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MINI Cooper Care & Maintenance



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,500
    I think you are low on coolant. Add some water to the coolant reservoir if you don't have spare coolant lying around--it's okay to add water but no more than say a quart.

    If you ARE low on coolant, the thermostat housing is always suspect on this year MINI--it's a slow drip so hard to spot. Usually you can only see if after you pressure test the cooling system.

    the temp gauge on these MINIS show "hot" if there's low coolant, even if the engine isn't overheating. It's a bizarre system but that's what they do.

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  • I'm purchasing a 2012 mini S cooper within the next few days, any recommendations on upgrading from the standard 3yr/36k maintenance to the 6yr/100k maintenance deal? most of my driving is to and from work which is about 36 freeway miles round trip and inner city driving......any suggestions........Also any advice on the Tire 'N Wheel protection program, sounds like a good deal but not sure how often I'll go through the run flats......anyone now the price of this program, the dealership won't quote me this over the phone or email.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,500
    Well on the First Generation MINIs you couldn't miss making out big time on an extended warranty but I think the newer cars are a great deal better. So it really depends on a) how long do you plan to keep the car and b) have you compared the cost of the extended warranty vs. the likely costs up to 100K? Also you have to read carefully about what is *excluded* from the 100K extension. These extensions are rarely equal to the original warranty--but I haven't read the MINI extension. It's a good question to ask.

    As for run flats, they, too are getting better but I think you'll probably dispose of them after the first set runs out.

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  • I love my Mini and am not sure about the extended warranty being offered now. I will share what I have heard and know. I have heard the run flats are not smooth riding tires, you may want to save the $ with them and just opt for a tire protection plan - mine was about 500 for 5 years and I used my $500 worth on tire issues. - Note that the tires are not available everywhere and may have to be special ordered even at

    My car was hit from behind in the 1st year I had it, the next summer my air conditioning was found to have a cracked line (after I had settled for having the car repaired) and it was covered. The big thing I think the extended warranty may be good for is if it covers maintenance. My dealer charges about 250 for an oil change. Lord only knows what else might cost. I have had the thermostat replaced and the oxygen sensors twice.

    I spent much of my first few years with the car in the shop - not completely due to the model, I truly love my car but check what the extension covers, you may find it worth it!
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    $250 for an oil change?

    You have been getting raped!

    My local MINI dealer does a. Full oil/filter change, fluid check, even washes and vacuums the car for less than $90.
  • Katyknock, thank you very much for responding and the advice. What year did you purchase the tire protection plan (Tire'N Wheel I believe its called). I Believe I purchased this package for a very high amount and thinking of canceling it...1149.00 for 5 years....yikes.

    Also the dealer informed me that with these run flat tires, if one were to take them off the original wheel and place them on a new wheel, one runs the risk of decreasing the life of the tire. Is this true???
  • I live in South Korea where parts for my 2008 Mini S is double the price. Would like to order parts online. Anyone know what goes into the dealer scheduled oil change maintenance? I believe it is not just the synoil. Oil filter...interior air filter?
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    If the wheel width is the same, then what you were told is absolutely false.

    If someone told you tire wear would increase, I would ask for evidence showing such additional wear as well as which tire company makes that claim.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,500
    I pay $130 for a complete 7500 mile service, which includes oil and filter (synthetic oil + OEM filter), tire rotation, diagnostic check with the scanner (to see what's up in there, if anything), safety inspection, check & tighten stem to stern, and a road test and report. Yes, I could change the oil myself for probably $30 bucks, but I don't have a lift or a sophisticated scan tool (one that reads all the systems). Also I really trust the people who work on the car. They've spotted a few issues that could have gotten worse (like the notorious leaking thermostat housing).

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  • I'd love to know where you live and who you're dealer is when you say $90 for an oil change on your Mini. My dealer mentioned over $300 to do my oil change and I've been trying to figure out where to go. I don't trust those cheapo places (had a '00 New Beatle turbo that EZ Lube screwed me over on a few times). Any ideas how to get that $90 oil change? Limited time to figure out how to do to it myself and it's overdue.
  • Hi,

    There are also other choices besides the ez lube places, ask around there are ussuallly very good independent shops that specialize on Mini's or BMW's that are less expensive and IMO better than the dealer for these things.

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Greenville, SC. I had oil changes done every 5K miles at the dealer until the warranty expired, then I started doing the oil changes myself. Now, I purchase the oil and filter from the dealer and change the oil myself.

    I get the oil for $6.50/quart and the filters for $9.92/each, with my BMWCCA membership discount.

    In fact, I was a bit high on my oil change fee... That last oil change at the dealer cost me $76.70 (filter-$10.46, oil $31.25, labor $34.99).
  • shark715shark715 Posts: 382
    $300 is way too much for an oil change for a Mini. No dealer is going to quote that as they really do want your business, not to drive you away! Dealers generally make a lot more selling serivce and parts versus selling the cars themselves. Many customers loosely intermix the terms "oil change" and "scheduled maintainence", and it's likely the dealer thought you were asking for a price for whatever scheduled maintianence they think your car is due for. I would call back the dealer and ask exactly what he is proposing to do for $300. My guess is that you will find that he was giving you a price for scheduled maintainence that includes an oil and filter change, and other things too. I hope you will take the time to let us know what you find out.
  • randybeyrandybey Posts: 4
    I am one lucky dad. My daughter had an accident in her Mini Cooper. She had rear ended the car in front of her because two cars in front of her slammed on their brakes as did the car in front of her. Greatfull that it was a low speed impact and the car in front of her was not damaged. The bonnet (hood) of the Mini Cooper was bent and imediately the car burst into flames. The flames and smoke from the engine compartment filled the inside and luckly my daughter could get out of the car. Within minutes the car was totally in flames and the whole car a total lost. This site says that the safety of this car is good. Look at the safety tests on impact and there is none. No lawyer will touch this because there were no deaths or major injuries. How many people must die before Mini and BMW pull these death traps off the street. The transmissions, water pumps and electrical systems also cause fires to this car. Check to see how many recalls to the late model Mini Coopers there are. I just thank God that my daughter or no one else was injured or killed. If she had be stuck in the car for one minute more she would have died from the fames or smoke
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,500
    How bizarre. Do you mean the BACK of her car caught fire? (since the car in front wasn't damaged?)

    Generally MINI safety ratings are consistently quite good but the dynamics of auto accidents are very complex.

    Reliability ratings are so-so.

    There were recalls for electrical fires but not related to collision--these were on parked vehicles and 7 incidents were recorded in the UK.

    I don't suppose you'll ever know what happened unless you paid for automotive forensics, but it doesn't seem related to the recalls.

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  • ljmattox1ljmattox1 Posts: 10
    Glad that your daughter survived, and without injury, sounds as if the impact engineering on the MINI (where components are designed to bend / deform to absorb impact forces) worked as designed. Occasionally, posts will appear that say similar things ("crashed into X, I couldn't believe how much the hood / bumper / fenders were bent, what's up with that") and make it sound as if this designed-crumpling is a safety hazard, where it's actually a safety benefit.

    Hopefully the rest of your comments are colored by having just had a family member survive what had to be a terrifying trauma. "Death traps", really? A recent recall did involve water pumps and fires on turbocharged models. They're replacing all of those parts, as someone pointed out, as the fault could cause a fire on parked vehicles.

    Impact safety testing? A Google search pulled hundreds of "hits", like this one from the IIHS.

    IIHS MINI test results 2007-2012

    Was it ever determined what caused the fire in this case? Ruptured oil line, or ?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,500
    don't let a MINI's size fool you---they are very strong little cars, not at all like some cheapo sub-compacts you buy for $12,000.

    It doesn't matter how much a car 'folds up' or looks after a collision. If the passenger compartment remains intact, the front and side air bags deploy and the driver escapes serious injury, then that car has done its job superbly. Whether it is sent to the junkyard after that is irrelevant.

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  • violetdcvioletdc Posts: 9
    I 2nd that emotion! Scoopie was in 2 front-impact accidents w/in 4 months of each other, and the airbags never deployed, the repairs were successes, and she's been motoring like a champ ever since. I just KNEW there'd be issues (based on previous non-MINI models owned thru the yrs), but ... glad 2 say, NOT! :) Was really surprised at how sturdy she's made! :D
  • kandrivekandrive Posts: 19
    edited April 2012
    I recently test drove a 2012 MINI Cooper Countryman, automatic FWD basic model and immediately fell in love. My husband has some concerns tho, so I thought I'd post some questions. Some background is that this car is for me (wife/mom) with last kid going away to college soon and taking my car. I've had that car for over 13 yrs. and have only put 74K miles on it, so I'm not one to do a lot of driving long distance in my next car. We're looking for something that's good with gas but don't need a Prius-type model since my husband commutes by train. I want something "fun" for a change after driving Mom Cars for so long, and the MINI fills the bill perfectly. But... here come the questions: 1) The "reliability" rating is 5 out of 10 but all other ratings are high. Why would the rating be so low? 2) Maintenance costs. I've read over the entire subject of all MINI models and see that some years may have had some problems but I'm not hearing much about either the Countryman or any models 2010 and over. Most of the negative feedback seems to be about the Countryman being a 4-door and bigger than the classic MINI's, which some people don't like. Other than that, not much is said about maintenance issues with the Countryman specifically, positive or negative. We understand that it could be expensive to maintain after the standard warranty expires but our mechanic said he can fix/maintain MINI's even tho he's only seen 2 come in in 20 years. (I take that to be a good sign!) Is there anything we should watch for, specifically? We are very good at maintaining our other cars and RV and haven't had any problems with them at all. 3) Gas. Do you have to use premium to get good performance and avoid engine problems, or can you use regular? 4) Overheating. We live in So. Calif. and we do get some pretty hot weather so there's a concern about doing desert driving or mountain driving in the summer as well as heavy traffic on freeways. Has that been a problem for anyone? 5) I love the sunroof option but do they ever leak? I haven't read anything about that issue. Does the AC perform well with models that have sunroofs? 6)Does the basic Countryman engine have the power to get up the occasional steep road/driveway or should I look into the "S" model? Does it accelerate fast enough to get on freeways, being that it's a 4-cylinder? I was only able to test it on city streets and there were no freeway on-ramps near the dealership. And 7) The run-flat tires. Do they work? I know they're more expensive but I don't mind not having the space to carry a spare. My husband on the other hand does, tho.

    If anyone has knowledge that they'd share on this model of MINI, I'd really appreciate any good (or bad) feedback. Thanks!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,500
    edited April 2012
    Well maintenance is about what you'd expect from a German car--it's going to be the same $$$ to keep up as a BMW---German parts and not all that easy a car to work on. That's why warranties on these cars are important.

    I don't think you need an "S" model for normal driving, unless you or hubby really like to race around.

    The run-flat tires are a bad idea IMO, so I'd plan to ditch them as soon as they wear out---they ride hard and you'll hear them, too. If there was an option to delete them, I'd do it.

    As for reliability, MINIs have gotten better, it's true, but the early ones were pretty spotty. After 2006, they changed a lot of things.

    Also like most German cars, as they age, plastic bits will fall off and break and weatherstripping may deteriorate, but that's far down the road.

    Oh, sunroofs---they are a mixed blessing. No, they don't usually leak but they can break and if/when they do, they are expensive to fix. I like the airy feeling but I had to buy a windbreak, aftermarket, because the wind noise was just too loud.

    They are very comfy to drive long distances, and they have plenty of room and great visibility.

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  • kandrivekandrive Posts: 19
    Thank you so much for your reply. The more my husband researches the MINI, the more anxious he is about the reliability. On another forum about MINI's, his question was answered with "forget about it - buy a Subaru". Unfortunately, not a good sign for me as I had my heart set on one.
  • shark715shark715 Posts: 382
    edited April 2012
    We have owned a 2003 Mini Cooper S Hardtop since it was new, it has 151k miles on it, and we just ordered a new Countryman. My GF loves the current car, and was not interested in even test driving anything else. I tried to get her to test drive a Forester and a Tiguan, but after driving the Countryman for 10 minutes her mind was made up. Both of us really enjoy driving the current Mini, but as with the other German cars we have owned, it has not been trouble free. It’s not that there are constant problems, and it’s not like the car will leave you stranded, but it’s also not likely you will go 100k to 150k miles with no unusual issues, as you will hear from many Toyota and Honda owners. We are friends with at least two dozen other owners. We are willing to put up with a car that tends to need a few repairs over its life because it’s just so much more fun to drive. To us a car is more than an appliance. Before we ordered the Countryman we spoke to at least a dozen owners of that model. Again, the cars are not exactly trouble free, but only one said he would not buy another if he had to do it all over. Sounds like the most serious issue with the Countryman (especially the all wheel drive models) is that for the manual transmission BMW used the same clutch as in the smaller Mini S models, and it’s just not heavy duty enough for a car that’s 600-700 lbs, heavier. Lots of owners are complaining of smelling burning clutches and clutches that do not engage smoothly and need replacement within the first year. Sounds like you want an automatic, so that would not be an issue for you. Maintenance costs for Mini’s are not significantly different versus other makes, and a 3 year 36k maintenance plan comes with the car. They are not particularly difficult to work on. I’ve done much of the normal maintenance myself. You do need to assume you will be using premium fuel. I’ve never heard of anyone with a cooling system problem with a Mini. The air in our ’03 has always worked fine (and we have black car with a sunroof). So far as leaky sunroofs go, I’ve never heard of leaks on any car (Mini or otherwise), other than when owners allowed the drains to get clogged with leaves or other debris, or a gasket that was damaged through neglect. So far as engine power goes, that’s really a personal decision. You should take the time to drive one on the freeway. Based on the reported 0-60 acceleration times, I would think most people buying an automatic will want the turbo engine, and note that the base engine is not even offered with all wheel drive because of the added weight. Run flats usually do work as advertised, but they have a stiffer ride versus non flats because the sidewalls are designed to hold up the weight of the car without any air pressure. The demonstrator you drove had run flats. Did you object to the ride quality? We thought the Countryman that we drove rode very nicely. On the other hand our current car came from the factory with the sport suspension and run flats, and the ride was brutal. Several years ago we changed to non flats and carry a can of Fix a Flat. the other thing you need to know about runflats is that they often can not be repaired if damaged by a puncture, and they are generally more expensive to replace. Then again, how much is not likely being stranded by a flat worth? Hope my comments help.
  • xcskiguyxcskiguy Posts: 4
    edited April 2012
    I found a good deal on a used 2011 All4 automatic a couple months ago. I had test driven the All4 manual and auto at the MINI dealer prior to this. So here are my thoughts so far.

    1. As far as reliability, the 2011 Countryman was part of a recall that affected turbo cars for a cooling pump. This was a circuit board replacement at the dealer (painless). I have read of 'several' owners of manuals not being happy with the feel or action of the clutch pedal. I felt the same way on my test drive. My last 4 cars were stick and I actually liked this car better as an auto.
    2. My 2011 still has warranty left and I stopped at the dealer specifically for the recall, but let them check the car over. I thought the level of service was very good. They did the recall work, found and replaced a leaking gasket and changed the oil. But regular servicings under warranty are decided by the onboard computer. Reading the owner's manual, they are spaced out a bit on the long side. I will probably get some things done earlier on my own. I have seen some owners complaining (on MINI owner sites) about dealer service costs. I've owned German, Japanese and American cars. Hopefully my costs will be more like a VW than an Audi. If you have another car, maybe you can put up with a MINI that you love 98% of the time.
    3. The S requires premium. Appears that the base does also. I do appreciate that it gets much better gas mileage than my AWD Subaru or Audi did. My around the neighborhood mpg has been 24-25.
    4. Can't help you there. No problems that I know of.
    5. I don't have the sunroof, so I can't say. A Cooper I drove for a day made me wonder if the shade was adequate to really block the sun out on days I really wanted to stay cool.
    6. I think the turbo motor is just fine for the All4. But think the added weight of the Countryman is just too much for the base motor. Just my opinion. The base motor 0-60 times were sloooooow.
    7. Runflats work. Runflats are also harsh at times. Add the sport suspension, 18" or 19" tires and some people might be unhappy. The Countryman doesn't have a spot for a spacesaver spare, but some MINI websites are selling them. There is also a 'compressor fix-a-flat' kit from Continental that I will probably get for more security. You should definitely try the runflats on roads you normally drive.

    I like the car. It has just enough room for my needs. Gets better gas mileage than any AWD car/SUV with similar performance. It could never be described as boring. Options I would recommend (the blue tooth, xenons - I don't have them and wish I did and they're cheap as an option, I wouldn't have ordered the backup warning system - but it's actually quite good, the rail is stupid - at least go for the split or even opt for the bench). Hope that helps.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,500
    Subarus are generally very boring and they have had their issues, too, let me tell you. Been there, done that.

    I hear the new Subaru BRZ is a hoot to drive, though, so you should give that a test drive.

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  • kandrivekandrive Posts: 19
    Thanks, Shark715! This is really helpful info to help plead my case. I've test drove quite a few cars now and I can't help going back to the MINI Countryman - the ride isn't bad at all, as opposed to the Kia Sportage that Edmunds suggested, even with the run-flats. I doubt seriously that I'd get up to 100,000 mi. on the MINI in the next 15-20 yrs. - I have a Ford Explorer, brand new off the dealer floor that I've had since '99 and I only have 74K on that after 13 yrs. It's still going strong but will be leaving with our daughter when she goes off to college soon. This Countryman will pretty much be an "around town" car for me (adding in a little fun with some side-trips once in a while) and I'm not usually rough on my cars. We'd probably get the Base model Countryman and not opt for the "S" or All4, so I don't think we'd get the turbo, but I am a bit worried about how much power the Countryman has. We live in the foothills and we have some slightly steep terrain once in a while. The other cars I've tried (in this Class) all seem to have this same issue and are not as quick as the Countryman was at all (and also not FUN!). Also, we have 2 MINI dealerships within 15 miles of us, so warranty repairs/service wouldn't be a headache. These are all "pros" in my book. That being said, others are advising my husband that BMW parts are difficult to get, they are expensive and that there might be transmission problems with an automatic 6-speed that Countryman offers. Also, husband has heard that the turbos are a problem. He's getting all the negative feedback and I'm only hearing the good things so we've been going round and round on this. All replies to my questions have been extremely helpful, so thanks!

    And btw - I really HATED the Subaru!!! :P
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,500
    the MINI aftermarket parts industry is quite healthy actually. Modern turbo technology is very reliable, too.

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  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,955
    Most anyone who posts here will typically have experience with one or possibly 2 MINIs.
    FWIW, my daughter bought a 2007, new, and now was over 85,000 miles on it.
    No reliability issues.
    6 speed automatic has been fine.
    Closest dealer to her [ she lives in Maine ] is over an hour drive away, in Boston.
    She really, really wanted a MINI.
    - Ray
    Good luck.....
    2016 BMW 340i
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Agreed. My wife bought her 2005 Mini convertible 5-speed manual (non S model) new and has right at 70,000 miles on it.

    I change the oil every 5K miles.

    As far as maintenance issues go...

    Under warranty:

    - Right top engine motor mount replaced

    - Thermostat housing replaced (with a redesigned upgraded one)

    - The part of the electronic dash that controls the clock, which continuously lost time.

    - Power steering cooling fan with a redesigned upgraded one.

    Out of warranty:

    - Another right top motor mount

    - Passenger seat airbag sensor

    - Leaking power steering fluid supply hose

    - Battery.

    She also was able to get almost 50k miles out of the original RFTs.

    The car has never left her stranded.

    There's little doubt in my mind that she would have had less maintenance issues with a Toyota, but then again, she wouldn't have enjoyed driving it nearly as much.

    And, the later designed models (2006 onward) have an overall better reliability history IIRC...
  • kandrivekandrive Posts: 19
    Great info - thanks!
  • kandrivekandrive Posts: 19
    I've been reading other forums and now I've come to find out two of the most common complaints about the Countryman. They are:

    1) The motor mounts seems to be a recurring problem but are fixed during the warranty period.
    2) Cooling fans for both the transmission (?) and the power steering
    3) Rattling or noises coming from various areas inside the car - some in the dashboard, some in the side doors. Apparently, these are common and the dealer can't find "fixes" for them.
    4) No temperature gauges are featured.
    5) Various leaking hoses
    6) Stuck fan relays
    7) A/C problems
    8) Communications package not supported with Android-type phones

    Do any Countryman owners have experience with these problems? If not, or if my info is incorrect, responses would be appreciated.
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