MINI Cooper Forum banner

Are Mini Coopers really that bad?

6602 Views 10 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  lothian
I’ve been on the search for a “new” car in the recent months and I’m having a hard time figuring out which car will suit my needs the best. This will be my second vehicle I’m purchasing, the first being my current car — a 2006 Saab that is giving me more electrical problems than I can handle.
Here are some things I’m considering in my search: -My budget is around $10,000 -I’m looking for something small and practical for mostly city but some occasional rural/rough road driving -Fuel economy is extremely important (25pmg+ is a must) -Automatic Transmission -Well designed and durable materials (my Saab is falling apart in almost every way conceivable) -Decent driving performance and dependable for everyday commuting.
At the moment, I’ve really been looking at Mini Coopers because of their small size, excellent fuel economy, affordable price, and quirky designs. However, all I’ve read about and heard of is how terrible these cars are made. I’ve done my fair-share of research by now so I know that they aren’t the best in terms of reliability and maintenance, but are they really that bad compared to other cheap-ish cars? I’m looking for something I enjoy driving, and although Toyotas and other cheaper cars are pretty practical, I can’t see myself owning one.
I’ve had my eye on a 2010 Mini Cooper S with 62k miles and it seems like the perfect car for me with a great asking price... so should I be cautious and look around for something more practical or should I go for it? Here is the link for the vehicle I’m researching:
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Owner of a 2006 S here, which was never driven in the winter and had 65k miles when I bought. It's the "best and most reliable 1st gen" and a lot recommend it over the 2nd gen due to better engine reliability.

It's been two years, and my budget still has an even 50/50 MINI/everything else split. I've been unlucky AND always went for sporty upgrades but the maintenance costs are insane compared to a more conventional compact. BMW parts tend to be badly/over-designed in a way that makes everything so much pricier and complicated than it should. Not sure how much that has been changed for gen 2, someone can vouch in on that.

Don't get me wrong, I love the hell out of my car - but I can only recommend a MINI to someone who's a lot richer than the sticker price would imply and who's looking to have a bit more of an invested relationship with a car they treat preciously. Hell of a ride when it does work.
Just to add to the above. I have a 2nd gen 2011 Cooper , bought it with 55k miles. Before buying spoke to my local garage who has experience of fixing them ,(same engine as Peugeot) and budgeted for a timing chain replacement, which I had done straight after buying.
Seem to be sensitive to the state of the coils, need to be good quality replacement. Also oil level needs to be kept at maximum.
Everyone on the forum has a story, reliable Minis don't cause people to search for advice here. There is some bias to factor in. We have a SAAB 9-3 wagon and 2x R56 Minis. None of them have been trouble beyond what you might expect for that age of car. Maybe we've been lucky....
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Everyone on the forum has a story, reliable Minis don't cause people to search for advice here. There is some bias to factor in. We have a SAAB 9-3 wagon and 2x R56 Minis. None of them have been trouble beyond what you might expect for that age of car. Maybe we've been lucky....
I'd say that statistically speaking, you are more likely to have issues with these but that everything very much depends on the particular specimen of the car. What is 100% established, however, is that the costs are much higher than your typical compact when something DOES happen. I would just say that the MINI doesn't seem to be a good fit for the OP given the desire for durability and dependability. You go into it because of the design, and stay because of the fantastic driving dynamics.
rural/rough road
Automatic Transmission
Well designed and durable materials
Fuel economy extremely important
Owning both a R56 Cooper and a GTI I'd say get a Golf TDI w/ DSG.
Agree with that. I drove a Toyota Camry 2 years ago. Everything is well. But yep, Cooper is acceptable, not bad. Its cute shape is eye-catching.
Mini's aren't really that bad, however the maintenance MUST bet kept up properly. One thing to note the factory oil change schedule should never be followed on the turbo cars. The oil needs to be changed every 5,000 miles at the latest. Lack of proper maintenance is the main cause of all the timing chain failures. Well that and the early design tensioner but mostly the oil. Yes the Mini does have some quirky maintenance issues but it's what you would expect from such a quirky car.

I mean no a Mini will never have the reliability of say an old school 2 liter Toyota motor or like a B18 honda but it's still a good car, AS LONG AS YOU PROPERLY MAINTAIN IT.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
I’ve a R50 Cooper, R56 One manual, R56 auto, R55 Cooper.
No issues with any now, just listen to the car and deal with any warning lights, service them regularly and generally just look after them.
I drive my R50 hard, it’s had the odd overheating issue, but when it starts that, I deal with it and it’s fine.
it’s the same with any car. Look after it and it’ll be fine.
The Coopers are brilliant, handle superbly especially if you fit the strut bars and they are so much fun
I purchased a brand new R50 in April 2004 and kept it until April 2016. It was reasonably reliable. Had to have the passenger door replaced, due to rust coming through the bottom of the door. This was done under warranty. I had numerous door lock mechanisms replaced, new gearbox & clutch, engine mounting. Had my R56 JCW since May 2016 and it's been amazing. I've only had one minor issue with it, that was a start/stop sensor, if I remember correctly.
"Reliable Minis don't cause people to search for advice here."

Should be pasted on he masthead of this forum.
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.