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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all I'm in the process of looking for an r53 mini cooper s preferably 04 to 06 plates with 3 spoke wheels. I'm just curious to know the things to look for mainly that can cause issues I've obviously seen stuff about oil leaks and suspension bushes but is there anything else obvious? And does evidence of a supercharger service make a difference or is it best getting one serviced as soon as I buy? I've also seen someone say pretty much most gaskets will need replacing at around 100k any help would be appreciated
Cheers
 

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Expensive things to fix and therefore check are:
Front suspension bushes - can the wheels be rolled back and forth with the car stationary.
Rust around the rear lights - look for rust or bad repairs
Supercharger wear - listen for testing noises, hard to know by looking if the oil inside has been changed.

Lots of other things covered in other threads on here. Remember the newest are 14 years old, so are slipping in to ownership with lower budgets.
 

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There will be fixes to do, but a lot are within the scope of the home mechanic. They are not simple cars but not complicated by modern standards.

Oh yes, the Tritec engine leaks oil like a sieve.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
So mainly checking the suspension bushes and listening out for unnatural supercharger noises is the main things to be concerned about? I've already planned to set an extra bit of money aside after buying to get general maintenance in terms of possible oil leaks repaired and a change of tyres and brake discs. Thankyou for the reply there is lots to be found tbf just wondering if I've been missing anything
 

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two ways to look at them ie a lot of people feel buying something that has never had much done to it or something thats had all the expensive bits replaced ie plenty of £1000 cars around that will cost £2000 to put right if the big stuff has not been done, also the later coated super chargers are hard to find secondhand under £300, most cars will be around 100k and with the age and miles very common are head gaskets valve stem seals and water issues etc, just the nature of the beast, very strong engine but any performance engine will wear with time, i believe 100k is about where most need head gasket stuff and water pump the timing chains on tritec will do 150k plus but for piece of mind 100k better place, super charger 100k change oil its a big job front off and a lot of faff adds up if paying our garage time, water pump should e done as well as should the oil cooler on oil filter bowl and new ss belt, if were we and wanting to by one without hassle of repairing it from being worn out, find one that someone has already done all this on and enjoy the car, AA and RAC websites all give a car buying guide and state should be weary of cars that have had all these things done to them,, well if i was buying a 3-4 year old car as their guides are based on i would be weary, but not same to a car thats over 10 years old and around 100k personally its a no brainer find one that has had all you want from a car already if can find one,, unless your on the ball with engine work and stripping and rebuilding them then cheap £500 cars are perfect,, i've been doing that for past 30 years now and also work in garage and od for a living as well,
also be weary of cars that have smaller pulleys on ss that have not been mapped to suit they tend to run lean and hurts them over time, put a fast road cam in and some other mods coat outer of ss and pipeworks etc reduced ss pulley and mapped to suit its possible to get around 230bhp at top end,, and with cam will hit 4k and just get silly really fast but controllable, road road time looking £300-£600 depending on where you go but so worth it,
 

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here's a long one for you 😂

things you could look for:

heavy clutch, high biting point or very low

any engine rattles

oil leaks - contrary to popular belief it isn't 'normal' for them to leak so much as just typical for leaks to be ignored, irrespective of whether a leak may be current there is no excuse for a heavily oil covered engine as it reflects years of no action

fan speed one coming on, with PAS fan, if the PAS fan is also failed suggests the main fan may might have been inactive for some time,

coolant colour, if not blue and clean it'll probably be orange or brown hinting at neglected coolant changes which should be done every three years and often isn't but also people use the wrong type. Systems can be sedimented and even blocked if bad enough which will be hard to see, heater matrix or heat exchanger in particular being the lowest point to have narrowed passageways due to the cooler element, you can feel the hoses, you might find one isn't as hot or one doesn't easily compress, the one nearest the back most likely as it's lower, a bad cooling system will affect the lubrication system

steering pull, brake pull, judder, steering wheel out of alignment when driving straight ahead, stand on the brakes several times similar to an emergency stop, see if the car pulls up straight, do it again deliberately triggering the abs

visual check of the brake discs, it's very common for the rear discs to have half of the braking surface rusted, sometimes worse on the inner face, also the front usually worse on the inner face, look for wear lips you can clearly feel with your fingers

parking brake travel or effectiveness, if you reverse the car and apply the parking brake to stop the car while looking behind you, you should see the car lift evenly, if only one side lifts the other has a fault, clearer this way compared to forward but do what you're comfortable with

play in front wheels when pulled on, top/bottom or left/right if you can put enough weight into checking

locking wheel bolts? Check you have the key

bad repairs, scruffy engine bay

stiff or vague gear selection, play in gear lever

noise in one gear not in others perhaps, reverse is always noisier

original parts supplied if things have been swapped?

high number of owners?

damaged front suspension turrets

driveline noises, wheel bearings tend to start to growl at 40mph+ if you hear noise below this it can be tyres but they can also be noisy above

start it stone cold, the only rattle acceptable is for a second or less, maybe two, as the car is first started stone cold

leave it running long enough to engage the cooling fan at least once while stationary after you've driven it

no fuel for long enough road test? Get the owner to add it or you offer to in return for a 20 mile drive, don't be put off by owners not letting you drive, you would need full comp cover and even if you did there is little a seller can do to make you claim, and some potential buyers are really quite terrible drivers generally

all locks and windows and function tests

do all warning lights come on with ignition and go off after self test? There is a trend for some sellers to remove or tape over warning lighting

are keys or key in very good unopened condition and functional?

supercharger service is hard to prove done, you can check coolant return into the expansion tank through the small bore hose at the top and it will do this from cold as the heater and heat exchanger use a bypass system

is the lower mount for the clutch slave cylinder intact? They get broken in accidents sometimes

you can check the aux belt state by viewing the visible portion of the tensioners safety strap above the tensioner body, viewed from just in front of the engines top mount by the right chassis leg, you should see at least some of a hole in the strap below the small twisted piece at the top

check for coolant staining anywhere, splash marks, or coolant smells

oil fumes

wet or damp car, boot by battery in particular, also front footwells under mats

missing heat shields or undertrays

broken radiator housing, often where the undertray bolts to it at the front, the plastic where the shield retaining clips for the three bolts fit can be broken from previously seized bolts being ripped out or just not repaired after hitting kerbs etc.

got a code reader? Ask if you can plug it in

tuned engine, small pulley, intake, no custom map? No map at all?

100k service is completely made up by wheeler dealers, don't expect one to be done because it's a load of nonsense
superchargers need servicing at 50k really, there is no official interval for them but there have been chargers failing by 65k so get there early imo

water pumps can outlast chargers, when the charger is serviced if anywhere good the pump would be taken off and checked and cleaned up where it joins the PTO drive, people that know what they're doing know what the bearings should feel like, it isn't a big deal changing them later but original pumps last well, don't change one early and use a lesser part than you already have, no value in that at all, it's the aftermarket pumps that won't last

don't expect these to be done but big end bearings should also be replaced at 50k, again no interval listed but these will show wear by then, this is my interval, worthless to many but I have a nice collection of worn shells, even on my own car plus two mains at only 49.5k, this can be a bigger issue if you're looking at a car caked in old oil, owners never check the oil enough, there is no low level indicator, service intervals are also too long, if oil is low it's working harder, and accelerating wear especially on a car with a small pulley and no, or a crap map, and quite likely still driven hard. It's a cheap routine repair, and can save your engine if done as soon as you get the car

if you have or come across a car with a small pulley with no 'custom' map done live on the rollers, and other mods suggesting the car is used hard or on track then regard the shells as a fairly urgent requirement

many of these cars with pulleys and no map, 15% and smaller especially, will suffer pinking under load and over 4k which most people can't identify with let alone know what causes it. This will accelerate big end bearing wear due to cylinder pressures and will also seriously increase the chances of piston failure, usually always cylinder one but not necessarily. The sound if one were to describe it is similar to a rustling crisp packet in the engine bay which is audible in the cabin, best way to describe it, listen from 4k or definitely at 4.5k+. If you hear it on a test drive and the seller can't then expect to find an engine needing a closer look perhaps, the seller if they can't hear it will have continued driving past the point where the noise starts with no idea the engine doesn't like it

I have one that isn't mapped with a 15% which I bought only to sell on after I swapped the clutch and alternator which I've just done, and on test I can hear it so will advise the buyer to have it mapped or I will offer a larger 11% pulley which will be safer for the engine, sellers won't generally offer this sort of help or advice

beware many people online telling you these cars are safe with pulleys because they run rich from the factory, yes they are slightly rich but not where you need it if modified. The issue isn't just fuel, it's ignition timing and even injector size as well as engine state or mod quality that can affect performance negatively. The other rubbish some come out with is the ECU adapting itself for the mods done, of course it doesn't, it can adapt slightly for smooth running and might compensate for conditions under 4 or 4.2k but over there it only does as programmed

there is some terrible advice out there, weak fuelling and advanced timing can give the illusion of power even on a dyno, common with generic maps and bluefin type stuff, I know you may not know if a seller says their car is 220hp whether it's true or not but if they only have a 17% pulley and intake it's probably not a healthy 220 if that at all

that should keep you busy for a while 😂 driving the seller mad going through the list ;O)

or you could just buy one of my cars '53/96k '05/58k the latter currently in excess of 235 wheel HP but it won't come like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That's great thankyou 😂 having screenshotted all that and more than likely taking over an hour to look at the next car I'm sure I will annoy the seller 😂 gonna order a scan tool as well ready 😂 I'm definitely gonna buy one stock hopefully having not been touched before as anything I then do myself can be assured it will be done properly with the correct map and parts etc. I think the best part of the journey is being able to call it your own regardless if you have to spend more than you would've been able to buy one for with mods already attached plus you have the piece of mind on top of it. Thankyou all for your help and I can't wait to find myself the right r53 to get started aha
 

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That's great thankyou 😂 having screenshotted all that and more than likely taking over an hour to look at the next car I'm sure I will annoy the seller 😂 gonna order a scan tool as well ready 😂 I'm definitely gonna buy one stock hopefully having not been touched before as anything I then do myself can be assured it will be done properly with the correct map and parts etc. I think the best part of the journey is being able to call it your own regardless if you have to spend more than you would've been able to buy one for with mods already attached plus you have the piece of mind on top of it. Thankyou all for your help and I can't wait to find myself the right r53 to get started aha
trouble is if looking for a as perfect as that description you deffo have a mission ahead of you and cars that are perfect with low mileage and very last 2006 spec hold their prices and also its still a 14 to 18 year old car,, find a one owner serviced by bmw and old guy or lady owned etc,, still nothing is forever see it all the time customers buy cars that are old and expect them to fit a as new list of expectations,, not seen many end well to be honest, as for not buying a modded car etc depends whether that work has been done by a garage who know what they are doing, as exclusive works says, also if maps are not genuine ask for the proof its been mapped contact the rolling road ask them the questions when was it done how was it etc, the when bit is important if that car was mapped 50k ago then run a mile if recent you have just saved your self lots of money, we have done loads of them and all got maps set to the car is only way best way,, generic maps wont touch a rolling road run, anyway good luck hope you find the right car
 

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the problem with cars already having some stuff done is there is always something not right for a buyer. It's like a compilation CD haha, always a few good things with some crap included we don't want.

that's why I advertised my car once with the full list of options but the car priced as bone stock, but because I want what I do for the car, I got battered with opinion about that and the end cost too if people were to want the parts still fitted, even at the cost they'd fetch on ebay for nice stuff and added to the car price labour FOC, once folk knew I had this stuff they wanted it all on the car at the base price. Clearly lunatics haha. One of the gearbox options alone is the same price as the car haha.

as you can see above it doesn't really matter what a car has if stuff underneath isn't sound even if you can't see it. I know it's difficult to consider taking an engine apart that appears quiet or good but that's how some stuff goes with preventative work, and it's always cheaper than dealing with the same parts once you do have an identifiable problem later, because then you have consequential issues to pay for too.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I guess that the best I can do then is ensure the engine is solid and has the evidence that past work needed has been done I will still do the complete check however because something that can be found within that can help give me an estimate on costs of repair as soon as I buy. In all honesty its just personal preference to buy one that hasn't been modified just like I wouldn't buy a dinner where half of the plate is cold and the other half is warmed up but then I guess that's personal preference. And when it comes to repairs I'll happily do most of my own work but will get it serviced by a garage to keep up with the service history. Having already looked over several YouTube videos and being a maintenance engineer myself it seems like most of the work is simple take apart replace and put back together again but I guess we will see how that progresses 😂 either way the both have you have gave me some invaluable information in which I can use when looking for one of these. It also helps that 'lifed' parts seem to be quite inexpensive such as gaskets seals and pumps so fingers crossed I can find the right one without too much going wrong
 

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from what you've said there if you can do some of the repairs yourself I'd say don't use a garage to keep up service history you can also do yourself, especially if you don't know exactly what they'd do, just keep all the invoices and keep a list yourself of the things you've checked or changed with dates and mileages, it's all stuff that will be on an invoice anyway. The only real issue is the difference in capability to recognise condition, like assessing wear, many regard cars as easy to work on making the worst assumption ever as most diy'ers do, that it's a matter of taking one off and putting another on and calling it a service. Wrong haha, so as long as you are competent in carrying out such tasks you may as well keep the money and do more with it ;O)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I agree that most people say it is just replace but it never is that easy as we say where I work a 10 minute job never is a 10 minute job. You go in expecting the worst. I'm sure there's also several tools out there to help me along the way when assessing each component I do work on and with each job it should become easier to get used to working on the car. And in regards to doing a sort of spreadsheet yourself does that really make a difference if I come to selling the car at any point in the future? Because a full service history always seems to sell cars so does that not go against the grain? I know a couple of people who do their own service work but get invoices off a garage to have checked their work over as a proof if you get me?
 

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they appear to work just fine, recent cars include a 52 plate with no problem going through a full scan and I own a 53 which it wouldn't let me programme for the JCW map but has for scanning and clearing plus coding the DME but that isn't with a cheap ebay tool though
 

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I think service history if people are likely to ask for it isn't really much of a statement about condition, just a buyers perception. The interval is too long anyway, and people still drive past it or interpret requirements incorrectly, buyers often jus t expect and look at stamps in a book which proves nothing. All garages look at different things if independent, and all garages report the need for additional work required. Having a stamped book gives assurance of a visit perhaps but it doesn't tell you what the work required would have been and in particular whether it was ever done. So to a degree it's meaningless. If you're part exchanging a car the garage might try to beat you up with rubbish residuals blaming this home servicing but the truth is if you detail it and can record the parts and oils with a list of your own checks but also remedial work you might have discovered, then many people perhaps with some explanation would accept the way you've maintained the vehicle.

Some of course try to knock you on price and are stupid or cheeky enough to claim a price reduction for a dealer service but we all know they'd never in a million years be taking a 15 year old car in for a service there, they'd possibly go to an Indy but the reality is that they'd be doing just the same as you did and with no record at all of what they did.

We often get to read about people buying nicely kept older cars with records of every single thing done and even of journeys backing up the mileages especially on classics and we find this to be a bonus and completely acceptable, so if you have records I doubt you have much to worry about other than your own knowledge and competence when it regards to how, what, when, why of maintenance or replacement of anything on the car.

There are bound to be different views, and difference levels of work or attention whichever way you go.
 

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Early (pre facelift) R53s are not OBD2 compliant, in other words generic scan tools don’t work on them.
i done that 52 plate cooper s r53 few months ago and autocom on eobd worked on all levels including reset all adaptations and live data etc, abs and airbag even bcm surprisingly,, last year a few gen 1 cars were on here where people wrote they had autocom and would not connect to car,, where the real issue was wiring issues or bad ecu on the car so then some people read it and decided that it dont work and its due to eobd not recognised etc, the r50 is very basic on eobd but still works the r53 works on all levels, you are right generic scan tools dont work on much even when cars are compliant as dealers hide the important stuff anyone needs to know to repair their cars behind P-codes dealer only, trouble is these scanners are expensive , and more complicated and also have write and code options on them so can in wrong hands and press wrong functions brick a ecu, its that old thing if cant read it on all levels there's no point point buying it in first place, even inpa wont run with r53 very well.. so really left with autocom cdp plus, or wurth snooper diagnostics tools of ebay for around £50 plus will need a laptop with no inter net and anti virus on it is best way windows 7 8 10 even xp will run with them but slow,
 

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just treat everyone you go to buy a car off as being a lair who just wants rid like works says the history on car is just paper also a car thats done nothing in 14 years just sat there can be hurt more than one thats been used most days,, reason i never bought a r53 last time around was the age thing and having a car in negative value dont suit my life, and i dont tend to keep cars long sometimes if your plan is to rebuild something anyway just buy a £500 one rolling project in first place then what ever you spend is not so much a loss as such but a improvement, i've been doing this for 30 years now not lost yet,, just need to be scanning the ebay and gumtree and autotrader for spares repair stuff, my way of thinking is a 80k car will need some fairly big jobs not to far away sp might as well buy at cheap and end up with a car with all done for same money maybe
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Perhaps that might be the best option if being able to find a non runner. All that's left for me to do is sell my mk2.5 mx5 then I can start properly looking at a r53 honestly can't wait
 
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