Six Problems Common to 1st and 2nd Generation MINI Coopers

After a slow start, MINI Cooper has become hugely popular in the United States. BMW is MINI’s parent company, and we here at East Coast EuroWerks adore MINIs. Although we will admit that the first and second generation Coopers in the States did come with a common set of problems, these are reliable little cars. Here’s what those problems are if you own an older MINI Cooper.


MINI is the most popular automobile in Great Britain, but it didn’t come across the pond until 2002. The first two generations of MINI Cooper have frustrated drivers with a common clutch problem. The clutch can fail prematurely – by 20,000 miles, which is way too soon for any automobile, even a MINI.


This is a bigger problem than a premature clutch failure, so much bigger than both MINI and BMW were sued for it. MINI’s 1st generation CVT (R50) is known for automatic transmission failure. A class-action suit covered the costs for drivers who had to have their transmission replaced up until 2014.

Timing Chain

Another MINI Cooper problem is a noisy timing chain. The rattle can be loud and unbearable when you first fire up your Cooper. It’s also a sign of trouble, so have the timing chain inspected. One of the things that cause the timing chain noise is low oil, so be faithful with your MINI’s oil changes, too.

Water Pump

A leaking water pump can be disastrous, and the first two generations of MINI Coopers ended up with water pump leaks after 50,000 miles. The Cooper’s thermostat housing is also known to leak. Both of these parts can leak engine coolant, and once the coolant is too low, your MINI will overheat.


MINI didn’t think the radiator support through on the first couple of Cooper generations. This part is made of plastic, yet it carries the radiator’s weight, cooling fan, and condenser assembly. Stress from the weight and the fact that the support rests low means you can easily damage it.

Power Steering

Finally, MINI also had to recall the electric power steering pump on some of the Coopers sold in the U.S. because they failed prematurely. In some cases, the pumps failed because the power steering pump hoses failed. The electric cooling fan also caused the power steering pump failure.

If you’re concerned about your MINI Cooper, look no further than East Coast EuroWerks for your MINI service and repair. We are located in Wilmington, NC, and you can contact us here.

Photo by Jacob Morch from Pexels Canva Pro

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