The CVT Revisited – A Full Review

After my initial post about my CVT loaner experience I got several emails saying that I obviously had a MINI with old software and the dreaded CVT stumble (that seems to have been fixed by the current software). Knowing the stumble was an issue that had been supposedly solved on the CVT I tried to not hold that against the car and do a review purely from the perspective of a diehard manual driver. It is worth noting that once the weather cooled down below 90F the stumble seemed to pretty much go away entirely.

As you'd expect from someone who drives manuals on a daily basis my initial thought of having to live with an automatic for up to a week wasn't appealing. That being said I'm happy to report that after almost a week with the car many of my initial impressions have been changed about the CVT.

The one thing that did take some getting used to was the slight pause when you first get on the gas from a stop. It seems that when you hit the gas the computer takes a split second and considers the most appropriate response. However once the decision made and the car is underway it's incredibly smooth. This very slight pause coupled with the fact that the car would seem to hold a gear ratio for a split second once I let off the gas gave me the impression (no matter how incorrect) that there was a rubber band at work somewhere in there – something that once I got used to was very endearing. This also allows more engine braking than you would typically get in an automatic – a good thing in my book.

In passing situations I typically had to plan ahead in terms of acceleration as it seemed as though the CVT needed to “spool” up to get me the power that I needed. However once it did the car had more adequate passing power. Of course all this heavy foot driving was done in SD mode. SD (sport drive) seemed to allow for higher revs and thus more power output throughout the range. I found the fastest acceleration was achieved in this mode by holding the pedal down just enough to not activate any downshifts and then “squeezing” it down. The SD mode also seemed to further enhance the engine braking that again seems to be somewhat inherent with the CVT.

Using the “manumatic” mode took some time to get used to as it seems to in all cars with this option. It's a little odd at first to have to glance down at the center speedometer to see what gear you're using. In fact more than once I made shifts that, to say the least, were inappropriate. Yet after several days manual shifting was fast becoming second nature.

Highway driving was very comfortable as the CVT was able to cruise at 70mph while running lower RPMs than the standard 5-speed Cooper. Of course daily commuting was much more laid back as I was able to simply “point and shoot” where typically I am much more actively involved.

In general the CVT was very impressive with it's inherent smooth operation and great day to day drivability. While I can certainly see how the CVT could be invaluable to many people, personally was I was itching to get back to my manual after 4-5 days. Nonetheless It's a fantastic option for those in the city or who have long daily commutes.

  • If any CVT owners feel that I left something out or disagree with the review in any way feel free to post below. This review was based on a week and almost 700 miles in the car.

  • Lee Johnson

    I recently had the opportunity to drive a dealer demo CVT for an hour and a half. My usual drive is an ‘03 MCS, but I was pleased by how much I liked the CVT Cooper. Automatics have their places and if I commuted in a city I'd certainly consider the CVT MINI: The car was peppy, fun to drive in it's own odd way and a lot easier in mid-city traffic than is the MCS.

    I think I'll keep my MCS, though; I chose the MINI partly because of how it shines on the tight mountain roads of western N.C., and the CVT gives away just a bit too much of that pleasure for my taste. But I'm glad that you, too, enjoyed your experience, Gabe, and hope that the CVT will get the credit it deserves.

  • Engine braking = good Engine breaking = bad


  • Frank

    I think your review is pretty fair and accurate. The Cooper CVT is a wonderful machine but one of the most misunderstood cars in the entire lineup as well. People either skip it or form misconceptions about just because it is perceived as yet another run-of-the-mill “Automatic” and yet this car is a technological jewel on its own right.

    After having own many cars with manual transmissions and hydraulically operated 4-speed slushboxes, the CVT is in a higher plane of driving enjoyment.

    The ZF sourced CVT appears to be a pretty sturdy transmission and at nearly 14K miles I haven't had any problems with its usual smooth operation.

    Believe it or not, the Cooper CVT requires as much driving skill as driving the Cooper 5 speed or the MCS.

    I am glad to own the Cooper CVT.

  • Doh – thanks Sean. It's now fixed 🙂

  • Technomage

    My CVT was Lemoned for transmission problems so I am biased, but I am glad to be rid of that transmision and Love the 6 speed Gertag Transmission on my new S.

  • Victoria

    I love my CVT and was delighted that your review pretty much matches my experience. Glad to hear it's a boon on the road trip, as well as the long haul commute–I'd been doing a 65 mi round trip daily, but this weekend is our first real trip: Chicago to KC and back in two days. Should be a blast!

  • cjay

    My CVT has paddles, don't know if the US is getting them… they are great! The changes appear to be quicker and its a much better way to drive in steptronic mode. I had an earlier build CVT and it was much slower to get going.

    You may want to try a recent build CVT they are much improved. I even surprised a Cooper S at the lights by keeping up with him… well for a short distance 🙂

  • Vanwall

    33,000 and still going. I don't want to jinx myself too much, 😉 but many of the problems that have surfaced seem to be software, rather than hardware. I rarely have to worry about the stoplite grand prix. You know, if you shift manually all the way thru the gears onto the freeway, and shift to “Drive”, it's seven shifts. Cool! Even if it's more of an overdrive. 😉

     Rob in Dago

  • I drive a CVT in hour hour plus commute, I woudl have bought the S had I ntop live anywhere but where I do now, However that being said I LOVE the CVT except for the aformention pause, I want to press the peddle, and fly,if I had that Ioutmy mini cvt again, of course everyone has problem with the low end on the entire lineup of mini anyway. Oh to comment on the post abtou havign paddles, that is awesome, I wish my car had a set.. i wonder if I bought a steerign whell form australiam and stuck it on my car if the paddle woudl work..?! hmm thign sto look into..

  • Ken Ellingson


    I appreciated your review, and other's comments on the CVT. I also chose the CVT for city driving. It's durability is the one question mark I have about my MINI. I'm still looking for data about the INSIDE of the tranny. Any body seen any good technical articles about this? Ken E

  • Anton La Vin

    I have been driving a CVT Cooper for 50,000 plus klms over the last year and a half. Recently the dealer loaned me a Cooper S overnight whilst my Cooper was being serviced. It felt downright pre-historic to go back to changing gears after having experienced the CVT and its unique ability to allow the driver to regulate revolution level with the throttle. Yes, the smooth power delivery of the S was great, but overall my Cooper feels much lighter on the controls and is, for me anyway, much more fun and easier to drive on a day to day basis. Why not a CVT Cooper S? If Audi can put a steptronic type transmission in the TT surely BMW can produce a CVT that could handle the extra power?

  • John Ewald

    The MINI CVT-equipped cars (Cooper, One) are more capable road and track machines than most people realize.

    The sensation of turbine-smooth acceleration, with the motor held steady at maximum torque, is unique and exciting. We're making progress on understanding the technology and techniques to drive it well.

    Once people realize there's a story in the “little MINI” at track day events, there's always a line of those wanting to ride with me.

    As with all MINIs: “Fun!”

  • Clive Allen

    I bought my wife a CVT Mini and she just loves it. I had a Mini (when I was young and single a 1963) and have always dreamed about those days driving it. Anyway my wife's Mini I find that the brakes shed dust onto the wheel rims and, I have not seen much reported about this.? Is there anything that can be done about this.? Secondly referring to my younger days I still would only drive a manual gear shift… Minis for ever……

  • K Yeung

    I just bought my new Mini Cooper with the CVT Automatic Transmission. What I like about it is the smooth shifting from stop to highway speeds however, I find the transmission to be very slow in getting to speed. Also I hesitate when I put the transmission into reverse as it does not move until the gas is pressed. Then all of a sudden, a jerk is felt like popping the clutch on a manual transmission. It takes some time to get use to it. The sport mode is great but I found the best power I get is around 5000rpm which is only 1000rpm away from red line. While using the paddles, I need to shift up very quickly which really defeats the purpose of the maual mode. Maybe because I am used to the Honda Tiptronic. I also like to comment to Clive Allen about the brake dust on the wheels. BMW (Makers for the Mini Cooper) are notorious for the brake dust on the wheels. The only way to eliminate that is to get Carbon Metallic Pads. Unfortunately the Mini and BMW has brake wear sensors the requires you to get the original brake pads. I suggest you wash off the brake dust often to prevent corroding the wheels.

  • Scott

    The CVT also has an adaptive feature, so it 'learns' your driving style over time. Mine has 'learned' that I have a heavy foot and, as a result, feels much faster than when I first got it.

    I live and work in a large city and didn't like the constant shifting of gears with a manual. Once I got used to the quirks of the CVT, I really like it. I don't miss my 5-speed at all.

  • Dr. Len Vinci

    Thanks for your input on the CVT transmissions. I would just like to tell you my experiences with my '02 Audi A6 3.0. Over the last 2 years I have had several near accidents because of this “hesitation” you speak of in your message. On one occasion, turning across oncoming traffic the engine actually died when I tried to accellerate! Other times, trying to merge into traffic there is a “dead” spot where nothing happens for a few seconds, which forces one to step down harder making the car lurch forward when it finally decides to go! Would appreciate if you could advise of any other similar events. Thank You!

    Len Vinci

  • rob

    I recently purchased a CVT with about 44k and it runs great. I noticed the brake dust but other than that everything seems to be working fine. I was told that the front ends on the CVT are a weak point in the car and living in Boston with all the potholes thats my only worry has anyone else heard this or had problems?

  • well. I have a CVT and my wife uses it every day to commute to work, I drive around long island with it.. and have taken all kinds of back roads.. not an ounce of problems..

    best time was on one of my trips up Mt Washington in NH. (no.. not on MOT.. we’ve been going to the whites for 17 years.. twice a year… I’ve driven up Mt Wash on at least 10 different occasions.. EXCEPT with my Saturn SL2 which they would NOT allow since it has almost no engine breaking.. and does not have a 1st gear lockout on it’s auto.. ok.. sorry.. back to the cooper…

    driving up is always easy the trick is coming down.. usually pulling out.. letting the breaks cool.. etc…

    last time.. I shifted the CVT to steptronic.. and left it in 1st.. and just let the car come down.. no breaking.. the car came down better than anything I’ve driven up the mountain.. not a stop.. not a problem.. just fantastic!!

    (and I’ve taken this car on roads an SUV would cringe at.. ie: Sandwhich Notch Road)
    all in all.. since I also have a problem with my left leg.. (knee injury) I use an auto.. the CVT is by far the best auto I’ve ever used!!

  • J

    I bought a new Mini Cooper in Feb 2005. My mini has acceleration problems. It doesn’t have smooth acceleration but bumps and lurches until it hits 25 mph. I also have the problem of it lurching when trying to back up. I use the correct gas but the dealership indicated there is nothing they can do. Does anyone else have this type of problem?

  • ska

    I got a 2006 Cooper S with CVT in Oct 2005. Still getting used to the CVT. It is getting better as it “learns” my heavy footedness. There is the occassional “lurching” at speeds below 25 mph, but that is, IMHO, because I took it down a “non-conventional” gear shift pattern. Blast to drive nonetheless, I like it better (I am lazy) than the paddle shift mode which is only marginally more responsive than the CVT. Have already driven with a passenger load of 5 people and another one with my two 80 lbs + dogs. Have Goodyear Eagle RS-A 17″ s-lites on the car — they’re okay. But am preparing for our North Eastern winter by getting 4 Dunlop M3 DSSTs which I’ve heard good things about. We’ll see.


  • David Stacey

    Yes I have a jumpy Mini One CVT. No problem over 15 mph, but often very nervy below, especially when slowing down because of slow moving traffic. The dealer is going to recalibrate the transmission next week, but the mechanic warned, “This is not the smoothest automatic”.

  • Besites confort, the main advantage of the CVT is that the engie will operate on it’s optimum points, either for performance, fuel economy or for reduced greenhouse emissions. If you are interested in this emerging technology why not visit the CVT – Continuously Variable Transmission Reference Guide?

  • Chris

    Interesting info on the cvt. I bought a 2003 Mini with cvt and runflat tires and a few other extras. I commute across Los Angeles daily on surface streets in slow stop and go traffic. I find that the SD cvt mode is much better than the automatic mode for this type of driving. There is more pickup and more control in lower speeds in cvt; while if I am driving on the freeway, I usually drive in automatic because of the kickdown feature for passing. The automatic mode drives easier and rests comfortably at 70 or 80 mph on the freeway and kickdown (floor that sucker) is a blast when you need to pass another car.

    While the “lurch” factor has virtually disappeared over time while driving forward (I don’t know if that’s because of an adjustment to the software or the car learned how I drive), I still experience it when in reverse. I have a dent in the rear driver’s side bumper to prove that point, as well as the fact that there seems to be a real blind spot directly behind the driver’s side, and I think the $1,000 the dealership wants to replace the bumper is a real good argument for installing a rear sensor.

  • TM

    I’m so glad to have discovered this site. I have loved the Mini’s since I first spotted one several years ago, and couldn’t wait for my last lease to come up so I could get my hands on one. I finally did this past May; a 2005 Cooper (not S) Convertible with the CVT.

    I couldn’t be more disappointed in this car! Aside from it’s physical appearance (and the fact that the convertible was fun in the summer, but I’m sure all convertibles are fun in the summer) I’m finding it hard to believe that people are clamoring to get this car so desperately, that some on the west coast are even paying “above cost” (according to the dealership where I got it). What am I missing? This is the worst-driving car I’ve ever had. Somebody mentioned in one of the above posts about their Audi, that they have had several close calls with accidents because of the way it hesitates and lurches, and that’s how I feel driving mine. It’s fine on the highway, but is terrible in stop-and-go city traffic, and often feels unsafe because it is so unpredictable. I feel like I’m driving a 2005 beater! I’ve had it in for service twice so far; first time they said it was normal for the CVT to do that, but after driving it, the advisor thought it was lurching and sputtering more than it should, so they replaced some sort of control unit. It was fine for two days and then the lurching started up again. Brought it back a week later and they said “can’t duplicate the problem”. In other words, “Sorry, nothing we can do, you’re stuck with it.” Cuteness only goes so far. This CVT is something new to me, and personally, not impressed. 🙁

  • Judy


    I have been reading the comments and also have the same concerns about the ‘lurching’ effect at speeds around 20 mph and in reversing on my new automatic CVT 2005 Mini. My neighbors also noted the lurching effect whenever I left home. I took it back to the dealer after almost hitting my husband when the car suddenly lurched backwards. The service dept. indicated it was my driving style. They also said it was the gas I was using even though I used 92 premium gas. They indicated they were going to charge me for trying to fix whatever I was doing wrong. In the end whatever they did has miminized the ‘lurching effect’ but now the gas mileage is only 21.5 dropping from 25.3. Don’ t understand that. All in all, I would probably not buy a Mini again because of the problems at low speeds and the low gas mileage.


  • Duncan

    To – TM. Dec 1st,2005 regarding CVT hesitation and problems I would like to communicate with you relating to my similar problem, also would welcome any others who have the same situation with the CVT.

  • miniPeter

    Not seen on this site the problem I am having with the CVT. While decelerating from 70-50 mph the rev counter goes from 3000 rpm to 4200 rpm. Above 70 mph and below 50 mph it is fine – Mini dealer tells me the only thing he can do is reset the adaptive value.

    Has anyone heard abouth this?

  • I won a 2006 MINI from I love this car! I noticed the lurching at low speeds, but it usually rolls in reverse, albeit a little slowly. It seems to be learning and doesn’t lurch as much any more, although it will lurch occasionally. I dunno why the back seats even exist, as there is NO leg room if a taller person sits up front (the front seat is right back against the back seat). I still haven’t played much with the Sport mode driving, so if anyone can explain it to me – how it works and how to use it – that would be great (mine’s an automatic). But really, my biggest problem with it is that it’s black (astro black, or “cosmoschwartz” as the german literature says) and gets noticeably dirty easy. On the plus side, the car is so small it’s easy to give it quick washes in between major squeaky cleanings.

  • Herb

    Hello, everyone, I own an 03 cooper (CVT) and had the on board computer updated, a few days ago. To be honest about it, the update don’t seem to have change anything although the dealer claims is working properly, I say is not. Here is the problem with A/C on I depress the gas pedal normally (gently) and it will pick up speed but I can feel hesitation (it bogs down) almost like starving for fuel, it get even worst as I depress the pedal more aggressively to the point where it just disappoint me, I have tried 2 intakes hoping that more air would force the computer to adjust the fuel/air mixture. The 1st one was a Typhoon by K&N I have used their products constantly and never had problems with them but I read in the Forums some Mini owners had problems with them so I return it and got a Promini, well the same results, this lead me to believe that the intakes are working propertly, I bought it used so not sure what has been done or not done to this car, overall and under normal driving it works OK, but I’m afraid to pass other vehicles due to the fact that it bogs to the point where it losses momentum (speed). If I go in Overdrive (is what I still call it) it will hesitate but not as much. I’m now considering an ignition coil upgrade with spark plugs and cables see if that helps any. Thanks for you time Guys/Gals and any positive comments would be appreciated.

  • Glenncof

    I have a 2005 Ford Freestyle AWD with CVT transmission. I have over 6,000 miles on it and have been studying the CVT recently.

    This is my wife’s car and I have a 1985 Porsche 911 manual. I say this because I really like the smooth, non-shift feel of the CVT. The car gets 25-26 mpg on highway.

    I have only done passive driving, not aggressive, so I don’t know what happens when you stomp on the gas.

    There is no hesitation off the line.

    The unit is manufacture by a joint venture in Ohio between Ford and ZF (German tranny maker, I had a ZF automatic in 1991 Range Rover with 178K miles with no repair.)

    I have read it uses an Audi chain. I plan to replace the special fluid at 30K miles, half the recommended.

  • Hello everybody,

    I was reading all the above stories and can tell you this.I am a mechanic for over 40 years and I am specialised in repairing CVT transmissions fo the last 7 years.Before this I have done 4 years research in cvt technic.There are a lot of problems with some cvt transmissions like Honda,Rover,Nissan,Mitsubishi and the MINI. The mini problems are jurcking,delays by take of and slipping when taking off. I have stripped CVT and checked everything but no faults where found.I replaced sensors,friction plates,seals etc. But the main problem is the soft ware in the control unit.You can replace the control unit but this will not help.The best way is to delete the software complete from the TCU and than install the newest version. After this you have to clear all faultcodes from all other control units in the vehicle. Start up the vehicle and do the proper adaptation procedure (see BMW Workshop Manual). It is possible that you have to do this two or three times before you got it right. Hope fully this will help you out there. If your CVT needs a service be sure that they do it the way as written in the BMW workshop manual, if they fail to do this you will get problems with your CVT.

  • Ray

    I’ve only driven manuals since I started driving. Given my long stop and go commute, I opted to buy a 2006 MCS with CVT. Since my other car is a 97 Integra Type-R, I was unsure just how I would adapt to the MCS with CVT. I love my wife’s Murano with CVT, so I figured it was a good option to have.

    In a word, it’s INCREDIBLE! The shifting is smooth, quick, and without any lurches, surges, or jolts. The paddle shifters are an excellent addition and make for a very fun drive. In fact, I think the paddle shifting is as nearly as fast as a manual change.

    After reading everyone’s comments, I was really concerned that I had made a mistake, but after a month of driving daily to work, I’m hooked. I haven’t seen any of the problems described in this blog. So far, it’s flawless!

  • pk

    I have a 2005 Mini cooper CVT. I have the same uneven accelaration problem mentioned by some other folks. The RPM jumps rapidly at certain speeds (between 45 – 65 mph). I had the automatic transmission reprogrammed a couple of times already. But, this problem seems to come back again and again. I am really dissapointed with the poor craftmanship of BMW for this. I wish I had not purchased a CVT.

  • Ray

    Three months of daily driving and NO problems so far (knock on wood). There is a noticable “jumpiness” when accellerating and letting off the gas at the point of a shift in Drive-mode. That is easily fixed by a simple driver correction.

    I’ve found that in Sport-mode the shifting is even smoother than regular Drive-mode. However, the best option remains using the paddle shifters. They are superior in every way!


    I believe that my story may answer some of the questions here. I have the 2002 Mini CVT. 46,000 miles. I always drive in the “manual” mode. Never had any problems with hesitation, stumble etc. Great acceleration off the line, tight shifting, very responsive. And then: ten days ago I took off from home on a cold morning in #1 “gear” as usual and then it seemed to “upshift”, on its own, into Drive and lugged. It repeated this act and then the “Check Engine ” light came on and the instrument panel “Gear” indicator display showed “EP”. I went home and read the Owners Manual and for EP it sais “Go directly to your Mini dealer and give him $6,000.00”. (Joke, but true finally). Since I was two months out of warranty, I went to my foreign car specialist(AutoHaus Frankfurt in Murrieta Ca) ( whom I have learned to trust) and he called the dealer in Escondido CA who told him “You must replace the CVT. It can not be repaired. We have them in stock” My car guy said that he would replace the “Range Sensor” and the “Position Sensor” The BMW (Mini) also had them in stock (big surprise). This cost $640.00. The CVT now acts just like it did when new. Some facts that the BMW dealer will not tell you. My car guy just came back from the BMW workshop with these tidbits. 1. Never idle any BMW autotransmission over 5 minutes (not at all if possible) because the circulating pump is driven by the drive-line and at idle the transmission cavitates and builds excessive heat. This will destroy the trans. If stuck in traffic or at an accident scene: turn it off. Your Mini Owner Manual alludes to this where it says do not warm the engine “drive right off”.

    1. BMW dealers will tell you that the transmission fluid is “Lifetime” and never needs to be changed. At the BMW workshop they teach , and preach, that the original fluid is “Break-in fluid” and must be changed at 30,000 miles and then the fluid is good for a total of 300,000 not forever. Did you ever notice that your CVT has no dipstick. This helps to burn up the CVT so you can buy one of those on the shelf.

    The “stumbling” CVTs mentioned in these messages sounds just like what mine did before the Sensors were replaced. Whats happening is the upshifting to EP (means “End of Program” ). This is designed into the CVT to avoid complete burnup and failure of the CVT. It allows you to crawl to the dealer for replacement. My car guy said that the sensor problem often starts this way where it does not show the EP display at first, or at all in some cases. It just shifts into that droopy mode a few times and then goes back to normal. Anyway, my Mini is working fine now but I am dumping it to avoid driving around on a $6,000.00 IET (Improvised Explosive Transmission.) Any questions you can email me.

  • karen

    i have a 2005 cvt with about 34k miles. i’ve had the same acceleration problems mentioned above by a few people. i love my car, but it is so annoying to drive between 50 and 70 mph because the shifting is just erratic. if im driving above 70 and then start slowing down, the rpm shoots way up (about 4500) once it hits 70. i’ve brought it to the dealer 3 times already, and the last two times they’ve told me that its “normal” for the CVT transmission, yet somehow the problem mysteriously goes away after each visit. it has just started happening again so i will be bringing it in for the fourth time. i am really frustrated and worried that this problem will never go away! it seems to happen every 7000-8000 miles. it sucks!!

  • Pat

    My wifes 2003 slips when it is cold in the morning and until reading the comments above we have warmed it up each morning. From time to time the engine will over rev and then go back to its normal operation. The local dealer checked it out and decided it needed a new transmission. They say this one is a through away unit. The asking price is 7200.00 more then half the value of the car. A transmission builder we use to build off road transmissions for us is trying to find a parts supply for this transmission. Any ideas. Or is this a through away car.

  • Pat

    My wifes 2003 slips when it is cold in the morning and until reading the comments above we have warmed it up each morning. From time to time the engine will over rev and then go back to its normal operation. The local dealer checked it out and decided it needed a new transmission. They say this one is a throw away unit. The asking price is 7200.00 more then half the value of the car. A transmission builder we use to build off road transmissions for us is trying to find a parts supply for this transmission. Any ideas. Or is this a throw away car.

  • Omar

    My mini cooper show me the light of EP. What that means please.

    Thank for your help.

    Omar G.

  • David Reyes

    I bought as used 03 Cooper for my wife, and less than a month after driving it, the EP code came on, any one in the San francisco BAy area that can fix this other than the Dealers 7200 option

  • Pingback: CVT issues resolved? - MINI2()

  • Winnie Poon

    I know a very reliable mechanic in Palo Alto off San Antonio who does a great job maintaining my Mini cooper with a CVT. I recently had to replace my transmission (and I am pretty upset as I only have 55K on it), and he is charging me $1500 less than dealer. His shop is called Mechanica and his name is Ed Pak. Address is 788 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto.

    Also, if anyone out there is having trouble with your CVT and would like BMW / MINI to do something about it, I am considering filing a class action. Anyone interested?

  • David Chase

    We would be interested in participating in a class action, provided that MiniUSA does not make good by us on their own accord.

    Our story: We have 80K on our 2003 Cooper; no major problems until now; always well maintained and driven responsibility. Last week, after starting to hear a strange noise while in forward motion, we took our car to Princeton Mini, who tells us (from merely listening to the car, mind you) that we need a new transmission to the tune of $8000.

    I have been talking to MiniUSA daily, but we know nothing more specific at this point. All they’ll tell me is that they’ll have an answer “tomorrow.”

    Apparently it’s always tomorrow at Mini…

  • Susan

    My 2003 Mini with CVT had an internal malfunction in the transmission and needs a new one at the cost of $8000, Mini should cover this cost! Most cars get their transmissions tuned up at this point NOT replaced! Apparently not a problem unique to my situation, I am interested in class action lawsuit! Contact me:

  • Winnie Poon

    Sorry I have been out of touch. I was not able to log on because my house was burglarized and all electronics and computer equipments were gone. I will start looking into a class action lawyers. I am in the Bay Area, CA (silicon valley), and I know there are at least a couple of them in San Francisco. If anyone knows any Class Action lawyers, please let me know


  • Lil’ Kim

    I am relieved to know I’m not loosing my mind and that there are other MINI owners experiencing the same issues I am. I have a 2003 MINI with a CVT transmission and am having the same issues being reported after 90,000 miles. I took the car into the dealership and they told me no “faults” were being registered, even though my personal mechanic told me it was clear there was a transmission problem. After speaking with the MINI Corp. office I returned to the dealership to explain that the Corp. would not even consider assuming responsibility if they didn’t report it as an issue. They had the machanic ride with me and he agreed there was an issue. Even after his professional diagnosis the service consultant didn’t want to report a problem because still no “faults” were being reported by the diagnostics. I had to speak with the Service Manager before they would report it as an issue. Even after getting this step accomplished a return call to the Corp. ended with no resolution. They said they are not aware of any recurring issues with the CVT transmission.

    I am totally on-board with the class action lawsuit so please continue to post information on the status of this option.

    One immmediate option we have is for everyone to open a case with the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). I opened a case with them on 7/13/2007 and at that time only 1 other issue had been opened regarding the MINI CVT transmission. I feel that if enough consumers open issues with NHTSA the MINI Corp. will be forced to respond to this issue in some way, hopefully a recall since the issue seems to be occuring after the car is out of warrenty. The contact information for NHTSA is as follows and it only takes about 15 minuites to open a case. (You will need your VIN number)

    NHTSA 1-888-327-4236 or

    Please pass this information on to any other blogs to get the word out. I refuse to pay MINI another 7-8 thousand for a new transmission….

  • Winnie Poon

    I have had experiences with the mini dealership where they did not do a thorough job in checking everything, resetting the computer, and then returning the car to me. It is extremely frustrating not to mention expensive (taking the car in and out of the dealership, and once the warranty runs out, the parts and labors are BMW prices).

    That’s a great idea to post complaints with NHTSA. I will copy that portion of your message and post at other sites that I post at. As far as class action go, I have talked to some lawyers, and some say that we have a case. I am still looking for a GOOD one who would represent us. Anyone interested please email me at, so I can get a list going. The first step after finding a lawyer is to get a demand letter over to BMW to compensate us for the money and time lost. We could commence litigation if BMW does not respond within a certain amount of time. Those of you who know other Mini drivers, please spread the word. I am tired of being taken advantage of by big companies.

  • Jon S

    I have had a similar problem with my 03′ (bought it used in 2005) Mini. I just payed 8,000 dollars to replace the CVT Transmission and I only have 90,000 miles on the car. I also have three years left of payments on the car and just recently my trans is acting up again in a big way. I am all ears if you are proposing a Class Action Suit.

  • John S

    I’m retired, and my car (2003 Mini) is driven very easily by my wife and myself, and at 90,000 miles it began making a ratcheting noise from the CVT transmission. We towed it home, to have the dealer inform us of the need for a new transmission: $7,200.00. The dealer said it was safe to drive for a while, so we drove it up the street to a transmission shop we knew of for a second opinion. On their test drive, the steel belt in the transmission came apart, destroying everything internally and locking up the drive train on the street. Had it been busier or on a freeway, it could have been disastrous. I filed a complaint with the NHTSA as suggested; my ODI number is 10205481 if you’d like to review it. I’d be happy to participate in whatever way I can to try to get Mini and/or BMW to stand behind, and even more importantly, correct the known defects in these units.

  • Genessee

    Hi! It’s sooo good to hear that I’m not the only one with these problems. I have a 2006 Mini and started having problems around this time last year (Nov. ’06). The first dealer I took it to said they could not replicate the spiking RPMs 60mph at deceleration. I left and took it in to another dealership (Long Beach, CA) where they have accomodated me until now. I have just hit the 36000 mark and took it in at 35700 for them to tell me that the “play on the RPMs is normal”. I took their word for it, but the problem is back and getting worse. At first it was spiking to a little past 3000 but now is climbing to 4200 and hovers there at acceleration(50-60mph) too. If I give it some gas and get to 70mph it goes back down. If I take it in again it will be the 4th time I have brought it in for this issue alone. And, it can’t possibly be normal since they had “solved” it each time I went in.

    1. November 2006: Could not verify (Assael MINI)
    2. February 2007: Reset Adaptions (Long Beach MINI)
    3. May 2007: Transmission BAD. Replaced transmission.
    4. July 2007: Reset Adaptions. Performed 5 relearn cycles. Shop Forman Test.
    5. October 2007: Stated it was normal but come back if it’s getting to 5000rpms

    Well, I’m debating now whether to keep the car. A friend said I should just sell it after reading the other experiences. It’s a money bomb waiting to happen. They’ve already replaced the transmission, so really they’re going to have to come up with something better when I come it. I’m thinking of crying lemon, but it still doesn’t solve this problem. I love my MINI and don’t want to get rid of it. Demanding a new one seems pointless now after reading about everyone’s experiences. I’ll gladly join the lawsuit too.

    Any suggestions?

  • Winnie Poon

    Hi Everyone, If you would like to join our class action against MINI USA, please write me at We need all the participants we can get. Lawyers are not hungry unless we have enough people interested. Please also spread the words and let others who might be interested know about what I am doing. My goal is to contact one of the news channels in the Bay Area of California by the end of the month. If any of you out there are interested in sharing your story, please let me know. I hope that this will attract more participants if we get our story out there. Again, write me at With everyone’s help, we can surely get the ball rolling and have our justice! (I must have your consent sent to my email. I promise I only keep them on file for the purpose of the class action suit and not for any other use).

  • dusty

    i got a ’07 dodge caliber about 3 months ago and i was really hyped on it at first, then the CVT overheat light came on and the car pretty much came to a stop, it had no pull to it at all, this was at about 70-75 mph for about 45 minutes, i got the problem fixed but a week later it did it again, so i got it fixed again, and now its overheating more than in the past. the other night it overheated to the point where it would only go 20 mph and wouldn’t go up a slight hill. i pulled over to let it cool off, and it overheated 5 more times in a span of about 20 miles. is this normal or whats the deal? it pisses me off really bad…

  • Gary

    Hi All. I seem to be having the same issue as pk and MiniPeter. My CVT issue also while decelerating and accelerating from 80-100kmh the revs go, what I think are somewhat high but at least not in the redzone. What is the adaptive value? I bought mine used with 124k and and other than high revs, seems ok however, only three months so far but I have managed to add 10k to the tally.

  • Synergy

    I have the same problems with hesitation on my recently purchased 2005 MC (non-S) automatic CVT. How’s the class action suit coming along?

  • Jay

    I own an 03 Audi with the 3.0 CVT. The transmission started to hesitate and the tach would start to bob around during acceleration. The transmission needed to be replaced. Audi only puts in new transmissions, a very costly repair. With the new transmission, the original hesitation is gone, but I am now experiencing the “dead spot” hesitation mentioned here by other drivers. If the car is on a hill in traffic, the car shudders and feels like it will stall (never does). Punching the gas gets beyond the point of hesitation and all is fine. Problem is the car is an Audi, and drivers should not have to “get used to” the problem, or worse yet, punch the accelerator to cover up for a flaw. An expensive car driving like it is combusting water instead of fuel is just not right. I’ll be back to a 6-speed in my next Audi purchase (yes despite my bad experience with the CVT the cars are otherwise beautiful).

  • MrN

    Some people here seem to be confusing Continuously Variable Transmission(CVT)with Steptronic and an automatic transmission with Steptronic. A CVT never changes gears. It seamlessly changes though an infinite number of gear ratios within the RPM range. Even when the paddle shifters are used the transmission never really changed gears. The CVT “shifted” if desired(driver is using Steptronic) with software-simulated shift points.

    If you have a Cooper S you do not have a CVT as it was never available on the S models. You have a regular automatic transmission with Steptronic. Just thought I should post to make this information as accurate as possible.

  • i know i’m about six years late to the party here, but with 99,800 miles on my mini CVT, and me being only the second owner, i think i have some things to share. i do a lot of touch-and-go driving, as i deliver food and pick up supplies for work, and a CVT mini is a great car, for the most part, for all this logistics and delivery work. of course i’m afraid of all the issues that other high-mileage CVTs have, but knock on wood, my engine and transmission are still rock solid after 5 years and almost 100,000 miles of hard driving from two mini-enthusiast owners. and, i’m still averaging over 20 miles per gallon in high-traffic, extremely-touch-and-go driving, despite performing bare minimum maintenance and care to the engine and tranny. after i give my drivetrain a tune-up and fluid change this summer, and trade the touch-and-go driving for more rural driving, i expect to get as much gas mileage as the manual R50 minis, while still having the ease of use and smoothness that make the CVT such a gem. plus, since my mini is both a CVT and indi blue colored, i feel like it’s as rare as a JCW GP, which is a cool feeling in and of itself.

    the only issue i’ve had, interesingly enough, is one that i don’t think anyone else has had. when i put my transmission in sport drive or steptronic mode, the gear display goes blank and ignores my input, rather than showing “SD” or a gear number on the display. MINI USA customer support was useless about it and told me only the dealer can help me, but since i have neither time nor money to take the car in, i just have stopped using sport drive mode and stopped using steptronic. regular drive mode has enough pickup, and i’ve heard that in CVT minis with a SprintBooster throttle upgrade, the CVT spooling or lag, whatever you want to call it, becomes almost impossible to notice, so i’m looking into that.

    final verdict: if you find a good deal on a used R50 CVT, and you can get a test drive to make sure it’s not slipping or going into emergency program mode, buy it. you’ll fall in love quickly.

  • Bill LAwrence

    My MINI CVT just gave up the ghost at 198424 miles. With the cost to replace the CVT Transmission (since they are a sealed unit, that does not get repaired)at $7,000+ it looks like MINI has created a disposable car. Too bad, I wanted to go for 200,000 miles.


    I failed to update this post. The EP problem came back. After a lot of online research, I found that the original Mini battery does not charge above 11 volts dc when it ages. This causes the computer to get confused and turns on the EP warning. I made a copy of all my research and had the Mini hauled to the dealer with the copy. They kept it for 10 days and then “discovered” that the battery was not charging above 11 volts. They put in a new battery for $90.00 (no labor charge). It has run for 3 years now without any problems. Hope this helps

  • Fastfinger

    Mini Cooper CVT is normal mode is almost dangerous in city traffic. Often quoted solution is to start off in Sport mode… SOLUTION is to have start off REPROGRAMMED so that both normal and sport mode have no hesitation. SOMEBODY at BMW/MINI should IMPROVE the CVT by offering an upgrade to flash the tranny so that the normal takeoff works like that of the sport mode and thus avoid that dangerous hesitation.

  • Steven

    The cvt drives awesome, but when the transmission fails, it costs around 8000 to have it replaced only a very few extremely hard to locate people repair these transmission. So Basically if it breaks you’re stuck with an 8k bill. So I’d steer clear of any cvt transmissions. Also i have heard a few stories of dealerships having people come in to have the their transmission computer flashed while under warranty, then when the transmissions fails just out of warranty, they will not help pay. be cautious with these cars, or you could be in for a very hefty bill with very few options

  • Conn

    The cvt transmission on my 2003 MINI cooper has failed rendering the car not drivable. The transmission has always been quirky, but I was assured by the dealer that it was working properly. The transmission slips drastically and makes a very audible whirring sound. The only option for repair is a complete new part install at the dealer cost of $8,800. I have read hundreds and hundreds of identical stories about the cvts on MINI coopers as well as the power steering pump. It seems from research that this part commonly fails and replacing with a defective part at a cost near nine thousand dollars is absurd and disgusting. It is cost prohibitive to keep my car operating and I feel as though I have, as well as thousands of other MINI owners have been sold a defective product worthy of recall.

  • Another CVT bites the dust. My wife’s ’05 Mini has 74K miles and is now a paper-weight until I figure out what to do.

  • Please E-mail me if the lawsuit got anywere: Or if you know a person wo rebuilds the CVT in North NJ or NYC area.

  • Georgia

    After 33,500 miles my MC 06′ CVT transmission is done!!!! I was fortunate enough to have purchased an extended warranty and it is being replaced for only a $100 deductible on my part. MINI of Manhattan said it would have cost over $9,500 for parts and labor (27 HOURS!?!?!?!)

    I lucked out but I am wondering if I should sell my MINI before this transmission goes too and then I am stuck with the bill!

    What is the deal? Why is this CVT transmission not being recalled? Is there a lawsuit being filed?


  • Peter Walker

    I have an 03 Mini Cooper that has demonstrated some problems with the transmission during its life, most recently showing EP and EML. Both are transitory but worrying. Since I am in the UK I do not expect that anyone can recommend a good independent transmission expert but I’d like to hear from anyone who has met with success in handling this issue. Mileage is 22,000 – yes, it’s my wife’s car.