil by 80k miles, and is generally not a problem. (I should note that my last Accord needed a full engine replacement at only 35k miles despite being meticulously maintained, thankfully it was under warranty.) He also incorrectly states that CR rates the Mini as one of the most unreliable cars. That’s simply not true, just look at their website. It’s interesting that he failed to mention how high the owner satisfaction ratings are, even through they are right next to the reliability ratings. Clearly it was his intention to bash the car versus presenting the whole picture.
  • shark715shark715 Posts: 382
    edited January 2011
    Mike, what year is your car and how many miles? Has it been properly maintained? How is "the warranty not good"? You mentioned that service is dependent on your local dealer. Isn't that the same for all cars? While Mini's are not totally problem free, they simply don't tend to brake down and leave you stranded when properly maintained...very few modern cars tend to leave you stranded when properly maintained. Sound like you are frustrated because you have having problems with your car, but you need not bash the entire brand.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    One thing many people don't understand about turbo or supercharged cars---if there's any weakness in the engine--in sealing, in cooling, in oil consumption---then the turbo or supercharger will reveal that weakness far sooner than on a non-aspirated engine.

    MINI has a very good aftermarket, with corrections for some of the early model's defects/bugs.

    I've installed the following corrections:

    1. re-inforcement plates for the shock towers

    2. metal stone-guard for the power steering pump cooling fan

    3. new circuit board to allow one click UP for power windows

    4. new circuit board to allow automatic disable of traction control (allows the default to be non-op, with me the driver selecting to use it)

    5. sun-roof wind deflector to alleviate punishing wind turbulence with the panoramic sunroof open

    6. additional cupholder on the passenger side console rail

    7. removal of run-flat tires to the trash heap

    8. installation of iPod-like outlet and USB port in the sound system

    9. installation of sturdy front license plate holder

    10. installation of rubber protector pad under the tailgate loading area.

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I think your comments were "dead-on".

    My wife has a 2005 MINI convertible, 60K miles (purchased new) and loves it. It has had a few issues, but our local dealer has been great to work with, giving allowances on out-of-warranty repairs.

    No, its not as reliable as a Toyota Corolla (few European cars are...), but then again, how much fun can one have in a Corolla?
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    2. metal stone-guard for the power steering pump cooling fan

    3. new circuit board to allow one click UP for power windows

    Mr_Shiftright, can you tell me where you obtained the items mentioned above?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    Yes, from Moss Mini (

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Got the site!

  • chknltlchknltl Posts: 2
    Many years ago I drove a 60's Mini and loved it. Easy to repair, utilitarian and tons of fun at SCCA also stood in good stead when a group of us began restoring British post-WWII cars.
    I'm finally in a position to own a modern Mini Cooper and wanted to know if anyone has experience or knowledge regarding the annualized normal repair costs for the Cooper.

    In my reading I understand there have been problems with some of the older models (new on the market/ first year woes). Also, I live in snow country and want advice on driving in the winter gushruts--how does it do? (I believe it is rear-wheel drive.)

    We have only one dealer here (a drawback) and pending warranties on the car, I'd have the car repaired by a trusted mechanic. Can he get parts and does he have to have dedicated tools?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    The car is a FWD, not rwd, and it should do fine in snow as long as we aren't talking about drifting or rutted snow that is higher than the car's ground clearance. Naturally dedicated snow tires on all 4 wheels would be best.

    There are quite a few special tools required to work on MINIs so I would think there are some repairs your mechanic is simply not equipped to do---but he should be able to do most maintenance items by buying just a few special wrenches, etc.

    What you want to avoid is the early cars with base engine (non supercharged) and the CVT transmission. If you get a well-cared for Cooper S with the 6 speed automatic and supercharger, or the 2nd Generation 2006+ turbo Cooper with stick or automatic, you're ahead of the game.

    For the supercharged cars, watch out for:

    1. deformed upper shock towers ( you can buy a brace for this)
    2. power steering fan shield (replace plastic shield with aluminum one)
    3. the "Chewbacca Noise", which is a screech early MINIs make when you let up off the clutch in first gear with a cold engine. This is due to a glazed flywheel and does not harm anything--it's just annoying. To repair, one must replace the flywheel and clutch, which is $$$
    4. Avoid cars with run-flat tires if you can, or plan to replace them---they are brutally hard-riding and very noisy.
    5. Buy an accessory cup holder that fits on the console rail on the passenger side
    6. Buy an aftermarket arm rest for the doors
    7. Buy an aftermarket arm rest for between the seats

    You can find many parts for these cars through and

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  • chknltlchknltl Posts: 2
    Thank you very much for your information.
    I've worked on too many superchargers (one French, two German and one British--which I think was a blower) which, while great when they work and are probably much more reliable now (?), are also customarily in itsy-bitsy spaces ensconced in too hard to get to places and are also $$$ to repair.
    I'll probably be looking at an auto base model. Love to have a stick but I have one dead knee and the other doesn't feel well so clutching too tough in heavy traffic.
    Nice to know they are FWD--hate 4 wheel and all wheel too quirky. High snow drifts are never an option--(i.e. drive something else, stupid).

    Again, thanks for the reply and I feel well equipped to face the prospect and happy possibility!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    Okay! Now for the base engine, you want 2007 models on up---you do NOT want a base engine 2002-2006. That's some kind of Brazilian/Chrysler thingie---a rough piece of work indeed.

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  • iangariangar Posts: 1
    Is it wise to purchase the extended warranties offered on the Mini Cooper S 2011. One is Mechnical Failure Service Contract $1399 and the other is Mini Maintenance $1595. I purchased the car on Saturday and am not comfortable with the extended packages, which I can cancel. Many thanks. Bonnie
  • katyknockkatyknock Posts: 3
    I have a 2006 Mini Cooper and live in the Chicagoland area. I love my car and can't think of anything I'd like better except the amount of time I've spent at the dealership getting things fixed during warranty and now within the first year after warranty.

    How does one classify if they got a lemon? How many repairs should there be in the 1st 5 years?


    Under Warranty
    Air Conditioning
    Door lock mechanicsm
    Oxygen sensor (twice) - This does have a lifetime warranty now.
    Low tire pressure indicator set - it didn't work the first flat I got, I'm not sure it works now, the tire has to be completely without air before it comes on!

    After Warranty
    $250 for an oil change! Does this mean the $70 oil change at my local mechanic is really not quality? What could possibly be the difference?

    Brakes finally needed attention at 48,000 miles, but should the rotors really need to be replaced. I know I live in the midwest but I grew up in Wisconsin and drove cars for 6 - 7 years (not purchased new) and never had to have more than the rotors resurfaced!

    Reattachment of trim that came loose
    Windshield replacement

    It seems like I've beat up my car, but I haven't! I actually love it! Did I just get a lemon of a mini? I'm have such bad luck, but when it's not one of these items, it seems I wouldn't trade it for much less than another BMW or Mercedes.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,347
    edited July 2011
    You know it seems typical German level of quality---spotty at best, but nothing disastrous. In a 5 year span the only item you mention that really suprises me is the AC; otherwise, glitches like locks, trim falling off, electrical faults---that's very MINI, and I wouldn't call it a "lemon".

    By all means have a private garage do your oil changes, as long as they know how (it's a cannister type filter, and you also have to replace the oil drain plug each time) and the type of oil (synthetic).

    Not sure why the rotors need replacing! Are they warped or something? If the dealer told you this, get a second opinion at an independent shop. Most any shop that works on BMWs should be able to do most maitenance things on a MINI. Brakes are considered expendable items and really shouldn't be thought of as a "defect".

    Host & Owner of a 2003 Mini Cooper S

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  • gbwickergbwicker Posts: 1
    edited November 2011
    I have a 2003 MINI Cooper S 6-speed with 160k miles. Had the oil changed 2 days ago at my regular shop, and now the fan stays on (or comes back on) after I turn off the engine. Usually, it goes off and stays off if I start the car and turn it back off.

    I've read that that is nothing to worry about, but the temp gauge is indicating that the car is running hot after a short 5 - 6 mile drive in 50 degree weather. I popped the hood, and see or feel no indication that the engine is overheating.

    Any ideas on what could be going on? Could any of this be related to the oil change?

    I'm in a remote location about 100 miles away from a dealership and about 200 miles away from my hometown mechanic, and of course I have to drive home tomorrow (Sunday) and can't call either of them.

    Extend my trip by a day, or take a chance and drive home tomorrow?
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