Decoding the MINI Market

January 21, 2018

 

Research is Key to buying a MINI and with this guide you will learn what to look for and what to stay away from. This will explain why MINI's are priced the way they are, and will also show you how complex it really is to figure out what cars are good investments, and what cars you should run away from. Please call the shop with any questions you may have, and keep in mind that Crooked River Garage is the Premier destination in Ohio where you can to BUY OR SELL MINI'S, REPAIR AND MAINTAIN, UPGRADE, AND BUY THE FULL LINE OF MINI PARTS AND ACCESSORIES! 

 

2002-2004 MINI COOPER (Base) R50

Not recommended to purchase:

-The manual transmissions in the cars were a Midlands transmission which do not take well to hard/moderate driving and are a very common failure on these cars and because of these failures there are not very many used transmissions left and are very costly to repair.  One thing I would recommend on the Midlands is to flush the gear oil every year and replace with Redline MTL. Cleaning the magnets will allow them to do their job and keep metal away from the gears.

-The Automatic versions of these cars are equipped with CVT transmissions that are also prone to failure and again are very expensive to replace.

 

2002-2004 MINI COOPER S R53

Recommended to purchase:

-These cars automatic or manual are a great car to purchase, however they are plagued with some common issues. The ABS systems and electrical systems in these early S cars are known to have some issues, and the main or biggest issue is that the gears on the supercharger do not have a teflon coating which makes them more prone to failure. These cars are getting older, but are a blast to own, and with the right care and maintenance will be a great car for many years!

 

2005-2006 MINI COOPER R50 Manual Transmission

Recommended to purchase:

In 2005 MINI did a facelift/redesign and updated and solved almost all of the vehicles known issues. They replaced the poorly designed Midlands 5 speed manual transmission with a Getrag 5 speed Manual transmission that holds up much better and should last the life of the car. The electrical and ABS issues were addressed and these cars are HIGHLY desirable due to the fact that these are the only R50 you can buy with a manual transmission that you don't have to worry about.

 

2005-2006 MINI COOPER R50 Automatic Transmission

Not Recommended to purchase:

Even though MINI did the redesign as mentioned above, they did not change the transmission in this car.

The Automatic transmission however on this car is STILL the CVT transmission which are prone to failure, and again with this failure being so common, your used supply of parts is dried up making it expensive to find and replace the transmission in the event of a failure.

 

2005-2006 MINI COOPER S R53 Automatic or Manual

Recommended to purchase:

In 2005 MINI did a facelift/redesign which they went back to the drawing boards and re-released the same car but fixed most of the common issues, they fixed some electrical issues, the harmonic balancer, and also put a teflon coating on the supercharger gears so they would last the life of the car. The manual R53 is fitted with a Getrag 6 speed and they changed the gear ratios slightly for these two years, and the automatic R53's kept the gearbox that worked so well in 2002-2004. These are the golden years of MINI's to buy and are reflected as such in the market, as they are often priced well above the 2002-2004 R53s. 

 

2005-2008 MINI COOPER Convertible R52 Cooper

Recommended to purchase the S model in Manual or Automatic.

Not Recommended to purchase the Base model in Automatic due to the CVT Transmission.

 

The R50/R53/R52 Are all considered First Gen MINI's.

 

2007-2014 MINI COOPER Base R56

Recommended to purchase:

This is the second generation MINI that is a little bit bigger and a little bit wider. The speedometer is bigger, and the car features a French Engine made by Peugeot, with an awesome german transmission. These base model cars are awesome to own but keep in mind there are some things to keep an eye on and quite a few common failures, all can be fixed, but should be checked upon every service with your MINI specialist. These issues apply to any MINI 2007-2014.

-MINI water pumps have plastic impellers and are prone to leaking.

-Thermostats were not designed correctly and can fail, redesigned thermostats, wiring harnesses, and upper radiator hoses are now available. 

-Radiators can fail early as the o-rings that seal the aluminum fins to the o-rings can fail and start to leak.

-A small batch of clutches were not good from the factory, and they failed before hitting the 70k mile mark.

-The screens on the radios on the 2007-2008's as well as the internal components can fail leaving you with having to install an aftermarket radio

-Rear struts are prone to failure causing cupping on the rear tires and increased road noise. 

-The motors in the sunroofs can strip out the plastic gears causing the sunroof to not be functional.

-The cars are also prone to oil leaks at the oil filter housing. 

-BMW will tell you that it is normal for the R56 to use a quart of oil every thousand miles driven, so it is very important to check oil frequently.

-Prone to Coil pack failure causing misfires.

 

2007-2011 MINI COOPER S R56

NOT Recommended to purchase:

These Cooper S cars have an N14 engine that is one of the reasons why MINI has such a black cloud over the name in reference to reliability. DO NOT BUY THESE CARS. This is not a which hunt against the N14 car, however if you are in the market for a MINI you may notice you can get INCREDIBLE deals on these cars. THIS IS THE REASON WHY. The timing chain guides are prone to failure inside the engine and once failed the timing chain will fail, causing complete engine failure. The timing chains life can be affected by the amount of oil in the car. If the oil is changed promptly at 5k miles, and is NEVER low on oil these engines will last longer, but the lack of oil, even for a short time will cause severe damage. As noted above these engines can use quite a bit of oil, so keeping a watchful eye on you oil level will save you a LOT of MONEY!!

These cars also have all the issues as noted above under the Base R56. Also these cars have issues with the High Pressure Fuel Pump.

 

2008-2014 MINI COOPER CLUBMAN R55

The base model Clubmans are the same car as the R56 Base models and have all of the same issues. The Clubman is a throwback to the Mini Saloon cars that were stretched allowing for more room in the car! These Clubman's are great cars, and are recommended to buy. 

The Clubman S with the turbocharged engine 2008-2011 is NOT recommended to buy as it is the same N14 engine noted above under the 07-11 Cooper S. 

 

2012-2014 MINI COOPER S R56

Recommended to buy:

In 2012 MINI again did a facelift/redesign that replaced most of the thermostats with updated models, replaced water pumps with a better design, and most importantly replaced the N14 engine with the much more reliable N18 car. These cars are hard to find on the market, as most people that own these cars, are holding on tightly to them! If you can find one that has been well maintained, BUY IT, they are fantastic cars!

 

2009-2015 MINI COOPER CONVERTIBLE R57

Recommended to buy only from 2012-2015 equipped with the N18 engine. The 09-11's are equipped with the N14 engine that is prone to failure. 

 

2011-2016 MINI COOPER COUNTRYMAN R60

All years and types of the Countryman are recommended to buy. The Countryman's are extremely well built and a ton of fun to drive even for being slightly bigger. The manual models are prone to the clutch wearing out sooner due to MINI using the same engine/clutches that are used in the regular Coopers. Same engine/clutch and a heavier vehicle mean that the clutch is doing more work to get the car moving, reducing it's lifespan. 

 

2012-2015 MINI COOPER COUPE R58

Recommended to buy:

These cars base or S are great to buy, MINI only made them for a few years and due to underwhelming sales were discontinued in 2016. These cars have the same issues noted in the R56 except for of course the sunroof issue, as these cars do not have sunroofs. 

 

2012-2015 MINI COOPER ROADSTER R59

Recommended to buy:

These cars base or S are great to buy, MINI only made them for a few years and due to underwhelming sales were discontinued in 2016. These cars have the same issues noted in the Base R56.

 

2013-2016 MINI COOPER PACEMAN R61

Recommended to buy:

The Paceman was a two door Countryman, that again due to under whelming sales was discontinued, but they are a great car to own with the same issues as the Countryman. 

 

The R56/R57/R58/R59/R60/R61 are all considered to be Second Generation cars. 

 

2014+ MINI COOPER and COOPER S F56 

Recommended to buy:

These cars are too new to have common issues, but are recommended to buy, these cars are either loved or hated due to the very different design of the car. MINI in trying to broaden their sales audience tried to make this car more "Car like" if you will and less quirky like the previous cars.  These cars do not have the speedometer in the middle of the dash, and the window and door switches have been moved to the doors instead of the middle of the dash. In trying to make these cars more normal, MINI hopes to sell more cars to more people and grow the brand. 

 

2014 + MINI COOPER and COOPER S 4 Door F55

Recommended to buy:

These cars are too new to have common issues, but are recommended to buy, these cars are either loved or hated due to the very different design of the car. MINI in trying to broaden their sales audience tried to make this car more "Car like" if you will and less quirky like the previous cars.  These cars do not have the speedometer in the middle of the dash, and the window and door switches have been moved to the doors instead of the middle of the dash. In trying to make these cars more normal, MINI hopes to sell more cars to more people and grow the brand. 

 

2015+ MINI COOPER and COOPER S Clubman F54

Recommended to buy:These cars are too new to have common issues, but are recommended to buy, these cars are either loved or hated due to the very different design of the car. MINI in trying to broaden their sales audience tried to make this car more "Car like" if you will and less quirky like the previous cars.  These cars do not have the speedometer in the middle of the dash, and the window and door switches have been moved to the doors instead of the middle of the dash. In trying to make these cars more normal, MINI hopes to sell more cars to more people and grow the brand. 

 

2015+ MINI COOPER and COOPER S Convertible F57

Recommended to buy:

These cars are too new to have common issues, but are recommended to buy, these cars are either loved or hated due to the very different design of the car. MINI in trying to broaden their sales audience tried to make this car more "Car like" if you will and less quirky like the previous cars.  These cars do not have the speedometer in the middle of the dash, and the window and door switches have been moved to the doors instead of the middle of the dash. In trying to make these cars more normal, MINI hopes to sell more cars to more people and grow the brand. 

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