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MINI Cooper S (2002–2007)

Last updated 22 January 2016

What's good

Achieved an excellent four star rating for crash safety in 2002 NCAP tests. Came 20th from top in 2005 JD Power/What Car Survey of 23,000 cars reg Sep 2002 to Aug 2003 with satisfaction score of 82.1%.

User group: www.mini2.com

What to watch out for

Demand initially so high that sold for considerable premiums on base £14,500 price tag.

17" wheels with runflat tyres prone to punctures which require expensive new tyres.

On early cars door check straps rust unless regularly greased

Go for 16" rather than better looking 17" wheels as ride is unacceptably hard on 17".

Radiators of cars 3 years old or more can corrode.

By 2007 transmission failure of 2001/2002 MINIs had become increasingly common.

Reports of PAS problems. The electric motor which runs the pump packs up and sometimes takes the wiring loom with it (through overheating). BMW dealers quote £750 to repair, but BMW will sometimes approve 'goodwill' of half the cost of parts and labour. Reports of frequent steering column failures (sometimes BMW will pick up the tab).

Paint problems at rear of light coloured cars seem to be caused by exhaust emissions.

ABS/ASC modules starting to fail after 3 - 4 years. Unlike VAG, BMW dealers will separate the two parts and effect a reasonably priced repair: about £600 - £700.

Underseat wiring loom becomes loose, setting off the airbag warning light.

Fuel tank retaining straps of 7 - 8 year old MINIs can rust through.

18-2-2011: Report of shortage of thermostat housings - a common failure on R50/R52/R53 engines.

Early cars pulling to nearside: caused by early type front struts identified by domed ca on centre nut. Replace struts complete with top mounts and anti-roll bar links.

All MINIS pulling to n/s: front suspension turrets pushed up. Replace top mounty and repair turret on jig.

Early MINI Ones, Coopers and Cooper S extra noisy power assisted steering with low oil level. PAS seals have failed. Replace track rod ends.

MINI Ones, Coopers and Cooper S PAS failure due to failed pump or corroded wiring to pump. Replace pump and/or wiring.

All MINIs noise from steering column means steering column upper bearing has failed. Replace upper and lower steering column depending on age.

All MINIs excessive footbrake and parking brake travel indicates rear calliper(s) have failed. Replace calliper(s).

Early MINI One, Cooper and Cooper S: ASC, ABS, RDW+ handbrake warning lights on with possible intermittent loss of speedo and rev counter and sometimes gradual loss of electrics amd fire/smoke from engine bay. ABS pump wiring shorted out on pump bracket. If minor wiring damage, repair loom. If major, replace main vehicle wiring loom. Always fit a protective edge cover to pump bracket.

November 2006 alerted to a spate of valve spring failures on 2002 model year Cooper S models. At the tome, BMW was picking up the tab.

Aircon may gurgle due to airlock in refrigerant. Difficult to purge.

Rear exhaust silencer boxes rot inside out and also deposit rust particles on the rear of the cars. particularly noticeable on white and yellow.

15-6-2013: Apparent spate of electric panoramic sunroof failures. BMW dealers quote £1,600-£1,800 to fix. Bristol Sunroofs can do it for £245.

30-9-2013: On a 2002 MINI Cooper (JCW) the headlight washers work perfectly 'once' after the ignition is turned on, but then they no longer function until the ignition has been turned off and then back on again, then they will work for one more wash. BC1 unit replaced with a new unit and reprogrammed but hasn't resolved the problem. New BC1 unit rechecked and reprogrammed along with the keys, but still hasn't resolved the problem. Reservoir of washer fluid full and other washers for the front and rear screens are all functioning. Two answers. First is check the timer relay in the fuse box. This is used to create a delay in washing the headlights, so they don’t wash every time you operate the windscreen washer jets while the headlights are switched on. This relay may have stuck and will only ‘un-stick’ when the ignition is switched off. Second suggestion concerns the Xenon control units, which are fitted to each Xenon headlight – it looks like a silver box mounted near the headlight unit with 'high voltage' warning stickers on it. Water can cometimes get into this control unit, resulting in problems with both the lighting and the washers.

26-3-2014: On a 2006 MINI Cooper R50 with an opening 'Panoramic' roof the roof failed in 2009 and was replaced for a labour charge of £500. Second roof failed in March 2014 and owner quoted £1,786 to replace + labour. So don't buy a used MINI with a panoramic roof without checking the roof very carefully.

Recalls

December 2002: All MINIs recalled because handle of parking brake can twist slightly, leading it to slip of the ratchet.

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