Back in the day, circa 1960, it was a blast getting in a Mini Cooper and burning rubber out to a groovy Beatles concert or hairy party. The tiny British car was as much of a sixties icon as the VW bus, peace and love. But don’t flip your wig; the naughties have all your Mini needs covered, albeit it’s spelled MINI these days.
The 2000 MINI is a throwback to the original 1959 bestselling go-kart, succeeded by the MINI mark 2 in 2007. It’s a little bit bigger, a little shinier and with a ton of new options, but it still has the signature big round headlamps, the beautiful handling and sixties design elements like the big white speedometer and the little chrome toggle switches. Setting off in a MINI, though, the most distinct difference is immediately clear- a big honking 1.6 liter BMW engine brimming over the tiny space under the hood. In the Cooper S, that’s a turbocharged monster for a car that can fit under a big rig truck. Like any monster, it also has its weaknesses: in this case, the repairs.
What Is Involved With Mini Repair?
The classic Mini has very different components from the newer MINI, so specialized restoration garages or ordering the parts are the only ways of restoring one. Unfortunately, the newer MINI has its own set of issues. Common major problems with the first fleet of MINI cars include broken steering pumps, cracked transmissions and broken clutches, frequently with older or used cars. The MINI uses thin run-flat tires and nearly nonexistent suspension that is not adapted to some rough American roads, which can shake loose some parts. Turbo engines are also notorious for extensive wear, but proper use can cut down on these detrimental effects.
With the production of the Mark 2, MINI has attempted to solve some of these issues, like restricting the transmissions to 6-speed to solve the cracking problem. However, these cars are only a little more than two years old, so major problems will not be as evident.
Should I Get My Mini Repaired?
The good news is, new MINI owners are covered by the 2009 warranty for three years of free maintenance and four years of drive train and roadside assistance. Nervous owners can bring the car back to the dealer on a regular basis and keep it running at peak health. A dealer mechanic will not skimp on things like brake pads or oil changes either.
As for home repairs, that would depend on your mechanical prowess and the width of your arm. Even for an experienced mechanic, the lack of space under a MINI bonnet is an intimidating prospect, which translates to higher labor costs. If your older MINI is acting up, a mechanic will definitely give you an estimate of what is wrong and how much it will cost before you actually pay anything. No matter how high, it is still better than losing your steering on a highway doing seventy.
What Are The Benefits?
The main draw of buying a MINI is the style and the performance. If you enjoy how the MINI whips around corners and fits into tiny parking spaces, not maintaining it is simply out of the question.
The MINI’s size means you’re probably saving on body and bumper costs, not to mention insurance premiums and gas as well. A broken part nullifies these benefits, and many of the fixes are one-time affairs in the life of your car. Often, the problem can be as simple and inexpensive as a computer reset, so getting it checked out is better than leaving it alone. It also means a safer ride for you and your passengers.
What Are The Risks?
The risks of getting your MINI repaired are contingent on which mechanic you choose. A well-organized mechanic with readily available parts catalogs is always a good idea. Picking a bad one means potential missing parts in a labyrinthine engine.
Since the engine is a cramped BMW, the need for frequent and costly maintenance should not surprise you. This is a brand used to customers who think nothing of $1200 clutch repairs or $800 to replace a fan. If you’re not prepared to handle these costs, you can bank on the new MINI fixes or look into similar, more reliable vehicles.
Even with the drive train’s various faults, the MINI is still an exceptionally good car with a unique style all its own. It also sells for about the same as a tricked-out Toyota Corolla, which means you’re buying a small BMW at very good bargain. Like any BMW, investing time and money into repair means you’ll have a superb ride that will age gracefully and stylishly.