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Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper Published: 26th Apr 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mini Cooper
Mini Cooper
Mini Cooper
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Do Automatic MINIs deserve their bad reputation for costly repairs and will many ‘modern classics’ face scrapping before their time as a result?

Car: Mini Cooper Year: 2003 Owner: TBC

Regular readers may have read last month’s ‘running’ for want of another word report where we pondered on purchasing a (BMW) MINI Cooper where the engine had gone bang. Trouble is, it’s the CVT automatic model that has a known reputation following suit in a major way.

For reasons that we best won’t go into the engine was professionally rebuilt costing the thick end of £1000 only to discover that while it runs sweet as a nut, the gearbox sounds like a cement mixer!

The CVT auto is something to avoid like the plague says the general trade for a variety of reasons, not least because it costs some £2000 to put right. Other ills include jerky take-off, sticking in gear, loss of ratio change up points – or drive completely! So, given its reputation only an idiot would buy even a good one let alone something which was displaying the classic faults…

We’ve been running it for a short while, essentially to run the engine in, and wonder if it’s worth a gamble and taking it on as project. True, repair costs outweigh this Cooper’s value but, on the other hand, it’s a crying shame to send a perfectly good car to the crusher before its time. This particular three owners from new Cooper is not only in fine condition for its age but also well equipped with sat nav, heated seats and front screen, reversing sensors, leather trim and more.

Calling around to a number of MINI specialists resulted in the same answer: an overhaul costing from £1500 upwards. However, scouring the internet has thrown up some interesting alternatives. For a start, perhaps a gearbox service with new oil and filter may help. Officially, BMW says this is rarely needed, yet independent specialists recommend it’s done every 50,000 miles – our 97,000 miler could be in dire of this pit stop. The noise isn’t too bad but sounds worse at low speeds when decelerating, say in town driving, which is where any automatic Mini – BMC or BMW – is well suited although this Continuously Variable Transmission certainly saps some of the fun out of the Cooper on quicker roads; it’s similar scenario with MGFs which, incidentally, are as untrustworthy.

Which brings us on to another point – modern classics with potentially sky-high repair costs. Ours is not alone in creating a quandary to save or scrap. High tech stuff, including transmissions, ECUs, adaptive suspensions, cats and so on, are going to be the death of many up and coming collectibles as their real worth will be the sum of their parts.

Or are we jumping the gun? One specialist, Mini Matt, of Telford, says it just might be a wheel bearing or drive shaft that’s failing but also adds it scraps a lot of autos because of their issues. What shall we do?



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