Buying a Mini

So I have been thinking about buying a Mini cooper S
Its a 2003 with 125,000Km (80,000miles) has service history
They are the second owners they got the car from the original owner with very low miles
owner spent around $3000AUD (2300USD) at the 100,000Km service.

similar to this

I have been lurking the Mini forums for info, but i would love to here some opinions from you guys,

If anyone has owned one I would love to hear from you. in terms of general maintenance costs and any other useful info.

80,000 miles is a good amount of miles. I hope you are getting a deal.

Also, Mini is BMW... and BMW are known for obscene expense in ownership after the warranty runs out. I'd pull a Doug DeMuro and get a full warranty.


Used to own one. Lot's of fun, felt very quick - especially on a cool morning, and could corner like it was on rails :-)

The engine in that model is supercharged, not a turbo and has no belts to worry about. Some of the earlier ones of that age were prone to problems with the powered steering, mine just used to be very nosy when turning the steering wheel but mechanically was good.

The biggest drawback was that with the 18" wheels and sports suspension you felt every bump and pot-hole in the road; not a car for someone with back problems. The car could also have a tendency to tramline if the road was worn - you could feel it pulling on the wheel every so slightly. I got rid of the run-flat tyres and stuck a can of inflation-goo in the boot. That helped massively but a change to the 17" wheels on the regular Cooper is an idea.

As the above quote - do not take it to a BMW Main Dealer, use decent independent garages only else you will pay alot even for simple work.

Mine only got sold when baby no 2 was coming, not much room for buggies etc. else I would still have it.

If I was to buy another of that age I would look for one that had the fully Chilli Pack and was purchased with the extended warranty BMW did for 5 years - it was really good (at least in the UK) and meant most of the more common niggles (steering pump) will probably have been fixed early in its life.

Still, you are buying a 13 year old car, so you might be lucky, or not...

If your current car is a Subaru, you might not be able to imagine how much maintenance is required on European cars.

In the shop every 500 miles would be unimaginable in a Subaru. However, in an European car, not out of the realm of possibility.

hmm, Yea i know thats what people say, but this car has they usual services every 10,000km but doesn't go to the mechanic very often. for other bits going wrong.

My mom drives a Mini Cooper S. Super fun car to drive, but it's probably been the worst vehicle I have ever seen someone own. There was a stretch of about 3 years where something with the computer or electronics would go tits up about every other month. Worst part was since it was stil under warranty then she had to take it into the BMW dealership to fix it cause she wasn't allowed to take it anywhere else or the warranty would be void, even oil changes had to be done there! Funniest thing that happened was that in the middle of the night the computer decided to power on into accessory mode and lower all the windows. Which of course as during a crazy rain storm.....anyways your choice.

thanks for the info

Oh also had to mention the turbo had to be replaced a few times. I also remember her saying tires where super expensive cause they are a special kind of tire with a bunch of fancy crap in them

I would be very careful about buying a mini Cooper. They generally have terrible reliability. Buy a cheap Japanese car. Cars are meant to be pleasant to own, not drive unfortunately. I'd choose reliability over performance any day of the week.

This is a r53, supercharged model.

I have owned my 04 MCS since 2007. Has been one HELL of a great car. I picked it up with 40sumthing thousand miles on the clock and it currently has almost 120k miles. The main issues I have had is; supercharger tensioner damper went out twice, crank vibration dampener, rear wheel bearings (I do a lot of towing....), front inner control arm bushings, coil pack and a set of tie rod ends.

But I was rather hard on it when I was in Germany for 3 years. Had a couple of outings to the nurburgring and such.

All in all its been a great car, but I do ALL the maintenance myself. which keeps cost down a ton.

Mini has placed a recall on the power steering pump (at least in the usa).

All the best.

Well allthough those Mini´s are realy cool looking lifestyle cars.
I do have to say that they are not the most reliable out there unfortunatly.
They are pretty expensive to maintain, and you realy should take care of it realy well.
Otherwise it will endup being a money pit.
The engine has some flaws especialy the THP turbo engine from psa.

Also don't get rear ended i was told they are not the best at taking rear impacts. Might not be the case, just something i heard.. from a cop.

I'm a classic car guy so I'd say buy a proper mini (I've owned 2 and love them). As far as reliability goes I don't know about the beamer minis but my e46 hasn't had anything go wrong. My wife's landy is a bloody pain but if you've got the time then just learn to do things yourself and you'll save a fortune and pick up skills along the way...

Workshop manuals can usually be obtained from the relevant forums. Start with a decent socket set and you're off to the races. Buy whatever makes you happy dude! Sure you might make friends with the recovery guys but if enjoy yourself then who cares. I'm always buying older cars and bikes and when they get past the point that I can be bothered then I sell them and get something else fun...


Price out some common components like starter, headlights, computer and such.

No problem, if you know the history then it sounds like a good buy.

The only real problem I had with mine was the guy who owned it first only serviced it when it said to on the dash. When he sold it to me it hadn't had an oil change in almost two years. I discovered that the oil filter had disintegrated and needed the engine flushed out. Not a massive issue and the car was good, I replaced the filters and oil every year after that regardless of mileage.

As for European cars I've not found them any worse than Japanese cars, I currently own a Pug 407 1.6 turbo diesel and a Mazda 3 Sport 2.0 - naturally aspirated petrol. The Mazda costs the most in maintenance & running costs and has had more issues - but it is not treated as sympathetically as the Pug.

Yeah I have also read in a number of places that Mini Coopers have some of the worst reliability ratings of any car on the market. As seen in Consumer Affairs. In all honesty I wouldn't recommend it.

My cousin have had one and it was a pretty fun car but he finally decided to sell it because was spending so much money to repair it and was a nightmare for him. I had a Mini Cooper newer than the one you posted but had lots of problems nonetheless. I don't know if the earlier models have less problems, but the newer my cousin had (2013 I guess) had a lot of them.

Yes and no. If you service your BMW at the dealership (after the warranty runs out), then it can get quite expensive - but this is true for any high-end make. That's why you have a trusted mechanic that knows what he/she is doing and charges reasonable hourly rate.

I know a few guys that own Subarus and not all of them are great. Impreza wrx has a "glass" transmission...STI is a different story.

Every Mitsubishi Evo owner I talked to moved from Subaru's due to their problems. The Subaru WRX and even STi is actually a very cheap car in Japan, they used to sell them for 12k-14k new! But in the EU,US they usually go for almost double price the special editions much more..

Talk Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi for Japanese reliability

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Probably run flats, they are generally more expensive than normal tyres.