2002 MINI Ranked 3rd Worst in Reliability

The JD Power results are in for the long term reliability of 2002 US cars and trucks and the results for MINI, aren’t good. MINI finished 3rd from the bottom with 383 problems per 100 cars. Interestingly they finished right next to Volkswagen who unlike MINI, had no first model year excuses.

While some of this may be due to MINI owners being unusually attentive to detail, I can’t believe that would account entirely for such a bad showing. As someone who went from a very early 2002 MINI to a mid-year 2005, I can personally attest to the huge improvements MINI has made in response to issues that had to have been obvious to MINI engineers. However, the issues that my ’02 MINI did have were all relatively minor and certainly nothing to cause serious alarm. Various rattles, a poorly attached plastic trim piece, the familiar steering click, and a couple of minor recalls were really the only things I had to worry about in three years of ownership.

It will be interesting to see in three years how the 2005 MINI compares to these results.

You can check the full ranking below:

[ JD Power Long Term Reliability / 2002 models ] JD Power
  • asp

    This unfortunately comes at a time when I’m trying to justify an ’02 to ’06 change – while the spouse is asking why I’m not looking at the Miata LS or Solstice. We’ve had similar problems as Gabe – but a 400 mile round trip to the MINI dealer vs what could be a 2 mile for the Miata or Solstce.

    I’d be real interested to hear from more of you ’02 to ’05 Cooper trade-uppers on your perception of improvemets over the first year many mini woes.

  • db

    I wonder how many of those ‘problems’ were cup holder size complaints?

    I know my ’02 build ’03 has spent her fair share of time in the shop for repairs (over 1 month of shop time in less than 3 years), so this isn’t a terrible surprise.

    I would agree in that almost all of the repairs that I had done were little ‘first year build’ issues.

  • Seeker

    I’m curious to see what all these problems were. A squeak or a rattle doesn’t leave you stranded. I’ve had basically no trouble with my 2002 MCS JCW. But my 2005 MC seems a bit tighter.

  • asp – I cannot stress enough how much has been improved on the ’05. For instance it seems like almost everything inside the car has been changed in some way. The car also feels noticably different than the ’02. It’s only been 1300 miles so far but the changes I’ve experienced in my 2005 MCS are far greater than what you’d expect to see in only three years.

  • Luke

    I’m not surprised. My 05 was back at the dealer 6 time in the first 6 months.

    If you compare a 02 to an 05 here. You’ll see they haven’t improved much at all.

  • Luke – there are no figure yet for 2005 in terms of long term reliability. The short term information is not always totally valild since it is usually marred with such complaints as poor cupholders or no armrest etc.

  • asp

    gabe – thanks for the vote of confidence – rattles are an anoyance – but as but the spouse is concerned with replacing 3 windshields, doors freezing preventing getting in/out in winter, door not locking/unlocking with remote, and assorted warning lights either intermittently (air bag) or permanently (abs, dsc, low tire) glaring back at us.

    We’ve had the rattles – but as ‘seeker’ points out they don’t leave you stranded – but it’s tough to take (as well as embarassing) being stranded ‘inside’ your car.

  • Brian

    Honestly, JD Power stopped holding any real value for me when they awarded T Mobile the best wireless carrier award.

    T mobile is great in awarding credits on accounts for problems, but their network is horrific, and the number of dead spots is immense, but JD Power looked at how their customer care department solves every ‘problem’ with a credit on an account and bam, award time.

    They award 2 stars overall quality? This is some subjective point system?

    Luke, instead of looking at someone’s subjective results, why not listen to someone like Gabe who actually had an ’02, and now has an ’05, and has testified to the incredible improvements in all aspects of the interior?

  • KevinR

    I don’t put any value on JD Power surveys. My MINI and my Volkswagens have been far better cars with fewer issues than the Honda, GMC or Ford that I’ve owned. They’ve been light years better than the Buicks my father owned.

    Then again, I’ve never been surveyed by JD Power either…

  • Volkan

    This is not surprising at all. My early built 03 MCS had numerous problems including a clutch replacement, steering columns (three of them), steering pump, sunroof replacement, etc etc during the last two years of ownership. I am not concerned about the rattles, although they are annoying…

    It is good to hear from 05 owners that there has been improvements, which makes me want to order an 06 even more (no more “first year” models!). It is funny that I sometimes also need to “justify” my 06 MCS plans to my friends, after they remind me how many times they picked me up from MINI dealers 🙂

    Still in love with the brand and hopefull that 06 will have less problems.

  • Jeff

    Anyone who says a VW is more reliable than a Honda must have had a Honda-lemon. I’ve owned 5 different VW’s and switched to Honda’s (on our 4th) because of progressively worse quality and high numbers of problems. There’s absolutely no comparison between the two marques. The Honda’s are light years better in terms of quality. Don’t believe it, go drive a 5 or 6 year old Accord, then drive a Passat. Or go read the CR reliability stats for the VW cars. Not pretty. I had more problems in 18 months with my last new VW than I had with my replacement Honda (Acura Integra) in over 6 years & 80K miles. Even the car mags (MT, C&D, et al) make reliability statements about VW/Audi’s. Check out CD’s new review of the Audi A3, it includes such a comment.

  • Frank

    I currently own 2 MINIs. A ’02 MC CVT and a 3 month old ’05 MCS 6MT. The ’02 currently has 30K troublefree miles and it is a very hard working daily driver. It has taken us on over 10K miles of roadtrip vacations. Has never left us stranded and the car works like the finest piece of Swiss machinery. We, as every other 2002 MINI owner, encountered minor issues with trim and such and the dreaded ECU software problems. My dealer, Lauderdale MINI, has been extremely effective in solving the initial quality issues the car had. In the last 2 years, the car has been a total of 2-3 times tops for essentially scheduled maintenance work. The car still looks and feels brand new. We are very happy with it and plan to keep it for another couple of years until MINI releases the Clubman station wagon.

    I also owned a 2004 MCS which was delivered to me brand new in october 2003 and drove for 17K miles and 16 months with ZERO I repeat ZERO problems. I sold the car in early February ’05 as I fell in love with the improvements the MCS received for 2005. That ’04 MCS was a solid piece of work and a tangible statement to MINI’s commitment to improve the car and solve the initial build quality complaints.

    On 3/20/2005, I took delivery of my 3rd MINI, a new ’05 MCS 6MT hardtop. It’s been 3 months and 10 days and after 2,400 miles the car has had ZERO issues. The car has not been back for any sort of warranty repair work since leaving the showroom in late March.

    So here it goes. I feel that I am more than qualified to opine on MINIs persuit of quality and cusotmer satisfaction for the past 3 years.

    Needless to say, we will continue driving and purchasing new MINIs for years to come.

  • Frank

    I owned several Honda/Acura products from 1989 to 1999. 6 Honda Accords, 1 Acura Integra and 1 ’97 Acura 2.5TL with the 5 Cyl in line engine offered at the time.

    Interestingly, the less problematic Hondas were those built right here in the USA. The ’89 Accord LX 5-speed I had was a very gas frugal car (45 MPG, try that for a non-hybrid crap) but the car was sluggish, the A/C barely worked and broke down 3 times, had numerous steering problems, brake issues and the paintwork was horrible. Kept the car for 7 years and one thing that impressed me is that the cable operated clutch never gave out, neither the carburated (Last year they were made) 2.0L 12 valve SOHC (98HP) engine never quit. The ’90 Accord DX made here was much better reliability wise. The ’94 Accord LX was so-so, but the ’96 Accord was better. The ’99, my last Accord, had build quality problems, bad paint and never ending brake issues.

    The ’95 Acura I had was made in Japan but was nearly totalled in an accident. Car was 1 year old.

    My last Acura, a Japan made ’97 2.5TL had lots of niggling problems during its first 10K miles, including a leaky trunk. The 4-speed automatic with “Grade logic” always hunted for the ‘right’ gear because the computer could never agree on the proper shifts with the tranny. Not terribly impressed for a car that retailed for $30K new in 1997.

    My MINIs have the Hondas matched in reliability so far.

    My Brother in law has a basic 2002 VW Golf GL 5-door hatchback (Made in Brazil) and that car simply won’t quit. It has nearly 50K hard driven miles and the thing just keeps going and going. It certainly has beaten the ’99 Accord’s reliability.

    Japan, INC lives off their past “Pristine reliability” reputation. Go to edmunds.com forums and read the horror stories with bad transmissions in Honda Accords, problematic Minivans and Not so reliable Toyotas.

  • Frank

    Jeff, you are sounding like a CR accolyte 🙂

    I stopped my subscription to their biased magazine years ago and to this day I only consult their testing services when I am about to purchase an appliance or a baby car seat. Cars? you got to be kidding me!

  • Brian

    Heh consumer reports? I put even less faith in them than I do JD Power.

    Consumer Reports put so much emphasis on price over anything else, and anyone who knows will tell you price is not an indicator of value.

  • I’d have to concur with Gabe – I’ve owned (2) 2002 MCS and (1) 2004 MC – my current 2005 MCS is very very solid – I’ve had ZERO problems with my very early build (week 1 of July 2004). The character of this car also seems very different from my 02 MCS’s, tighter, faster and no rattles.

  • RB

    I recently traded up from a used ’02 MCS to a used ’04 MCS.

    So I have a different perspective than most. My MINI’ have all been used therefore I don’t get the new car euphoria I have had when buying new. My cars have miles on them and I expect things to rattle or whatever.

    My ’02 was plagued with all the rattles, creaks, stumbles, 3 cracked windshields and so on. I never once faltered in my love of these cars. I must admit a lot of frustration with my dealer and went tru 2 SA’ before I found a good one. We got the car in a-one condition and I sold it for nearly what I paid for it. Never did get rid of the stumble!

    My ’04 MCS feels better built and runs without any stumble. I have had no complaints, so far.

    If I had a 400 mile round trip it would have been tough to keep 1st the car but I probably would have traded up sooner.

    Let’s face it there are LEMONS in all model years, cars that will never be right or will need a lot of work to get them right. I had a ’97 4-Runner that never had ANY problems and then one day down in Baja California WHAM a broken crank, go figure.


  • Nathan

    Well, I can see where the numbers come from. My ’04 MCS has plenty of little issues. I had several dash rattles and now my driver side door won’t open from the inside (you have to roll down the window to get out), and the windows themselves squeak. The dome light is poorly wired, sometimes it takes a tap to get it on. And the button for the driver side overhead light fell off on it’s second push.

    I love the car, but my nearest dealer is 2 hours away.

  • It’s important to keep in mind there were common problems for 2002 owners:

    1) The 2002 MCS was commonly plagued by a cold start problem that would prevent the car from starting on the first, second, and sometimes third or fourth try. This was fixed with a software change in October 2002. However, it was a real problem for a lot of owners until that time.

    2) The Coolant Expansion Tank on the 2002 MCS was prone to leaking at the seam between the two halves. Again, this problem was fixed, but it was a real problem affecting many 2002 MCS owners, sometimes requiring replacement multiple times before the final “fixed” version came out.

    3) Stress Cracked Windshields – again, a relatively common problem, sometimes resulting in the windshield being replaced multiple times before MINI reformulated the glass and PPG began offering an aftermarket windshield.

    4) The Shift Cable Linkage on the 2002 MC was known to break off it’s mount, causing the car to be stuck in gear and resulting in a call to roadside assistance. This problem wasn’t nearly as common as #1, #2, or #3, but it was a known issue at the time.

    All of these were real problems that early owners did face. MINI has fixed these problems, but IMO the ’02 MINIs did have a significant number of early build issues. My own ’02 MINI was in for warranty work 10 times in the first year. Does that mean anything for long term reliability? Based on the last two years with zero problems, I’d say not.

  • Nicholas P

    i have 15k miles on my 2005 MCS and the only time it’s been to the dealer is for the 10k oil change

  • Another data point: I’ve had my ’05 MCS since Halloween. It’s been rock solid. I’m 4 hours from my nearest dealer, but I haven’t had to make the trip once.

  • Damon

    I’ve yabbered on about my very early ’02 issues on here before. It was towed to the dealer with roadside assistance three times in the first year, replaced two manual transmissions from complete failure, a catalytic converter, replaced alternator, bad throttle potentiometer, windshield, shift linkage, rattling fog lights, squeaks etc.

    Our ’04 and new ’05 are completely trouble free. Not a single problem and no trips to the dealer. I think the ’02 are hit and miss with some prfectly fine and others baskets of trouble.

  • greg

    4500 miles on my ’05 MCS. Perfect so far.

  • Tim

    Hey gang,

    5400 miles since March 23 on my 05 MCS 6MT and zero problems. Haven’t had a reason to go to the dealer since I took delivery. I drive enthusiastically but the car seems to be impervious to my enthusiasim. I’ve owned a VW Rabbit, VW GTI, Mazda Miata, Toyota Sienna, Audi A6, Volvo 850GLT, and an Acura NSX. This thing is more fun, more solid (so far!) and more satisfying than anything I’ve ever owned save the NSX (man I loved that car!) I do find it interesting what people will complain about these days…I wonder if the 05’s will suffer a spike in the stats because of all the complaints of “backfiring” from the exhaust? “I had to take it back to the dealer three times and they still couldn’t fix it!!!” Some folks just aren’t cut out for Cooper S ownership…

    No doubt about the early teething problems but from where I sit, they sure seemed to have dialed this thing in.


  • Brian

    I haven’t looked at the JD Power report but I can say that the first batch of Mini in 02 (approximately 20,000) were more reliable than the second batch. This is probably becuase the demand was so high and Oxford was forced to increase their demands.

    I had an accident with my 02 Cooper which was built in April 02 and the dealer / repair center said that they saw few VINs from the first batch and more from the latter half of the year.

    This is probably why the reviews were poor.

  • I also to concur with Gabe – I’ve owned a 2002 MCS and now push a 2005 MCS. The 02 had the usual minor problems – well, replacing the windsheild may not be minor – but every problem was covered under warranty.

    Bu I never had a breakdown or anything, never was stranded or stuck, so I’m not sure where the questions of reliability and dependability are coming from. What exactly are they looking at over there? Are they simply looking at the number of problems? I mean, come on – perhaps the GM owner is willing to live with a few more rattles for their pricepoint than the MINI owner? Perhaps Mini owners a bit more involved with driving and ownership experiences than say a Kia owner?

    In terms of comparison, the new 05 MCS is almost a completely different car than the 02 – great new gearing, even more solid feeling, better features and not a rattle to be found. Still one of the best bangs for the buck today, still just as fun, and still just as reliable. It will be interesting to see the responses to this same survey in the years to come.

    I chalk this result up to more people who didn’t like the cupholders. Please!

  • KevinR


    I’m not knocking Honda. My family has owned many Hondas since 1987. Currently, two of my sisters and my sister-in-law have them and we will soon be getting one for my mother-in-law. I have no problem recommending a Honda to anyone, as long as it has under 100,000 miles. After that point, I wouldn’t touch one.

    For me, the Volkswagens I have owned (4 bought new, 2 bought used) have had fewer initial problems and fewer overall problems than the Honda I owned.

    Just as someone said that “not everyone is cut out for Cooper S ownership,” not everyone is cut out for VW ownership either.

  • ChrisW

    “The Honda’s are light years better in terms of quality. Don’t believe it, go drive a 5 or 6 year old Accord, then drive a Passat.”

    Well, I just sold my ’00 Passat (1.8t) to get my MINI, and that car was vault solid. Not a squeak or rattle in the thing, and everything about that car felt more substantial than any of the many Hondas I’ve owned. In 55k miles on my Passat I had stinky A/C (fixed under warranty) and a failed O2 sensor (failed after warranty was up). The ’97 Civic I owned before that was mostly problem-free for 32k miles, but I had a rattle from day one they could never get rid of.

    Not to say VWs are more reliable than Hondas – I don’t believe that. My ’04 Pilot has been fantastic. I truly believe the Japanese outshine everyone in the reliability department. But to place Honda at the top of the list and VW at the bottom, well, that just doesn’t reflect my personal experience. Of course I haven’t owned a Mexico-made Beetle or Jetta either…

    Here’s hoping my ’05 MINI fares better than the ’02 MINIs familiar to JD Powers.

    Sidenote: didn’t GM just rate very highly on JD Powers Initial Quality report? Gotta love the low expectations of GM buyers. 🙂

  • Nathaniel Salzman

    I know it isn’t MINI, but I have to chime in with my two cents on Honda reliability. I just traded in my ’87 Honda Prelude 2.0 Si for a ’94 Acura Integra (temporary until I can afford payments on my MINI). My Prelude had 272,000 miles on it, on the original engine, and still ran and drove much like I’m sure it did when it was new. No oil burning, no real rattles or squeeks, tracked straight, quick and zippy, and cornered like a go-kart. The only major issues it ever had was replacing the A/C system (notorious Honda weak spot) around 206,000 and having to get the transmission rebuilt around 230,000 miles (but can you really hold that against it at that mileage?). The car NEVER ONCE left me stranded in the five years I drove it. My main reason for selling it was that the automatic tranny was starting to lose its low clutch, so I wanted to sell it for whatever I could get while it would still roll. My new (to me) Acura has 198,000 miles on it, and after knowing the maintanence history (bought it from a gear-head friend of mine) and inspecting the mechanical condition of the car, that mileage doesn’t worry me in the slightest. The car drives and runs fantastic and I imagine that if I kept it that long, I could easily put another 70,000 miles on it without any major hitches. My dad has produced the same 200,000+ mile longevity out of three Toyotas. All original engines, nothing major on any of them.

    And as for car reliability in general, I judge that in part against what I call the “saw and old car on the road” test. I see late ’80s and ’90s Hondas on the road all the time. I even see run down, beat up Hondas that that have not been taken care of at all – but they’re still going! Now obviously, the rest of the car population is not made up of brand new cars, but the average age of the Honda population on the road seems far older than average. I couple that observation with my own (and friends’) longevity experiences with Honda and I’m convinced. I laugh at the motor oil commercials that call 70,000 miles “high mileage” Please! That’s just broke-in on the average Honda if it’s been taken care of.

    I also think that MINI has shown a commitment to build quality and (much more importantly) a commitment to fixing problems that arise in the cars as quickly as possible. This more than anything sets these cars up for years and years of reliability. Sure, there will be issues to fix and design changes that will be necessary, but that’s true of any car. As perfect as the MINI is in many of our eyes, it’s still a car – a piece of machinery – and that makes it as susceptible as any other to mechanical wear, assembly error, and other problems. But MINI seems to have done a great job keeping on top of what few major issues they’ve had and I expect that no matter what JD or CR say about the car, it will give great service to most everyone who takes care of theirs. I’m confident that my MINI will not dissapoint me, and it had better not with the nearest dealership 3 hours away.

  • Mark

    Funny that this was posted today. I just had my 04 MC (Sept 03 build) towed into the dealer for the second time in a month. Both times for the same reason…get in turn the key and NOTHING…no click…no lights…no warning…nothing. The last time they found that the battery had a bad cell and wasn’t holding a charge. This time I suspect that they’ll be looking for a loose connection or short somewhere…good luck.

    I also had issues when the car was new and took it to the dealer multiple times for a keyfob/remote issues. The remote would not operate as designed with regards to the convenience opening feature. I received a new CVT transmission at about 22,000 miles because of a stuttering issue while backing up. It seems that I take it in for one issue or a scheduled service and I get it back with two or three issues that weren’t there before. I don’t completely blame the car or it’s manufacturer…I have issues with the dealer service personnel too. Their follow through and completeness of service is a big thing with me…I don’t enjoy coming back for the same thing over and over again.

    I really do love the car but much of the initial enchantment has faded and if Mini Roadside Assistance has to make a permanent account for me I may have no choice but to start looking elsewhere…if you know what I mean.

    My apologies for venting but the timing was so perfect.

  • Jake

    I hope that my car has had most of it’s gremlins removed. It is an ’02 MCS (late July build) and I have had my share of problems. None of which have been major problems — at least I dont think so. Unfortunately it has been back to the shop 3 times since the waranty expired – I am pusing 60K. But to be honest, the reasons were due to the typical ’02 problems. Broken shifter cables, bad power steering fan, and a bad battery cable (the day before MOT).

    I had a bad expansion tank early on and had the rear calipers replaced, oh, and a windshield.

    Maybe it’s just the joy of driving a MCS that clouds my judgement, but I can live with a few problems as long as the shocks are stiff — unlike the “revised shocks” on later cars — and the car handles well.

    To be honest, I’d rather have my ’02 than a new one.

  • Off-topic – from my experience in driving countless MINIs the “revised shocks from May ’03 on aren’t really noticably different in feel from the ’02 shocks. The biggest change is that they are slightly more comfortable going over the craters we call potholes in the Midwest.

  • Kennedy

    Yep, 383 problems per 100 cars, better not buy one… But that’s just a count of problems and does not weight the data based on the severity of the problem (broken cupholder = same as the car doesn’t run).

    Like many others have already said, I live 100+ miles from the local dealership and don’t expect it to be a problem. Sure there are some people that have been stranded, but there are those who bought new Honda’s or Toyota’s and have been left straded too.

    The real test is the testamonials, as people actually will weight the problems accordingly. Dave Bunting summed up the majority of the early build problems earlier, but of those, was a major problem (shift cable linkage) which, Mini provided a recall-fix for to alleviate the problem.

    So… the vast majority of people here seem to have had great success with their cars, and usually the people who are apt to say something are the ones who HAVE had problems. Seems to me that I can rest comfortably knowing that I will likely have no/few problems with my ’05 MCS. Besides, there are other important factors at play besides just reliability. Ask Gabe about the Mini’s ruggedness and safety record…

  • Jeff

    I’ll agree Honda’s (or Japanese cars in general) are not immune to problems, but there’s no way you’ll convince me after owning so many, they’re more reliable than the subsequent Hondas. Wheel bearings, alternators, steering racks, power window motors, etc are really common failures on VW’s or Audi’s for that matter (several of my friends still have them). Ever tried owning a Corrado. Whew!!!! Cracked fog lights, fragile sunroof tracks, faulty spoiler motors, failing coolant recirculating pumps, timing chain replacements every 100K, cracked coil packs, etc. Endless maintenance to keep some VW’s running. That said, the newer Honda’s do have their problems especially the 6 cylinder transmissions found in the TL/CL and Ody’s. Lot’s of failures, but Honda did extend the warranty to 7yrs/100K on all those cars (00-03?) and issued a TSB and revised the tranny to correct the second gear overheat problem. But overall I think the Honda’s are more reliable. I doesn’t hurt either that fellow SCCA racers tell me their Mini’s and BMW’s are in the shop far more often than their Type R’s and IS300’s were. In fact, they suggested I get ready for many more dealer visits with a Mini which seems right since my Type R hasn’t been to the dealer or a repair shop in the last 50K miles, just routine maintenace at the homestead.

  • Michael

    Re: “Gotta love the low expectations of GM buyers”

    What’s interesting to note is that between the mechanically identical Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe, the Toyota scored higher in “reliability.”

  • John K


    I started with ’02, gave it to my son in college, and bought an ’05. the ’02 now has 30k miles on it and has only been in the shop for rattles and to have the expansion tank replaced. The ’05 is now at 7k miles and has never had a problem at all. Both cars are absolutely reliable.

    I sold a Lincoln LS (highly rated by Comsumer groups/advocates) because it was nothing but problems and expensive to fix once it was out of warranty! So much for the expert reviewers and their recommendations-

  • petsounds

    Not surprised about VW at all, and it is reflective in their warranty. I believe it is part of their revenue strategy — the car is relatively cheap for the features, but they nickel and dime you on their expensive parts.

    I had a ’95 Jetta before I got my ’04 Cooper S, and it convinced me to buy the MINI. It was paid off, but I was putting so much money into repairs, I figured I’d be better off spending that money driving a new car that was a blast to drive.

    A year and a half into it, I have had no major problems, except for the continual engine stuble/power loss problem. MINI has been entirely unhelpful in solving this issue, and will not admit that it is a problem. But other than that, it’s been a very reliable car.

  • David

    I’ve had my ’05 MCS for one month to the day and I’ve noticed a couple small issues, not counting squeaks and creaks, that could be potential problems.

    1st. I noticed that on startup and until the engine gets to operating temp, the engine will rev just around stalling engine speed. You can see the needle go up and down by about 200 rpm as it goes “revvv, revvv, revvv”. Aren’t cold engines supposed to idle high?

    2nd. There is a “snap snap snap” on every wheel rotation. I think it could be a bad bearing. I’m going to call the dealer soon to see when I can take the car in to get it looked at.

    I’m hoping that those are all the problems I see in my tenure as steward of this particular MCS. BTW, 13XX miles.

  • Barry O

    2003 MC 44,000 miles; drive it like bat out of h—. 11/02 build date. It’s perfect. Even better with the new software. I see Buick scored higher. But then the problem would be that you’re driving a Buick.

  • David said

    1st. I noticed that on startup and until the engine gets to operating temp, the engine will rev just around stalling engine speed. You can see the needle go up and down by about 200 rpm as it goes “revvv, revvv, revvv”. Aren’t cold engines supposed to idle high?
    I think this is a common problem that’s been discussed ad nauseum on NAM(North American Motoring) and MINI2. BMW just can’t seem to make this right! grrrr…..

    My ’05 (~2200 miles on it, now) does this, just in the morning. I’ll start it, and while I’m getting myself together before pulling out of the garage, it will try to stall. The idle will get rough and drop down for about 5 seconds, and then it’s fine!

    I’d be happy living with this problem (although others complain it happens to them to a greater extent when they’re trying to pull out into traffic!) if only the throttle response wasn’t so damn choppy.

  • Mini2go

    I think Mark hits on a very important point – the Service Departments. The technicians started out in ’02 from scratch with a brand new car that even the manufacturer was unsure how to resolve certain issues.

    Even now, coming up on a fifth model year, there are still going to be some weaknesses with diagnosis and toubleshooting at the dealer level. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the issues/100 in the study were come-backs for the same issue that wasn’t completely resolved the first time around.

    Another good point was touched on regarding expectations. For many reasons, folks seem to have HUGE expectations about what they get when they buy a new MINI. Unfortunately, even parent BMW doesn’t have great reliability even if they do have excellent performance engineering and high quality fit and finish. So, as has already been pointed out, noting the level of severity and[or the nature of the issues that were counted would make for a more useful survey.

    BTW, my ’02 had only minor issues in the 41K miles I had it. (Oddly, however, I found out that the person who recently bought it from me had an overheating problem that now requires replacement of the wiring harness. Fortunately it is still under warranty.)

    I’m getting ready to order an ’06…. and I expect to get another good one! 😛

  • treeman

    Have an ’05 MCS auto that has had the SES light problem. It was resolved quickly and efficiently by my dealer with a reprogram of the O2 sensor. About 5000 miles and that has been the only glitch. Pretty minor one, in my opinion.

    Had an ’03 Honda Civic Hybrid that had the engine light come on (much like my MINI). Spent 6 months and several trips to the dealer in an effort to resolve the issue. Honda finally decided to put on a non-OEM catalytic converter and the problem went away. My disgust didn’t … the dealerships we visited were truly awful. Traded the Hybrid in yesterday on a Toyota Sienna (and yes, I’ve read about the engine sludge problem in earlier models).

    Have owned an Audi A4 — too many small problems to detail here. Traded it after a year for a Tundra 4X4. Had the truck 4.5 years, and all were trouble free. Also traded this in when I bought the Sienna.

    Have had a Honda Odyssey (97) that needed three sets of brakes (complete) in 4 years. Had a used Acura Legend that performed wonderfully, but traded it a week after my daughter vomited all over (and in) the dash.

    Had a Volvo 240 wagon that was boring and solid as a rock. Had a 78 Chevy pickup that was a plum. Absolutely trouble free for 150,000 miles. Then died. Had a Datsun wagon that was a joke. First car was a Mercury Comet … a love affair with a very poor quality vehicle. Squeaks could be heard for miles. Had a 93 Toyota T100 that was boring and flawless.

    Conclusions: some cars are good and some aren’t so good, and it doesn’t always match the stereotypes. I dislike Honda and haven’t found them very reliable. This may be more an issue of poor service and dealership failures than car quality. Have been very happy with Toyota, Acura, Volvo, and my early Chevy. Have been unhappy with Audi and Datsun.

    As for my MINI. It drives like no other car, and my read is that the 2005 models are going to be OK as far as reliability. I knew when I bought it that there might be minor issues. Life is full of trade-offs.

  • gokartride

    It’s clear to me…based on the MINIs I know about…that this survey (like so many) is purely based on collected data. I never, never trust data only…that’s just one facet of the picture. Don’t similar surveys give MINIs the highest marks in customer satisfaction and resale value??? So what’s the real picture here, huh??? I expect lots of people swallow what they’re served in these surveys hook, line, and sinker. Fine…more MINIs for the rest of us.


    Wow, that is surprising. I have a 02 MCS that I took delivery of in August 2002. I have the normal rattles, but the only major issue I had was the coolant expnasion tank seperation and a bad water pump. Mine was one of the first in the area to go in for that combo, but has been worry free since. I did notice the replacement tank was recently seeping at the seams and it was replaced just over a week ago.

    3rd from last – NO WAY!

    Motor on!


    02 DS/W MCS Dinan S1

  • Osmodious

    I have made a grand total of 11 trips to the dealer for various problems with my 2004 MCS. Unfortunately, several of the problems took a few visits to resolve, with a couple still not resolved (my seat has been loose since last JULY!). I’ve been incredibly patient, but I lost my cool when they pulled the good ol’ “They all do that” on one of the problems (loose brake pedal)…that sentence was one of the reasons I traded my Audi A4.

    The odd thing is that I still recommend the car to anyone who’ll listen. I mention a couple of the problems, but tend to not expand on A) the inability of the dealer to fix anything B) the inability to ever get a loaner car (once out of 11 times?) and C) the disinterest of Mini to do anything to assist (3 formal complaints with NO RESPONSE).

    I love my car but can’t help feeling like I would love it more if the seat didn’t shift on every curve. Then again, I think part of the reason I am so patient is the small fact that ALL dealerships stink these days…

  • I shouldn’t have opened my big fat mouth about my ’05 MCS having no problems! I got in the car this evening (after dark) to discover that the self-levelling xenon headlamps are STUCK in the completely down position! The running lights adjust when I turn them off and on, but the self-leveling part won’t self-level. I hope there’s a fix for this that doesn’t require a trip to the dealer, which is 4 hours away. 🙁

  • Off-topic – Steven, you may want to try simply restarting the car and turning the headlights on and off and on. Many of these type of systems on the car reset themselves after the car is restarted.

  • scott

    funny this topic should come up here now, as i was just commenting on this to a friend yesterday (before i went to pick up my car from the shop).

    it seems i visit my dealer every 3-4 months at least. while some trips have been for wear and tear items, such as 3 sets of brake pads, many others have not been.

    i’ve had dash rattles quieted (the electrical tape fix has since fallen out), a xenon headlight replaced, a window motor swapped, the weather stripping around my sunroof replaced, and a tire pressure sensor exchanged.

    my previous 2 cars, both mitsubishis, needed a total of 1 visit to the dealer for anything other than scheduled maintenance in 8+ years of opwnership.

    that being said, it’s interesting to see how many of us have had early build MINIs, with numerous issues, and have gone on to trade in for a newer model year.

    i’m also inclined to join that group aslo…unless alfa is back in the states by the time i’m ready to make that move.

    Gabe – are there any numbers somewhere showing what percentage of MINI owners are repeat buyers? not only that, but how do those numbers relate to other manufacturers?


  • AlanB

    I guess it is all relative! My MCS 2002 has been fine! But I drove a 1960 Morris 850 for five years!

  • Zach

    Ford is the biggest bunch of crap ever! I’ve owned two, a 2000 Mustang and a 2004 SVT Focus. Tranny went out on the Mustang.. The SVT had about 3000 miles before the clutch was slipping. All the interior lights stopped working.. Took it in 8 times, they said it was fixed everytime, sure enough, once I went out for the night, the lights would not work.

  • Micah

    Why the persistent, passive-aggressive jabs at VW? (e.g., “…no first-year model excuses”)

    My turn (only not so passive)…a Mini is really just a down-model front wheel drive BMW in disguise with a cheap plastic interior, crappy seats, and a Chrysler motor.

  • I don’t get how this could be hard to understand – VW has been ranked very low in quality for a number of years yet they’ve been an established brand with established products and decades old factories throughout the world. MINI was also ranked low for the 2002 model year yet they at least have the excuse of (A) launching an entirely new product (their only product) (B) launching a new dealer network (C) training service technicians, (D) training service advisors (E) doing it all in the US on a show-string budget. How could you not make the comparison?

    Also why do think this is some sort of attack on VW? Many MF readers have or have had VWs in the past. I don’t think it’s a secret (certainly not to most owners) that their quality has been low on some products for a number of years.

  • Ian F

    I am still a “wanna-be” MINI owner, but I do spend a lot of time with my girlfriend’s MCS. The car has been relatively issue free since purchase in 8/03. Some windshield trim and a couple of software updates… that’s about it. 29K on the clock.

    Likewise, my own car – an ’03 Jetta TDI Wagon has also been trouble-free for 2 years and 54K miles. It has never been to the dealer for service – ever. And I beat the snot out of the car. I attribute this partially to my choice of options. I went with as minimal electronic do-dads as possible. After an experience with an E36 M3, I’m leary of German electronics and “gadgets” in general.

    My previous car was a ’91 Acura Integra. Another car I beat mercilessly. I finally traded it in at 229K miles with many nagging issues, but the car still had the ORIGINAL clutch. Can’t complain much about that.

    All cars can have “issues”. Sometimes you get lucky… sometimes you don’t. And by-in-large, all modern cars are pretty reliable and service-free compared to those of the past, even the worst of them.

  • Micah

    Sorry that came off a bit too harsh. It was a rhetorical point relating to a tendency on these forums to incessantly bash VW. It’s almost like VW is a bit too uncomfortably close to Mini, and therefore there is a tendency to want to establish the superiority of Mini over VW. My overall point is that sometimes Mini owners can be a bit pretentious about the total awesomeness of their cars without acknowleging that like any other brand, compromises were made to maximize the bottom line.

    As a former owner of multiple VWs (’73 Karmann Ghia, ’89 Jetta GLI, ’98 GTI VR6), I readily agree that there are quality issues with the brand. But very much like Minis, I think VWs have more character and personality than some of the more esteemed brands for reliability such as Toyota and Honda/Acura.

    Perhaps I am also a bit jealous because I have wanted a Cooper S since I first saw and drove one, and so far have not been able to afford the purchase. 🙂

  • HPuck35

    I am one of those that started with an 02 MC and now drive a 05 MCS. I still have the O2, my wife drives it. I had several problems with the car early (shift linkage came off, windows refusing to go down, just sitting in the driveway the car would keep unlocking itself, etc). Once those problems were fixed, it has been quite reliable.

    I only have about 3000 miles on the 05 so the jury is still out as far as relability. However, it seems better made. The fit and finish is better. Little things, like a small tray under the parking brake handle, have been changed or added for the better. It did come with an add on cup holder for those concerned with cup holders. I hate the looks of it and removed it the first day I had the car. My wife saw it and wanted it for the 02. She got it.

    I have had other first year models (SAAB 9000 turbo for instance) that were much worse than the Mini. They all got much better ratings as they matured as I’m sure the Mini will.

  • ajigel

    “I see Buick scored higher. But then the problem would be that you’re driving a Buick.”

    Exactly. While Porche scored higher, most of the high scores belonged to car makers that make huge cars (Buick, Lincoln, Cadalac), which in all fareness seem to attract the over 60 crowd.

    How hard do you think those people drive their cars?

    The Mini isn’t flawless, but everyone I know who has one pushes it to an extreme level of driving. I don’t see a lot of Lincoln Towncar owners driving their cars the way I drive mine. The fact that the car can keep up with me (while my friends with VWs are replacing their transmissions) says something to me about the overall quality Mini has.

  • Jason Keefe

    I had a Mini Cooper S 2003 and had a lot of problems. When I bought the car as a demo the dealer never told me that is has been in the shop about 10 time for a few different things. A list of a few things that I had problems with.( Airbag light(7), Cold start, and trim around window and driver seat). I know drive a 2005 MCS after the LEMON Law an the airbags light for a safety issue. My 2005 is a lot stiffer then 2003. I just hope that i do not have as many problems with this one. 2003 MCS had 46000 in two years.

  • My Cooper S was an early production 2002 model I picked up at the dealer in July 02. One year later in June 03 later I had the JCW package installed and the car has been almost flawless since leaving the dealership. The only item that needed attention was that famous water reservoir bottle leak. It was replaced and I have never had a stitich of trouble since. I have just moved and shipped my car to the UK and guess what, my car is worth $7,000.00 more right now, after putting 23,000 miles on it, than when it was new. If I were to sell it today I could actually get about 7 grand more than what the car originally cost me!

  • jeeves

    My 02 is a April 02 build. Puts it in the first 3000 sold. The only problems I have had were a bent exhaust( ran over a cone at a Phil Wicks track day) my own fault. Or a set of dimples in my bonnet ( done by the dealer service people) while installing oem rally lights. Frankly in talkig to other owners I don’t think the early 02″s are all that bad. It’s been 3 years, maybe my opinion will change in another 3.

  • jterran

    Just a reminder: anyone who has a first person story of either good or bad quality is just a single data point and not meaningful–as you all know, Power or CR collect lots of data and compile it to produce their reports. So if you’ve had a poor quality Honda or a great quality Mini, it really MEANS SQUAT to someone who’s trying to decide if ON AVERAGE these cars are good or bad in terms of quality….

  • Dean Bloomfield

    HI There,

    I have an 02 Mini, and am awaiting delivery of my 05 convertible in August. Had quite a few probs with my 02 to be honest. Power steering failure (x2) boot lock broken, airbag light coming on (x5) fan belt slipping and most recently a horrible sounding rubbing noise when the wheels rotate between about 1-10 MPH.

    Should I report this before my warrantly ends on 22 July this year? Or wait untill my new Mini arrives (I am part exchanging, might they turn round and under value my car because of this?)

  • dave

    being a big time toyota/honda guy for the quality and long life of their cars, i am having a hard time actualy buying a mini. if the costs were the same i would buy a mini tomorrow, but for double the price, and in my eye 1/2 the quality its a hard pill to swallow. i just wish i didnt love the look and feel of the mini so much.

  • Scott Markle

    I’m definitely in the “won’t buy another first model year car” camp… I had a 2003 Cooper for 2 years, and the only problem I had in over 20K miles was the paint peeled off the driver’s side downtube (it was replaced under warranty). Now I have a 2005 Cooper convertible, and in 9 months it has already spent almost a month in the shop… The windshield cracked immediately after I got it (shades of the early hardtops), the top motor burned out, and I’ve had a few other irritating trim-related issues. I love all things MINI and BMW, but for nearly $30K I do expect better quality & reliability than this… It’s not a question of cost or convenience — these things were obviously fixed under warranty, and while it’s annoying to have to go to the dealership — at least it’s a short trip for me. The problem is that I want to drive the car I bought (not get stuck in a loaner — bare bones, auto, hardtop — compared to my fully-loaded, manual, cabrio) without having to worry or deal with problems or hassles — especially when I should be enjoying top-down motoring!

    I was seriously considering upgrading to an S convertible, but now I’m not so sure… My best friend just traded in his Civic for an Element — it’s his third Honda in 19 years. He is horrible on cars — never checks or regularly changes the oil, drives them hard, etc. — Yet his cars run trouble-free for years and years.

    It’s pretty hard for me to justify paying this much for a car if I can’t drive it because it’s in the shop all the time.

  • Frank

    Please Honda/Toyota lovers, go an buy your boring appliance mobiles and leave the “interesting” and “Fun” cars to the rest of us.

  • Scott Markle

    I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as a Honda or Toyota lover — I just don’t think “fun” has to equal “unreliable”. I bought a MINI (my second — and fifth from BMW) because I love to drive — but it doesn’t do me much good when it’s in the shop… I attribute it totally to MINI rushing products out before they’re perfected. My 2003 MINI was generally flawless for 2 years. My 2005 cabrio has been a blast, but has also given me a lot of headaches. There is an excellent article on TheCarConnection.com right now that attributes part of GM’s decline to exactly the same problem. All I’m saying is that if MINI wants to compete in the premium market (and $30K for a Cooper cario definitely puts it there — I could almost have a Z4 for that much), it can’t deliver half-baked goods.

  • Scott Markle

    One other note… It looks like I am one of the only cabrio owners reporting here… It’s no surprise to me that everyone is happy with the 2005 hardtop — it’s the culmination of 4+ years of model evolution, so they’ve bound to have worked out most of the issues. Even when I bought my 2003 hardtop, I think MINI had solved most of the issues found in the 2002s. The cabrio is a mostly new animal, and it looks to me like MINI repeated the sins of their past — rushing it to market before it was ready. I’m sure the 2006s will be better, and so on — I just definitely won’t buy another first year MINI again — EVER.

  • John

    It’s only fair to say that there were problems with all the cars in 2002. The Forums were filled with posts about: 1. actual problems with software, loose parts that rattled and buzzed, seats, the 5-speed manual transmission, and smaller items that would have been passed over if the car hadn’t died inconveniently, and 2. perceived problems with systems or equipment that just didn’t meet the expectations set by BMW Group, which ranged from the rear view mirror to the CVT to gas mileage.

    It’s turned into a classic great car, as a result of very hard work on the seriously flawed initial releases of software in 2002, now fixed.

  • Heavy Sigh

    This is an interesting thread… I’m a lurker and an MCS owner wannabee. The problem boils down to the automarket in this price range being a rather unfortunate venn diagram: one group is “the reliables” (Honda, Toyota etc.), the other group is “the interestings” (the Minis, the GTI/GLIs etc). The intersection between the two groups is remarkably small. I am a four time VW owner, as well as Saab and Volvo, and my current 03 VR6 GLI is simply awful on the minor quality issues. It’s unfortunate that to drive something that gets your enthusiast’s blood going you need to make so many sacrifices. I will continue to wait on the sidelines regarding an MCS until I am convinced my VW-ish frustrations will be reduced. This thread has me convinced otherwise for the time being.

  • I will continue to wait on the sidelines regarding an MCS until I am convinced my VW-ish frustrations will be reduced. This thread has me convinced otherwise for the time being.

    Just curious – does the apparent improvements to the 2005 MINI not persuade you at all? I mean it would seem that there’s overwhelming opinion here (from owners) that the newer cars are much better built. I would think this would be what you were looking for.

  • Heavy Sigh

    My impression from these posts is that even the newer models can be a mixed bag. See the posts from Luke, Nathan, Mark, David, Osmodius etc. I realize that some of these posts concern cars from the 04 model year, but it’s still not encouraging. Other posters seem to be in the “jury’s still out” camp regarding their 05s. I also realize that the “N” here is too low to be even close to meaningful – but all this qualitative commentary gets me looking at the right trouble spots over time.

    Also, I think my decision is a little longer term anyway – order an 06 in late fall/winter or wait it out for a new 07. Waiting it out for the 07 brings up all the “first model year” issues mentioned above.

    PS I was EXACTLY that Corrado owner mentioned in one of the posts. Too funny. A nightmare to own but still one of my absolute favorite cars (to drive) that I ever had. I do NOT want to repeat that love/hate experience!

  • As an owner who has now had two MINIs with no serious issues to speak of (and really not many at all), it’s just hard for me to understand why anyone would be hesitant at this point. Then again I’ve never owned a Corrado!

  • minimcoupe

    Never owned a Honda or VW and probably never will. My 05 Mini CVT has over 19K trouble free miles. One chip in windshield, other dings in the front end and just ok gas mileage (24/34) are my only complaints. (My 315hp M-Coupe gets 22/28 mpg if you keep your foot out of it!) Great daily driver. I have owned over 100 cars and love driving the Mini. Plan to order 06 MCS AT this winter and sell the SVT. (wife still wants the auto tranny) I don’t put much stock in JD Powers as I dont drive their kind of cars they rate highest.

  • Beth

    My it’s difficult to get a handle on things with so many varying experiences and opinions. My previous car was a VW New Beetle which was in the shop constantly, including needing an entire engine rebuild after 30,000 miles…and I take immaculate care of my cars. My current car is an MCS ’02 and it has also been a headache which is also a heartache. I’ve wanted a Mini for 15 years and right now I’m very frustrated and…sad. I bought it 2 years ago, it had 16,000 miles. I immediately had to have the rear brakes replaced. In the first year and a half that I had it, it was in the shop, including having to be towed there 4 times, on average every 5 weeks. It is currently in the shop again to get set number 4 of rear brakes, a new set of front brakes, power steering rack, new door hinges and a new passenger window motor. The truly frightening part is, i brought the car in for the window, the doors being stiff and something rattling. Had no idea I was driving such a dangerous vehicle. The dealership gave me a loaner…which promptly died and had to be towed back so I am now driving a behemoth of a rental pick up truck. I want to be a Mini loyalist. I want a convertible when the lease runs out on this one. But I’m not sure it will happen now. I’m very disappointed.

  • Ian

    Sad story – sorry, Beth!

    What can possibly justify FOUR sets of rear brakes!? The rear brakes don’t even work very hard – why are they being changed so much? Do you drive around with the e-brake applied?!

    Of the VERY FEW stories I know of repeated issues with MINIs (ignoring the windshield issue), it is generally the case that the dealership is largely to blame – a repeating problem indicates the dealerships failure to correctly diagnose & fix whatever is actually wrong; they are fixing the symptoms instead of the cause.

    Is there a different dealership you can frequent instead?

    That said, there have been MANY improvements during MINI production, if you can “risk” another one.

  • Beth

    Thanks Ian, The dealership, to be honest, sucks. I can’t even begin to tell you the problems I’ve had with them. They are an hour away, the only other dealership is more than 2 hours away. I’m at a loss. I just want to drive my car! I absolutely love it when it runs. I’ve talked to BMW, they know about the history. Last time the brakes had to be replaced they wanted to send a field engineer out to look at the car but the service manager at the dealership cancelled it. A field engineer is supposed to look at it this time…we’ll see if that happens. I agree with you, I think much of my problem is this dealership, they have dropped the ball so many times with this car that it’s amazing I haven’t ended up in a ditch somewhere. That is not an exaggeration.

  • Patrick

    Hondas are Reliable cars. We have a 5 year old CR-V which has never given us a day of problems. It recently had to jump-start a 1.9 year old Mercedes-Benz C-class whose battery had failed (in summer). The Honda with the 5 year old battery was starting up a 1.9 year old Mercedes, at a local service station in clear view of everyone!

  • Eva

    I drove a 1991 saturn, which had more than 250k miles on it. I finally decided to get rid of the hand me down and get a new car.

    I bought a 03 MC CVT, which turned out to be a lemon. I drove more rental cars than my own new car. The dealership gave me a new 04 CVT, which has been running fine except for a few minor problems. Still having the door getting frozen in the winter, but its summer now and they replaced the doorhandles, so we shall see how it keeps up. So far close to 40k and its doings well.

    Bought a 05 MCS in november 04 and that car is running great. had 1 problem, which was quickly fixed by service. got rear ended and havent had my car for over 6 weeks. make note, if you get into an accident with a mini, it will take you a LONG time to get it back. The parts are not available and service does not do body work. Make sure you have a rental as a part of your car insurance.

  • Beth

    It’s good to hear that you actually did get another car out of MINI because I believe I have a lemon. Right now I am gathering information and rallying some supportive local MINI owners around me before I make my next move. I can’t believe I have to strategize like this but enough is enough! I know not all MINIs are bad, but I got a bad one. I hope they take care of this. Wish me luck.

  • James

    Hi, just a word from across the ocean, dash rattle has been one of the bains in our 04 Cooper. Has any one out there had dealer issues when fitting the dash back into place? We are on the 3rd dash in the space of 10 months of ownership! We love the car to bits but having issues with noisey brakes thin paint/no paint external wheel arch trims not fitting flush to the body and the internal trim falling off.Most of this has been cured but our gear box is now getting tight to select reverse! Any comments please.

  • ALEX



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  • After reading all this I still think I want to buy a Mini.Im looking at an 02.What are the “early” VIN # or build dates? Also Toyotas arent boaring.Of all the cars/trucks Ive owned the most fun was a 1988 4runner.Had a great road trip to Cape Bretton N.S.Drove top off the whole time.

  • J-Flo

    Am not sure what you guys are talking about.. I have a 2002 Mini.. AND I LOVE it.. it runs great.. the service technicians are great at the mini dealership in fife washington… i am still zooming around town..

  • Bob

    I have one of the first 2002’s…took delivery August, 2002. Two problems covered under warranty since then…driver’s power window and power steering cooling fan. Otherwise, zero problems. Still looks and rides like a new car.

    • Clare

      It’s now early 2011, I love the cooper, my 4 year old does too and I just found an ’02 for sale w/138000km.  Looks good, no rust but I’ll do a test drive tonight & look for the bubble wrap noise, yo-yo effect and steering click. Gonna look closely at the strut towers too. We have a BMW/MINI dealer opening in town soon so it should be good for repairs (or i may wait a few months and look at their used lot) but this ’02 comes at an appropriate time for me.

      My question is should I stay away from ’02 and look closer to ’06, or by 138000km should all the gremlins be worked out?

  • hc2001

    I can see no one has written anything for a while on this forum… But I just happened to come across it and hoped someone might be able to offer me some advice.  I am looking at buying a 2001 (51 reg) mini cooper.  It is priced at £3,195 as there are a few marks, but he is willing to MOT it for 12 months so the only damage is cosmetic, and only if you look very hard! Mileage is roughly 63,000 which is great for 2001, all others I have looked at are around the 73,000 mark… 

    My previous car was a VW Polo (2002, 52 reg) and although it was a great first car, it ended up costing £2,200 in repairs over 3 years.  I am now at university and looking for a fun but mainly RELIABLE car, that won’t need expensive repairs on a monthly basis…. My budget doesn’t stretch to the 2007 latest version, what’s everyone’s opinion on a 2001 mini for reliability and running cost? Think it would be about 40mpg for me, mix of town and motorway driving… 

    • If you want a fun car. The Mini is the car. However, if you want a reliable car do look beyond Mini. I have a 2002 Mini cooper (5 speed), and I have fixed the Transmission (total rebuild). This is a common problem with Minis coopers. I love the car, but it is not a reliable car.

  • Jamey

    Just traded in a 2004 Mini Cooper (m/t) for a … Honda Fit. The Mini was a good car, but plagued by the sorts of mechanical problems that bring to mind the worst transgressions of Leyland-era/Lucas electrics English cars.

    Inside of <36,000 miles, I had to replace the reverse cluster/idler TWICE, and the entire transmission once (also, the shift lever linkage pin snapped, necessitating a costly disassembly). So, to recap: Effectively, three transmissions, and a host of other problems (constantly malfunctioning tire-pressure monitor; poorly-made seats–I had opted for leather seating surfaces); and other “gremlins,” prevented my Mini from being a “daily driver.” Frustrating does not begin to describe my ownership experience.

    Plus side: It was a ball to drive (when not in the repair shop); chicks dug it; and, with a desirable set of options (leather, sunroof), the car held its resale value very well. Not sure what more recent Minis are like, but nor do I intend to find out. Because of my dismal ownership experience, I will never own another BMW/Mini product. Period. There are too many other options out there.