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MINI Cooper Acccessories + MINI Cooper Parts :: Common Problems With MINI Cooper Models - all years - all models - all types

Common Problems With MINI Cooper Models - all years - all models - all types

After selling parts for MINIs for over 20 years we've seen and heard it all. We have a general idea of what is going to go wrong with any year and model at general intervals and or mileage. But there's always lots of surprises. It never ceases to amaze us EVERY day when we look at the order invoices in the warehouse and see what's shipping out. There's always a part we've never sold before going out every day but then there's always those 'yep, another one' parts that we see day in and day out. So, here's the list of things that break on MINIs by year and model. We'll add to the list regularly as long as MINIs keep breaking.

If you have items that you feel need to be added to this list please email us and we'll add to the list. Our goal is to educate MINI owners and potential MINI owners what to look for when owning and or considering buying a MINI. While this list may seem extensive and may scare away some buyers not every MINI has ALL of these problems and some may make it up to 200K without only a few issues but others may have all of these issues at or below 100K.

Here's our list of most common problems with MINI Cooper models.

Gen1 MINI:
2002-2006 Hatchback  R50 W10 Base model and R53 W11 Cooper S Supercharged models.  Many issues affect both models.

Also includes R52 2004-2008 Convertible Cooper and Cooper S models (with some convertible specific issues at the end of the list). Cooper models use the W10 engine and the supercharged models use the W11.

We sell a TON of front lower control arm bushings. Over time they stretch which leads to uneven front tire wear and a steering wheel that feels erratic. If you have more than 80K on your MINI they need to be replaced. Upgrade to the Powerflex Performance Front Lower Control arm Bushings instead of buying another set of lame factory bushings.
Hydraulic upper motor mounts on the 2004+ models. These tend to leak and cause the engine to sound like it's riding on rocks. If you see some oil and residue around the base of the mount or on the body just below it replace it.
Overflow tanks are possibly the #1 thing to fail on the W11 (Cooper S engine). The seam between the top and bottom leaks and you lose pressure in the coolant system and overheat if you don't catch it. A good upgrade would be the Canton Aluminum tank.
Keep an eye out for bowed out upper strut mounts from worn or blown out struts that push upward on the sheet metal of the engine bay/strut mount area. That upward bend to the sheet metal will cause one side to sit lower and will affect camber, ride quality, steering and everything will feel a bit off. While there check the upper strut mounts as those take a TON of abuse and the rubber will tear leaving the car sitting lower than it should. These usually blow out when driving through a massive pot hole which then bends the strut tower mount over time.
Keep an eye out for rear camber on the tires. Over time the fixed lower control arms will stretch and cause too much negative camber which means the tires tilt INWARD too much at the top and will cause the inner tires to wear much faster than the outer edge. To fix this get some adjustable rear lower control arms.
Sunroof drains sometimes get clogged which then cause water to build up and drain into the trunk or floor. Check to see if you have any water on the floor or battery compartment. Sometimes the leak will come from the antenna gasket which cracks over time and allows water in and will drain down directly onto the rear seats or down the rear C pillar. We also see  lots of water issues around the A pillars. If you've had a windshield (or 3 or 4) replaced they rarely replace the pillar trim correctly AND may not put the foam back in place. A negative result of this is possible damage to the footwell module on the passenger side kick panel. Also, check the sunroof gasket as they can dry out over time as well.

The upper / top section of the A pillar is a 3" curved section of rubber/plastic that is part of the roof rain gutter will sometimes fall off. Usually this is related to having the windshield replaced but they also just fail on their own. The installers are supposed to slide this upper rain gutter all the way off and pull the glass but if not they tend to pull it back and crack this piece. The only way to replace it is with the FULL upper left or right rain gutter that has this little curved part as one part number. Along with that are the actual A pillar trim parts that also fly off on the freeway if not re installed correctly after a windshield replacement. They also turn a dark purplish color and crack so don't be alarmed if your MINI has this issue.

Do yourself (and your MINI) a favor if you have a supercharged model and have the supercharger oil replaced at 120K or less to confirm you can get the most life out of the stock supercharger. While you're at it replace the gaskets and if the intercooler boots are cracked replace those too.


Shift boots typically get caught on the adjustment screws for the ebrake and will tear the boot. Also, the shift boots are vinyl and will crack over time. Ebrake handles fail all the time. The little chrome dome at the end of the handle pop off over time when the little tabs that hold it in place crack off.

Radio volume control knobs will disintegrate and or crack over time. And you may see the finish on the left and right radio support columns wear off as well as the paint on the door panels near the armrest. Be aware that if you have the Harmon Kardon radio the knob is NOT available so you have to file down the metal post on the radio and use the longer knob below.

Glove box release handles break and require buying a whole new glove box as you can't buy just the chrome half moon shaped handle.

Interior door latches do fail sometimes with repeated use as do left side window regulators and left side exterior door handles.

Left and right side mirror gaskets rot out over time. As do the door handle gaskets. You can buy mirror gaskets for the gen1 but NOT the handle gaskets.

Gas lid cap gaskets fail regularly and cause a check engine light. If you have a fuel pressure warning try this first.

It never fails that a new MINI owner will wax their new to them prize only to find that when they're done they've gotten wax all over the black wheel arches and lower trim. It's nearly impossible to remove but you can try Pre Wow and Black Wow but for the most part if you see wax residue it's there for life.  And more often than not, there's at least one wheel arch missing or loose. Here's a link to all of the replacements:

Thermostats fail. Crankshaft sensor O rings fail and cause leaks down the block. Thermostat housings crack and cause coolant leaks around the bell housing. Easy to fix but hard to get to.
Intake inlet hoses will crack between the corrugated sections between the intake and throttle body.  Automatic and Manual transmission models have different part numbers.

Power steering fans go out all the time which makes the power steering pump overheat and fail which makes the pump sound like it's groaning in pain and will then fail leaving you with manual steering. Replace the fan and you can sometimes get more life out of the pump but more often we see the pumps in complete failure. This was a recall by MINI but has now expired.
Our price:$896.95

Ignition coils do fail as the engine sits at a slight angle and #3 cylinder terminal will often hold a bunch of moisture that then corrodes the terminal. You may be able to fix it by cleaning the terminal but if not may require a new coil pack. And you may as well replace the spark plug wires as they get dry rot from the heat in the engine bay.

And if you have an automatic base model (W10 engine with the CVT) and it starts doing funky stuff just throw the car away. Used transmissions cost more than the car is worth and it is extremely expensive to find anyone that knows how to fix CVT transmissions and are considered one of the worst transmissions on the planet. If you have a Cooper S automatic with the W11 engine those are prone to have issues too. It's usually repairable with new valve body solenoids and or solenoid adjustments. Contact a VW tech that has done work on the 09G transmission/valve body as it's the same as MINI uses and they will have way more experience with repairing them than most transmission shops but call around and talk to various technicians before going that route. Solenoid sets are about $240-350 and a rebuilt valve body is around $900 but usually you can fix it with just the solenoids.

We also see these slip a rod bearing occasionally. Usually due to poor oil change intervals. Other than that the lower end and heads tend to be very stable unless neglected or overheated.

There's a few funky plastic hoses (crankcase, brake boost, etc) that route around the head that crack.

R52 Convertibles nearly always have dry rot on the chrome beltline on the back under the window and on either side of the 3rd brake light.Other common issues with the convertible is the top not working which is often either the switch, relays nested behind the rear left trim or the parcel tray not being in place.

Gen2 MINI:
R55/6/7/8/9/60/61 Base model and Cooper S + JCW Turbocharged models.

Includes R56 2007-2013 Hatchback R55 2008-2015 Clubman, R57 2009-2015 Convertible, R58 2011-2015 Coupe, R59 2012-2015 Roadster,  R60 2010-2016 Countryman and R61 2013-2016 Paceman specific items as well.

Base models up to 2010 use the N12 and then switched to the N16. Turbo S models up to 2010 (and JCW up to 2012) use the N14 which switched to the N18 in 2011.

Thermostats are on the top of the list. Note that there are a few different part numbers to match certain models and year ranges which may also require a special adapter wire.

We also see a lot of cracked or leaking water pipes.

Also related; water pumps are amongst the top failing items. If you have a coolant leak or a engine light for a thermostat it's super common and should be done on any used MINI with over 60K miles.And again as needed. Of course do fresh coolant while you're doing the job.

Timing chain, tensioner, or guide failures have taken down thousands of N12, N14, N16, and N18 engines. N14's are the worst at being self destructive but they all have similar timing chain issues that need to be monitored. Keep an ear out for a rattle that sounds like a diesel engine or just jump in and do it proactively. If you've bought a used R55/6/7/8/9/60/61 assume it will need a timing chain kit done and be ready for about $500-900 in labor plus $150-450 in parts, unless the records show it's been done. If not start saving for a new engine when it blows if it takes a few valves with it. Be aware of the various engine types such as the N12, N14, N16, and N18 as well as JCW models in the mix which will have a N14 or N18. If you need help determining what thermostat you need please text us your VIN.

Footwell Modules fail due to water leaks down the A pillar (or due to cracks in the cowl trim that allow water to trickle into the cabin filter area under the dash) and or just general moisture build up on the terminals of the model. If you see funky stuff like wipers not working, locks not working, turn signals doing funky stuff, brake lights tweaking it's likely a body control module. They're about $570 and require programming with the car in person by your local qualified mechanic. Be aware that these are VIN specific as well but here is a SAMPLE module for reference.
We also see a lot of interior AND engine fuse boxes fail. Not a huge issue but super common and about $450-650 in part plus labor and programming. Also note these are VIN specific so text your VIN to confirm.

Turbo failures are common due to high oil change intevals recommended by MINI. Don't go beyond 7500 with synthetic regardless of what MINI said or says. At one time they were recommending 15,000 oil changes and as a results tens of thousands of turbos failed due to crappy thin oil or NO oil. The oil lines to the turbo also fail over time and the connections on the banjo bolts will spew out oil and cause the turbo to overheat and fail and take the engine with it as they share the same oil supply. Do your MINI a favor and replace the factory line with the stainless flex line that we sell along with the install kit. You may get more life out of your turbo and save $1100 in turbo cost plus labor.
High pressure fuel pumps on the N14 and N18 early models are on the top of the list of parts to fail and are stupid expensive. There's no cheap way out of this one. There are 4+ versions of this depending on your VIN so please text your VIN to confirm but here's the N14 and most common N18 pump for reference.
Valve covers crack as do the crankcase vent hoses, intake hoses between the intake and turbo get cracks and cause check engine lights. Note all MINI engines have different valve covers but here's one for reference.

Ignition coil packs will fail, often just one at a time so you can replace them all or just the one that failed.

We see a ton of issues with the cowl trim around the lower windshield under the wipers. Those cowl panels are a co-molded part an the 1/2" flap that butts up to the glass will overheat and crack. The only way to fix it is to replace the left and right as a set. It's SUPER easy to do though. We see this on all Gen2 models across the board.  Note that each model has a different Cowl Trim set for the most part given the different angles and sizes of windshields and associated trim but here is one for the R56 which is most common.

Same with gen1's we see a lot of front control arm bushing issues.

Rear lower control arm bushings stretch and cause too much negative camber. Simply replace those fixed arms with adjustable control arms.

Front upper strut mounts take a crap ton of abuse and will stretch and rip leaving one side of the car riding lower and the steering wheel off.

Maybe one of the most common issues the boot handle rubber cover over the switch gets dry rot and causes the hatch to not open or open randomly. Also, the gaskets on the side mirrors and antennas get dry rot but on the gen2 models you have to replace the WHOLE side mirror or antenna in order to get the gasket replaced.

R57 Convertibles nearly always have dry rot on the chrome beltline on the back under the window and on either side of the 3rd brake light.

We see lots of 3rd brake light failures on the R55 and R57 models but R56, R58 and R59 are not as bad. Here are links to a few but confirm which model you have first.
Countryman R60 models tend to have issues with the rear left and right quarter panel chrome beltline coming off for some reason.

R55 Clubmans see some regular issues with the vertical gasket between the clubdoor and the main door as well as the B pillar trim cracking. We also see a fair amount of rear door latches failing.  We also see LOTs of the 3rd brake light in the upper spoiler fail. They are either red or clear  and both fail.

R58 and R59 models see regular issues with the rear left and right quarter panel betline trim for unknown reasons.

We see TONS of warped hood scoops (on turbo R55-59 models) from turbos overheating and melting the plastic.  At one point MINI took off the hood insulation, put it back on some years and removed it on others. It never made sense to remove or not include it from the beginning and warped hood scoops are one of the results.

We see a lot of either failed brake vacuum pump issues or O ring leaks on the N14 especially. There is a small oil hole for the pump that gets clogged by silicone or burnt oil and cause the pump to fail. The pump is connected to the exhaust cam and would cause timing issues and can even cause the bolt for the timing chain gear to snap off in extreme cases.
The eccentric shaft on the N16 wears to the point of keeping the car from starting. The valvetronic system varies the lift on the intake valves and when it wears enough the valves wont open enough during cranking. Unplugging the sensor for the eccentric shaft will allow it to start and run normal but would turn on the check engine light.

As far as catastrophic engine failures go, yes, they are more common than they should be but mostly due to either massive neglect in oil change frequency and quality of oil, turbo oil line failure, or flat out over revving and engine abuse. Lots of inexperienced MINI owners get super passionate about pushing their MINI to the limits and sometimes blow up engines by over revving or street racing. Rods blow out of the block, rod bearings fail, cam shafts snap, turbos blow up, driveshafts shatter, etc.

Speaking of which we also what we consider a low threshold for clutch or flywheel failure which is part by under engineering of the clutch and flywheel (which is a dual mass design) as well as some level of abuse combined with more stick shift/manual transmissions than many other makes on the road and as a result more clutch abuse from city driving and possibly less experienced manual transmission drivers. This may be a overstatement but it's possible.

Other issues include a smattering of odd and less common issues such as hood latch  cables stretching out, door handle cables stretching etc.