Is There Life After Mini?



I could use some friendly advice.

I have a love ? hate relationship with my 2003 Mini Cooper. I love to drive it. I love its looks and what it stands for. However I have found that although the car has wonderful styling and peppy drive, it?s seriously unreliable. In the last three and a half years, I?ve been in and out of the dealership with a cornucopia of issues:

-severe oil leak, entire transmission replaced

-two broken fuel pumps

-broken oxygen sensor in gas tank

-strut covers fell off

-two broken glove boxes

-windshield wipers & sprayers re-installed (twice)

-door locks on both sides replaced

-battery replaced 2x in 1 year

-poor A/C

-passenger?s & driver?s windows stop working

-driver?s & passenger?s doors won?t open

-sunvisor won?t fold shut

-torn upper strut mounts

This car has near about broken my heart. My warranty ended last spring and it?s become apparent I cannot afford the upkeep. I?ve spent $3000 in the last six months! My gut is telling me to quickly trade it in for something new, while I still can get a decent value out of it. But what to replace it with? Mini has my heart; I haven?t found another car in the universe (priced 25K or under) that revs my engine. I test drove a Prius and it was nice enough but it seemed huge and looks like a spaceship. Not cute and zippy at all.

I?ve considered staying in the Mini family and getting a 2007, but the 2007?s engines are a new generation with all new engines, and complaints about the ?teething? issues are starting to flood mini message boards.

Like I said, it breaks my heart to even consider not getting a Mini. Nothing else compares. But reliability matters!

Any suggestions or advice on this would be greatly appreciated. I am totally stymied. Do I stay in the Mini family and sacrifice reliability for style? Or do I choose a practical car that lacks the unique Mini zing? The only thing I know is that I need to get rid of my 2003 before it breaks down again!


I have no advice for you on what car to buy. What I will say is that if your mechanic thinks the broken oxygen sensor belongs in the gas tank you need a new mechanic.


lol… thanks, michael, that would likely be my error in transcribing the receipts, not theirs. :slight_smile:


How much room do you need? I know the Mini is pretty small inside(don’t get me started on the sunroof cover inside), so maybe another coupe like a used RX-8(keep an eye on that oil level though). I like the style of the new Mazda and toyotas, and the new Accord definitely looks more expensive than it is, and you can get a 4cyl coupe with the spoilers(front, back, side, trunk) for about 25k. Remove all the badges and not too many people will know you’re driving a Honda


Explain what Mini zing is? Is it style more to you or performance?

There are some pretty reliable and fun to drive smaller cars but not as cool looking. Some examples are the Mazdaspeed 3 (not Mazda 3)and new redesigned (2008)Subaru WRX hatchback. Both will give you an above average reliability and cost <$25k. Both do have significantly more power on tap.


Never fall in love with a car. Certainly one you don’t own. OK, OK, a car that has been faithful for ten years is a part of the family; when it’s time to tow it to the salvage yard you may shed a tear.

Yes, say good-bye to your 2003 Mini. It’s been a false friend anyway. (Sorry, but someone needed to tell you that.) Now you must start afresh. You may gaze wistfully whenever another Mini whizzes past you, but control your breathing. They’re all alike and will only break your heart again. Now cast a wide net. Maybe you can get a friend to introduce you to a handsome Mazda3 or Scion tC. And don’t turn down a Matrix or Vibe either. They all have their particular charms. Anyway, as far as Mini is concerned, build a bridge and get over it.


Vibe/Matrix is a bad choice with a person who wants a car that has any sporting intentions. It plays the look part but definitely not the driving experience. I know three unhappy owners of this vehicle including one with the “high performance” version of it.


Buy a second car, like a used Accord or Camry . . . and place the Mini up on a pedestal. You’ll drive it once in a while, but grow to realize the difference between owning a car for its’ practical purpose and owning an extension of yourself . . . the Mini. Falling in love with a car sounds silly but is understandable as some people consider a car as an extension of oneself. Like clothes, homes, . . . cars refelct who we think we are, to an extent. So, as to the rest of you folks . . what do YOU drive? Rocketman


There is hope!
I have an '03 Cooper S with over 85K miles that’s been very reliable.
Yes, I’ve had a few repairs. But, nothing major.
Under warranty I had a door lock replaced and a software update.
After the warranty expired I’ve had to replace the horn and a ball joint ($70 in parts total).
And, of course, the regular maintenance things like fluids, tires and brakes.

It seems to me you might be dealing with a lemon. Consider getting another Mini. I would shy away from the new generation for a year or two until they finish teething. Keep in mind, there were a lot of little design changes during the '02 and '03 model years. Mine was one of the last to roll of the production line in model year '03 (July '03 build) so it has most of these fixes. Shop around for something that’s '04 to '06 just to be safe.


I also know a few folks who own minis without and significant problems, I don’t believe they have a reputation for being particularly unreliable. I would find a good independent mechanic and have this car gone through to determine f it currently has any issues. You could also consider buying another used one (maybe an S or a convertible if you want something a little different). I can’t really think of anything else that’s equivalent, you probably won’t be happy if you trade it in on an appliance.


Although my Honda Civic doesn’t “rev my engine,” my Honda Shadow does. Riding a motorcycle revs my engine like no car ever could.

If I were looking for a car that “revs my engine” I would look at the Honda S2000. It is $34,000 new, but you might look at used ones. A few years ago they were $30,000 new. I might also look at the Honda Civic Si. In years past the Civic Si was a hatchback. Now it is a two-door coupe and the sticker price is around $21,000 new.

Have you test driven a Toyota Celica or a Mazda Miata? What about a Ford Mustang? I know lots of women who love their Mustangs. Have you ever considered taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic Rider Course? (


The only suggestion I can make is to go to the local bookstore, get a copy of “Consumer Reports New Car Buyer’s Guide”, and spend lots of time test driving those that look good to you. I have a blast in my Scion tC, but it’s nothing at all like a Mini.

Sorry about your bad experience. But I agree that this one is held held onto in your memories only.