The number of MINI Cooper’s sold in the US has risen steadily around 5% every year. The advantages of gas mileage, parking, and style are some of the great benefits of this BMW manufactured car.
Because they’re controlled by BMW, you know that you’re getting a car that will not only look great for years to come but is also engineered to last. The combined German manufacturing and British style make these Coopers some of the biggest head-turners on the road today.
If you’re thinking about getting a MINI or if you already own and love yours, it’s important that you know the particularities of their design. Like any car, they have their design advantages and weak spots. Here are 6 of the most common issues you might want to keep an eye on to minimize costs of repairing your Cooper.
1. Power Steering Pump Failure
Have you ever tried to steer an old tractor or a big piece of industrial machinery? Often these machines have no power steering and can be really difficult to move around without running into something. It takes a whole lot of upper body strength to make just the slightest turn.
If your power steering has ever failed on your car, you know that power steering is what makes for smooth turning. Having your power steering fail while you’re barrelling down a highway can be a scary event.
Unfortunately, Coopers have electric power steering mechanisms that have had a history of failing in the past. If your steering isn’t working the way it used to or you’re starting to notice a difference in its function, you might want to have the power steering pump replaced.
While it’s being looked at, have your mechanic take a look at the cooling fan and other parts associated with this system. Find the right auto professional who can diagnose potential issues before they become a problem.
2. Watch Your Transmission
Many manufacturers will claim that transmission fluid doesn’t need to be changed as frequently as it does. Older or evaporated transmission fluid could lead to buildup or failure. Automatic transmissions need fluid like any other transmission.
Change your transmission fluid every time you hit the 30,000 to 40,000-mile mark. This could save thousands in repairs of your transmission. Anyone who has ever had to fork over money to replace their transmission will concur.
Coopers with CVT transmission pre-2008 should ensure that they get routine oil changes. The automatic 5-speed transmissions installed since 2008 are much more reliable than the earlier iterations.
3. Timing Chain Issues
Your timing chains control the opening and closing of your engine’s valves. Over time they can come loose or fall out of alignment. If you hear a rattling inside of your engine, you might be experiencing problems with your timing chains.
Listen to how your car sounds when it’s idling. If you hear the rattling then, you know you have an issue.
While this can be a major and costly repair, it’s better to fix it as soon as possible. It can lead to major issues with your engine down the road. This problem can be greatly diminished if you change your transmission fluids regularly.
4. Thermostat and Water Pump Leaks
Older MINI Coopers can be a fantastic deal and give you lots of mileage later in their life. But get to know how often a used car has been repaired before you buy in.
Coopers should have their water pumps and thermostats replaced every 50,000 miles or so. They’re better off being replaced before they end up leaking. A leaking could require lots of repair and cleanup later on.
5. Variable Valve Timing Performance
Depending on the type of car you have, how old it is, and what type of oil is currently in the engine, you could drive pretty far without needing an oil change. Older cars need new oil every 3,000 miles while newer cars can go 5,000-7,500 miles before you need to bring them in for a change. But as any experienced driver will tell you, you need to change your oil regularly.
A steady flow of the right amount of oil is necessary to operate your engine and keep your variable valves operating correctly. Over time, the oil becomes sludgy and buildups can slow or block the function of your valves.
Thankfully, most oils come with detergent additives. When you drain the old oil and add in new lubricants, the additives will clean they supply lines of your engine.
It’s important to change your oil before passages are completely blocked. This can happen with even a small amount of impurities or buildup in your engine.
6. Front Radiator Support
The plastic support on the front of your radiator keeps your radiator, fan, and condenser safe and supported. Unfortunately, it’s low to the ground. This leaves it open to damage from debris, high curbs, or slight fender benders.
Even the smallest bump on a high piece of concrete or a bump it the road could do powerful damage to it. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t leave your important cooling components open to damage.
There is also a coolant hose that sits a little bit lower. If this hose is damaged or broken, you could be facing an expensive repair. Be careful whenever you park your car in a dark or new area, as you could be risking damage to these low sitting components.
MINIs Are Great Cars When Properly Cared For
A well-cared-for MINI will last for many years if the proper preventative measures are taken into consideration. Keeping your system lubricated and protected will ensure that it functions reliably for years to come.
If you’ve got any other questions about repairs to your MINI, any other Cooper, or BMW, contact us for further tips and suggestions.