Some advice on buying Minis that "need work" - MINI Cooper Forum

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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 20th, 2016, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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Some advice on buying Minis that "need work"

Hi All,

I'm looking for a used Cooper S and have come across a couple of examples for sale but they have "issues" and wondered how expensive/difficult they might be to fix and whether the price is right considering the issues. Hopefully someone can help.

Mini number 1 is a claimed JCW - 2003 model with 150,000 kms on it. Manual transmission for $6000 asking price but "pulley bearing in supercharger is noisy". Is the pulley/bearing a replaceable unit or am I up for a complete s'charger most likely in this scenario?

Mini number 2 is an unregistered Cooper S 2004 model but the air con does not work. It's a manual and the asking price is $6850 and it's done 146,000kms. What's an air con setup going to cost me given it could be anything from a simple re-gas, compressor, receiver/drier, etc. or a complete replacement?

I'm mechanical enough, have a good mate who's a long suffering mechanic and access to his hoist so even major work isn't really an issue, just comes down to whether it's worth the time and $ given the asking price.

In comparison there's a "no known issues" JCW blue Cooper S with 196,000kms on it for $7990 but it's a car yard one so probably a premium on the price there. Has a few marks and scratches on the outside and the black trim on the bottom of the bumper has been broken off. Also around an 02 red Cooper S with 220,000kms for $6500, 04 black Cooper S 200,000kms which needs a few things like roof lining restuck for $8500, or a pretty tidy 2002 silver S with only 121,000 kms on it for $9500.

Any advice would be really helpful in choosing. Thanks.

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 20th, 2016, 11:24 AM
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Look at Modmini's videos on YouTube for common repairs so you can work out the cost of parts and what labour is involved and if the work is within your scope, also factor in specialty tools you may need.

Milage is no indication of how the car is, its how its been maintained period, if its only had service book maintenance I would be trying to find out what workshop repairs have been done to it. A rubber stamp for an oil change wont tell you if its had a new clutch or drive shaft and to be honest, service books are a waste of time as there is no guarantee of competent dealer servicing.

Modmini has a video on preinspection of a Gen 1 mini. If the SC is noisy, its going to be expensive to have it rebuilt but there is a place in the UK that can rebuild and recondition them if they are salvageable.

Pull the lower door and hatch rubber seals, look for rust, inspect the battery well, look for rust and or water. Crawl under the car, look for scrapes, oil leaks, check the front strut towers for doming. inspect the bushing and ball joints. Make sure the Power Steering fluid is a light green and not red (ATF fluid), if its red, walk away or be prepared to fit a new PS Pump. Look around the thermostat housing for water leaks, check the coolant is correct or be prepared to change it. Obvious bodywork issues, check the carpet in the front for dampness as you may have a badly fitted windscreen that leaking. Look at the bodywork gaps for consistency. If the clutch feels heavy, its worn and will soon need replacing.

The Gen 1 PS Pump whines, excessively loud whine indicates low PS fluid or a worn pump. Take it for a test drive and don't fang it, your not out to race it, your listening to its engine, excessive body noises, does it pull to one side, does it idle smoothly, are there any warning lights.

If your happy to pay 6k, make sure you have a spare 3k for unknown issues that may occur (contingency plan), A dealership is no better than a private sale, ask why the private sale is selling, is it a plausible reason ? Whilst lower mileage is desirable when considering wear and tear, a well maintained high mileage car can be better than a low mileage, poorly maintained car.

Do your research on DIY repair costs, again mod mini covers a lot of common issues on his YouTube channel, If on your inspection you spot a potential or definite issue, decide if your prepared to fix it at your cost and use that information to bargain a lower price.

My Gen 1 R53 had a fluid leak and an oil leak, needed a new clutch slave and potential sump gasket, ended up being a pin hole in the bell housing to the gearbox, this also resulted in a new clutch and flywheel. Asking price for the car was over 9k, I paid 6k for the car, drove a very hard bargain and paid an additional 1.5 k in repairs to have a reliable car on the road. A dealership had diagnosed the oil leak as a duff motor and wanted more than the book value of the car to put in a new motor !

Since then I had done several oil changes, change the Gearbox oil (when installing a new clutch) done an Oil service on the SC (whilst the gearbox was out), replaced the timing chain tensioner and guides. Due soon for a full brake service and new rotors, car runs well, has the odd hissy fit but that's just part of maintaining a car. I still havnt paid more than the original asking price for it considering what I have spent on repairs, maintenance and servicing.

Bottom line is, have a contingency fund, buy wisely, don't rush into a purchase and do your research on repair costs and parts. GTT in the UK rebuild Super Chargers if they are salvageable and they are cheaper than buying a new SC if you can find one as any SH units will be unknowns. Last, if the car has been modded extensively, be very cautious, stock is better and you can then mod the car as you desire.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 21st, 2016, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks as always Milpol. Some great info there again and I will use it when I go looking closer at these. Looking at the market I'm in (the bottom price-wise) I've always had the contingency fund planned. I've seen a few 80-100,000 km examples around for 10-12K. I still think I'm better off finding a well maintained higher km example because even the lower km option can need work or have something expensive and unforeseen go wrong after purchase.

Are the convertibles OK with a bit of age on them or do they tend to start to leak and malfunction? I want some "fun factor" in the car so the panoramic sunroof at minimum, still OK with a cabrio as long as it's not likely to fail soon after purchase - ie are they notorious? Again is it just a case of check, check and check again for noises, clunks, whines, etc in the soft top? I imagine the activation mechanism for one of those is NOT going to be cheap if it needs to be replaced. How do you test a sunroof/cabrio top pre-purchase, ask the seller to run the hose on it for a while ??? Actually it's a serious question otherwise how can you tell?

Being a mechanic my mate is very negative on sunroofs/convertibles due to possible leaks, failure but as I say this is the wife's car and I want some fun factor so if there's anything specific to look for there please let me know, it's a risk I'd like to take.

The personalised plates from PPQ have arrived already (60MINI) so I need to get cracking and get one before Xmas!

Cheers.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 21st, 2016, 08:52 AM
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Ref the sunroof, all are a pain when they start to fail, one thing to do is to use an airhose and blow the channels out, then clean and lubricate them. ModernMini magazine ran a questions request on Facebook and not a lot responded, I did however ask the question regarding lubricant for the channels and the question ad reply was in the magazine. I will need to look it up on the Ipad as I have the digital magazine format.

Ref the sunroof, like anything, if its maintained it should be fine, neglect will ruin it and again, your looking at leaks.

The sunroof can also leak at the front drain tubes or even the rears, there is a video on YouTube on accessing the front drain tubes and fixing them if they have popped off.

There is also a preferred product seen mentioned in forums to rub/spray on the soft top to protect it and maintain it but it would take some digging, a look on NAM or even this forum should produce a result.

Regarding activation mechanisms, I would try a wrecker 1st for a good salvage part and of course, purchase the Bentley manual as it covers soft tops
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old Jan 6th, 2017, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Well I finally got one and just in time for Xmas. Drove down to Lismore on the 23rd and picked up a 2006 Cooper S Cabrio with 102,000 ks on the clock in pretty good nick. It all looked OK, drove well, nothing major. Got $1000 off asking, drove it home and picked the wife up from work in it that afternoon... Had it on the hoist that afternoon, other than a power steering reservoir leak (needs new hose clamp) it looks very original and well cared for. Has a full service history with a few major items replaced over time including roof (2012), coolant header tank and a/c compressor last year. Was a 2 owner car originally from Brookvale down in Sydney. Thanks for the purchase advice Milpol I was better armed than without it
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old Jan 6th, 2017, 12:41 PM
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Great news and the hose clamps are ***** if they are original easy to replace on a hoist. I waiting on a cam sensor for the R53 as its most likely worn and throwing code but that's life with a Gen 1 with close on 200k on the clock and neglect from the previous owners
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2017, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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Sounds like you enjoy working on mini a little too much Yes the hose clamps are oem ones I'll replace the with screw ones in future as needed. It passed roadworthy for now so that's the main thing

I've got lots of questions but I'll ask in the correct forums - except a very important one, how expensive is it to replace the rear mouldings around the soft top which are always cracked on used models? I've seen them for sale individually on eBay or in pairs but total cost is around $600aud Hoping someone does an aftermarket option for what is (from what I've seen) a common issue on mid 2000 convertibles.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2017, 01:04 AM
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As said above by our resident mini nerd @Milpol sunroofs need cleaning and protecting

I use spray silicone grease on the runners to keep them smooth.


I also keep the rubbers clean and lubed a wipe of rubber Protectant is good to stop them cracking..

Keep it clean\lubed and it will stay happy

The pan roof is epic IMO. All the fun of a convertible without the issues ��

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