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MINI Cooper: Problems & Solutions



  • I have a 11 month old Mini S. I DO NOT drive the car hard BUT my front tires are extremely worn after 13k miles. They will need replacing in another 3K miles. Has anyone else had this problem?
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    The MINI does eat tires if you have fun with it but the wear seems to depend. The Dunlops seem to last longer than the Pirellis with the Goodyears somewhere in between.
  • My AUdi A4 lease will end next month. I have narrowed down my choice to two cars. Another A4 or a Mini S. It has been interesting reading the owner comments here at Edmunds. I love the way my test drive, although short, went on the Mini. Does anyone have some positive and negative comments about the S to help me with the final decision? I would much rather listen to you then a salesman. Thanks
  • We have never had much free play on the clutch pedal and the dealer said there was no adjustment.
    A few weeks ago I could feel some minor vibration when I place my foot on the pedal. Then it started to make noise about three days ago. I called the dealer in Concord, CA and they picked up the car. About 80 miles away. After looking at the car the said it was abused and estimated the repair at $3-4,000.00! Not covered by warrantee! All of the miles on the car are highway, and I have been driving for 47 years and never used up a clutch. I don't know where to turn. I love the car but BMW is ripping us off. It also seems that the transmission case is dammaged arround the in put shaft. It make me wonder what came first! Help!
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    Two suggestions: Try another dealer, you have the luxury (even if its a bit of a drive) of a few others in the Bay area, so see what they say. Warranty stuff/estimates can be done anywhere.

    And call MINIUSA at 866 ASK-MINI. Can't hurt to see what they say either, (and less effort then going to another dealer) many times they'll be more accomidating then a dealer since they have a vested interest in keeping you happy.

    I think the honest issues with a MINI are reliability mostly. The cars aren't entirely flawless, and you need to be willing to deal with a few problems here and there, (though the clutch thing is rare - first time I've heard of clutch issues). Its not like Audi's are problem free either, but you're obviously willing to buy another, so you're satisfied there. Also check out size issues. A MINI is small, too small for some people (but not most). And finally, a MINI isn't amazingly affordable. They sell for MSRP, and they can be expensive to fix outside of warranty repairs, and they don't get stellar gas milage, especially an S, because they require premium and are tuned for performance, so you won't get 40mpg, if that matters to you.

    There's a ton of positive comments in the normal MINI thread on here, I really don't see it worth adding more, for most everyone its worth putting up with the small problems because its such a good car.
  • rayt2rayt2 Posts: 1,208
    I also experienced problems with tranny. The shift into reverse does not always comply without going back into first then try reverse again, very annoying. Got the same response from dealer as you, there is no adjustment to clutch or linkage. I have the same amount of mileage as you now and continue to have issues with going into reverse but no other trans issue. Next stop at dealership for 20 k service this problem will be logged again.

    Ray T.
  • Phantom door lock!

    The dealership is stumped by the problem:

    locking and unlocking itself while parked or being driven, interior lights turning on, unable to stay locked as it unlocks as soon as you lock it, automatic lock at 5MPH not working, etc. The problem exists whether you try to lock it with the remote key, regular key, or by toggle on the dash board.

    Today is the third day the car has been at the dealership and they are still trying to figure it out - said they had never seen it before - but added that they had gotten another one with the same problem yesterday morning.

    One post suggested radio transmissions near the car, but the problem has existed while being driven between San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are a couple of posts on this board by folks with the same problem, and if someone could post or email me with the solution, I would pass this info on to the dealership here. Thank you.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    There are probably several problems here. My MINI went 'Christine' on me this past April, first locking itself all the time (and rolling the windows up), then unlocking itself (and rolling the windows down). At first they just cleaned the rusty contacts in the body control module and sealed it up properly (in the UK they had a recall on it not being sealed right but for some reason they didn't do that recall here). That seemed to fix the problem but the problem came back and they had to replace the actuator in the driver's door for the lock.

    Problems were corroded contacts in the BCM and in the door actuator. Thought the door was open so thought it better unlock the door, stupid computer trying to be too smart. So tell them to clean up (pr replace if necessary) the BCM and replace the actuator. If they are still totally clueless, I'll get my service receipt out and give you the part numbers.
  • HP: You are wonderful, thank you. I have called the dealership and given them your info. Thank you. - AM
  • I am thinking about getting a Mini Cooper. Since I am a female, and I don't know much about cars, after reading all the problems associated with the Cooper, I am a little nervous about the reliability of the Mini. Any comments?

    Thank you in advance.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142

    The 2002s and 2003s definitely had quite a few problems, but early data on the 2004s is much better. I have a 2004 S and it has been reliable so far, but it only has 4K miles.

    Consumer Reports recently reported very poor reliability, but again, it is probably skewed pretty heavily towards the teething problems when the cars first came out.

    Keep in mind that "reliability problems" doesn't necessarily mean a car that won't start or that is broken down alongside the road. It means something that had to be fixed so most things are annoyances, not stuff that leaves you stranded.

    I'd summarize as follows: a new 2004 Mini is likely to be about average in repairs, about like most BMWs. Just don't expect it to be as good as something like a Honda or Toyota.

    Here would be some factors that you should consider:

    1. Is there a dealer close by? I wouldn't recommend buying unless there is a dealer that is reasonably convenient.
    2. Do you mind if you own a car that has a few problems now and then (i.e., do you tend to get very upset about car problems or can you roll with the punch?).
    3. Do you plan on keeping it past the warranty period? If not, then any problems will just be a hassle, but will have no monetary impact.
    4. Are you Okay with a car that has more squeaks and rattles than most cars? The Mini has a very stiff suspension and interiors that are more prone to rattles. Some people are really bugged by this stuff and I wouldn't recommend this car. The people who seem most disallusioned with their new Mnis are folks who are captivated by the style, but don't realize that this is not a Lexus - the car is a very stiff, no-nonsense machine, optimized for driving enjoyment, not comfort.

    The Mini is a very fun car, but it is not for everybody. Cars like the Focus SVT, Mazda 3, Subaru WRX are definitely better all-arounders and likely to have fewer problems.

    Good luck with your decision.

    - Mark
  • martin44martin44 Posts: 25
    Would like to know city and highway mileage for the Cooper S, please, and necessity for premium gas-yes or no.
  • arnsvenarnsven Posts: 1
    Power steering out twice,fan motor out once . Sound familiar to any other owners of 2002 Cooper?
  • avolvofanavolvofan Posts: 358
    Could you post the name of the rental agency? I am interested in renting a MINI for the same reasons you mentioned (getting a better feel for the car than can be done on a short test drive).
  • crickinacrickina Posts: 1
    I am thinking of buying a MINI Cooper 2004. But after reading all the problems people have had on this board, I'm starting to have second thoughts. Now, the small size doesn't bother me or the lack of cargo space, but having to pay for repairs constantly could get annoying. So, my questions are: What kind of problems do you all have exactly? How frequent are they? Once a month? Week? Day?! Do you think that in the 2005 convertible model most of these small problems (dashboard noise, car remote troubles) will have been fixed? I have no problem waiting until then.

    Any additional information you have to give would be greatly appreciated.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    FWIIW, my 2004 MCS has had zero problems in 5K miles.

    But ... if you're the sort who is really going to be bothered by an occasional rattle, I'd get something else, especially the convertible which are more susceptible to rattles to begin with and will be a heavily revised design. I'd also recommend against a Mini unless you have a dealer reasonably close by.

    The Mini is a VERY firm-riding, no-nonsense car that is heavily biased towards crisp handling and quick reflexes and heavily biased away from being smooth, quiet, and luxurious. It's also a car that appears to be improving in reliability, but it is highly doubtful that it will ever match a Honda, Toyota, or Mazda. No German car, particularly a BMW, has ever been as trouble-free as these cars.

    I recommend a Mini to lots of drivers, but not to drivers who consider a smooth, trouble-free, no-rattle ride their top priority.

    If decide against a Mini, I'd look at a Mazda 3 in a non-convertible. In a convertible, I'd look at a VW New Beetle and PT Cruiser, although neither would be a huge step up in reliability. A Toyota Solara Convertible would be solid, but these are big cars and not very sporty.

    Get the Mini if you want, but come in with an attitude to expect some minor problems now and then. I've gotten lucky so far, but I don't expect it to continue indefinitely.

    - Mark
  • I am also a single Female recently purchasing a 2004 MINI Cooper S.
    I love my vehicle - however at just under 2,500 miles, had car towed
    due to incredible burning smell and sluggish acting clutch. I was told (prior to seeing vehicle) I may have burned up the clutch. I
    disagree and warranty coverage of necessary repair is under dispute
    with BMW USA Warranty. After much internet research on my part, I
    find I am not alone. See Message 101 (my same experience). See message 95. I'd like to think these are just a few bad apples and
    move on - however, warranty disputes over such major repairs leaves
    me incredibly disappointed with an otherwise "fun" experience. I am
    asked 4 times a week how I like my car - I'd like to continue saying
    I love it.
  • I own a 2004 Mini Cooper S - clutch replaced at less than 2,500 miles.
    I am too being told I abused clutch. I am currently in dispute with
    MINI USA requesting warranty coverage of this repair. My situation
    was that bolts holding flywheel melted, yes melted! I had no symptoms
    of problem before day this occurred - no engine lites including temp.
    My dealership has replaced 17 clutches (according to Svc. Rep). I find that high having only been open 1 year.
  • I recently had my 2004 MCS towed due to intense
    burning smell and sluggish clutch - told by Dealer
    Service Rep. I burned up clutch and repair would
    not be covered by Warranty. Clutch was still functioning but I felt concern for driving with burning smell. Tow truck driver commented he had picked up 3 other Mini's with same issues. Dealer has replaced 17 clutches in 1 year. After my research on internet - found many issues with clutches identical to my own. Smell was supposedly due to bolts melting on flywheel. No panel lights including temp. From my research, I see where another owner experienced trembling prior to problem (as did I, though it did not continue). Service Rep. did put me in a brand new MC 5 speed loaner. I am disputing warranty coverage denial by BMW USA - waiting for final response prior to picking up my vehicle post repair. Any suggestions?
  • avolvofanavolvofan Posts: 358
    You might try posting on some other boards. Unfortunately, Edmunds rules of engagement preclude my posting the URL of another board. So, lets be creative - there is a forum with the characters mini2 in between www. and .com. Hope this helps.

    If MINI/BMW deny your warranty coverage on the clutch repair, you might have a Lemon Law claim depending on the Lemon Law rules in your state. (e.g. Multiple failures of the clutch on other MINIs in your area may qualify as a pattern of failure - but that all depends on what Texas Lemon Law specifies.)
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Clutches are a gray area. Obviously the clutch overheated - the burning smell is the clutch lining cooking and the melted flywheel bolts are a further indication that the clutch was overheated, overheated really badly.

    Your issue is that smoked clutchs are, 90% of the time, the result of poor clutch technique and/or abuse, not a defective clutch. I'm not saying that this is the case with yours, I'm just giving the odds that BWM is betting on. If no other defect in the clutch can be identified that would cause the overheating, that pretty much leaves abuse as the only likely cause.

    I assume you have driven manual transmissions cars before, correct? And you're well aware that you can't use the clutch to "hold" the car on a hill and that you're supposed to shift into neutral when stopped, right? And finally, that in a car like the Mini, it really only takes a few hard clutch "drops" in succession, with the engine revs way up, to fry the clutch.

    Again, I'm not saying you're at fault, I'm just saying that most of the time the driver is, so unless a defect can be identified, BMW is likely to dig in their heels. Othewise, they'd be replacing hundreds of clutches a month if word got out to the hot-rodders that they were liberal on this sort of thing.

    - Mark
  • surjn98surjn98 Posts: 34
    My wife has a 2003 Mini and had the 10,000 mile service performed couple weeks ago. The Servie Engine Light is on now and have to take it back to the dealer. Could it be because the Dealer used a different color coolant than what was in the reservoir? I am not satisfied with the service being performed at the St.Louis Mini Dealer. I also agree with some of the earlier posts that if you don't live near to a dealer, do not buy a Mini. If anyone can advice, would appreciate it as we don't live near to the dealer!!
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    There really isn't a scenario where the wrong coolant would trigger a check engine light. There are lots of things that can cause a CEL, but they're almost always sensors, loose hoses, leaving gas cap off, etc.

    In any event, the coolant in the Mini is nothing exotic - just standard old ethylene glycol. And color is not a good indicator of coolant type these days, so it is probably the right coolant but of a different color.

    Although you'll have to pay for the diagnostic, most car service places can read the CEL codes as the port and reader are standardized. If you have someplace around that services BMWs, they would have no trouble doing so. If you can get the code, you may be able to negotiate with Mini to have the repair done locally - I've heard they'll allow this at BMW dealers in hardship cases. Or it may just be a loose wire or something.

    Antoher alternative is to ignore it until the regular service. If the car is running normally and getting Ok mileage, then it is likely just something to do with the evap emissions or some other inconsequential glitch.

    I agree, it really doesn't make sense to buy any new vehicle without a dealer for the brand reasonably close. More so with the Mini which has a checkered reliabilty history so far, although it appears to be steadily improving.

    - Mark
  • surjn98surjn98 Posts: 34
    Thanks for the info. There is no change in the way the car handles or with the mileage at this point. But will get it checked up.
    It is a fun car to drive and my wife likes it! I just wish there were not so many of these glitches.
  • rayt2rayt2 Posts: 1,208
    and yes it has been back to dealer for several warranty repairs. (1) leaking left front axle seal, (2) air bag light stays on, TSB- replaced both front seat sensors to solve defect and (3)tomorrow goes in for the power steering rack system replacement under TSB. A nusense to deal with but I get a loaner each time and all is covered under warranty (so far!)

    Still love the car and it's oversized go-kart handling characteristics ! But when that 4/yr 50k warranty is over I'm not so sure if all these problems are going to stay away, maybe the reliability factor is in question, time will tell !
    The dealer told me that there are not a lot of dealerships (72 at present in USA) because they would not be able to meet demand. Mini sold 36 thoasand cars last year, by comparison he stated Ford sells that many in one day with one model alone.
    Geographic and market studies are done before Mini USA commits to opening dealerships. Which is good business sense. It just doesn't help those of us who have to travel 50 to 100 miles to get service or warranty work when needed. We obviously thought about that before buying and went with the "fun factor" built into driving these cars.
    Let's Motor !

    Ray T.
  • mfullmermfullmer Posts: 819
    Well I am ordering a Mini today. I'm getting the base Cooper with all of the options because I want the automatic. I haven't noticed any posts about the automatics having problems. Anyone remember any? I almost got an '04 yesterday. The last '04 MINI automatic with Nav, leather, all options, etc. in the Southeast but someone in FL beat me to it. It's ok though because I really want red/white and it was red/black and it didn't have the parking assist that I want.
  • roth1roth1 Posts: 1
  • bmwnabmwna Posts: 32
    I’m with MINI USA. I’m sorry to read about your problem with your roof rack. We are here to work with you and your dealer. If you want our assistance, please phone us at (866) ASK.MINI and mention Reference # 200428800059 so that we can help you more efficiently.
  • minimini Posts: 1
    I just bought the 2004 Mini Cooper with racks. The racks make a whistling noise when driving. Is there something I can buy to stop the noise?
  • akira1akira1 Posts: 1
    We love our MINI'04 very much !But it seems to be
    hard to deel with a few problem we having.
    1.When you slow down the car or waiting on a stop
    light or in traffic - the car might start vibrating and shaking for a few seconds. It feels
    like it's comming somewhere from transmission
    part. We tried to analyse what might be the cause
    of it, but it doesn't look that we do anything
    2.Sometimes the car doesn't start right away. It
    only happens in the morning.When you drive it around for a while, it starts perfect.
    We went to a dealer (KARL KNAUZ MINI )4 times
    already. Every time they would put a new software
    update(????), so we would hope that the problem
    was resolved. Last time they kept it for a week and their final word was that the car is running perfect and they can't find any problems.They promised that they will inform us when district representative from MINI will be in and it's been almost 2 months since.
    Does anybody else have similar problems?
This discussion has been closed.