MINI Settling CVT Class Action Suit

A Federal Judge in California is set to grant approval on a class action lawsuit settlement between BMW of North America and some 1,200 MINI owners who had to have their R50 CVT transmissions replaced out of warranty. Here’s the proposed settlement breakdown:

Under the terms of the proposed class action settlement, BMW will reimburse drivers under the eight-year/150,000 mile warranty for all of their out-of-pocket expenses associated with the transmission repair. The plaintiffs have estimated their repair costs to range from $6,000 to $9,000. The proposed class action settlement will also provide a maximum of $4,100 to Class Members who had their Mini Coopers repaired at a third-party facility and up to $2,000 to consumers who sold the vehicles at a loss due to the transmission defects. BMW has also agreed to cover all future repairs for (these specific) MINI Coopers up to 150,000 miles and eight years.

As a settlement, if accepted, the class action suits themselves (there are several) would not actually go to trial. Instead, BMW will essentially create a warranty program to take care of these customers who had out-of-pocket costs due to transmission failure. At this point, the hold up is the Judge’s desire to get a total number of plaintiffs from all the various suits in play.

More info available here.

What’s your thought? Is this fair and is MINI doing the right thing?

  • AMS

    I think BMW’s response should have been “Hey, you bought a MINI with a CVT. You DESERVE to be punished.”

    • R.O

      Arrogant elitist. If Mini used an inferior part(s) or systems doesn’t matter what, the consumer should not be pushed. Your such a typical elitist.

      • AMS

        My elitism regarding transmissions in enthusiast cars is nothing compared to my elitism regarding grammar, so you can imagine the laugh I’m having at your post.

        Then again, maybe you can’t.

        • GMaz

          Should there have been a comma between the words been and hey in your first sentence?

        • AMS

          Yes. I also would probably have been better served with a semicolon separating the two halves of BMW’s hypothetical response.

          And if I were editing, I’d also change “to be punished” to “to suffer.”

        • Thank God you’re not.

        • AMS

          Oh, burn! Except…wait…rudimentary reading comprehension would indicate that I was talking about editing my post, not being an editor of this site.

          But still.

          Totally sick burn, bro.

    • Frank Granados

      Typical douchebag response.

      • Peter Diez

        Hello Frank, MINI should have learned from Mini. The Mini automatic is also a pos, and expensive to repair. “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it”

        • Frank Granados

          Dear Peter, at the time the only way to get an automatic MINI was the MC CVT for the wife (MCS were manual only and waiting lists ran into the months). In all fairness, we never had any problems with it as we followed Luisito’s strict transmission fluid/filter replacement every 25K miles. The car then was sold to an ex-Miami resident in Southern California who pressumably kept it for another 2-3 years. Funny thing, I came across an ad for that same car (Car still looks great BTW) from the third owner stating that the CVT was dead at 93K miles and the car was sold as-is (Guess they didn’t follow the transmission fluid/filter change every 25K miles). With this I am not saying the ZF sourced CVT was the pinnacle of engineering, but unfortunately it did require quassi-obssesive servicing to get somewhat reliable life out of it, Now the Clubman S 6-speed Aising automatic has been very good to us, and again, we plan to change oil and filter every 35K miles or thereabouts. The achilles heel of our Clubman has been the crappy French designed engine components like the chain tensioners, 2-failed water pumps, etc, etc. Don’t believe the “Lifetime” mantra for the transmission fluid and you should be able to get the most out of it. Now, MINI manual transmission dual mass clutch flywheels are absolute garbage. Last year I sold my ’05 MCS with 100K on the clock on the original Getrag 6-speed manual. But Luisito did a conversion back to a far more durable and reliable Valeo single mass clutch flywheel. It change the car and drive experience for the better. It was like night and day. Now my ex- car lives happily in Atlanta, GA.

  • DaCrema

    Help me with the eight year part. Is it from the date the car was purchased or from the date of the ruling? If from the date of purchase a lot of people are SOL. The CVT, on paper, should have been a good performance match. The car would have always been at peak torque when jumping on throttle. No power drop when shifting gears. To bad the trans was not up to the work load. I am glad BMW/MINI settled. I’m sure they will go after the manufacture of the trans for the loss.

    • Kevin Stephenson

      I agree with you. I don’t think BMW was in error for trying this transmission, there were many car manufacturers that went this route. As you said, it sounds great on paper and sometimes new technology doesn’t work as expected in the long run. I hope BMW can force some of this cost back to the actual manufacturer of the CVT.

    • R.O

      Yeah I wonder about the 8 year too. When I read the article and proposed settlement – I had some concern. I have a 2004 with CVT, that makes it 9 yrs old. I’m way under the 150,000 miles. Hope I’m not SOL.

      • steven ascher

        How can we find out about the 8 year rule. I hope it’s based on 150,000 miles.

  • hoq1

    about freaking time BMW! slush-box or not, BMW should be lashed for allowing such a crummy transmission to be placed in a production vehicle

    • glangford

      I agree. Yes other manufacturers have used them, but seemingly with less problems. It’s the ultimate responsibility of the integrator to assure the parts he is using meet the needs of the integrated platform.

      • Frank Granados

        Nissan has had a ton of problems as well with their CVTS, which are found pretty much in all of their current lineup. This is not just a BMW concentric issue. BTW, the CVT used in the R50-52 MINI was sourced from ZF. I know because I had a 2002 R50 so equipped with it.

        • Yes, and Nissan had to settle a case a couple years back on this same issue.

        • robble

          I’ll just stay away from anything with a CVT period.

  • Gary

    $150,000 😀 …a Freudian slip?

    I’m guessing the passage of time has allowed more CVT MINIs to end up on the scrap heap with owners who have long moved on…and may never find out about this.

    • R.O

      It’s suppose to read “150,000 miles” not $$.

  • asdf

    how about the b.s. “lifetime fluid” in the aisin automatic? my dealer told me they didn’t even have the proper tools to do a trans flush.

    • Mark Smith

      The Auto transmissions don’t use lifetime fluid. Only the Getrag manuals.

      • asdf

        incorrect check the bentley service book. the aisin auto is equipped with “lifetime fluid” aka it never needs to be changed, according to bmw and their manual. like i said, my dealer said they didnt even have the proper hardware to do such a flush.

        • Mark Smith

          When you have an opportunity read any MINI “Service and Warranty Information Booklet” and you’ll see otherwise.

      • 115hp

        Midlands also used a lifetime fluid.

  • JonPD

    About time, trapping clients with these pieces of garbage and then ignoring the very well known issues with them. Of course BMW/MINI only got to this point by being forced into by the law suit.

  • scamper

    My 2003 MINI is a CVT, and I love it. No issues at 65k miles. And what’s even weirder is that the CVT has completely spoiled me — when I get a modern MINI loaner car, I can’t stand the hitch each time the gears shift! It seems more primitive. Maybe that’s another reason I’m primed for an electric car: smooth zooming from zero to eight– er, I mean 65.

    • Barry

      I agree. My 2006 R50a was a great performer that functioned flawlessly. The only problem with the CVT was BMW unwillingness to support their customers. I got screwed on trade in when I bought my 2010 MINI but the trans had not failed so there is no relief here for me.

    • asdf

      Wow 6500 mi a year?!

      • I’m probably doing less than that these days, now that I live in Chicago proper.

      • scamper

        Two factors: I’ve worked from home for many years, and I’m not a big traveler. When I drive, I love my MINI, but otherwise I’m a bit of a recluse. 🙂

  • Juan Rodriguez

    My ’03 Cooper is sitting in my driveway with a blown CVT at 98,000 miles. It’s on eBay now and I bought a new MINI. I had hoped to keep it for a couple more years as it is a great car otherwise. I even spent $1,500.00 on an attempt to rebuild it with no luck. This lawsuit has been floating around for years – it could be another one before it settled. Not sure what I should do at this point.

    • If this warrantee settlement goes through, it’ll be the end of the lawsuits most likely and you’d probably be able to get the transmission replaced, then sell the car as opposed to scrap it. Definitely keep an eye on it.

      • Juan Rodriguez

        that would be a great scenario except that the settlement seems to only cover 8 yrs/150K miles – which is surprising as it leaves out half of the 1st gen owners from 2002-2005.

        • I wonder if it would apply to whichever was the longer value, rather than the shorter. I guess we won’t know until the final settlement comes out.

  • Frank Granados

    Next up in the MINI class action lawsuit list: The Prince N14 turbocharged engine tensioner failures.

    • Nelson

      YES, this issue needs to be addressed! I complained several time, but they always said the could not duplicate the problem.

    • lavardera

      I think its unlikely at this point as BMW has been reimbursing people to undermine the suit that was forming. I had a complaint, but I am now fully reimbursed for my replacement, no gag order either.

  • thatotherguy

    totally agree AMS! real MINI drivers use three pedals

    • asdf

      Real Mini Drivers? Reminds me of pinocchio. I wanna be a real boy!

    • JonPD

      And have eitehr manual roll up or sliding windows 😉

      • Frank Granados

        Manual crank windows, no radio, no nav, no iPod, no gadgets, no airbags, no ABS, no traction control, none of it.

  • Dr Obnxs

    It’s good MINI did this, it’s bad it took years and years to get it done. Just like the electric power steering motor. I’ll never give BMW/MINI credit for doing the right thing when it took years and years of blowing off existing customers and pretending the issue isn’t real.

    BTW, the 8 years and 150k miles is from time of original purchase to time of problem. So if you have a 2002 that had the transmission work done before 2011 and 150k miles and you have documentation, you will get money back when the settlement is approved.

    What I find odd here is even contemplating that MINI did the right thing. What choice did they have? After years and years of blowing off customers, the existance of multiple lawsuits got the quants in the back office to see it’s going to be cheaper, now, to deal with the problem than to have to deal with literally thousands of potential individual law suits.

    This wasn’t an act of morals or doing what’s right. It was about doing what they had to when all other options open to them had failed or were even more expensive than this.

  • Andrew

    Mine hasn’t gone yet…do I get any help?

  • Darryl in New York

    I own an ’03 with 62 K miles. The compensation seems paltry being that the repair cost about $5K. Not sure whether to join lawsuit or sue BMW/Mini privately in court. Make them send their high-priced lawyers to my home town, Poughkeepsie, and waste part of their greedily-earned billions.

    My transmission hasn’t failed yet though it takes a second to engage. Seems like it’s on the way to faildom.

    Any budding lawyers out there have an opinion as the class-action looks care for the lawyers first.