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The Mini Cooper Forum

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  #1  
Old 12-15-2010, 08:19 AM
Dr. Oz Dr. Oz is offline
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Cooper as a 3rd Car

Hey guys,

Having a two "gas guzzling" V8's in the garage (Volvo XC90 V8 and a 550i), we were throwing around the idea of a Mini Cooper Convertible as a third, putz around town, gas conscious, fun car. I swear my gas guage on my 550i goes down a click with each start-up!!

I have owned several BMW's but never a MINI.
Looking at a 2006 Cooper Convertible
56K
Used car lot

Questions:

What is the maintenance like on cars.
When my mechanic inspects, are there any things he should specifically look for.
Is this car a DIY kinda car, where i can do things like oil changes and brakes (i used to do work on my earlier japanese imports).
Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Dan
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  #2  
Old 12-15-2010, 08:23 AM
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SARAFIL SARAFIL is offline
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Location: Boston, MA
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Oz View Post
Hey guys,

Having a two "gas guzzling" V8's in the garage (Volvo XC90 V8 and a 550i), we were throwing around the idea of a Mini Cooper Convertible as a third, putz around town, gas conscious, fun car. I swear my gas guage on my 550i goes down a click with each start-up!!

I have owned several BMW's but never a MINI.
Looking at a 2006 Cooper Convertible
56K
Used car lot

Questions:

What is the maintenance like on cars.
When my mechanic inspects, are there any things he should specifically look for.
Is this car a DIY kinda car, where i can do things like oil changes and brakes (i used to do work on my earlier japanese imports).
Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Dan
Avoid a first-gen MINI Cooper with automatic transmission. The CVT is not that nice to drive, and there is a good chance that you will eventually have transmission problems that will require a new transmission. (The first-gen Cooper S is ok as it has a traditional automatic transmission.)

If you go for first generation (coupes up to 2006, convertibles up to 2008) go for a manual Cooper, or a Cooper S auto or manual.

I'd suggest taking some time to search the MINI forums at northamericanmotoring.com -- very comprehensive, lots of useful info and nice people.
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  #3  
Old 12-15-2010, 02:12 PM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Not familiar with the First Generation MINI's, of which the one you are considering is included; I am familiar with the Second Generation MINI's (2007- Hardtop; 2008- Clubman; 2009- Convertible), so if you end up considering one of those, the following should apply in general.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Oz View Post
What is the maintenance like on cars?
I'd have to say they require about the same attention (maintenance-wise) as a BMW -- which shouldn't be surprising, since BMW is the parent company.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Oz View Post
When my mechanic inspects, are there any things he should specifically look for?
The answer to that question varies depending on which engine the Second Generation MINI has: normally-aspirated (base Cooper) or turbocharged (Cooper "S" or "John Cooper Works" [JCW] models). The base-model engines are relatively sound mechanically, although they can share some issues with the more desirable turbocharged engines:
  • The most common issue seems to be carbon build-up in the intake manifold of the turbocharged engines. This appears to be a byproduct of the basic engine design (direct injection). At this stage, most recommend installation of an oil catch can and regular treatment with a product called "Seafoam" -- although there's some more recent hard evidence that disputes the effectiveness of "Seafoam," and points toward a BMW product for fuel injection/induction systems (in particular, see post #36). Heavy carbon buildup may require removal and cleaning (scraping) of the intake manifold.
  • I would say the next-most common issue for the turbocharged MINI's is with the high-pressure fuel pump (HPFP); these seem have a rather alarmingly high failure rate compared to other vehicle components. The good news here, however, is that MINI recently extended the warranty on the HPFP (2007-2009 model-year vehicles) to 10 years/120,000 miles.
  • Another relatively common issue is referred to as the "Cold Start Rattle." The problem centers around the timing chain and tensioner -- too much slack ends up forming, and the chain rattles around inside the housing. It's often described as sounding something like a diesel engine (although it's hard to pick out from the normal "diesely" sound of the engine itself). This video gives a good example of it over the normal noise of the running engine; wait until you hear the cameraman ask to have the vehicle revved to 2,000 RPM (sound at idle RPM is normal engine sound):



    Bear in mind: if you rev a prospective vehicle to 2,000 RPM and don't hear this sound, it's no guarantee that you won't hear it at a different engine speed; where it happens it's going to be a function of the relative slack in any particular timing chain/tensioner setup. So vary the engine speed slowly when checking for this.
  • Occasionally, some have reported problems with the panorama roofs sticking when outside temperatures get hot. This appears to be more an inconvenience than a failure per se, and apparently can be resolved by the dealer with some minor adjustments.
  • There have been spotty complaints about premature clutch failures. So far, I haven't heard that anyone has identified any definitive cause(s). Some would just say the clutches are cheap... However, those in the JCW vehicles are allegedly a bit more stout, due to the higher engine output in these vehicles.
  • Similarly with vacuum pump failures, although these do not appear to be that common: no definitive cause(s) identified. Apparently, however, this is a particularly nasty one, as it can, in turn, cause a catastrophic failure of the engine.
  • I also seem to recall hearing spotty trouble reports with the water pump.
  • There have also been reports of bad transmission mounts. This is identified by a "clicking" or "creaking" noise" (see post for a link to a video containing the sound) when turning, starting, stopping, etc., and seems mainly confined to earlier Second Generation MINI's.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Oz View Post
Is this car a DIY kinda car, where i can do things like oil changes and brakes (i used to do work on my earlier japanese imports)?
I suppose if you haven't been scared off at this point, absolutely! In fact, many people do a whole lot more with their MINI's; among owners, it's probably one of the most highly-modified/customized vehicles on the road.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Oz View Post
Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated!
Despite the potential issues cited above, they really are great, fun-to-drive cars that get excellent gas mileage. Although they're probably not as refined as a BMW, they are pretty reliable vehicles on the whole.

The going wisdom is: if you're going to get a base-model Cooper, get one with a manual transmission (the automatics are a bit anemic in acceleration performance); the Cooper "S" models are very peppy (manual or automatic); and the JCW vehicles (manual transmission only) go like scalded cats.

If you end up purchasing a turbocharged Second Generation MINI, you'll want to keep a close eye on the oil level; they appear to naturally consume oil (the rate seems to vary from vehicle to vehicle), and folks who are not very diligent about this maintenance practice end up learning a hard and expensive lesson about oil deprivation in internal combustion engines...
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Last edited by timfitz63; 12-16-2010 at 07:26 AM.
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  #4  
Old 12-15-2010, 06:49 PM
Dr. Oz Dr. Oz is offline
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Location: MidWest
 
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Mein Auto: 2008 E60 550i Sport
Thanks for you Replies

Thank you to timfitz63 and SARAFIL for your your very helpful replies!
So just to make sure I have you guys or gal right : a 2006-2008 Cooper Convertible is considered 1st gen. Correct?

If that's so, my search will only include manuals if first generation. Not surprising that they're are not a lot out there

Thanks again and if anything else come to mind please ring in again!
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  #5  
Old 12-16-2010, 12:00 AM
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Andrew*Debbie Andrew*Debbie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Oz View Post
So just to make sure I have you guys or gal right : a 2006-2008 Cooper Convertible is considered 1st gen. Correct?
Yes. The convertible switched to second gen after the other body styles.

2nd gen. is a very different car.

Quote:
If that's so, my search will only include manuals if first generation. Not surprising that they're are not a lot out there
Run away from early 1st gen. MINIs with the 5-speed Rover "midlands" gearbox. Later 5-speed cars use a better Getrag transmission. I think the change was around 2004 or 5. 6-speed MINIs are all fine.

Early 1st generation MINIs have all sorts of problems. Later ones, like the one you are looking at, are better.


Quote:
Is this car a DIY kinda car, where i can do things like oil changes and brakes
Yes, but you shouldn't need to do those very often. There is plenty of DIY information on the web.

Quote:
gas conscious, fun car.
The 1st gen Cooper S is thirsty compared to the other models. You can look them up on fueleconomy.gov or search here. I posted numbers ages ago.

Our UK spec R56 Cooper isn't bad at all. Photo is old but the fuel economy hasn't changed. 41.9 MPG-imp is about 35mpg-US. Efficient Dynamics is more than a slogan.


Last edited by Andrew*Debbie; 12-16-2010 at 03:29 AM.
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  #6  
Old 01-01-2011, 06:46 AM
codog2 codog2 is offline
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I am in the same boat. Looking to make my aura mdx a winter/dump runner. We also own a X3.

The problems listed here have me concerned about buying a new used one. My other option is leasing either a mini or a new vw gti. I have driven the gti and was very impressed. Supposedly the new tsi engines are more reliable than the fsi


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  #7  
Old 01-03-2011, 02:48 PM
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Andrew*Debbie Andrew*Debbie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codog2 View Post
The problems listed here have me concerned about buying a new used one.
It depends. The worst problems are with the early 1st generation cars. 2nd gen MINIs are as reliable as most BMWs.


Our 2008 R56 has had zero problems in 2 years.

The new VWs are nice. We've got some choices to make when the lease is up on the Cooper.

Last edited by Andrew*Debbie; 01-04-2011 at 02:17 AM.
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  #8  
Old 01-08-2011, 11:33 PM
flynhawaiian flynhawaiian is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW X3 3.0
I have an '06 R53 with a MT. I love my mini, I get between 40+ and 3 MPG (depending if Iím on the track or not).
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