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2004 Mini Cooper, 35,522 miles, 2nd broken "drive belt" in last 7 months!

Hello Everyone & anyone interested in offing some sage wisdom regarding my issue! Out of warranty now, mechanic replaced this same ‘belt’ only 7 months ago. $250.00 bucks. Broke again going over the Causeway bridge on my way to New Orleans! (it’s a 24 miles bridge! Expensive tow & long morning, I can tell you)!

He says he thinks it’s the “tensioner” that is bad, thus chewing up my belts? He quoted a range of $600-$700 bucks to repair. Is this an issue anyone can help me with? No info on Mini Site, web, HELP!

Check with a mini dealer anyway. There may be a recall that they still must honor. Some recalls are silent recalls such as technical service bulletins. Stuff they will fix if they see the car. Hopefully one of the folks with a TSB service will address this thread.

Assuming he’s actually looked at the failure pattern and the tensioner, I have no reason to disbelieve his diagnosis. If he has not done so, someone will need to.

Two belts in 7 months does suggest either a bad pulley or a binding pulley. Or, perhaps, a tensioner that’s allowing slippage or keeping the belt too taught. Only hands-on can someone determine what’s at fault.

TSBs Are Helpful Information Written By Car Manufacturers To Help Their Technicians Diagnose Recurring Or Difficult Problems. They Are Not Silent Recalls. Usually Any Repairs Mentioned Are Done Only During Warranty.

Recalls and Manufacturers’ Campaigns, on the other hand, often go on indefinitely or extend the original warranty on specific proplems on specific vehicles.


I believe your question is, can any mechanic fix this? I’m pretty sure any good mechanic can fix this, but some mechanics may not want to tackle it, especially if it takes an investment in publications or increase in his AllData subscription and/or if he has to buy any special tools.

It would be worthwhile checking with friends for recommended independent mechanics and get estimates from those mechanics.

BTW, a silent recall and a TSB are not the same thing, though a silent recall may include a TSB. TSBs are not a free repair. You could ask your dealer if there is a secret or silent extended warrantee. Sometimes when a manufacturer realizes they have a part that is prone to early failure, they will extend the warrantee for that part, but not let customers know unless the customer asks. Some of these extended warrantees are “pro-rated”, that is they will charge you for the use you got out of the part so far and they will cover the difference.

Manufacturers are mandated by federal statute to notify vehicle owners of recalls.

Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) are simply advisory notices to authorized dealers. They can notify a dealer of a change in parts or specifications, notify a dealer of some action that should be taken to all vehicles that come in for warranty, define or modify a specific repair or maintenance procedure, or even just define a procedure. I have one at home for how to acquire a new VIN tag for a Toyota product. TSBs can be used by a manufacturer to advise a dealer to take a specific action, but most TSBs are simply advisory in nature.

Having said that, it never hurts to ask if there is a TSB that relates to your problem.