Mini R56 (Second Gen, 2006-2015) 

Who does not like the Mini? It is cute, it is fun, it drives and handles like a sports car, and it is frugal to boot. BMW developed and made it, but even the engineering wizards from Munich can make mistakes. Which can turn your pride and joy into a headache. We have put together a list of some of the most common Mini Cooper repairs owners can encounter and our recommendations on how to avoid or address them preventatively.

1. Misfire due to ignition coils or spark plugs

You notice them as lurches during hard acceleration, that eventually trigger the Check Engine light in the dash.  The spark plugs went ‘kaput’ and should be replaced ASAP. If neglected, (the cheap) spark plugs destroy much more expensive ignition coils. Still, a relatively inexpensive problem with a quick fix. 

2. Coolant loss or leak 

This is caused by a crack in the plastic thermostat housing. Simply because plastics, cycling low/high temps and pressure never coexist happily. It should be replaced ASAP to avoid catastrophic failure and massive coolant loss that will overheat (and possibly damage) the engine. A bit more favorable development is the thermostat getting stuck open. The engine then runs cold (bad) and you lose the heater. Check Engine light will be ON as well.

3. All kinds of oil leaks 

Like other German cars, Mini is a glutton for punishment when it comes to making your driveway look yacky. Here’s a list of the most common causes: 

Cam cover. Oil filter housing. Vacuum pump. Oil supply line for the turbo (Cooper S only). 

Each remedy is priced depending on the complexity of the repair. While swapping the cam cover gasket is cheap(-ish), the filter housing will require partial engine/exhaust disassembly and the car’s front clip to be detached into service position – it is many hours of tedious labor and thus will cost a lot.

4. The engine ‘death rattle’ 

It is a common trouble for cars that are past 100,000 kms. It announces itself via metallic rattling sound from the engine during the first few seconds after the engine starts. The cause is excessive stretching of the timing chain, timing chain tensioner failure or fractured timing chain guides. Left unattended, the chain will ‘jump’ the sprocket teeth causing Engine to lose power and vibrate. If you are less lucky, the flapping chain destroys the top guide and punches a hole in the cam cover. As a comfort, bent valves are not very common with this failure. 

This is one of the most important things to check when buying a used Mini.

5. AC drive belt failure 

It may start delaminating and lose its grooved core. This will cause horrendous racket from the belt tensioner. It’s kind of close to a conrod failure sound and may scare you witless. Thankfully the repair bill will put a smile on your face.

6. Valve seals degradation 

They are made from rubber that dries and becomes stiff and brittle with age. Happens by 120,000-150,000 kms and is manifested by oil consumption and (if neglected) smoking from exhaust. It is highly recommended to replace them when/if you replace the timing chain or its guides.

7. Front wheel bearings noise 

Hard suspension and low-profile tires of the Mini allow too much stress from bumps and potholes to reach the wheel bearings. If punched too hard for too long, they start audibly complaining and whining. If neglected, the wheel may start wobbling or even detach from the car. Replacement is relatively easy and not too expensive.

8. High pressure fuel pump on Cooper S 

It starts with the engine stumble during hard acceleration. Then the problem develops into a cold non-start, because the pump cannot supply enough fuel. Unfortunately, the replacement cost of the pump is very high. 

9. Rear sway bar links and bushings 

Knocks and noises in the rear. If neglected, handling will eventually suffer. Replacement is easy and inexpensive.

10. Exhaust system flex pipe failure 

The flex pipe looks like your vacuum cleaner hose and allows the engine to move in relation to the exhaust. Eventually it fails and breaks, creating lots of raw exhaust noise and smell. BMW recommends replacing the complete exhaust system (prohibitively expensive). But we only weld in the flex pipe piece. 
Many of the above problems can be traced to owners’ neglect or to low quality repair work. Preventative maintenance using quality parts and performed by a skillful technician is the key to avoiding all the above pains and related losses.  

We at AutoGermany have been specializing in Mini Cooper and BMW vehicles for many years. We will be glad to have you and your Mini at our shop so that you can enjoy this wonderful car for many more miles. 


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