With its wide, “Bulldog” stance, go-cart handling, great fuel efficiency and huge fun factor, its no wonder the MINI Cooper has been an amazing success for BMW. The MINI fits almost any lifestyle, and for the most part, they are pretty reliable little beasts. Here are some of the problem areas that EDGE Motorworks inspects on every MINI we service.
Lower Control Arm Bushings
Similar to RWD BMWs in design, but in a FWD application. Lifespan depends on driving style and MINI “S” models are harder on the bushings. We inspect at every opportunity and generally find that “S” models need bushings between 50K and 100K, depending on how hard they’ve been driven. Non-”S” models usually get to 100K with the original bushings. Clunks under slow speed braking and visible leaking of the viscous fluid in the bushing are tell-tale signs of failure.
Almost all MINI’s will develop oil leaks at the valve cover and the crankshaft position sender. Many cars will also develop oil pan gasket leaks. The crankshaft position sensor o-rings have a tendency to leak at about 75k. This is a pretty big job on its own, but is much easier when replacing the oil pan gasket.
Although the mounts have been re-designed and replaced under a recall, the engine mounts frequently fail around the 75K mile mark. We inspect them whenever the car is in for service. Excessive or newly developed engine vibration in the car is a good sign that one or both mounts have failed.
Power Steering Cooling Fan
The small fan mounted under the car blowing on the electric power steering pump is prone to failure and sometimes road damage. When this fan isn’t working the power steering pump will overheat and intermittently stop working. After a short time without the fan, the pump will fail altogether. This gets pricey fast, so keep an eye on the condition of the fan.
Surprise! Small leaks are common as the radiators age. The most common symptom that the driver notices is the radiator fan remains on for an extended period after shutting off the car. MINIs do not like to be overheated, so keep an eye on your coolant level and if it starts dropping, make an appointment ASAP!
Non-”S” MINI’s with automatic transmissions use a ZF CVT that very commonly fails requiring replacement at 100K miles or sooner. Many, many cars have had the transmissions replaced under warranty, so the mileage on the transmission may be more relevant than the total miles on the car for a CVT MINI! Whirring noises, funky power application or visible leaks can all be signs of an issue with the CVT. ALSO, NEVER let anyone service your CVT. Oftentimes, changing the fluid can cause a CVT to fail in short order.