Is fast driving bad?

I drive a 2009 Mini Cooper Clubman and have 65,000 miles as of today. I live in Germany and drive 60+ miles to work, each way, each day in my current job - so I am now driving ~30K miles just to work per year. With the unrestricted speed limit on sections of the autobahn (it IS as fantastic as it sounds), I routinely set my cruise control between 100-120 MPH. Am I trashing my engine? I meet all required service intervals, but don’t want to have the car blow up before I am scheduled to move back to the States. Thanks.

Is this just to make us drool?

I think it depends on your RPM’s. If you are not redlining it and it RPM stays low, then you should be fine. You would wear more tire doing that, but then life is short. I say have fun, see what others think.

Also make sure you change all your fluids on the ‘severe’ schedule in your manual, including transmission and final drive if separate from the transmission.

Driving fast will increase wear of all your mechanicals as well as your tires. I’m not saying it’s not fun but it is bad for the life of your vehicle and for your own if you crash at that speed.

Interesting that we get two contemporaneous queries from owners of Mini’s. seems to argue against driving a Mini hard.

The Mini probably isn’t the best of the BMW line for driving really fast but you do want to arrive without too much delay. Keep er below 90 and she MAY last longer if you don’t get rear ended.

If enough people drive slowly maybe Germany will lower the speed limit to 65. We Americans have grown to love our speed limits! We have a 75 MPH limit on route 95 in northern Maine that we like 10 MPH better than the 65 one. We like it so much that we want it changed to 80 so we can do 94 without doing criminal speed violations.

If the Mini burns out, just get a more faster driving car. The last thing you want to worry about is mechanical stuff when driving is so much fun. Who am I? Why am I here? Forget the questions, somebody get me another beer! I think; therefore I push the pedal down. Cheap philosophy but it’ll get er done!

Driving a car hard, is different than driving fast. Hard driving is taking corners at tire screeching speeds, lots of shifts, rapid and power shifts, near redline reving of the motor, etc. Driving fast on an autobaun isn’t necessarily hard driving. Remember the air resistance goes up dramatically as speed increases. The drive train is working much harder at 120 mph than it would to go 65 mph. Much more than twice as hard. It is not a linear equation, it is likely working 10 - 20 - or even 100 times harder. The clutch and auto transmission are taking the brunt of the stress.

I’d change the oil on schedule at a minimum and use full synthetic oil that can take the heat and shearing forces better than standard oil. In Europe full synthetic is most likely the oil the OP is using now, so no real change in protocol there. I would change the auto transmission fluid every 30K miles and not stretch it. As far as the clutch, just don’t be surprised if it shows evidence of heat damage and doesn’t last too long. I might upgrade the differential fluid to full synthetic if it meets the BMW spec. and change the differential fluid every 30K miles along with the auto tranny fluid.

Coolant, brake fluid, etc. should not be affected by the high speed driving. The OP didn’t state whether it is a manual or auto transmission. If it is a manual, I’d still change the transmission fluid every 30K or upgrade it to full synthetic to handle shearing forces of all the spinning gears.

The other car’s carbon problem might have been reduced by high speed driving like this.

I probably wouldn’t push it past 100 MPH, but if the engine is up to operating temperature before you hit the autobahn, I wouldn’t be too concerned about driving it between 90 and 95 MPH, assuming your Mini has a manual transmission. Automatic transmissions are more susceptible to damage and are more expensive to repair.

I guess the thing I would be most concerned about is tire safety. Can the tires take the heat? A blow-out at those speeds is a lot more dangerous than a blow-out at moderate speeds, so I would replace the tires a little sooner than I otherwise would, and I’d make sure they are rated to handle the speeds and temperatures to which they will be exposed. I’d also get in the habit of checking my tire pressure more often than I otherwise would, maybe every couple days.

If you can afford a higher tire budget, and are diligent about keeping up with maintenance and conducting thorough safety inspections, I would be hard pressed to tell you to slow down.

Driving an engine that small at those speeds will shorten its lifespan for a few reasons.

  1. your engine has to overcome much higher aerodynamic resistance, so it has to work harder. That means bigger explosions in the cylinders. Each explosion produces forces that drive the compression rings into the cylinder walls. Bigger explosions mean larger forces. Larger forces mean more wear.

  2. the parts that operate your reciprocating parts together, your crankshaft and your connecting rods etc., put more load on the bearings upon which they ride. The crankshaft experiences lateral flex, and sustained high loads could cause it to contact the bearings that support it. That could result in premature bearing failure.

Bottom line, the engine is not likely to experience sudden catastrophoc failure as long as it’s below redline, but if you’re pushing 5000 rpm at these speeds, you may experience premature engine wear. If you’re comfortable with that, drive on. If not, perhaps something that doesn;t need to push so hard would be a better vehicle for you.

Is this just to make us drool?

Well it worked. I concur with @galant - as long as you’re not redlining it (which you shouldn’t be at those speeds) have fun and know that some of us in the US are jealous :slight_smile: Yes, you’re wearing the engine a little faster than normal, but with the non-engine reliability problems that car is famous for, I’m guessing you’ll get fed up and get rid of it long before the engine gives out.

Wow! 100-120 MPH every day on your work commute? What do you do for fun? I would think that driving that fast as often as you do would take away the fun of whooping it up once in a while on a nice twisty backroad like I like to do. For ME, I would offer that I hope that you’re reflexes are like a Jedi . . things happen fast at 100 mph. Write your will and pay your insurance (auto and life) and have fun! So far as your question about are you killing your car? Yep. Everything is max’d here, even a pothole hit at those speeds is many times more harmful than at 50 or 60. Just 'cause you’re not redlining doesn’t mean you’re not wearing it out faster. For example . . . how’s your MPG at 120 MPH? How about at 55 MPH. Wonder why? Be careful and have a blast. Rocketman

As they say in Alaama it’s all relative. This idea that you need to hyper vigilant on the autobahn overlooks the fact that the other vehicles are also travelling at similar speeds. The speed limits on N.American roads are artificially low and most newer vehicles can travel at 95 mph with no adverse affects on the mechanicals. There aren’t potholes on the high speed motorways in Europe.


Rather than speed, tell us what RPMs you run at while cruising at 100 MPH to 120 MPH. If you are anywhere near red line, you should slow down a bit.

@Robb0202 drives a Mini 120 mph ?
Are you the European version of our Robert who drives 100 mph with the Expedition ?

" @Robb0202 drives a Mini 120 mph ? "
Are you the European version of our Robert who drives 100 mph with the Expedition ?

@dagosa, I think you’ve got his MO. I never knew these cars were designed for this. I wonder what happens if one stands on the brakes at 120mph in an emergency ? I’d be scared to ride in one in traffic at 70 mph.


A U.S. Mini would be screaming at 120 MPH. But European cars are geared differently. They are geared more for top end than blistering acceleration. Still, that’s gotta be approaching the top speed of your vehicle. I don’t know what redline is on your Mini, but if you’re pushing more than 75% of it, your engine isn’t meant to run that for extended periods. It may be time to get a faster car.

I am curious, also. What is the engine rpm at 100 mph? And what is the red line? 40 years ago I drove a few of the FWD English sedans and I doubt that any of them would have been able to see 90 mph. They ranged from 1100 to 1300 ccs and one had dual carburetors but none had much response past 75.


I don’t think the gearing is any different between the U.S. and Euro models as only Germany has unrestricted motorways. Also the performance numbers between a U.S. Mini Clubman and an UK model are very close (per C&D and Car magazines respectively). The top speeds are within 3 MPH.

At 120 MPH the OP would be a little over 5000 RPM in top gear, with the redline being 6500 RPM.

Rod, 40 years ago 100 mph was FAST. And took CAHUNAS.
Today, not so much.
But everybody here is wondering what the RPMs are. Hopefully the OP will return to answer the question.