Tell me about your Mini Cooper

Anyone have a Mini Cooper? We are looking at getting one for my husband, who has an hour commute each way to work now that he’s moved in with me. Anyone have one and care to share your experiences and opinions on the car?


Ooooh, Lillith Fair can comment on this one…she has a Mini she has a love/hate relationship with. I’ll let her know about this thread. She mostly loves hers, and I enjoy riding in it, even if she won’t use my idea for her vanity plate. Until she can get in here and comment, I have only 5 words of warning about the car: Don’t drive through deep puddles.

When I saw a Mini Cooper I had to have one. I wasn’t even shopping for a car. I kind of wanted a Beetle before that, but had done nothing towards getting one except entering contests.

So we bought a 2003 Mini Cooper regular (not the sport version) in British Racing Green.

I love my car and am not sorry I bought it, but here are the problems I had:

  1. As Kittenblue mentioned, I drowned the car and had to get a new engine. There had been a huge storm and most of it had been located in this one area, which I didn’t realize. I was driving through there to get some Chipotle for my family’s dinner. Suddenly I was on this street with lots of water. I didn’t know how to react properly, which was turn around, I guess. Or stay still. Or drive very very slowly. I kind of went slower than normal, but not slowly enough. Water went into the air intake. When I got out of the car the water was up to my ankles. It wasn’t up to the bottom of the car. But water had been splashing from SUVs and cars like that.

I was crucified on a Mini Cooper owners’ website. It was kind of weird because most of these people wave to each other and are otherwise fun people. But they hated me because I thought my car should have been able to handle the water. I ended up removing myself from that website because they were so mean to me. But I guess that was my fault because I was coming across kind of flip–you know the way you can on emails because people can’t hear your tone of voice.

  1. I have had the motor for the automatic window replaced on the driver’s side twice. The passenger side window won’t work intermittently. I believe this is a problem that has been corrected in future models.

  2. The hatchback had trouble clicking in. I had to complain about this many times before they actually fixed it.

  3. It takes forever for the car to get cool with the air conditioning. I think this is odd considering the size. However, I have told them and they say nothing is wrong. It makes a lot of blowing noise and it seems to me that something is blocking the air. Not sure about that yet.

  4. At one point I could only go in reverse–the shift cable or something broke. Don’t know if that is normal.

Anyway, I still love the car and am glad I got it. The front does not seem like you are in a small tiny car. Up until recently I thought that the back seat was tiny, too, but my daughter recently told me that she has plenty of room back there. (age 19, 5’7") She said she had much less room in the back seat of her friend’s VW Jetta.

The Mini dealer is the same as the BMW dealer–but not the close by one. It is over an hour away. I have to go that far for service. It was implied that after 2-3 years other BMW dealers would begin doing repairs on Mini Coopers. So far this has not happened. I am even seeing more and more Minis on this side of town, so it would seem that there should be repairs on this side of town, too. I need to write a letter about that!

All in all, I am still glad I bought it and I would buy it again, but I might get a more fun color. The color was chosen because of my cautious husband.

I will answer more questions!


My co-worker just dumped his because it needed new brakes and it was going to cost $1000. Something about them having a different kind of rotor than most cars?

Some specific questions:

  1. The Mini website says it gets 35/40 MPG. Is that accurate? We’d be getting a standard.

  2. Do you have to have it serviced at a Mini dealer? Or a BMW dealer?

  3. Does it ride well in the snow? Does it feel like a safe car overall?

  1. Maybe, but probably not. My 2005 averages bout 25-28 mpg. It is an S and I don’t drive exclusively highway/city enough to separate those out. New models are supposed to get a bit better mileage.

  2. Yes, if you want the free service. I just got my 30,000 miles service, which included getting new front brakes, oil, a door fix, and rebuilt my water pump, plus replaced a hubcap I’d somehow lost. Cost to me was $0. They do only change the synthetic oil at 15,000 mile intervals, so you might want to do it at half that at least if you plan to keep the car for a while.

  3. Not much snow in Florida, but I’d imagine it’s similar to other smaller cars in snow. Overall it feels mostly safe, in that I can get out of situations with speed and manueverability, however you will have to watch for others folks, particularly SUVs and large trucks that seem to think you don’t exist. Make sure not to ride in blind spots, etc. Similar to a motorcycle in that regard.

How old was his car? Brakes are under their umbrella maintenance package, and I think there is at least one dealer in Orlando. I know my tires are expensive, especially at the dealer, but I am getting newer tires at a small shop near my current office at about half the dealer price.

His mini was only a couple of years old. I think they were trying to rip him off, myself, but he needed a family car anyway, and was tired of the mini because of the size and the lack of local maintenance/repair facilities.

You can go through a BMW dealer, though, right? You don’t have to go to an authorized Mini dealer for warranty work, I hope, because the closest Mini dealer to my house is 3+ hours away. The nearest BMW dealer is much closer.

Not sure, I’d check with them. My closest Mini dealer is also a BMW dealer (I’m sure that all or most are) and is about 15-20 minutes from my house. But I bought my Mini from a dealer in Miami, a good 5-6 hours away, if that counts.

My daughter has a Mini, and she loves it. There is no problem with the AC or any of the windows. The dealership is far away (close to my husband’s work), but they have been great to us. I love the way it handles the road–it’s fun to drive. I had to swallow hard when I found out it had to have premium gas, but she does well with the MPG (about 30, she’s a leadfoot), so it evens out.
When I finally kill my Volvo station wagon, I’m getting a Mini. After driving 2 different minivans, 2 station wagons and a sedan-I’m ready for a fun ride.

My friend is so happy with hers that her husband got one too. It’s roomy and economical (according to her) and cute as a bug’s ear. I would love to have one.

So far I HAVE HAD TO GO TO THE MINI DEALER, which is also a BMW dealer, for all work on the car. If you have to drive 3 hours, I would double-check on that. Like I said in my first post, they SAID that BMW would be doing repairs on Minis, but to my knowledge that hasn’t happened yet.

You do need to go to the dealer for your repairs and stuff to keep in the warranty and to get them to do the free stuff.

The two replacements of the window motors were made free of charge. I bought the full extended warranty for some unknown reason, but that has worked out for me.

I get @ 30 mpg with a stick-shift, regular Mini. Sometimes I really wish I had that 6th gear and wish I had gotten an S, but my husband didn’t want to spend that much money. There were also more color choices with the S…

I felt very safe in the snow. No problems there. I had to get use to anti-lock brakes because I had never had them before.

As for SUVs and such seeing you, once a Hummer almost creamed me in my Toyota Camry station wagon. Let’s face it, they don’t see anybody unless they really want to.

The Mini was a second car for us–after going 22 years with only owning one car at a time. We only have the one child and she was already in high school so we weren’t carting around children and stuff.

Also, you get free Mini roadside service for a good long while. (Sorry I don’t remember how long). It is really a subcontract with AAA, but you call this Mini number. After that time period passes you have to have your own AAA service or whatever service you have. I keep planning to add the extra miles to my AAA plan (silver or something?) so that if I need a tow it will be taken to the Mini dealer.

Once my steering went out. The tow truck driver said they could fix it, so I let him tow it to his place. The next day they said the fixed it but strangely they did not charge me a thing. Then, a couple of days later, the steering went out again so I had it towed to the dealer where they fixed it for free because of the warranty.

I have had my MNIN Cooper S for about a year (will be a year next month) and I love it. I have the six-speed manual transmission and it is so much fun to drive. The car is very nimble and has lots of power. It feels really solid and safe and I have not had any more problems with people not seeing me than I had in my Dubaru Forrester (small-ish SUV).

There have been a couple of downsides though.

I bought the extended warranty partly because the run-flat tires are expensive to replace. When I bought the warranty I was told that I would get a loaner when I brought my car in for service and repair but several times since then I have been told that MINI does not have a loaner program. All they have is a van which is not even managed by them to run you to your destination (i.e. work) and pick you up later. This may be unique to this dealership, so you will want to double check on that.

As was mentioned above, the AC is not the best. It never gets as cold as my wife’s car, even when I have it turned all the way up. The air will be blowing out pretty hard, but it is not icy cold like I would want. We also have a problem with one of the air-vents, but when I took it in to the dealership they could not find the problem. I think the problem is that the vent does not open all the way when I turn the dial so I have to poke it open with something. It is on the passenger side, though, so it does not bother me too much.

THe MINI, especially the S, is supposed to take Premium gas. I have read threads debating the merits of this and I have not been able to form a solid opinion. I usually get about 29-30 mpg, which is ok, but I am a bit of a leadfoot too.

The back seat and he boot are not very big. I have ridden in the back seat (not for a great length of time) and I have had two adult passengers in the back too. As for the trunk, we take my car on Costco runs and manage to fit everything in. I think you just learn to adapt to the smaller trunk.

Overall I love my car. I have a Union Jack on the roof which was one of the standard options and it totally rocks. Once you get in to it, there are loads of sites selling everything from graphics (like stuff for the roof, bonnet, trunk, doors, etc) to upgrades for the engine, transmission, interior, the list goes on. It can become an obsession.