Looking to buy used cooper S. What to look out for? - MINI Cooper Forum

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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2015, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Question Looking to buy used cooper S. What to look out for?

Hello ladies and sirs,

I recently moved to London and looking to replace my european car with proper english mini (haha). Well, i always kind of wanted to have one and they are relatively cheap here (not cheap as cheap, but used ones are like twice cheaper than my previous country)

Anyway, since i don't actually have much use for a car in London besides going for picnics, grocery and occasional exploration of nearby Scotland and France i figured that i am probably not going to invest into a new car and going to go with used. And i probably want it to be fun to drive so i ll go with S version and also automatic, since well, my GF wants to drive it as well ><. I don't mind automatic really but that raises lots of questions and probably eats through at least an extra 1k of budget.

I don't care much about predicted running cost, but i would obviously want it to be sort of reliable and cut the unpredicted ones, considering it's not even going to be used that often.

Now the questions are (in no particular order):
0. Is there something i absolutely shouldn't buy as far as automatic transmission is concerned?
1. Is it worth it to save 30% and go with 2004-2005 (they are 1 second slower and have different engine vs 2007 right?)
2. Should i go with cabrio if i happen to find one? (my friend has cabrio bmw and he is fixing roof every year )
3. When do the problems usually start? Most of the cars i am looking at has around 50-60k miles under the belt.
4. Should i trust the ones with "full service history" and "3 months warranty" etc or should i just check it in independent service anyway?

Ultimately i am choosing between years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 — and the price seems to be around 4500 and 7000 GBP the difference being quite big. Initially wanted to make it around 4000 but i guess i am not finding decent automatic in this range. Anything i should know?

And btw, if you know reliable sellers, please let me know.

Looking to join the club
Cheers

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2015, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Found out few advices on Quora. Not sure how relevant those are..

Quote:
02-06

Do not purchase an automatic CVT transmission Mini cooper in these years. I believe they changed it in 2005 to a 5 speed auto, but still, and I cant stress this enough. DO NOT BUY AN AUTOMATIC CVT TRANSMISSION MINI IN THESE YEARS! It will fail for sure without a doubt, it is certain, and it will cost you $4,000 - $6,000 to repair. I would recommend against the 5 speed manual transmission as well. Pretty much just buy the S model with the 6 speed getrag transmission.


The 02-06 model year coopers have a known defect where the front strut tower will bend, and eventually fail. This is an incredibly serious, and possibly dangerous situation. It is more common in the S model with the tighter suspension, and the 17"- 18" wheels with run flat tires. If you purchase a Mini, this is THE MOST important thing to look for. Lift the hood, and inspect the points on each side where the struts mount to the car. If they look mushroomed out, run far and fast! There are reinforcements that you can purchase in the aftermarket, but my advice is to be aware that it could happen, and inspect them if you hit a big pothole, etc. Only install reinforcements if they start bending, as it is expensive, and can result in alignment issues.

While this was mostly fixed after the 02-03 years, there is a potential for the fan that cools the power steering pump to go out, causing the pump to overheat and fail. This is an expensive repair if the pump goes out.

If you own an S model with the supercharger, You should have the supercharger rebuilt before, or around the 100k mile mark, as it can have an internal oil gear failure that in-turn damages the engine.

If you are considering a John cooper works model, inspect the supercharger intake area and make sure that the rotors are still a solid smooth black. The JCW superchargers have a coating on the surface that has been known to peel off and find its way into the cumbustion chamber.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2015, 03:05 PM
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Hiya. The Cooper s has a different auto gearbox to the early cooper and is said to be far more robust than the CVT one's. We have a Cooper S auto convertible built 2005 and it's meant to be the best years along with the 2006 ones.
It is supercharged and not turbo charged like the later ones. It drives beautifully, but the tax at 275 ish a year and 27 MPG makes it not the cheapest option compared to the later ones.
Thing worth considering for you might be how short will your journeys be? If you think they are going to be short, then a turbo is perhaps not the best option due to warm up times and wind down times to allow to cool before turning off the engine.
We love the supercharger whine and is easy to tune if we ever feel the need.
Buy one you like the look of after test driving it, and don't buy the first one to allow comparison between a good one and a not so good one.
Good luck with the search, plenty out there and you should get a nice car that will serve you well.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2015, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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So i should look for no CVT 2005, 2006... But what about turbocharged? The 1st gen go to 60 in 7.7s with automatic transmission, right?
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2015, 03:39 PM
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Sorry, can't help with turbocharged minis as I have no experience of them, only owned the Supercharged version.
I have never timed it, but it does feel quick enough for us.
Yeah pretty sure no CVT in them years, and none in the Cooper S of them years either.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2015, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by li3to View Post
... so i ll go with S version and also automatic ...

Ultimately i am choosing between years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.
Automatic transmission wasn't available in the Cooper S until January 2005 builds. So in a 1st Gen MINI you're looking at Hatchbacks built through November 2006 and Convertibles built through July 2008. These will have a supercharged engine

You do not want a 2nd Gen Cooper S built before March 2010 because it will have the problematic N14 engine (timing chain tensioner, carbon build-up on intake valves, high oil consumption, high pressure fuel pump).

If you decide to go with a Cooper with an automatic transmission you'll have buy a 2nd Gen MINI because the 1st Gen had a CVT.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2015, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Werent there like 2006 version with 5-speed automatic and old engine? I am getting confused
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2015, 05:27 PM
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The automatic transmission used in 1st Gen Cooper S models and all 2nd Gen models is a 6-speed Aisin transmission.

The automatic transmission used in 1st Gen Cooper and One models is a CVT.

All 1st Gen models have a Tritec (BMW / Chrysler developed) engine, the Cooper S being supercharged.

All 2nd Gen models have a Prince (BMW / Peugeot developed) engine, the Cooper S being turbocharged.

All 3rd Gen models have a turbocharged BMW engine.

As above, the last of the 1st Gen Hatchbacks was produced in November 2006 and the last of the 1st Gen Convertibles was produced in July 2008.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2015, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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So basically first gen cooperS are fine both in terms of engine and transmission. Good to know
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by li3to View Post
So basically first gen cooperS are fine both in terms of engine and transmission. Good to know

Yes, but the Cooper S built 2005 onwards have the same supercharger as the JCW cars and is more robust.

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by li3to View Post
So basically first gen cooperS are fine both in terms of engine and transmission.
Yes and you get to listen to the intoxicating whine of the supercharger

Quote:
Originally Posted by k3fus View Post
Yes, but the Cooper S built 2005 onwards have the same supercharger as the JCW cars and is more robust.
Since the OP wants an automatic transmission it would have that supercharger (5th Gen Eaton).
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 2015, 03:14 PM
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>>You do not want a 2nd Gen Cooper S built before March 2010 because it will have the problematic N14 engine (timing chain tensioner, carbon build-up on intake valves, high oil consumption, high pressure fuel pump).


I second this, I have 2nd gen Cooper, one engine replacement $7,000, timing chain slipped crushed piston etc $2,000, replaced Camshaft position sensor ( cant rem but nothing is ever less than $500) , did work on turbo that cost about 3,000 cant remember why. seals in trunk door have been replaced but door keeps filling up with water (its like a waterfall) & shorted out the rear light module ( $500), it shorted the Harmon Becker Amplifier under driver seat ( 1,200) , right now it looks like I need the replacement engine replaced after 15,000 miles. the total milage on my car is 60,000, the car cost 25,000, repairs in 4 years have cost me over 15,000 to be honest Ive given up its become normal to have monthly car repairs or car rental expenses.

Run away .. nut if you do .. please check timing tensioner and turbo oil line, carry a litre of oil with you and topo up every 1000 miles during changes .. buy premium gas and never let tank goi less than a quarter .. maybe you'll be ok but don't expect it to last a lifetime :-(
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 10th, 2019, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mass_upset_mini View Post
>>You do not want a 2nd Gen Cooper S built before March 2010 because it will have the problematic N14 engine (timing chain tensioner, carbon build-up on intake valves, high oil consumption, high pressure fuel pump).


I second this, I have 2nd gen Cooper, one engine replacement $7,000, timing chain slipped crushed piston etc $2,000, replaced Camshaft position sensor ( cant rem but nothing is ever less than $500) , did work on turbo that cost about 3,000 cant remember why. seals in trunk door have been replaced but door keeps filling up with water (its like a waterfall) & shorted out the rear light module ( $500), it shorted the Harmon Becker Amplifier under driver seat ( 1,200) , right now it looks like I need the replacement engine replaced after 15,000 miles. the total milage on my car is 60,000, the car cost 25,000, repairs in 4 years have cost me over 15,000 to be honest Ive given up its become normal to have monthly car repairs or car rental expenses.

Run away .. nut if you do .. please check timing tensioner and turbo oil line, carry a litre of oil with you and topo up every 1000 miles during changes .. buy premium gas and never let tank goi less than a quarter .. maybe you'll be ok but don't expect it to last a lifetime :-(
I agree with you Car Repairs & rentals are some expenses, but recently I have heard of Car Rental 8 & tried their services & I am will definitely going to recommend them in addition to that by using Car Rental 8 Coupon you can save some money on their services.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2019, 07:33 PM
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Listen to mass_upset_mini....

Welcome to a GEN2 world where:

* oil level paranoia totally exists
* you worry whether your recent investment will grenade or not grenade today
* the OEM condition based service HAS to be ignored and you create your own, back to old school dino rules, every 3K miles ( or less, keep reading )
* oil dipsticks are completely f**king useless but you HAVE to check the oil EVERY fuel fill up ( really )
* you keep liters of unique, odd weighted synthetic oil in your trunk as you MUST fill up frequently
* makes more mechanically bad sounding noises than a trash can rolling down the street, then runs like a top...just to keep you on your toes
* you need to turn the radio off to listen to everything JUST IN CASE the timing chain is going
* ancillaries literally fail monthly - water leaks, oil leaks, leaks, leaks and leaks
* you need to explain to your significant other that the 500 EU / month repair bill is so worth it because it "goes like a go kart"
* squirrelly handling rectified by replacement of all OEM liquid filled control arm bushings
* seat belts never retract, just twist, get caught in your door when you close and dent sills
* convertible top leaks filling seats and requires "special" plastic kit to retrofit
* plug or not plug the factory rear PCV valve...because the Peugeot forum says they did....so you should too
* absolutely NO aftermarket radio fits into the retro round center display, unless you can code android OS and buy the ONE round option from Asia
* the electronic trunk latch dies and costs 150 EU to replace the 10 cent button switch thats the problem

I'm 9 months into a 09 R57 MCS that had 57KM's on the clock and full dealer based service.
2 owners, had the correct tensioner added early on and is in the south of France, so no rot, rust - looks great.
Had a PPI done and local Control Technique ( MOT ) , all clean.

Goes through 1 liter of 18 euro oil per 1000km's. Based on my calculations, you'll never need an oil change in its life.....as every 5KM's you'll have replaced all of it, well before the service is due anyway. Just a filter once in a while, apparently.

Replaced the crappy bonded plastic thermostat housing as it cracked and leaked.

Replaced the turbo oil line, and return, as the crimped joints can't handle vibration.

Replaced the valve cover gaskets. Leaked a lot.

Replaced the valve cover, PCV valve failed.

Fixed the B pillar convertible top attachments as back seat filled with water.

About to replace the front control arm bushings to fix horrible handling over bumps ( smooth roads are fine ) .
Will also replace shocks as they are shot ( 10 years old, crappy B4's, moving to B12 Pro Kit ).

Worried about the very occasional rattle from the motor. The high pressure vacuum pump definitely needs to be replaced.
The high pressure fuel pump, tbd.
The external water pump and brittle plastic feed tube, yeah, totally expecting them both to go.

Do the chain tension and the chain? yeah, for sanity sake. Insurance.
Maybe I just change the motor while I'm at it....not much else left right?

This is my first Mini and I have to say....WTF.

I've had every version of the 3 Series BMW and only replaced water pumps and valve cover gaskets at about 100K miles, and they all went to 150K.
Tracked a 93 Porsche 964 for 10 years, 37K hard miles and only ever replaced a MAF and dizzy belt that failed ( sure - gobs of tires, brakes and pads ).

Maybe I got the lemon. Maybe I did a really poor job of buying the right car. Maybe I'm a donkey. All fair.

but.....it goes like a go kart ....so I guess I'm still game.

Bon Chance
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old Jul 2nd, 2019, 08:48 PM
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Don't get early years of R56

Early R56 known for engine failures leading to be costy $$$

If getting an Automatic, it'll come with lifetime fluid. It will start showing age (slipping and rough) around 100k miles. I fixed this on my old car (auto 2006 Mini Cooper s r53) by changing the atf. DO NOT FLUSH ATF. I was able to change it overtime which is recommended. Eitherway this fixed my issue and made it drive like to what i perceive to be new.

Also one control arm bushing went out around 110k miles
Another thing, my new MINI manual with 150k miles is losing power at higher rpms. I believe to be fuel related, maybe fuel pump or fuel injectors. I'm not sure but I will be definitively change fuel pump soon.

Last edited by Osip G; Jul 2nd, 2019 at 08:50 PM. Reason: Control arm bushing issue added
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