MINI Cooper S Turbo FAQ: What You Need to Know About Failing Turbos

Last week the first letters from MINI USA went out to Cooper S owners extending the warranty on their turbos for 10 years or 120,000 miles. It’s both a generous move by MINI USA and one that was sorely needed. But there’s a lot of conflicting information and plenty of confusion for owners or even would be owners of these MINIs. So we have created the MotoringFile MINI Cooper S Turbo FAQ to bring together all the information in one place to give you a place get your questions answered and some insight into what to worry about and what to not.

MINI Cooper S Turbo FAQ

MINI Cooper S Turbo FAQ: What Cooper S Models Are Affected?

A lot of them seemingly but because MINI hasn’t announced real numbers we’re just piecing together information from affected owners. Here’s what we know so far.

  • R55, R56, R57, R58, R59, R60 and R60 Cooper S models from 2011 onward
  • It’s unclear if this includes all cars produced from 2011 or specific production runs
  • we believe that this new letter is specific to the N18 engine that came with the LCI. That said the N14 has also been prone to some of these failures.

What is Causing These Turbos to Fail?

The turbo oil line is what often will fail initially. This makes it almost impossible for the system to feed the correct amount of oil to the turbo. Because of this the bearings will fail and it’s common to see wastegates that just rattle when the car is at idle. This means they fail to close and can’t make boost which triggers the check engine light. At this point there’s no real fix other than the major expense of putting in an entirely new turbo.

MINI Cooper S Turbo FAQ

What if I’ve Already Paid To Replace My Turbo?

Within the extended warranty paperwork sent to affected owners, MINI USA details how to go through the reimbursement process. The short answer is yes, you can get reimbursed for previous expenses associated with this issue.

Is This Due to MINI’s Long Oil Change Intervals?

It’s hard to say but it is worth noting that MINI made some changes a few years ago decreasing the recommended oil change intervals. There’s a chance that MINI saw this coming and made those changes. But we believe that the change had more to do with the new BMW designed engines B46/B48 that came with the F Series of cars.

One does wonder about MINI USA’s costs in this situation. A turbo (without labor) retails for approximately $1,600. Could MINI would have avoided this situation by recommending a few extra oil changes during the warranty timeframe? Three extra oil changes would have cost approximately $300. For the cars affected by turbo issues this would have saved MINI USA $1,300 per car (not including labor).

This last point also underscores why it’s so critical to check and change your oil regularly and (with these particular MINIs) ahead of the recommended intervals.

MINI Cooper S Turbo FAQ

Aren’t There Other Extended Warranties Affecting Other Parts?

We weren’t joking when we said the R Series of MINIs haven’t been the most reliable. Currently there are the following:

  • Water pump
  • Thermostat
  • Timing chains
  • N18 turbos

MINI Cooper S Turbo FAQ: What’s the Deal? Are All MINI’s Unreliable?

Not at all. We hear from plenty of owners of reliable MINIs every day. The secret is to check and change your oil very promptly and ahead of schedule. And it’s worthing saying again that the new F Series MINIs have thus far proven to be quite reliable and better engineered than the previous cars. In fact they’ve been so trouble free that some MINI dealers are having trouble filling service departments. If you can get over their face they remain great buys even as second hand MINIs.

MINI Cooper S Turbo FAQ

MINI Cooper S Turbo FAQ: Should I Stay Away From the MINI Cooper S with the N18 Engine?

No but it’s important to be aware of a few things. If you own one now make sure you are checking and changing your oil regularly. And don’t be afraid of doing this ahead of the recommended intervals.

What about buying one second hand? These are fun cars that can be great to own and drive everyday. But like any used car we recommend getting a professional to do a full inspection with special attention to the turbo and the areas listed above. Assuming it checks out don’t be afraid to pull the trigger as long as you follow the advice above.

  • No R55?

    • All R56 generation models are included – R55 as well.

      • Figured that would be the case, but then again, with MINI/BMW it’s always good to check. 😉

        I the article has been amended to include the R55. Thanks!

      • fishbert

        All post-LCI R56 generation models, you mean. I had to replace the turbo in my 2009 R56 at 70,000 miles, but it doesn’t sound like that’s included.

        • Yup – as noted in the article. We’re trying to understand better why the pre-LCI isn’t part of this.

  • eyes of an idol

    If only they’d do the right thing and extend it worldwide.. along with the HPFPs

  • ? JCW MINI Cooper ?

    Is there a link to where we can find MINI’s official letter that was sent out? I’m curious if this will apply to me as I am the 2nd owner of this MINI and I purchased it from CARMAX. Knock on wood, everything has been great so far and I love the vehicle.