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Mini cooper brakes

Hi the forum,

We’ve just come up with a service light for a regular inspection for our 2009 Mini Cooper S, and during the last one the dealer told us that the brake pads would likely have to be changed (appx 30K miles). They said that due to the nature of the pads (sport vehicle, different, softer pad type that causes more wear) the rotors would need to be changed too. The bill we could expect for this was rather high.

3 questions:

  1. is this necessary? The brakes for sure, but the rotors as well? Can they be machined? I expect it is, but I want to be sure.
  2. How much is a reasonable amount to expect to pay for this type of work on this car?
  3. Any recommendations for independent mechanics this sort of thing in the Seattle, WA area?

Thanks!

Most shops will automatically replace the rotors as a part of a brake job. It’s the best way for them to ensure
good surfacse, ensure no warpage, and ensure sufficient metal in the rotors to prevenet future warpage, and they don;t want customers returning with complaints. Besides, it’s often comparable in cost to “turning” the old rotors.

People who do their own often check the rotors for glazing and scoring, and if they’re stopping smoothly and look good they’ll often just change the pads. But shops cannot operate like that. Too many would return.

For a dealer, expect front brakes (with rotors) to be in the vacinity of $400-500. Minis may be higher…BMW parts and repairs often are.

I fully agree with mountainbike on this one. Rotors can be turned but warping is common especially on a sports car.

See mechanics files tab above. Put in zip code and you should find several independent choices in your area.

Thanks for the answers everyone! Mountainbike, the dealer quoted price was closer to around $800. I’m not sure how much higher you were thinking, but it sounds like it’s not out of the realm of possibility. I’m glad that car is fun, at least.

Jayhawkroy: Thanks, I’ll give it a go.

Although it looks like the mechanic files feature does not have MINI as one of their drop down options for revising the search.

Try BMW. MINI is made by BMW, but for brakes, any decent mechanic can do this work. Brakes are very similar from make to make and easy to work on.

Ouch! I figured they’d be higher, but that’s…well…HIGH!

I’ll second Mark’s suggestion. There’s nothing futuristic about Mini brakes. Any decent shop can do as good a job as a BMW dealer, and probably for far less.

Your dealer is probably right. Some of the softer pads can take out a set of rotors. But you don’t have to use the OEM pads for replacement, there are alternatives. I’m pretty sure that the dealer quote was for all 4 wheels. I would recommend an independent mechanic that will use Hawk ceramic pads and maybe cryo treated rotors. Better brakes at a lower cost, but not a lot less.

FWIW, as a shadetree mechanic I always replace rotors on BMWs. It might not always be absolutely necessary but I prefer it. As a rule I always replace the brake pad wear sensor as well.

30K miles? I would ask any decent mechanic to simply replace the brake pads, which cost $40 or $50, and see if that takes care of things…

In my experience, rotors are usually good for two pad replacements before they need replacing as long as they are not scored or otherwise damaged…

OK, OK…

The responses have a lot of clues that need to be picked up on.

I have a 2004 Cooper S. I don’t know how different the dash warnings are on the 2009, but 1) I don’t think that I have a “service light for a regular inspection.” 2) I do have a specifc light for brake wear. It is controlled by two brake wear sensors as acknowledged by AlanY. There is one at the left front wheel and one at the right back wheel. I do a lot of highway driving, so I didn’t replace my brakes until between 85K and 100K miles. That 30K miles sounds too soon for brakes, from my experience. Check your manual and determine what that service light indicates. And, see the manual to determine whether you have a brake service light. If you do, and it hasn’t gone on, then it is unlikely that the brakes need replacing. Don’t worry, when the light goes on you will still have a safe amount of pad left. You should just go and get the brakes replaced in a timely manner after that. I agree with Caddyman that 30K on the brakes should not regularly warrant a rotor change. There are specifications for rotor wear. The thickness can be measured and it can be determined whether turning the rotor is a viable option. Finally, front and back brake pads usually do not wear out evenly. Only one axle set may need to be replaced before another.

On the other hand, your dealer might be right and you are due for brakes. And maybe the other commentors are right about brake pads on sports cars, etc. Personally, I don’t see the logic about soft brake pads causing greater rotor wear. Does that mean that hard brake pads would cause less rotor wear? Wow!

I don’t trust your dealer. I recommend that you have someone else look at your brakes. It’s pretty easy to do, and it would not hurt for you to know how to do this yourself. There are two pads around each rotor. You should be able to see the outer pad without even removing the wheel, if you have alloy wheels. But you also want to see the pad on the other side of the rotor, and usually you have to remove the wheel. Inspecting one front and one back wheel should inform you whether the MINI needs brakes.

If you don’t believe any of this or if you want to get more information, go to MINI2.com. This is a MINI enthusiast site where you can ask questions in their forums. You can gain a lot of good information there, and it has saved me money.