Mini Cooper - Bad harmonic balancer


My wife and I very recently purchased a 2003 MINI Cooper. The vehicle was purchased as-is - no warranty. 78k miles. Within two hours of having the Mini in our possession, it broke down. Given the as-is nature of the transaction, it was fortunate that the problem occured at this time. Had it occured even 30 days later, the problem would have been ours. The problem was found to be a bad crank pulley or “harmonic balancer”. The repair bill is quite substantial, and the dealer that sold us the car is paying for it (knowing full well we could still bail out of the deal).

Obviously we’ve lost the warm fuzzy feeling we had about the car, and red flags abound. We also know, at this point, we are under no obligation to see this deal through.

We’ve been debating for a couple of days whether it would be prudent to look for another vehicle. Conversely, this Mini Cooper was hard to find in our part of the country, and we were so excited to find it. Not to mention, we now have a major repair out of the way. Or is this just the beginning? There may be no way of knowing for sure until we start experiencing more problems. However, based on the problems with the harmaonic balancer, is there a likelyhood of problems with the crankshaft resultant from the breakdown of the pulley, or even as a causal factor?


Hi there,
I’m not sure when the harmonic balancer typically goes when the car has been maintained properly, but any major repair on a car with 78k miles seems odd. A well maintained car would probably not need this. On the other hand, the fact that you experienced this problem soon after sale may attest to shady behavior from the dealership. It is possible they didn’t have the car checked out completely (many say they do the 100+ point inspection, but that doesn’t mean anything). Did you take this car to your OWN mechanic prior to purchase? I only ask this because I experienced a problem similar to your in one of my cars, and after returning to the dealership several weeks in a row with different problems, I sold the car at a substantial loss.

Question: What do you like about the MINI Cooper?
Suggestion: 1) Look for another MINI from another dealership. 2) Check out the Mazda Miata MX-5.

Hope this helps.


From what I’ve heard, the early model Minis had quite a few problems. Search out your local Mini club and ask them questions (the majority of Mini people I know are very friendly and are quite helpful).


thanks for the replies. We opted to purchase another vehicle.