The Mini or Mini Cooper (stylized as MINI on emblems) made its debut in 1959 in Britain. It was initially manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) until 1994 when BMW acquired the brand. Even after BMW took over production and began featuring traditional BMW characteristics, it remained an icon of the 1960s. Some car enthusiasts consider the Mini Cooper to be the British equivalent of the German-made Volkswagen Beetle.
The Mini Cooper after BMW
In July 2001, BMW relaunched the Mini Cooper with somewhat of a face-lift; Mini’s next generation featured the hatchback and the hardtop. Over the years, BMW added several model trims totaling 16 in 2020. Besides offering a four-door model, there is a convertible model and a few models with a 301 horsepower turbo engine.
The earlier millennium Mini Coopers were received with a lot of fanfare. However, as the first generation of Mini Coopers began to age, owners started reporting several common issues. Those who stayed on top of these issues have been able to prevent certain issues from getting out of control. But for those who failed to address these problems promptly, repairs have proven expensive.
Water pooling on the floorboard
At around 48,000 miles (77,248.51 km) or so, owners complained that water would pool on the floorboard, shorting out the cable harness. A cable harness is an assembly of electric wires and cables responsible for signal transmission. Depending on the model year and severity of the problem, a replacement cable harness can run between $550 to $700. According to carcomplaints.com, most complaints involve the 2002 Mini Cooper and costs around $4,000 to repair.
Since the cable harness is located in a compartment underneath the floorboard, water pooling can be problematic. One of the complaints stated that the dealership insisted that the entire electrical system needed replacing, costing them $4,000. In addition to that, the owner alleged the technicians claimed the only way water could have entered the vehicle was by leaving a window open. Thus, she was forced to flip the bill for the repairs.
Another owner had similar problems and wound up paying the same amount for repairs. He added that, while the Mini Cooper is a blast to drive, the electrical system is too complicated. Eventually, he opted to purchase a totally different vehicle rather than lose any more money fixing his Mini Cooper problems.
Loss of power steering
In April 2020, it was reported that a class-action lawsuit was filed against BMW for “a sudden and unexpected loss of power steering, potentially resulting in a crash causing property damage or personal injury and/or (b) component smoldering, potentially resulting in vehicle fires.” This shows exactly how dangerous it can be for the power steering to stop working while driving.
The class-action lawsuit involves 2002 through 2006 Mini Cooper or Mini Cooper S and 2005 through 2008 Mini Cooper Convertible or Mini Cooper S Convertible. Furthermore, the report states that BMW hadn’t initiated a recall for the above-listed models even after knowing the issue. Nonetheless, BMW had written to owners and leasees in the United States concerning the issue in March 2016. The class action was filed in Canada and covered approximately 16,600 vehicles.
At around 113,000 miles (181,855.87 km), owners reported transmission failure. While most complaints involved the 2005 Mini Cooper, other models have been affected. According to carcomplaints.com, the severity level of this issue is “really awful.”
Among some complaints, people have said the transmission sounds like something is scraping inside. This scraping sound occurs when the driver accelerates. Another owner wrote that they spent $4,900 on a used transmission.
Before replacing the transmission, they spent $3,000 trying to fix it. He also pointed out that three class-action lawsuits had been filed against BMW between 2005 and 2008. Lastly, the 2005 through 2007 model years seem to have the most complaints. So, if you’re thinking about buying a Mini, it’s best to find a model built before BMW took over.