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MINI Comes in Last in JD Power Quality Survey

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JD Power has released their latest initial quality survey and the MINI came in (drum roll) dead last. The survey asks owners about mechanical and design problems they experience in the first 90 days of ownership.

It’s a bit of a shock to us considering the perceived increasing quality we had seen in other surveys. Jim McDowell was on CNBC this morning talking both about the expanded dealership offerings as well as MINI’s very low initial quality.

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Written By: Gabe

  • Brian
    Hi Everyone. Let’s do the math. The survey rates problems per 100 vehicles. MINI is at an unfair advantage here. MINI say for example sells 55,000 cars in one year. Toyota or Ford for example does that amount of volume in one model line. MINI is a glimmer in the eye of a lot of these manufacturers eyes with respect to the amount of volume they do. 100 vehicles for MINI relative to the total amount of cars we sell is a much larger impact than 100 vehicles for any of the larger auto manufacturers. Even our corporate cousins at BMW. Think about it all.

    With that math its actually worse for MINI. That means that they produce alot less cars than everyone else, yet they have more problems than manufactures that make 5 times as many cars.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=52401286 JP Dunphy

    here here to everything! i do have to say about the comment of what people like and don’t like in the reports… we’re sorry for most people being used to unsafe driving! most people in a manual car would rather have both of their hands go away from the steering wheel, we’re sorry for making an intuitive decision to put the window controls in the middle where your right hand does most of the work (aka shifting) and leaving your left hand to stay on the wheel more often.. sorry for being smart, we’ll change that next time and be like every other economy sedan ><… i sure hope everyone reads into that with sarcasm! because COME ON! if you follow the break in period then your car is GOLDEN! but unfortunately most americans don’t take the time to let their car break in and would rather just beat on it right away, making the car not reliable as it would be without the immediate beating. i have an 07 R56 S, the thing runs like a god! no problems, EVER! not one! unless the break wear sensor popping out once is considered a HUGE problem, god forbid we go back to the dealership and just get it popped in again… that whole 15 minutes is a serious waste of my time… as for the rest of the car… i don’t think it’s fair to say a car is bad by first impressions! i have to say for having my car two years in 3 weeks, and putting 47,435 miles on it, and having NO problems the entire time… THAT”S A DAMN GOOD CAR! no one should say otherwise! AND TO TOP IT OFF, when driven very gently and cruise control at 65MPH, I GET 53.4MPG!!!!! WHAT OTHER PERFORMANCE CAR CAN SERIOUSLY DO THAT WITH THE PIZZAZ OF THE MINI?!??!?! i personally say none! if an RX-8 was able to get that fuel economy and didn’t need to rebuild the engine every 60k miles then maybe that would beat the mini…

  • Chad

    Let’s do the math? Ummm… Yeah, you might want to leave the math to JDP here…

    165% is the same no matter what size company you are.

    That’s like saying 1/3 has a unfair advantage/disadvantage over 9/27.

  • zm

    no surprise here. the quality issue is what keeps me on the brink of replacing my mini w/ something else.

  • barice

    Okay, let’s do some numbers. I’m post #48. I’ve had my share of problems with my 07 R56 MCS. Up to this point, and including me, there are a total of 17 posts from people who have something negative to share about their MINIs. That is 35.4% of all posts here!!. C’mon!, no wonder “we” came in dead last! Now, MINIs are marketed as “premium” cars. They usually cost us north of 25K. And yet they perform (in overall quality, that is) worse than a non-premium, half priced Honda Civic (????). My 1992 Honda Civic, and later my 2005 Honda CR-V never gave me the grief this MCS is giving me. But yes, this MCS is way more fun to drive, that’s true. I can’t buy the argument that the more serious issues my car has had/is having is explained with the “first model year” claim. As a mechanical engineer, I am more inclined to believe in sloppy engineering/manufacturing reasons for such a poor performance in overall quality. My car is at the dealer. They will finally fix (I hope) the dreaded cold start death rattle. They will also have to take a look at a noise the clutch has developed. By the way, the clutch has already been replaced as it was whining upon downshifting. Its clutch release bearing is tappetting more and more, giving the this “premium” car’s engine a rough tone. Not to mention all the creaks and rattles. This unit has been at the dealer more times than all my previous automobiles and motorcycles, combined. I had enough. I’m hoping the dealer will do a decent job so I can go ahead and get rid of it. As the french say, c’est fini. And as per Jim McDowell, please, don’t insult our intelligence. Barice

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=198600810 Ryan Temple

    This survey does not may any sense at all! My sister owns a HUMMER and she’s had MORE issues with it, than I did with my MINI. She wants to rid of that thing! I love my 2007 MINI S. Sure, I’ve had issues with my car, but the only major issue I had with my car was that stupid emission sensor malfunction, and that’s it! It’s close to 40,000 miles and no issues at all!

  • Doug

    Our 2004 R50 is a member of the family and has been trouble-free, but c’mon MINI, you can do way better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1449485681 Geoffrey Parker

    My ’05 MCS has been pretty much trouble-free but I’ve held off on moving to a new one given some of the issues I’ve read about here and on NAM. SO this report doesn’t really surprise me … but really now … LAST ? Maybe it’s time to start looking elsewhere …

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1478389903 James Irmiger

    Hey barice,

    If this helps, my head mechanic (whom I actually trust), says the tappeting you’re hearing in the clutch won’t go away no matter how many they put in. Turns out it’s the dual-mass flywheel. In our cars, the actual flywheel has the spring-dampened friction surface, not clutch plate like in ‘normal’ cars. When you put it in neutral and ease off the clutch pedal, the assembly closes together like you’d expect, but there’s a little back and forth movement between the metal flywheel and the friction surface from the springs, which is exacerbated by the engine’s firing pulses, causing the chattering.

    Apparently, the only way to get rid of it is to pop in any normal, aftermarket clutch system where, in the neutral/clutch pedal released position, the spring dampener assembly is locked down tight and isolated from the timing pulses.

    Hope that helps with the problem :)

  • ausalan

    It’s too bad that JC Powers doesn’t release more information from the survey — the results are pretty worthless as they are, since they don’t distinguish between defects (something that doesn’t work as MINI intended) and design idiosyncrasies. It would be nice to see those categories separated, and to see statistics (mean, median, standard deviation) for each. Is MINI’s low score more a result of a few highly-defective cars, or a bunch of people who hate the radio controls and center console design?

    And why is “quality” measured only by the number of problems? Of the 12 cars I’ve owned in my lifetime, the one with the fewest number of problems was a Saturn, but I’d never call it a “high-quality” car. It was clearly designed for customers with low expectations, and it meets them nicely. My R53 ranks in the middle on the problem scale, but near the top when I balance positives and negatives.

  • zm

    just watched the vid. you suck, mcdowell. why not fess up that mini has a problem & you’re going to do something about it? wait, everyone in here is complaining about idiosyncrasies…(engines, clutches, …)

  • jz

    Frankly, I think MINI tries to cram too much technology into a small package and has a lot of low bidder suppliers to contain costs and thus the chance for inferior components. The simpler engineered and less poweful MC has historically had far fewer problems than the MCS. My 06 MC has been pretty flawless.

  • LOL@MINI_MGT

    How embarassing. Coming in last and with authority.

    MINI needs a mid-cycle management refresh and they can start with that clown Jim.

    No mention about improving quality/responsiviness the typical corporate speak of a company that lacks commitment to their buyer or their product. Instead they choose to blame the consumer because we don’t “get it” ?! What a douche bag. I bet that clown never spent one minute behind the desk of a service writer. If he did, maybe he would “get it”.

    Last place and lame excuses?!

    Get real MINI

  • C4

    In despite of some of the post-warranty issues I have had with my ’05, I still love the car to bits and have no plans to trade or sell. I think this is a very engineered product marred by some OEM parts that were made to last the length of the warranty (nothing more).

    I am fast approaching 60K miles and the car looks, feels and drives like new. Better than new thanks to the Powerflex urethane bushings I had installed earlier this year that bring the steering feel and response to a whole new level.

    I don’t expect any MINI exec to come out in national TV and admit that the product they manufacture and sell indeed has QC problems. But on the other hand, it is ludicrous to come out and say that the low quality scores are due mostly to people that “don’t get” the character and demeanor of the car. Sorry Jim, I don’t buy that (I think you are very nice guy and a true gentleman) in a million years.

    I have owned nothing but MINIs in the past 7-8 years and they all have served us extremely well. Fortunately, we haven’t had the more severe problems others have reported over the years. Some of the QC quirks are indeed irritating for a product that boasts BMW manufacturing and design prowess. But the cars are so damn fun to drive that they are well worth it keeping them in tip top shape long after the warranty period expires. But for others, the issues these cars may or may not have are something they don’t to put up with, considering the money paid and the inconvenience of booking dealer service and dealer location (Which is still a big problem for owners that live hours away from an authorized dealer).

    BMW knows well that the MINI hasn’t been a 100% stellar car in the QC department. Having owned samples from different production years, I have a sense that they have continually improved the product. My 2004 MCS was much better bolted together than the 2002 we had first and so on.

    But problems persist. Why? Too many cars being churned out? Pressures to cut costs to keep afloat? Keep and increase profit margins at any cost? Whatever the reason is, the problems with the product are real and will become harder to justify in the eyes of the consumer public as prices continue to climb.

    Yes we love our cars Jim, you are correct about that. But I know my next MINI will be over US$30K and I want that car to be as good and better than the one it will be replacing.

  • C4
  • Ramón

    This report, coupled with the above comments thru personal experience, are really disturbing to me. I’ve been stashing cash, looking forward to buying a MINI, but now I don’t know if it’s good idea. I live in San Francisco, I would drive the car daily on city streets that are typical of urban environments. There is a definite increase in MINIs in the city.

  • ausalan

    I think McDowell’s response is pretty lame, but unlike us, he has access to the survey details. Maybe it’s true that after 90 days of ownership, the majority of the 165 reported problems per 100 MINIs are “design related problems” rather than “defects and malfunctions”.

    JD Power has another survey that covers reliability of 3-year-old vehicles. The 2009 survey (covering 2006 model year vehicles) ranks MINI 25th out of 37 brands.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1478389903 James Irmiger

    Hey Ramon, I’ve got over 20,000 miles here in San Francisco, mainly city driving, and I love it! My 2007 R56 has had it’s share of troubles, but mine is the first year of this car and with it comes a certain amount of crap. From what I read, most of the issues seem to have been dealt with on the 2009+ models. After my issues were fixed, my only current gripe is a rattle in the tailgate. In every other regard, the car has been perfect for the city. Parking’s a breeze, it’s zippy as hell, and I’m averaging 29mpg in the city, 36 highway, with a Cooper S. Even now, knowing what I know about the car, I still wouldn’t buy anything else!

  • Scott

    This ranking is why I traded in my 2007 cooper s after 7000 miles and 4 service trips to the nearest dealer away – 250 miles round trip. If the dealer was within 30 miles I would still be driving today. Instead I have had an 08 GTI for 12 months and not one service call to the dealer 4 miles away. Mini needs to wake up and expand its service network to BMW dealers (2) miles from my house. If this was allowed, would still be driving the Mini. Their growth strategy is flawed.

  • robble

    There are other categories in the same survey that haven’t been talked about.

    TOP 10 in vehicle quality – yes there is a generic vehicle quality question and MINI ranked in the top 10. Top 10 in Solid and Durable construction of vehicle Top 10 in vehicle overall Ranked #2 in “will definitely recommend”

  • collin

    Well I’ll say it like this. There are def problems with the Mini and I hope JIM and the Mini team will realize this and fix them soon. My mini alone has been in the shop over 30 times in the last 2 years and I’m actually in a loaner and have been in one going on 2 months now for a timing chain tensioner issue. 2 months!!!! I do agree they have worked many bugs out of the Mini but there are still some MAJOR bugs lurking around that they need to fix. I still LOVE driving my mini though and it hasn’t deterred me from buying another one..

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  • Martin Bell

    MINI came 3rd in its class in the 2009 UK’s JD Power Survey results just published in Autocar magazine this week, (1st was Honda Jazz and 2nd Toyota Yaris.)

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  • jk

    MINI I hope you are listening.

    The issues people are having are real and cost a lot of money and time. I love the MINI when its working but people have to stop saying oh its so fun to drive so thats an excuse to put up with these mechanical and electrical issues. idiosyncrasies?

  • Bruce Walker

    I had to decide in early August of 2006 if I wanted to go with the ’06 or with an ’07 MC. Really liked the instrumentation on the 2006 much better, and the more I investigated, the more I was convinced buying a first model year with a new engine/transmission probably wasn’t a great idea. Hence ordered one of the last 2006 models manufactured. Mine has been solid as a rock without any rattles or other surprises. 68,000 miles and the only repair of note was $225 for a motor mount a few months ago. That said, the model change-over reminded me a lot of what Motobecane did with the Mirage; -the 1978 bicycle was a classic, the 1979 had all sorts of corners cut and wasn’t even a shadow of the earlier version even though it cost more. Also worth noting Motobecane is no longer in business.


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