Mini Cooper Engine Fried: time 2 cry, fix or let go?


I wanna cry. 2009 Mini Cooper 41K miles. My wife calls me to say she has a yellow temperature warning light (shape of a thermometer). She’s 40 minutes away (when there is no traffic). She pulls to the side of the road, engine cools and she continues on her way home. The light returns. She does this 3x. It’s 10:30 PM, I drive to her rescue with 2 gal of coolant and a gal of water. Add the fluid but the reservoir never indicates it’s filling (1st missed clue). She drives about 1/2 a mile, not yellow light, but then quickly come a red engine light (shape of an engine) and tons of smoke. We call for a tow, wait 2 hours and we’re home by 2:45 AM… I had the car towed to our local mechanic where the car had its oil changed 3 weeks ago. They confirm head gasket and frozen crank. 10-12K for a new engine replacement, or $8,500 for an 80K rebuild. With a good engine, the car is work $9K to 12K. now 1,500 to $2K (as is). The oil change place staff are nice, says it’s not their fault and charged me $120 for the diagnostic. The Mini dealer and Mini USA customer service says nothing they can do out of warranty / no recalls. Love my Mini, heart broken, will probably sell for junk or to a person who can has the skills rebuild the engine. The car is in great shape, except for the engine… Thoughts?


Next time the dash warning lights come on, stop and call the tow truck. I hope that is a lesson learned.

I’d walk away with $1500 in my pocket


What does that mean?



Thank you for your responses so far - really appreciate.

The manual said to let the engine cool not call a tow truck in hindsight we should have called the tow truck.

In regards to the $8,500 it’s for an 80000 mile rebuild engine installed…


An engine with 80,000 mile on it isn’t rebuilt.

It’s used.



I think he means a rebuilt engine with an 80k warranty


I think that meant before adding coolant not keep driving and stopping several times.


Can you or a trusted shop find a used engine from a crashed Mini Cooper?


The 2018 Consumer Reports car issue (April) only goes back to 2010 for used car reliability records. The 2010 Mini Cooper is much worse than average in Engine, Major; Engine, Minor; Engine, Cooling; Fuel System; Electrical; Climate System; Brakes; Noises/Leaks; and Overall Owner Reliability.

Your experience may be different, or very consistent with this. So far it looks like the first three have already bitten you.


Thanks again for all your thoughts and responses to confirm the $8,500 would be to purchase a rebuilt used engine and have it installed parts and labor the one they found locally has 80,000 miles on it.

I could look to other shops to find out if I can get a better deal if we decide to fix the car but economics suggest otherwise.

I wonder if in the future state I might be able to put in an electric engine that would be lower cost more reliability and fun to drive but we’re not there yet.


:slight_smile: in retrospect that’s what we should have done the car cool down the light went out so is driven further but the fact that it took 2 gallons of coolant including one gallon of water and never fill the reservoir should have been my indicator that I had a severe problem.
I thought after putting this fluid in I could drive the car home but the car decided otherwise the head gasket must have already been broken and at that point it sees the engine which ultimately was about a $7,000 mistake.


If I were in that situation and wanted to keep driving the car I’d try to find a non–rebuilt used engine from a wrecked mini. If I was neutral on keeping the car or not I’d probably sell it or junk it, and buy another car. If I liked the mini brand, I’d just buy another mini. I wouldn’t rebuild the existing engine or install a rebuilt engine


To repeat others a used engine with 80,000 miles on it is just a used engine. No one would know or tell you the mileage on a rebuilt engine because it is immaterial. The only exception would be someone who rebuilt an 80,000 mile engine in his own garage and I would strongly advise you to not buy that.


I had a 2007 Mini and only kept it a few years. It was our third car that we just drove for fun. These cars are not reliable for everyday use and they cost a fortune to fix.

I did enjoy ours but would never keep it pass the warranty.


Personally I would never rebuild an engine that overheated and froze. Even the block can warp from the heat. If you really love the car and want to keep it for years to come put in a new engine. Otherwise I would put in a used engine and sell the car or I would junk it.
I once spent $6,500 rebuilding a 10 year old car, drove it 20 years and then gave it to my son who drove it 5 years before selling it.


Sad to say, but I think your estimate of $9,000 retail value is very optimistic. I believe an “80,000 mile rebuilt engine”, means that the engine had 80,000 miles before it was rebuilt. Most modern engines don’t need to be rebuilt at 80,000. Most don’t blow head gaskets at 41,000.
I would love to have a Mini, but not out of warranty. Reliability issues and high costs of repair have depressed retail values. Blackbook average condition trade in on a 2009 Mini is only $3200.


Anybody else shocked by those engine replacement option prices? Seems very high to me. Id’ be looking for a gently USED engine to drop in. Lots of those Minis running around here. Got to be some in junkyards that were wrecked but still have running engine…


They sound high to me, too.


The 2009 doesn’t look like an especially problematic year but I agree that I would probably sell it as is. I mean there are certainly cars that get a lot worse rating on this site.

If you love this car and have the money to invest in it and have another spare if needed, then go for it. If you can only have one car and depend on this for daily transportation, DUMP IT.


Thanks again for all of your thoughts and responses. I found another repair shop that would put in a used 90K mile engine for about $4,600 (taxes, fluids and bells and whistles extra so perhaps $5K) - so it’s a better price that the first company offered (which was $8.5K for an 80K mile used engine) The 90K mile used engine would have a 30 day warranty… I have an offer of $1,500 to take the Mini as is… I also have one or 2 others interested. A junk yard offers ~ 1,200… sigh… I’m leaning towards selling as is. My heart not ready to say good bye but my mind is telling me to let it be…