Buying a used 2007-2013 MINI Cooper – things to look for – Gen 2 R56 R55

Buying a used 2007-2013 MINI Cooper – things to look for – Gen 2 R56 R55

Hi everybody, today we’re making a video
on how to buy a second-generation Mini Cooper. That’s roughly the years 2007 to
2013. Those are the cars where they first introduced the turbo. And kind of the
easiest way to tell the tell them apart is the side scuttle here. So the 2nd gens
look like kind of like this – they kind of lead into the bonnet here. On the
first-generation car it’s kind of an oval look, and it stays inside the fender.
And the third generation car kind of looks like this one here. When you first
walk up to the meaning that you like and you see it at a dealer or private party
or whatever, the first thing you want to do is make sure the car hasn’t been an
accident or has any major cosmetic flaws. You’re gonna want to check the
windshield as well for rock chips or cracks. You’re gonna want to make sure
that you have a good quality auto glass as well of course mini branded is the
best. It says MINI right on it. If it’s Safelite Glass (SGC), you might want to think about that a little bit because that stuff
cracks pretty easily. Looking for panel gaps which is kind of important.
All of these gaps here need to be lined up. This part is separate from this part
which is separate from this part, and the bumper. And if there’s any front-end
damage, it’s probably going to show up. This can, you can tell the panel gap
doesn’t quite match the other side. It’s a little bit of overhang, here a little
bit too close, and then here between the fender and the wheel arch it’s sticking
out a little bit too far. You’re gonna want to make sure you’ve got
enough remaining tire life and if you don’t, consider the budget that you might
need to buy tires as well. Another wear item on the MINI Coopers is the control
arm bushings – after about eighty or ninety thousand miles or so they can
wear and cause a little bit of shudder as you’re going down the road. And the
simplest way to check if you have a controller and bushing problem is to
kick the tires. If you kick them and they don’t move at all, like this car,
you’re fine. So this one you can see there’s a little bit of jiggle – this is a
probably about 75% bad. If it was a little bit worse I’d think about
replacing it. Not every car has rust problems so probably the quickest way to
figure out whether the car is or might have rust
– is to look under the car where rust starts. This car doesn’t have rust but if
it did, right here on the subframe, this is behind the front wheel, this is where
you’d see it start first. On the back side of the door there’s a drain hole,
here for example in the lower corner of the door. This is where water comes out
and usually rust is gonna form in this area because water tends to sit here.
it’s very important also to make sure you’re getting the vehicle that you
think you’re getting. You want to get a clean title or if you’re getting a
car that has a salvage or a rebuild title it’s not necessarily a bad thing
depending on what you find out about the car. Another thing you can do is get the
VIN (vehicle identification number) off of the car – it’s usually shown right
on the bottom corner of the windshield right here. You can take the last
seven digits of that number and do a Google search for “BMW MINI VIN check”
There’s a lot of free sites – one of them is “”. First thing if
you see this engine – don’t buy it – just kidding actually. But this engin, this
valve cover you see here this is called the N14 engine. You can tell it’s an N14 engine
because the coil packs are exposed. These little wires here your
giveaway. If it’s this engine be a little more careful because it’s got the most
problems out of all of the second gen. Just be a little careful if you’re gonna
buy one of these because they they have a lot of problems, and probably the best
thing you can do is find a n14 car that someone else has thrown a lot of money
at and they’ve done all the repairs. Fluid leaks, oil filter housing leak and
the turbo feed line. Sometimes on high mileage cars the turbo itself can fail.
The best way to tell whether that’s an issue is tp drive a couple of cars and if
wasn’t one of them feels low on power that one might have a turbo issue.
Another thing you want to check is how often has the car had oil changes.
You can never really trust anyone to tell you how how frequently it’s been changed, but there’s a secret trick that
you can figure out how often the oil has been changed. Just just take the oil cap,
off shine your flashlight in. See how it’s kind of a nice golden brown
color – the closer that is to silver the the better condition it is. This car has been pretty well maintained. So I happen to have a
cylinder head off the car here, from a higher mileage car that probably didn’t
have as many oil changes as it should have. You can see, look right here,
there’s a carbon buildup. This is what happens when you don’t change your oil
regularly enough. The detergents can’t suspend the contaminants that gets into the engine.Other than that, just look generally for signs of care, look for things
like missing fasteners or things that out are out of place. That’s a
pretty good sign of somebody who’s working on the car who didn’t know what
they were doing. The next step we need to do is go road test it – but before that we
want to make sure the interior looks good. Of course look for normal
wear items. For second generation MINIs honestly the interior
build quality is pretty good, you don’t have so many electronic issues, but you
do want to go through and make sure everything’s working. So now we’re gonna take it out on the road and give it a test drive. And when we’re driving we’re
actually gonna try to drive the car a little bit hard to uncover any issues. Suspension, we’re gonna want to make sure the car tracks
straight, we’re going to look for any vibrations or knocks or shudder, and as
we’re test driving it’s also good to test the vehicle on a variety
of different conditions, and that includes getting it up to highway speed
because there can be shimmy or shudder or vibrations that only happen when
you’re at higher speed so 60 mph or so. It’s also important to get
the car up to operating temperature especially, like an automatic
transmission some of them have issues when the car is at temperature but when
it’s cold, nothing, drives fine. You want to make sure especially if you’re
getting an automatic transmission that it’s nice and hot and that takes about
15 minutes. The clutch pedal should feel moderate, if it’s super stiff that’s
a sign that you’re kind of near the end of life of the clutch.
After the test-drive, if you’re still interested in the car, it’s time to do
the pre-purchase inspection. The first thing we’re gonna do is plug in the
scanner and see what we get. So it reads OBD2 codes and it also reads
BMW body codes. I’m gonna go to the BMW option. Okay it’s done scanning and it’s found a
couple of codes which is kind of interesting because the
check engine light is off but we’re seeing a fault here. I’ve got an air mass
sensor pending code. We also have a code for the tire pressure monitoring
system which I knew about because the light was on for this car but this will
tell you exactly what’s going on. Alright, I’m pretty happy with what I found, so
now I’m gonna go under the car and show you guys what else I could find
underneath. The first thing I’m gonna do is look for signs of oil leaks. I did a
recent this car had a recent repair so there’s a little bit of moisture here
but it’s pretty dry under here. Don’t know how that got in there.This is the
common place where you’re gonna see oil leakage on these guys it’s kind of on
the seam between the bell housing and the engine itself.
This is where the oil collects when you have an oil filter housing gasket or a
turbo feed line leak. I don’t see any leakage around the oil pan so there’s no
oil pan gasket leak or front main seal leak. I’m gonna peel back this liner here
and look at the inside of the belt and look for any cracks
and it looks pretty good And then I’m gonna look up in the gap
here as well between the drive shaft and the oil pan. I’m looking at the
bottom of the water pump and trying to see if there’s any white crust/moisture whichwould indicate a water pump leak pr coolant bypass tube leak. I’m also gonna check the CV boots. You want to kind of push on them and make sure they are not
torn. They tend to tear on the narrow end right where they clamp down on to the
axle. I’ll also check the passenger side or the right side of the car boot
as well. I have the car up in the air now so
check the wheels for bearing play and ball joints. The way you do that is to
pull the wheel and we go back and forth. Right here I’m checking also to make
sure the tie rod end is not loose. Basically you’re looking for any extra
play, and there isn’t any here. I’ll look up here into the strut and I’m gonna
look to see if there’s a bunch of goo leaking out here. If you see like dirt
and grime here, that’s a sign that your struts are leaking. I’m also gonna look
at the brakes the best I can through the wheel to check for how much brake
pad wear I have. I’m also gonna look for any torn seals for the ball joints – these
all look good. And of course under here I’m gonna look
for rust as well. You can see it’s starting a little bit on the corners of
the subframe – very very early, nothing to worry about. Check the exhaust and make
sure that there’s no no leaks. Of course I’m also checking for any missing or
misplaced fasteners and I’m looking for any signs of undercarriage damage as
well from running over stuff. I don’t see anything like that.
Alright that’s all there is to it. That’s what to look for when buying a
second-generation Mini Cooper. I’ll put a link in the description for the tools I
use for this video. Thanks for watching and bye bye. Also be sure to check out my
other videos where I show you how to fix the MINI you just bought!

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Looking to buy a 2nd generation MINI? Make sure you are getting what you think you are getting. This video shows what to look for when buying Gen 2 MINI Cooper. Avoid the common pitfalls and have more money left over for mods! Check out the other videos on my channel – fix your MINI, track your MINI.  

    Diagnostic scanner – Foxwell NT510 (Bidirectional, all modules, BMW/MINI only):

    Mod MINI's Tools:
    Gen 2 MINI Cooper Parts:
    Mod MINI Tip jar:

    Notice anything different about this video? Thanks to my friend John Prentice for special guest video camera / production work !! He works in television so it doesn't get any better than this. 

    See all the Mod MINI Videos on my channel: #modmini #modminiYouTube

    Music by
    Videography / editing by John Prentice

  2. Me walking into Mini's show room with a blue overall and white gloves ready to inspect after watching this video 😂

  3. I bought a Mini last year November, my first car. After a month, all the problems started popping up. I spent so much money trying to get it fixed up and it's still not 100%. Wish I had seen this video sooner

  4. Hello, First off I would like to say that I love you channel, Thank you so much for all the information and knowledge that you share with us. I have one question….in your opinion what is the best OBD2 Scanner(s) is/are for MINI Coopers? one that will reset automatic Transmission adaptation. I kinda like the one you showed in your channel Foxwell NT510 but not sure if it will do transmission adaptation reset. I have 2006 Mini cooper s convertible R52, and 2012 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 R60. I would really appreciate your input. Thank you so much

  5. Quick question, after checking and before driving wouldn't it be a good idea to check and wipe with ODB and after the test drive plug it back in and see re-occuring codes?

  6. How the h*** is anybody going to be able to check all that on every vehicle they go shopping for. With weird used car lots and shady salesman that might say hell no plugging in a diagnostic tool. Smh.

  7. I’m new to MINI’s, and there is so much love and hate for these cars that it’s a little overwhelming. Anyone’s input here would be greatly appreciated. I’m looking to purchase (next week) a one owner, dealer maintained 2013 Cooper, British Green, automatic transmission, panoramic roof, 63000 miles. The car is sharp looking. I haven’t driven it yet. Just curious about reliability and cost to maintain overall.

  8. So much for being optimistic it’s just cost us $5,000 + in repairs the warranty also tipped in $1000, the dealer $500 and mini $250 now she’s running smooth as a baby’s **m again. Grand total was $6282.82

  9. I wanted to get my first mini 2008 S but now I freaked out with the hole engine check and turbo ect ect would you recommend me to buy it it will be my first mini I know nothing about!!!!!

  10. 2009 Mini Cooper JCW. Built like the original. Tinker tinker, drive drive, tinker tinker drive.It is fun to drive to be sure. Tinkering is the same

  11. My 2011 R56 has been a magnet for issues! It has 131k miles on it currently and I plan on holding onto it at least until something real bad happens…like a broken timing chain, lol. 😅

  12. Feeding the myths about n14 engine supposed issues. My 2008 MCS has only had to have replaced the water pump. That was a few months ago. About 200€. In 11 years of (mildly hard) driving. BTW, n14´s were the last MINIs to have a stock LSD as a buying option. My BMW mechanic chuckles when I ask him about these supposed issues. Also happens in n18´s. Seems they just come from a bad maintenance. Not using the right oil, or not respecting maintenance times, for example. N18´s are obviously better engines, but don´t demonize n14´s, if correctly maintened they will be as reliable as the n18´s can be. Otherwise, nice video. will keep aware about rust on the other hand.

  13. I’m a girl planning to buy a mini and I’m more worried after watching this video, as helpful as it is, there seems to be so much to look out for. sigh 😰

  14. I have my eyes on an 09 jcw with 81000 miles. It appears to be well maintained with full service records. The timing chain job has been done and it recently had a new valve cover gasket and has had some coolant leaks repaired. That said I have seen horrible things about the n14 engines. If the large repairs are done, is it safe or should I just steer clear.

  15. If anyone is thinking about buying one of these cars, don't, they are truly terrible for reliability, not so mush the car, but the engine that got put in the mini is made by Peugeot, and is't the biggest pile of crap you will ever encounter. Good Luck. R56 JCW owner.

  16. Thank you for the great videos!

    I have a 2012 Mini Cooper JCW and I believe it’s the N14. Now I need a new engine, should I consider the N18 instead? Would it fit? Which other reliable mini engine would fit this car?

  17. I saw you the other day driving the grey mini on the road that's in your intro! I was walking down the side of the road smiling at you, haha I love minis. And that one sounded really good. Its the backroad on the way to Costco lol.

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