The original MINI is aBritish icon known for its small size and sporty characteristics. Firstintroduced in 1959, it has long been popular among auto enthusiasts, althoughmost people are familiar with the 2001+ MINI Cooper. While the old and new MINIare completely different vehicles, the latter retains its predecessor's sportyand fun-to-drive attributes. Here, we will cover some of the most commonlyreported problems with this popular hatchback.
Obviously, it's not somethingyou want to hear, but owners of pre-2010 models have reported transmissionfailures with as little as 100,000 miles on the clock. While lack ofmaintenance is the most common cause, it should be noted that MINI shoulderssome of the blame by stating the fluid only needs to be changed every 100,000miles. However, most professional mechanics would disagree with that assessmentas transmission fluid tends to break down over time, reducing its lubricativeproperties. As such, changing it every 50,000 miles can greatly extend yourtransmission's life, helping avoid costly repairs down the road.
If your MINI is equipped witha manual transmission, chances are you will (or have had to) replace the clutchafter 75,000 miles. However, we will point out driving habits and frequentstop-and-go traffic are the biggest determinants of how long the clutch willlast.
Unlike a timing belt which should be replacedperiodically, MINI Coopers have a timing chain that should last for the life ofthe engine. Unfortunately, it is not always the case, and timing chain failuresare not uncommon on 2007-2010 MINIs equipped with the 1.6L turbocharged engine.While less frequent, similar problems have also been observed in all 2005-2016models.
If you hear a rattling soundcoming from the passenger's side, especially at idle or in colder weather,chances are the timing chain or tensioner is on its way out. If so, they shouldbe inspected ASAP, as a failure of either component will result in costlyengine repairs.
Footwell Relay Module
Electrical problems areanother common complaint, especially in 2008-2014 MINI Coopers. If you noticethat the door locks, interior lights, taillights, and headlights workintermittently or not at all, a faulty footwell relay module is a likelyculprit.
After 50,000 miles, many MINIowners have reported coolant leaks, usually from the water pump. If leftunchecked, it can cause the vehicle to overheat and damage the engine.Second-generation models may spring leaks from the thermostat housing, as theplastic can become brittle or crack over time. Lastly, as MINI Coopers tend tosit lower to the ground, the radiator supports can be damaged or broken whenparking near a high curb.
This should be a no-brainer,and many of the problems listed above can be prevented by adhering to your MINICooper's service schedule. Things like regularly changing the oil and makingsure the level does not drop too low can prevent timing chain damage. Flushingthe cooling system every 30,000 miles can extend the life of the water pump andradiator.
As for transmission service,MINI claims the fluid should be changed every 100,000 miles for models withautomatics and topped off if needed for models with a manual gearbox. However,in our experience, we recommend changing the fluid every 50,000 miles as ittends to break down over time and not properly lubricate the internalcomponents.