Dare We Say it – MINI Reliability Seems to be Improving

MINI reliability has been uneven over the years. The original R50 generation (2001 – 2007) had issues ranging from premature rust under the door sills to transmission failures. While MINI improved the car with the R56 (2007 – 2014) they didn’t eliminate the quality issues with oil starvation issues and general component failures being prevelent especially in the early years of production. These issues were not only difficult for owners but they were a black eye for the brand. More importantly reliability concerns have cost MINI enormous sums of money in warranty, recall costs and one would assume lost sales from previous owners.

MINI Reliability – The Plan

BMW knew something had to be done almost ten years ago. That began with the decision to build a single platform that could underpin both front wheel drive BMWs and future MINIs. The thought was that MINI could finally take advantage of BMW engineering, quality and buying power. In other words the engineering and components quality that would go into MINIs would be dramatically improved.

In late 2014 MINI introduced this entirely new platform of cars known as the F generation. Gone was some of the charm (and size) of the previous MINIs. In their place was a much more competent car that felt better built, engineered and sophisticated. Take away how the car felt on the road (we along with most reviewers found it to be an improvement in most ways), the F56 seemed to be much more BMW like in perceived quality.

JCW Clubman

Has it Worked?

Four years on it’s time to ask the question. Has BMW finally created a MINI is as reliable as it is fun to drive? Based on our conversations with owners, mechanics and a few folks in the automotive industry it would seem that the MINI has noticeably improved its quality. While there are issues and no car is ever perfect, the amount of warranty work and general faults on the F56 seems to be noticeably down at the MINI service centers we spoke with off the record.

It’s still early days for the F series cars but it would seem BMW’s strategy is paying off in at least warranty claims and overall quality.

How about you? Has your F Series MINI been reliable? How about your older MINIs? Let’s hear your experiences below.

the full life of many F series cars so we’ll be

  • anchoright

    I was only thinking the other day that I have made very few trips to the dealer with my F56. Actually, only for oil changes. I was at the dealer so frequently with my 2011 JCW that they knew me well – all the dealers I used to go to for service!

  • Jereme

    2.5 year owner of an F56 w/ 40k miles. The only work I’ve had done on my Cooper was replace a windshield (rock in the window, 3 days after taking delivery!) and a trunk latch (sensor?). Nothing else outside of seasonal tire swaps and oil changes. Compared to the R53 I previously owned, which became a very time and money intensive project, this one has been a solid, reliable car.

  • LibertyIsBetter

    I had my 2016 Clubman towed to the dealer at 3000 miles because it would not start. Seems it was some confusion in the automatic on-off system and just required a reprogram. Of all things that was the best result to me as compared to a component failure like the fuel pump. Trouble free and a nice driver since then. Now over 10k miles.

    In comparison, my 2013 Countryman had the engine replaced at 12,000 miles and plenty of warranty repairs and service bulletins on my other cars. I have had six Mini’s since a 2006 Convertible S.

    I hope the reliability improves dramatically while still retaining the essence of Mini. Although I gnash my teeth at Mini sometimes it is hard to drive other vehicles after you’ve had a Mini.

  • Ashley Wilson

    Well, I just ordered a JCW Clubman but there’s nothing Way in hell it could possibly be less reliable as my ‘07 R56 Cooper S. Timing chain, turbo oil line, oil filter housing, fuel tank charcoal filter, sunroof; all the joys of owning a car the first year of a redesign.

  • Adam5

    109k miles and going strong! I bought my F56 slightly used with 8k miles. A few weeks later my oil housing gasket blew and left me stranded at a gas station just off of I-25 in Colorado Springs. MINI had my car towed to the dealership, put me in a loaner just before they closed, and took care of the repairs. 3 years and over 100,000 miles later I’ve only had my F56 into the shop for scheduled maintenance and tires. I owned a 2003 R53 from 17 miles to 166,907 over the course of 11 1/2 years. The first 3 years and 50k miles, I had issues with the power steering, a headlight, and one of the power windows. I kept it pretty well maintained after the warranty/maintenance package was up. Still quite a few repairs as the miles and years went by. I wish I still owned the R53, and will own one again someday, but for fun on the weekends. The motoring excitement of the R53 is worth the worry and expense of repairs. The F56 been a great car in the few years I’ve owned it, and with the miles I’ve racked up already, I am certain it will be quite reliable in another 3 years and 100,000 miles.

  • Steve Wellen

    R53 Cooper S, over 7 years no problems. R56 Cooper S, over 6 years one problem. Faulty recieving module in roof flattened battery. Replaced under warranty. F56 Cooper over a year and so far no problems. Over 14 years of Mini ownership and £0.00p unexpected outlay. Fingers crossed it will continue.

  • KO

    Only ~26k on my F55, but it’s been about as trouble-free as a typical current BMW, though creaks and rattles are worse than I’d hoped. I’m planning on getting out of it soon (not because of the car; something else I’d rather have has come along) so I won’t have to find out how it’ll hold up in the long run.

  • oldsbear

    I have had 0 problems with my 2016 Cooper S hatchback.

  • ca_surfer

    2009 Cooper Hardtop – Just too slow 🙂 2011 Cooper S Hardtop manual – favorite car, wish I still had it. 2015 Cooper S Hardtop, auto – 32k miles and running great. Only had to adjust a incorrectly positioned suspension element that clicked whenever I went over a speed bump.

  • Have owned 4 MINIs since 2008…… 2008 R56S for 4 years & 40K miles….the AC compressor needed work at about 18K miles. Except for routine maintenance, that was the only issue.

    2012 R58JCW Coupe for 3 yrs & 35K miles…..believe the only issue I had outside of routine maintenance was Bluetooth software problem at about 24K miles.

    2015 F55S 4 door for 2 yrs & about 28K miles…..can’t recall any issues outside of routine maintenance.

    2017 F60S All4 Countryman…..7+ months so far & 14K miles…mostly highway. Had replacement of the front black wheel housing moldings due to lots of cosmoline leakage from the hood. Otherwise, only routine maintenance.

    So essentially I only had 1 non routine maintenance issue with each of my 4 MINiS…all while under warranty. None were engine/transmission or other major problems. All 4 MINIs…2 R series & 2 F series were very trouble free during my ownership of these MINIs, which were very different from each other over about 120K miles combined. Per my own MINI experiences, I am always ready to recommend them to friends!!!!

  • Addendum to my previous post….my current 2017 F60S All4 Countryman had the emission dash light come on at about 12K miles which required fuel tank replacement since the failed sensor was within the tank. Had a loaner for about 2-3 days. All went well!

  • I was honestly just thinking about this. When the repairs start to creep up, is when we sometimes start thinking of another or replacement MINI; but it usually seems to come back to a MINI doesn’t it! While I’ve thought of getting a used LCI R56/55/58, F56 pre-owned costs seem to be low, making that a possibility (even if they are less involving and larger). I have a friend who had an early 2014 F56 and she had some issues: the transmission would pop out of gear which eventually necessitated a new transmission, then she had the crankcase bearing failure so she got a new engine. However besides those initial teething issues (including the programming start/stop gremlins that I heard a few people had which have since been fixed), the F56 seems to be pretty reliable so far which is nice to hear.

    My first early-2003 MCS R53 needed a decent amount of work which I kinda expected given it’s early run and I traded it in when the sunroof started to leak and was going to cost thousands to replace. My second R53 MCS a 2006 was better but had its share of gremlins including horns that constantly failed, some major electrical issues related to a leak that meant that the lights and wipers would sometimes go on when parked and eventually a sticking valve which necessitate a complete head replacement; thank goodness for warranties! My current 2006 R53 MCS with 146k miles I wouldn’t say has been unreliable but it’s never gone more than a few months without needing some type of service (wear and tear or otherwise). Currently the crankcase gasket is leaking oil which will be fixed whenever the clutch goes and is replaced, the steering column is creaking again and what might be injectors and/or fuel filter/pump need to be replaced which is on top of the following items I can think about off the top of my head I’ve done since I bought it with 60k miles: • Thermostat • Low-speed cooling fan • Water pump • Power Steering Pump and Rack • Trunk Lid (stopped opening) • Radiator Fan • Quarter Panel trim which fell off while driving • Exhaust center resonator (internal rattling) • Low-speed cooling fan (again) • Fusebox • Steering Column lower-U joint • JCW Strut Tower brace (cracked) • Low-speed cooling fan (for the third time) • Rust repair (and accompanying door seal and wiring harness connectors) • ECU/DME • Oxygen Sensors + Header (O2 sensor fitment issue) • Emergency brake cable • Exhaust hangers • Crank Pulley • Thermostat (again) • Tons of wear and tear suspension parts • Probably more I can’t think of…

    • Jon A

      I’ve owned my 2011 R55 S for almost 2 years and have had 3 major failures; thermostat, VANOS, and HPFP. It uses oil at a somewhat high rate (1 quart every 750 miles was deemed acceptable according to my SA) and has began to buzz and rattle the longer I own it. It’s been a fun car but I’m not sure i can trust it. Would I buy another MINI? I can’t honestly say.