What’s the Best Used MINI to Buy

What’s the Best Used MINI to Buy

Hello everybody thank you for tuning in to Mike MD’s. My name is Mike. And today we’re gonna be talking about what is the most reliable MINI to purchase, used. So today we’re not going to talk about the about the “original MINI” from 1961 in British Motor Corps but we’re gonna talk about the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation. Starting in 2000, built by BMW. So basically, we’re gonna go over the pro’s and con’s for all 3 generations. Starting with the first generation built in 2000 all the way to 2006. So on this MINI they came in an S and non S. The S is a supercharger, so that’s what’s different. It’s the same motor, they just bolted on a supercharger which gives you extra power. So the main things you want to watch out for on that car are, you don’t want to get an automatic with a non-S. So they had the special transmission called the CVT and you definitely want to stay away from those. Uhm, they had a high failure rate… There’s some people that go out there for uh many many miles without any issues Uhm, but working at the dealership we did see a high failure rate on those and they are astronomically expensive to replace uhm about for a new one it’s actually more than the worth of the vehicle in a lot of cases. So either you want to get a manual transmission or uhm if you get the S with an automatic it has a different transmission than that CVT. And it’s a lot more beefier, it’s a regular styled transmission. Now, there are a a lot of other wear and tear items that normally go wrong on these cars like window regulators, the mechanism that lifts the motor uhm bushings, brakes the typical things that actually go wrong on on all cars, a lot of European cars. Uhm, but this main thing I’m going to try and focus on is uh issues that we see that are uh very costly and can actually leave you stranded so then the next thing on the MINI is gonna be the they did have some throttle body issues… Uh they had it’ll actually leave you stranded right in the middle of the street and it would be hard to start again and a lot of times you won’t be able to start it. And you don’t know when it’s gonna happen. And a lot of times, it’s intermittent and sometimes it is hard to diagnose. Uhm, but it’s either gonna be a throttle body or the wiring harness or the engine control module. So those two things on those cars were the biggest issue that we saw as far as costly things. So the transmission, and also that throttle body issue. And many of them did have it there’s not really a way around it. Some people like I said they go uh 200- 300 thousand miles of not ever having an issue on those type of things. But those are just the things we saw that came up. Otherwise, they’re really good cars. Uhm, the non-convertible is also a lot more reliable just because you don’t you don’t have to deal with squeaks rattles. Uhm there’s a lot of body twisting in there… and also you get a lot of wind noise. And then, uhm the seals, they just shrink over time… and you get a lot of uhm water leaks too. So when you wash your own car or send it through and on those cars some of the water would run down the windshield and go into the back of the dash and mess a lot of things up. So there’s certain uh-things you want to watch out for if you do get one of those cars try to wash it by hand. Uhm, instead of taking it to an automated machine. Ok, for the second generation, is a 2006-2013. Those days they were really fun and they also had more power because they swapped out the supercharger for a turbo charger. So it’s just a different way of providing extra power to the, to the engine. And that was only on the S models. Now the big issues on those cars and it’s all over the internet, is oil starvation. So you’ll do an oil service right, at the dealer wherever you send it and by the time the oil service is due next time, which it shows, on the dash when it’s due… uhm, you actually run out of oil. And it won’t let you know because there’s no oil level sensor in the car. There’s an oil pressure sensor and usually by the time the oil pressure sensor comes on it’s too late. So you definitely wanna uh watch out for that. And things to look out for are any kind of rattling noises coming from the engine and always ask for service records uh if available, if you’re buying it from a private party. They also had an issue with some of the fuel systems including a high pressure fuel pump which there is an extended emissions warranty on a lot of those. It’s VIN number specific. Uhm, and also some of the cooling items. Specifically the water pump they’re made out of plastic for some reason. But they did update that later. And there is also the thermostat for the car they tend to leak quite a bit. So the water pump and the thermostat are 2 big leaking issues. But, like I said on both they actually extended the warranty on a lot of the VIN numbers on the car. So you might luck out and uh get a mailer in the mail once you purchase the car. And if you already had the uhm- the repair performed sometimes they will, BMW will reimburse you for that. Going back to the oil starvation issue on the cars… uhm there’s no oil level sensor on there to let you know you’re out of oil. So what happens is uh the damage that actually occurs is uhm the engine will jump timing. It’ll, it’ll start running rough, you’ll start hearing a rattle. But, there is a repair for that, uh another thing that you don’t notice right away which you’ll probably notice in the next 5-10 thousand miles is because that oil starvation it does cause irreversible damage to some of the components, not right away specifically the turbocharger. Just because the turbocharger it has oil galleys that lubricate the turbocharger and what it does is if it’s starved for oil it kinda overheats. And like I said a lot of times it doesn’t fail right away it’ll be later down the road. And that is also a pretty expensive repair. Overall, the cars are pretty good they do have a lot more power compared to the first generation. And uhm bonus on 2011, they actually updated the motor and they fixed a lot of those issues that the, that the previous cars had. so, uh including uhm they added variable valve timing or actually variable valve lift that which they call valvetronic. And basically what that does uhm what the issues is that it solved were it totally eliminated the carbon build-up issue that the cars have. It made a little more responsive a lot more smoother. Also, a lot more fuel-efficient. So, overall it’s a really good motor and I would actually shoot for that, so 2011 and newer on that. So the third generation MINI is from 2014 to present. And, its all BMW now. So the previous ones were all collaborations, mainly BMW. They use different motors from uh from different manufacturers. And, they’re both, the S and the non S are both turbocharged. So the non S is a 3 cylinder inline 3 cylinder motor, turbocharged. The S is an inline 4 cylinder motor, also turbocharged. And I haven’t seen a lot of too many issues on those yet, just because there’s still a lot of them out on the road with very little mileage and a lot of them still under warranty. But, like I said it’s all BMW now the motor’s BMW, everything is BMW. So you can probably expect the cost of repairs going up a little bit, just because of uhm parts and labor and uh things like that because it is all BMW. I would say it’s probably the equivalent of servicing a uh like a bottom line or a lower line model of a BMW. Possibly, like 3, BMW 3 series. Probably would be equivalent to the uh cost of servicing that car. So what it comes down to in what we see is across the board. Is basically is gonna to be these few things. Which you’re gonna be is stick with a manual transmission if you can. They’re a little more fun, unless you’re in a traffic-y area you can’t help it, or you have a young one. And or you just prefer an automatic, that’s fine. Just do not get that first generation CVT, which is only in the non S. Also, a non S in general is pretty reliable just because you don’t have that extra bolt-on things that help the motor have that additional power like the supercharger and the turbocharger. Those just sound like one item there’s a lot of other other items that are bolted on to make those systems work. And each one of those things that can fail and it’s extra, just extra things that cause potential hazard in the future and also if you can help it, stay away from the convertibles. Like I said, it just causes leaks, wind noise… the body isn’t as rigged so you get a lot more squeaks and rattle and feedback. It’s just my personal opinion what we see. The tops themselves, they’re pretty reliable as far as operation goes. Another one, is you wanna definitely stay away if you can help it uhm from any modifications. If you’re purchasing a used one, private party, try to stay away. And ask them, are there any modifications to this car? The reason being is because a lot of people do certain things that can actually lower the reliability of the vehicle. And then also, if they have those additional things you can bet they were driving the car a lot harder because they’re seeking that extra power in pushing the car to it’s limit. So obviously- so obviously, the car has been worked pretty good. So, my choice if I were to purchase a used MINI, I would personally get a second generation which is from 2011 to 2015, with that updated motor that we we’re talking about earlier. And S, the reason I’d get that S is because uhm you get the best of both worlds on that car. That motor is a lot more reliable than the previous one. And you get that extra power so it’s a really good balance trade off. As far as performance and reliability, I think that’s your best thing for your buck, if you can, if you can pull that. And as far as transmissions go on that one, you can go either automatic or manual they’re both actually pretty reliable. Generally, a manual transmission will always outlast the automatic, mechanically speaking. There are, there’s a service item in there called the clutch. Everyone’s heard that pretty much. And that’s a general across the board, on any other car. If it has a regular clutch it’s gonna need to be serviced, so that’s not a big deal. Alright guys, so I tried to keep this as simple as I could. Uhm, I’ve done a video like this on a BMW… it’s it was a little long (chuckle). And, it was -can get a little technical so I just try to keep it uhm easy for you, guys. I hope this really helps you guys out. Uhm, I’m going to make a link to the video of uhm “How to purchase a car like a PRO” So, hopefully that helps you out. And I really hope you enjoyed this and I appreciate you watching. And I’d really appreciate if you liked, and subscribed and shared. Thank you so much have a wonderful day and happy motoring to you.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Point is if you love to buy a mini go for the 2011 to 2013! If you have the paper go for a 2014 and up.

  2. Thanks👌I just traded my 79 RV for a 2002 Mini Cooper and so far so good. Great fun! Convertible and all.👍

  3. I've owned 2 R53's (First Generation S)
    The first one I had was a 2003 and I owned it for a year. Bought it with 178k miles and I put another 20k miles on it. The only problem I had with it was the alternator died.
    The one I currently own is a 2006. I bought it with 109k miles and I've put 3000 miles on it so far. Only thing I've had to do was the control arm bushings and a leaky injector seal.

  4. My dad had a 2005 cooper until mid 2017 with 170k then he got a 2015 jcw, I was going to get his 2005 but sadly it was too much money to repair. A friend of my dad's may be selling his cooper s 2005 with only about 18k miles so I'm really happy about that

  5. This is suuuuper helpful, as I’m getting ready to buy this dream car for myself. I appreciate it, thank you!!! 🙂

  6. So in short dnt buy a mini?? What about new ones 2018-2019 does it hve oil starvation problems?? And cvt problems too?

  7. Excuse me!!!! 🤯🤣I have a 2005 Convertible Mini Cooper and with the top up is really quiet, no rattles or noises at all. A great sports car!

  8. i would just like to add to his info – — 2015 and newer has the Aisin tf-72 6speed auto as compared to the 2014 and older (tf-60) .. which is a bit beefier .. and he doesn't mention it.. but the oil change interval for the engine neeeeeeds to be 3000 for the engines.. and draining /replacing 3 pints tranny fluid every 10000 miles.. the aisin tf-60 and 72 sheds a lot of clutch material which eventually trashes the bearings /pump/and valve body.. .. on the 3rd gen also the rear sway bar bushings are the culprit for suspension noises normally under 60k miles.. they are cheep.. and easy to replace yourself.

  9. Hi .. I have a question….. I have a mini 2007 S …. my Vehicle has the Premium Package …. how ever my Bluetooth and Voice don’t work .. it doesn’t Wrk!!! What Can be A issue !??? Could it be Electrical Issues

  10. The best mini to buy is NONE. I could write a novel on my POS 2007 R56 S type. It has 30K miles and it's complete crap. Two timing chain jobs and hasn't run well since. Now it won't even start. Crank crank crank…


  11. Hi Mike and thank you! So I'm looking to buy a used Mini 2016 and above. Do you not recommend that? In your video you said that you prefer the 2011-2015 2nd generation. Im just looking for reliability, and repair cost. Again thank you, you have the best video I've seen on this topic 🙂

  12. Bought a 2013 Mini Cooper five door manual Countryman from a friend and it’s a cool ‘big’ mini . 60,000 on the clock and drives beautifully. Some people knock it for being so big but, meh, I like it. It handles nicely, just like the smaller minis.

  13. Hi guys! I never owned a Mini but I was always a sympatizer of it expecially the Clubman. Now Im seriously considering about buying a Clubman JCW from 2011, 75.000km for around 10.000 €. What do you think guys about this engine since you are probably more informed about it. Thank you.

  14. Don't forget that the 2000 to 2004 Cooper and One had the Midlands 5 speed manual transmission, which had a press fit ring gear instead of a bolted one. It eventually slips and cannot be repaired. In 2005 they changed to the much better Getrag transmission, which used bolts. Also, the power steering pump in all of the first gen cars is a huge issue that can be very expensive to fix. My R50 came with a recent replacement, which set the prior owner back $1600! In fact, between 70 and 80k miles it had had over $4000 in repairs. I bought it with a bad clutch and noisy transmission at 83k miles for $1900.
    BTW, BMW will not sell you transmission parts nor do they have a service manual for the trans. They insist on selling you a complete new unit for north of $3000. There are parts available aftermarket, but no torque specs or instructions from BMW. I have my trans overhaul on my channel, but have to redo part of it because it has a noise and has to come back out. A service manual would have helped…

  15. Don't buy a used mini, they are fun to drive but very costly to repair and once off warranty "forgetaboutit"!!!

  16. Seems like it's hard to find a German car that doesn't live in the shop. Ain't nobody got time for that! There is nothing like a car you don't have to f * with!

  17. Fantastic video! Thank you so much for your well thought out, complete and easy to understand explanation.

  18. I own a 2007 coopers s r56. 85000 miles.. In the last three years i have replaced the ..thermostat housing..turbo oil feed pipe for a flexible braided one ..high pressure fuel pump..easy to do.. runs perfectly if you just keep an eye on the oil level.. a decoke and valve stem seals to do next….

  19. Hi
    I am a mini specialist and wanted to know if i could use this video on my website and i will link back to you so you can get more reviews.

  20. Thanks Mike, this is great. I own an MC40. It's a 2004 R53. Just went over 189,000 miles and still looks great and runs strong. It's hard top with manual trans. I do most of my maintenance. Keeping it going for many more miles to come and having fun. Your video is spot on, thanks.

  21. Thank you very much for the video! I am considering getting a Mini! And found out a lot of useful things 🙂

  22. 9:32

    so which model he was saying?

  23. Hey Mike! Quick question, if I hear some noise from what could be a suspension or motor mount issue and car is under warranty. I made couple of sound files to support my theory. Will MINI charge me diagnostics fee and they if issue is found, then I won't have to pay or MINI does't charge that fee at all?

  24. Picked up a 15 Paceman S manual transmission and it is the most fun car I've ever owned. Thanks for the tips!

  25. I love my Mini it was so much fun to drive but the engine blew up! I’m afraid to get a new one

  26. For as many of the first and second generation minis that were sold , I hardly ever see any one the road they must be sitting in the junk yard next to the new beetles of that time period. Both were pieces of junk. It a shame because they were nice looking cars and still are today but they are all collecting dust in some car graveyard along with Jaguars.

  27. “Cooper S has the same engine as a Cooper but with a supercharger bolted on” you say. Does this mean you can buy a normal cooper s,buy a sc,bolt it on and you have an S? Or will it be cheaper just to buy an S?

  28. Good call on the throttle body on the r53. It went on me but I was able to drive it back. The r53 can be a nightmare but if you know how to work on cars you should go for it.

  29. Every Mini is Best to buy If either you own an Auto Shop or someone else has to pay for the maintenance. Other than that these are JUNK cars. I have one 2013 with less than 60K on it , Dealer maintained but afraid to drive it on Hway for 2 hours.I spent almost equal to the cost of car after 6 years it is less than 1/6th of its purchase Price.

  30. What can you tell me about the rear main seal on the r53s? Mine seems to be leaking and don’t want to pull the trans since the clutch still seems good.

  31. Just rented a new mini for a week.

    I didn't like it.

    Underpowered, engine sometimes automatically cuts off at stoplights for emissions control and the radio sounds awful (too much base) and there is no way to adjust the settings.

    I had a higher opinion of these cars before I drove one.

    I liked my Honda civic better.

  32. Hi Mike. Great video! I'm shopping for my daughters first car and it seems like 09 thru 11 are in our range. I had no idea the difference in engines starting in '11. Thanks!

  33. Why do Americans talk far too much when making videos ??, its not just cars but all the stuff i like to check out, my goodness still talking ,, come on guys ,,, alan Scotland

  34. Well done Mike…Oil starvation resulted in timing chain failures….absence of oil in crank case resulted in plastic timing chain parts melting wearing down as the oil there is also means to cool / lube those parts….that said, all 2nd Gen "S" owners with N14 engine needs to check oil level / top off every 3rd gas fillup….would also consider changing engine oil every 5k miles. 2nd Gen N18 better engine w/updated valve cover / vac routing.

  35. I had a 2014 f56 mini cooper auto and put around 80000 miles on it without fault and still drove like the day I first got it

  36. you say if it has high mileage not to touch the transmission and hope for the best. What would you consider high ? Thanks for the video by the way, very informative to watch.

  37. Scotty Kilmer advice not to own this type of vehicle they have a lot of issue.with the wire harness..! wire to thin.!.Parts/ labor are very expensive..money pit vehicle..! Resale value is very low

  38. I have a 2013 R56 JCW and it's an awesome car. Very, very happy with it. Any potential performance Mini owner, I'd advise changing the oil for frequently that the manufacturer recommend. I change my oil (fully synthetic) every 12 months/5,000 miles.

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