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Transmission Failure in 2005 Mini Cooper - Repair or Replace?

Hi all,

Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. My 2005 Mini Cooper, manual transmission, has 82K miles. About a month ago, I noticed a loud sound coming from the engine when at speeds above 60mph. Over the next few weeks, the noise started happening at lower speeds as well, 30mph and up. Took it to the dealership and was informed that I needed a new transmission, which came as a great shock to me. Quote to replace is $3,600.

I took it to a transmission specialist for a second opinion. He determined that it likely was the differential causing the issue but that this couldn’t be purchased alone as Mini will only sell the entire transmission, not specific parts for it. Quote to replace is $3,300.

Along with the transmission, the dealership also said that I have three oil leaks, need the water pump replaced, air conditioner recharged, control arm bushings and rear breaks replaced. Plus some misc work adding up to $6,500, which includes the new transmission.

I own the Mini free and clear, but blue book value for excellent condition is only $7,800 (trade in) to $9,700 (private party). What would you do if you were in my situation?

Get a used trans, should be much less money. Does you AC work?? Why does the water pump need replacing??

Over all what is the condition of the mini??

I agree with gsragtop - get a price for a used or rebuilt transmission. Get a second opinion on the other repairs. And in its current condition, you will never get a good price. Expect any offer to be about $3600 below what it would be worth with a functioning transmission.

A mini is a BMW, isn’t it? According to some here, that’s supposedly a really reliable car…

Seriously, could you perhaps buy one that was totalled and have its transmission swapped out?
Edit: just noticed GSR’s comment that hit it on the nose.

The problem with used in this car is this manual transmission is prone to failure in this specific car. I have no idea how Mini/BMW screwed this car up so much, typical manual transmissions(even BMW) designs are faultless. The only recent exception is Toyota and matrix has a terrible manual transmission also.

I think you need to get the transmission replaced with a used unit. Call salvage yards in your area. Often they can find a used transmission and install it for you. As for the rest of the repairs they sound like a lot dealer service dept. “padding” to up their profits. After you get the transmission issue resolved then find an independent shop to see if they agree with the Mini dealer service dept. on what the car needs.

You really need to decide if you want to keep this car? My opinion is get the transmission fixed, sell it and don’t get another Mini.

@raj – if mini has an inherent problem from the factory, did they since fix it or offer kits to let someone repair it? If they didn’t, that is one horrible little car.
If another transmission could have those very same inherent problems, UncleTurbo is right on the money with fixing and immediately selling it.

Hi everyone, I wanted to give you an update on what I decided.

So, I did move forward with the transmission replacement thinking that if it could get me at least four more years of not having a car payment, it would essentially pay for itself. However, that is not exactly how it turned out.

After getting the transmission replaced, I thought I should get the brakes checked out since that was one of the other things the dealer said needed to be done. Instead of the dealership, I took it to a mechanic that specializes in Minis and had relatively good reviews online. He took a look at the rear brakes and confirmed that they did need to be replaced.

However, upon further inspection, he was shocked to see that the rear calipers were almost entirely seized up on both rear wheels. This turned my $350 brake replacement job into a $1,200 brake/caliper replacement. Not wanting to essentially “waste” the transmission money I had just dumped into the car, I moved forward.

But things went from bad to worse. Once he replaced the brakes and calipers, he discovered that there was something in the brake lines that was essentially not letting the brakes release themselves once they had been engaged, creating a massive drag on the car. He surmised this was the real reason behind my transmission going out (the extra strain on driving a car around essentially with the brakes engaged at all times) as well as the three clutches I had gone through in the 82K miles I had driven it.

He replaced the brake lines, but it didn’t solve the problem. He spent hours on the phone with Mini and other resources, to no avail. He donated quite a few hours pro-bono to the cause because it was killing him not knowing what was causing this issue. The next fix he could think of was replacing the ABS unit for another $1,000 plus, but couldn’t guarantee that this was even the problem. I said enough is enough and drove it to a dealership as a trade-in the next day.

So, although I loved the Mini and how cute it was and how fun it was to drive, I will never buy one again and could not recommend anyone buy one, regardless of whether they have “improved” over the years. Still, I’m always a little sad when I see one drive by on the road…