Ask a MINI Service Advisor

MotoringFile is happy to announce a new feature similar to the popular “Ask an MA” posts we ran in 2004. This time instead of an MA we’ve got an SA. Our old friend Aleks has moved from the Motoring Advisor role and is now a Service Advisor at MINI of Manhattan. So that means Aleks is ready to answer those service related MINI question you’ve wanted to ask someone for ages.

For those that are newer to MotoringFile, here's how it works. Post the questions in the comments section below that you'd like to see answered. We'll be cutting off questions around Wednesday of this week and then by early next week he'll post answers to those questions chosen. Not all questions are guaranteed to be answered as I'm sure there will be some redundancies and some that are outside the Service Advisor realm.

Update: We’ve now shut off comments for this edition of Ask an MINI Service Advisor. Expect answers to select questions next week!


  • Scottinbend says:

    Aleks, I have a 2004 MCS and drive very few miles a year. I have had the car just over 2 years and would like to get my 2nd schedules service done soon but I only have about 14,000 miles on the car. What is the recognized policy for getting service before the “mileage” counter is reached?

    Thanks, Scott

  • giacomo says:

    My ’04 MCS has developed an intermittent rattle/squeak/buzz in the dash, seems mainly right side. It seems to mainly show up when I have a passenger but not always. Sometimes in the morning sometimes at nite sometimes with no passenger sometimes with…….no real pattern but usually with passenger. That’s about all with this my 2nd MCS.

  • Jairo says:

    Why does MINI not rotate our tires as part of the regular scheduled maitenance? Thanks.

  • David says:

    Hi Aleks, I have an ’05 MCS with about 10K miles on it. It is currently in the shop for the 4th time for the SES light that keeps cutting back on within a day after I get it back from the dealer. They just had a field tech rep look at the car and its service history, and my SA admits that even the field tech is puzzled by the issue. In order, they have replaced the O2 sensors, the DME, the fuel injectors, updated software and now they have had the field rep look at it and are awaiting word from higher up. I’ve said that this is my last visit before I attempt to start a “buyback” process.

    Any ideas? HELP!

  • Mario says:


    Is the gearbox a known problem or not? I am talking about the sound it makes at idle wich disappears when you press in the clutch.

    Thanks in advance.

    Cheers, Mario

  • Randy says:

    Aleks –

    Future MINI owner here. What do you see as the 5 most common mechanical/electrical issues on 05/06 Coopers coming into your Service bays?

    Thank you for your time.

  • 2006JCWS says:

    A minor question. I have an 06 Cooper S. I noticed there are pieces of velcro on the outside of the seat belt lock mechanism (the piece between the seat). What’s the purpose of this velcro?

  • Bartmack says:

    Dear Aleks, My question concerns the time factor related to standard MINI service: I have very low miles on my 2005 MCS, and it was one of the very first 05s delivered in July/Aug of 2004.

    I had my first service done at 7000 miles after 1 year of ownership, and now, another 6 months later, my mileage is just under 10k.

    My dealer made it clear that I must be right on schedule for my next covered service (which would be at 22k I suppose, 7k+15k)- but at this rate it could take me years to get there!

    Aren’t there at least fluids that have a limited life span (such as the brake fliud maybe) and must be changed after 24 months or some other time period?

    Can my dealer deny me covered service if my mileage is ‘too low’? Thanks for your input. Bart

  • Bartmack says:

    David- I had a similar problem early on, the culprit on mine was a small crack in the seam of the plastic supercharger intake duct (ie an air leak). It was causing a checksum error and triggering the SES and EML lights. The tech found it by taking the piece of plastic duct out and putting water in it (it leaked)Perhaps this may help you-Bart

  • James says:


    I have a 2005 MCS with the full JCW package purchased in May 2005. Recently (when the car’s been sitting overnight) when started, the engine bogs down, doesn’t idle well at all, is rough running, and eventually dies after about 15 seconds of sputtering. Every morning it does this. Even if it idles somewhat normally, as soon as you drive it out of the driveway, it instantly dies. The whole process is repeated every morning. The car only has 4000mi on it.

    It takes manually holding the throttle at 2000rpm for about 2 min to get the car from idling and dying like this.

    It’s embarrassing really, for a brand new car to idle and die only being a few months old. And no, there’s no water in my gasoline, and I only put premium in. I don’t know whether to send it to Mini and have them check it out (I’m overseas, and the nearest Mini dealer for my wife is 2 hours away).

    Is this a JCW issue, a MCS, or what? I’ve heard of similar scenarios on NAM and other Mini websites. Please help!


  • Ted says:

    What is done to a brand new vehicle prior to customer delivery? Can you supply us with the usual checklist that the service department must complete? How else can we be sure that the vechicle was properly DPIed?

  • Steve says:

    I have a heavily modded 04′ MCS. Nothing done inside. I am pushing about 220hp and get a flat spot at 2800 rpm under light throttle. Do you think having my chip flashed with JCW programming might cure this problem?

  • Charlie says:

    Can you discuss how your dealership handles Customer modified cars, the Mini warranty and the Magnesen-Moss Warranty Act.

    I just added oil pressure and supercharger boost gauges and don’t want to hear my dealership say that voids my warranty unless there is specific relavent proof it has anything to do with a failure.

    Thanks and good luck in your new job,

    • Charlie
  • phaedrus says:

    Mario – I feel for you, bro; I have the same problem! A rattle noise at idle/neutral that goes away when you press in the clutch!

    So far they’ve replaced the tranny, flywheel, clutch and clutch bearing, and still no resolution! They’ve just had the second field rep take a look at it and I await a call after my fourth visit to the dealer. Love the car, but it’s getting rather annoying.

    Aleks, what say you? Have you heard of this?

  • Bill says:

    I am in the process of ordering a new full-JCW MCS Cabrio and was interested in why you cannot order the JCW suspension for the Cabrio? What is the issue that takes this off the table for the Cabrio?

    Thanks and good luck !!


  • dave says:

    my brakes squeak a little when I’m about to come to a stop, does that mean I need new brakes?

  • Phil says:

    Hi Aleks, How common is it to have a buzzing sound in the door panels around the speakers with the Harmon/Kardon upgrade? It was incredibly irritating and it took my MINI dealer four tries to finally fix it.

    Thanks, Phil

  • greg says:

    Hi Aleks. Whats the story with the passenger airbag light? I was told at time of purchase it would light up indicating the airbag was switch off if a child sat there. When I have my 60lb daughter sit there it doesn’t turn off and the dealership/MINI will not give me a straight answer. It is obviously a safety feature but they will not give me a reason but only advise me to put my child in the back. I would appreciate your opinion. Thanks!

  • esb says:

    I was recently told by a MINI Service advisor my car needed a new clutch and flywheel, and that it would cost $3500.00. Calls to more than a dozen other MINI dealers around the country found pricing for the same job ranging between a more reasonable, $1750.00 to $2500.00. Additionally, he said: “they have to pull the whole engine out of the car”. Complaints to the Service Mgr, General Mgr, and MINI USA have gone unanswered. What is your take on this particular dealer and why is MINI USA apparently “OK” with dealers trying to gouge their customers?

  • Philip says:

    I have a 2005 mini cooper s. The clock runs fast; anyway to reprogram it to run on time?

  • Steve says:

    Mario and phaedrus,

    Here are the TSBs for the problems, both Cooper 5sp and Cooper S 6sp.


    2005 MINI Cooper 5sp Getrag:

    MINI Cooper S 6sp Getrag up to Prod 8/04

  • Steve says:


    Is there a comprehensive list of what is covered under the US 3/36k maint program, or rather what is not covered.

    I was shocked when my dealer replaced a burned out fender lamp, and passenger wiper blade under maint. I just assumed those were wear and tear items.

    Thanks, Steve

  • Edge says:


    I posed the exact same question at last year’s MINIs on the Dragon, to a MINIUSA employee who was in attendance (with a JCW-loaded MCSC). He explained it this way:

    The JCW Sport Suspension is ordered specific to each vehicle. There are varying spring rates that can be obtained, and which rate you get is dependent on which options you have on the car. Since this involves keeping a larger inventory of differing parts to satisfy requests for JCW suspensions, the decision was made to limit it to the hardtop MINIs. The thinking behind this was: “If someone is serious about performance in their MINI, they would have bought a hardtop instead of a convertible, due to the increased structural ridigity.” It was deemed too complicated to maintain an even larger inventory for every possible variation. Eliminating cabrios from the equation made it manageable.

    Now, I have heard stories of MCSC owners having the JCW Sport Suspension installed… so it’s clearly POSSIBLE… it just isn’t something that is sanctioned by MINIUSA or JCW, so be aware of that fact. I have no idea what decision process was made on spring rates to buy for which convertible… since it wasn’t “official”.

  • PhilaMini says:

    Aleks Congrats on your new position! I have an early build MCSc. After one year a very low background growl can be heard upon colder startups and sometimes later at red light idle. From the driver’s seat it seems to come from up front in the engine, though it is not heard at all when lifting the bonnet. Service has looked for it, but no cause emerged.

    While it only lasts a few seconds and is not terribly distracting, I just would like to know the source in case it might presage some larger developing problem.


  • Edge says:

    Forgot to mention… the JCW-loaded MCSC that the MINIUSA employee brought to the Dragon last year DID NOT have the JCW suspension. It was “kosher”. It was JCW everything else though (i.e. tuning kit, brakes, wheels and strut brace).

  • Frank says:


    My question doesn’t really have to do with MINIs, per se, but rather… How do you like your job as a service advisor now vs when you used to work as a Motoring Advisor in sales?

    I am currently considering both positions at my local dealer and would like to get your perspective from “the other side of the fence” on the plus and minuses of each job.

    Last, without getting into salary details, how the MA salary compares to that of the service advisor role?

    Much appreciated!

  • Evan says:

    My 2004 MC (12/03 build) has developed a sporadic steering column clicking when turning along with the occasional feeling that when the steering wheel is loose. If you turn it, you can feel the wheel rotate but nothing in the column. I stop and try to repeat it but can’t. It only happens at low speeds, espically when parking. My car has 22,600 miles on it. 5-speed.The car’s driving alright. I’m just concerned of the steering column going at a bad time. I have heard of similar clicking/steering column probs. It also dilutes the spot on handling that I have enjoyed so far in the car.


  • Larry says:


    I recently took my MINI in for its first oil service. I gave my key to the SA and he stuck it into a reader attached to the PC which gave him my owner information and VIN. I mentioned how cool it was that it stores that information. I’m curious as to what other data is available from the key? Is odometer mileage stored as well?

    Thanks, Larry

  • Jon says:

    Hello Aleks,

    I love the look of my MCS with bonnet stripes, but I am unhappy at how they’ve worn. They are black, with the white pinstripes. The problem is that they are actually just white bonnet stripes, with the black printed on top. When a rock hits the vinyl, it essentially scratches the printed black away, leaving the white vinyl underneath. This is a bad look.

    I seem to remember my MA telling me that bonnet stripes are covered under warranty, as long as they were on the car at the time of purchase.

    So here’s my question? Would my dealership replace these bonnet stripes free of charge, or are these scratches just considered normal wear-and-tear?


  • Luis says:


    First, thank you for taking your time to do this.

    My question, when the time comes to bring my car for service (6000Miles now), can I bring my own set of aftermarket brake pads and have them put them in instead of the OEM?? If yes, Would i be able to keep the OEM they were going to use in the first place.?? Does this apply to any other NOT-OEM parts that are cover under regular service?? i.e. oil, fluids?

    thank you again, Good luck with your new job!

    regards Luis

  • Ted says:

    MINI Car Memory Features…??? We had our car delivered with default car memory features which is to be corrected. When we tried to figure out the “Rain Sensor” options, no one as yet knows what the setting options are for the levels of sensitivity. We were advised that the tech will have to get both keys and read the ECM to determine what levels of sensitivity are available. Do you have a technical MINI car memory programming worksheet?

  • CooperJon says:

    Hey, Aleks is my service advisor in NYC. He’s a great guy, loves the cars, and is well over 6ft tall!

  • first, thank you for your time! this may be a repeat question: do you recommend rotating run flats? if so, how often. at my first maintance check up, i was a bit surprised it was not included. after asking, the dealer offered to rotate for $60 per wheel. however, they said MINI does not recommend rotating and that customers who have, complain about new “noises” after rotating. is this true?

    thanks much, joey

  • JK says:

    Hi Aleks,

    My car makes a funny noise. What’s wrong?

    Also, I ordered my MINI in Chili Red but now I wish it were blue. Why can’t MINI fix this for me under warranty?

    K thx,


    *Note for the humor-impaired: while most of the questions posted are very good, I’m amazed at what some people will expect a service advisor to answer. The main text of this post is intended to be satire.

  • fdavid says:

    if this is aleks from manhattan mini: hello. I would like to know how you guys wash the minis after service. not only I didn’t ask since the car is always spotless but the car was washed anyways and the whole jet black paint is full of scratches which were none existant prior to my “welcome to mini manhattan” service. much love. zoë coombes and f david boira

  • andrew says:

    Aleks. Can you help me find a p/n for the anthracite tach ring? thanks.

  • Kevin says:

    Thanks for taking these questions Aleks and congratulations.

    I love these cars enough we are now a two MINI household! Recently when installing an iPod adapter in my August ’05 build MCS I found that the downtubes seem attached at the base. This is different than my October ’04 build MCC. I managed to get around them to install an iPod adapter but would like to know how they can be removed (from the base) when/if necessary.


  • Brian says:

    Hi, Does the dealar have to flush the brake fluid after 2 years? The manual recommends it but my dealar, (Braman in Miami) has not done it.

    Thanks, Brian

  • Tony K says:

    Hey Aleks ! Tony from MINI of the Main Line here. Just wanted to say hello!

  • Craig says:

    I have recently ordered a 2006 MNIN COOPER “S” and it’s now on the USA shores hopefully soon to arrive at the DEALERSHIP. My question is as follows: Does MINI have an anti theft unit build into the MINI? If so does my dealer want $691.00 to activate the system? Thanks in adcance…


  • R50 says:

    Often the passenger side window will not retract the 1/4″ necessary to close the door. How can I reset this? This is on an ’03 MC. Thanks

  • Louis says:

    Hi Aleks

    I’m looking forward to ordering a JCW MINI in the next couple of week (provided a bus don’t run me over on the way to a dealer) but I’m stuck on one item for an answer (I have searched forums without luck).

    1. JCW wheels: It’s not in the MINIUSA configurations option but is there a way to get the 18″ JCW star-spoke wheels from the factory without paying $2300?

    2. JCW wheels II (sorry, similar question): How much discount can I expect if I have the dealer swap the S-Lites to the JCW star-spoke wheels before I take delivery?

    I like the looks of the S-Lites but I’m pretty sure I’d immediately swap them with aftermarket wheels (Probably because I’m brainwashed into thinking that the aftermarket or JCW wheels contribute to better performance but mainly because I want a chance to own the star-spoke wheels).

    Thank You


  • Bob says:

    Hi Aleks!

    I have a 2005 MC. It just ran out of wiper flluid. Is it ok to fill up the wiper fluid container with off the shelf wiper fluid? Or does my Mini require some kind of special wiper fluid from the dealer?

  • Gabe says:

    JCW wheels: It’s not in the MINIUSA configurations option but is there a way to get the 18″ JCW star-spoke wheels from the factory without paying $2300?

    Thought I might help with these questions since Aleks probably can’t answer them to specifically. Not sure where you’re at but I know of at least two MF sponsors that might sell them to you at a discount. For instance Morristown MINI sells the wheels at a discount to MF readers. Just follow the instructions listed on the latest MF deals post and you should see the discount.

    JCW wheels II (sorry, similar question): How much discount can I expect if I have the dealer swap the S-Lites to the JCW star-spoke wheels before I take delivery?

    I’ve never heard of a dealer doing this – especially for S-lites. There may be some out there but they will be very few and far between.

  • Steve says:


    Off the shelf wiper fluid is fine. However if you live in a colder climate, spend a little more and buy the anti-freeze washer fluid, it will keep the lines from freezing.

    Even if you have the Cold Weather Pkg, only the jets are heated, the lines under the hood and through the roof to the rear will freeze.


  • Aleks says:

    WOW!!!great questions everybody, I can’t believe the turn out. I am looking forward to answering as much as humanly possible in the next few days. Keep’em coming, and many thanks again to Gabe for offering up a forum for all of us.

    I’ll get back to you all very soon.

  • Steves says:

    Phillips, just had my 05 MCS in for maint and had them check the clock because it was running fast and the dealer ordered a new cluster…also the emblem on the steering wheel was coming off and they had to replace the whole airbag module..If anyone notices their windows leaking in the upper corners the window just needs adjustment. Also, I noticed a whistling noise (thought it was the sunroof) when I am going 45 and above, realized that it only occurs when I have the thermostat at “LO” setting (it is actually the fan itself).

  • Dan says:

    Aleks —

    What is your dealership’s policy on loaner cars when service is performed? I have heard that loaner cars are standard for purchasers from a particular dealership but not for others (those who purchased elsewhere). Thanks.

  • Sam says:

    Hi Aleks,

    So, last Spring I installed the aux input into my MCS. Worked like a charm! The stereo instantly recognized the aux input and I was able to connect my iPod. Happy motoring! Last month I started up my MINI and noticed that the aux mode was not available! D’oh! Please note, this was after not driving for around a month in the early part of Winter, so the battery discharged quite a bit (I’m using a battery conditioner now). I’ve done everything I can think of to try to remedy this. I’ve unplugged and replugged it. I’ve disconnected and connected my battery. Also, I’ve confirmed that the wiring harness is fine. I installed it on another MINI and it works perfectly. Do you have any idea why this happened and how I might go about resolving it?

    All the best!

  • irieman says:

    Hi Aleks,

    Is it possible to make available, a listing of mods & (self) service maintenance areas that will/will not effect the warranties on our MINIs?

    Thank you for fielding the many questions you’ve opened yourself up to!


    Irieman 03MC, SoCal, USA PS: Thanks Gabe! This is exactly the type of informational resource I’ve wished were available on (in my case) MINIUSA.COM

  • golden_child says:


    This is a question regarding a problem that many people are starting to see. There have been many posts about this on NAM and MINI2 so it seems to be a global problem. I and many others are haveing a failure of the Passenger side (LHD) Xenon headlight from the model year 2003-2004. When the lights are turned on the Drivers side (LHD) comes on as normal but the passenger does not ignite. A few flicks of the switch on and off may do it but not all the time. I understand that Xenons are an expensive option to halogeon but it is supposed to last longer as well. I have an 03 MCS which is just under 3 years old but at 64000 miles. I feel that failure for this type of light is way to early. Is it normal for a Xenon to ends its lifespan after 3 years was it a bad batch of passenger side (LHD) Xenons? and there a fix to this other than the costly replacement of the one light which can range anywhere between 700-1200 dollars (depending on dealership)?

    Thanks for your time


  • PocketRobot says:

    I have had 3 windows motors replaced becuase the would not drop properly when the doors were open. Currently, my passenger side windows is having the problem again. This will be 4 windows motors in 2 1/3 years! Will MINI ever get better window motors?

  • giacomo says:


    there is a post somewhere here on MF about the clicking issue. I had it on my ’02 MCS but so far not on my ’04 MCS. Mine was fixed under warranty but it took 3 visits to my local dealer here in SoCal to get them to fix it.

  • CeridianMN says:


    I have read a decent number of people with webspokes and clicking noises from the wheels at low speeds. While I have not had the car long and am not sure it will ever be an issue – but I was wondering what you may know about it?

  • Roco Rocket says:

    My clutch pedal is rough when I depress sometimes, worse than others. I asked it to be checked last visit but MINI said it was OK. I suspect the throw out bearing. What can I do to get it replaced under warranty?

  • Erick says:

    Hi Aleks,

    You are brave man taking on all these questions.

    I have what I hope is an easy one.

    When shifting from 1st to 2nd, there is considerably more transmission noise than for any other gear change. Should I be concerned or is this normal for an ’04 MCS ?

    Thanks in advance, BB

  • shania says:

    Hi, Aleks.

    Can you comment on the cultural differences between BMW and MINI techs and whether there is any tension or animosity between the two groups? For example, are you ridiculed by the BMW mechanics for working on “gay little clown cars”?


  • Jon says:

    Hello Aleks,

    I have a problem with my windows. Every time I roll them down, (which is more often than you’d think), a series of thin streaks is unfortunately applied to the inside of the window when I roll them back up. It is perhaps a grease on the seal, but has only started appearing in the past 5 months. I went a year and a half without these window streaks, but now they plague me, ruining visibility.

    I recently tried cleaning the seal that rubs along the inside of the window, but I actually think it made it worse!

    1.) is there a known cause for this problem, and more importantly, a solution? If so, is it something we can do at home, or should we make an appointment to bring our car in?

    2.) Have you even heard of this problem at all yet?

    Thanks, Jon

  • Jono says:


    I’m having exactly the same problem on my Feb 05 build… I picked up the car in April and started getting the streaks aroung Octoberish… sucks…

    cheers all and happy motoring

  • Max says:
    A minor question. I have an 06 Cooper S. I noticed there are pieces of velcro on the outside of the seat belt lock mechanism (the piece between the seat). What’s the purpose of this velcro?

    I think it’s to prevent the buckle from banging on the center console. Nice touch if you ask me. But I noticed that the one in my car mounted slightly off center.

    Also, what’s the final word on the LSD noise? Is the noise normal? I could hear a faint noise while making tight turns in a parking lot.

Comments are closed.