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Old 09-16-2017, 06:21 PM
r53coop r53coop is online now
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Frequently Asked Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

It is hoped that this thread helps those new to MINI better understand the car. Those that already own a model may also find this thread as a useful reference point. This thread is not meant to be all encompassing of the MINI or the total information that we have here on North American Motoring (NAM). There are over 85,000 threads in the 1st Generation MINI sub-forum so chances are most questions you have are addressed.


INDEX

0001 – What models are considered Generation 1?
0002 – MINI uses allot of abbreviations and/or acronyms, what do they mean?
0003 – I am thinking about buying a MINI, what should I look for?
0004 – How do I find out what factory options a car I am looking at has?
0005 – What do you do to find out whether a used car has problems?
0006 – My car did not have an Owner’s Manual, how do I obtain one?
0007 – What type gas should be used and what happens if I do not?
0008What type oil should be used and when should the oil be changed?
0009 – My car does not start, what do I do?
0010 – A yellow dash light came on in my car, what do I do?
0011 – What are "trouble codes" and how do I see them?
0012 – What are typical maintenance items for my car?
0013 – What tires and/or aftermarket wheels should I use?
0014 – Is there a way to determine what part number a specific item is on my car?
0015 – Is there any place where I can see wiring schematics?
0016 – There are allot of performance abbreviations, what do they mean?
0017 – Can I “reset” my ECU and see more engine information without special tools?
0018 – What is Front Service Mode?
0019 – How should I jack up my car to work on it?
0020 – My car AC is not working, what should I do?
0021 – What is a good suspension modification?
0022 – What is a good horsepower modification?
0023 – I need information on the fuses and relays, is there any?
0024 – Who can I buy parts from?
0025 – Are there DIY articles, videos, manuals etc for working on/repairing a MINI?
0026 - How do I check to see if my car has any recalls outstanding?


0001 - What models are considered Generation 1? There are three models of the 1st Generation of MINIs. In 1994 BMW purchased the Rover Group and with that the Mini name. In 2001 BMW introduced the MINI to the European market with the American debut in 2002. You will note that we use MINI and not Mini. Generation 1 MINIs have a Tritec engines. Tritec was a Brazil based company with the engine being produced through a development by both BMW and Chrysler. Some Chrysler vehicles in Europe, the Neon and the PT Cruiser, used the Tritec engine. The MINI is assembled in Oxford, England.

In America the three models of MINI are;

1.) The R50 has a non-supercharged (naturally aspirated) engine, production years were 2002 to 2006. You may sometimes see this car called a “Justa.” The R50 has a 1598 cc engine (approximately 114 HP and 110 P/F Torque) with a curb weight of approximately 2293 pounds. Transmissions are either a 5-speed manual or a CVT (continuously variable transmission).

2.) The R53 has a supercharged (forced induction) engine and is marked with an “S” on both sides as well as the rear trunk area. Production years were 2002 through 2006. The R53 has a 1598 cc engine (approximately 161 HP, 155 P/F Torque) with a curb weight of approximately 2513 pounds. Transmissions are either a 6-speed manual or an Aisen automatic transmission. One option for the R53 was the JCW* option. JCW stands for John Cooper Works. John Cooper was English and involved with Formula 1. Cooper modified the British Motor Corporation’s Mini model to great success, the Mini Cooper was born. The JCW option package offered more horsepower (approximately 40 HP) at first and then later added some suspension changes.

3.) The R52 is the MINI Convertible model has comes in both “Justa” trim (naturally aspirated) and the “S” supercharged (forced induction). Transmissions were similar to those of the R50 and R53 (see above). Production years were 2005 through 2008. The “Justa” trim had a curb weight of approximately 2568 pounds and the “S” of 2848 pounds. The “S” also offered the JCW option package.

In 2005 MINI modified styling for both the interior and exterior of the R50 and R53. The 2005 and 2006 models and all of the R52 cars were known as “facelift” models.

* The JCW has a separate sub-forum here for more information.

0002 – MINI uses allot of abbreviations and/or acronyms, what do they mean? Here is a link to a thread on the matter. Model designations, paint codes and some options are all listed.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...eat-sheet.html

0003 – I am thinking about buying a MINI, what should I look for? Below is a MOTORINGFILE link to an article on buying a used Generation 1 MINI. Issues such as rust, oil leaks and the CVT transmission are discussed.

http://www.motoringfile.com/mini-r50r53-buyers-guide/

0004 – How do I find out what factory options a car I am looking at has? NAM has a VIN decoder that you can access and there are other sites that provide information as well. Here are two links.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...vindecoder.php

http://myminivin.com/

0005 – What do you do to find out whether a used car has problems? We suggest a Pre-Purchase Inspection or PPI. You would arrange to have the seller bring the car to either a MINI dealer or a known MINI service shop. The cost of the PPI is normally borne by the buyer. An inspection report would be issued noting any problems or issues. If there are problems or issues, the cost to repair should be considered during negotiations.

0006 – My car did not have an Owner’s Manual, how do I obtain one? Go to the MINI USA site via this link where you can download a PDF:

http://www.miniusa.com/content/miniu...r-manuals.html

0007 - What type gas should be used and what happens if I do not? MINI recommends that you use Premium Non-leaded Gas (91 octane). Modern vehicles have engine management systems (computers, aka ECU) that can recognize different octane of gasoline. Yes your car will run on a lower octane gas but there are problems with early detention (pinging) and/or early valve guide wear.

0008 - What type oil should be used and when should the oil be changed? MINI specifies a Full Synthetic SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil. MINI suggests a 12,000 mile interval for oil/filter changes.

0009 – My car does not start, what do I do? Lots of possibilities here but will try to address the most common in no specific order.

1.) Your MINI key has a coded chip within it. If the chip is not sensed by the ECU when the key is inserted the ECU will “immobilize” the car by shutting off the fuel so that it will not start. Here is a thread on the issue:

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...lp-a-noob.html

2.) The starter. The starter may be worn out or have connections loose. Here is at thread on the issue:

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...n-t-crank.html

3.) The engine ground strap may not be tight. Here is a thread on the issue:

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...er-issues.html

4.) The battery may be worn out or the connections are not tight. Here is a thread on the issue.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...n-t-start.html

5.) The alternator has to provide at least 13 volts for the battery to charge. If the battery is not getting at least 13 volts when running, the alternator could be bad.

NOTE: If you are going to disconnect the battery, disconnect the negative post first. Failure to do so may result in the Fuse Module being blown.

0010 – A yellow dash light came on in my car, what do I do? The MINI has two different monitoring systems. If there are issues with exhaust emissions, the SERVICE ENGINE SOON light will come on. The second system monitors engine electronics and if there are issues, a round EML light will come on. These lights could signal a problem as simple as a loose gas cap to as much as a major problem with the engine or exhaust emission system. When these lights come on there is a corresponding trouble code created in the ECU. Trouble codes are discussed below.

0011 - What are "trouble codes" and how do I see them? When either the yellow SERVICE ENGINE SOON or EML light is on, it means there is something wrong. You can take the car to a dealer or most auto parts stores where they will connect an OBD2 Scanner/OBDII Code Reader to a port below the steering wheel. The Scanner/Reader will connect to the ECU and provide the “trouble code(s)” (such as P0138) so that it can be determined where the problem issue is. You can buy a Scanner/Reader and determine the codes yourself. A dealer will normally charge to read the codes; an auto parts store may provide the service for free.

0012 - What are typical maintenance items for my car? If there are no service records with the car most members here would change all the fluids; engine oil, brake fluid, clutch fluid (same as the brake), engine coolant (antifreeze), power steering fluid and the transmission fluid. Drive belts, brake pads/rotors, air filters (both engine and the car interior) and power steering hoses should also be reviewed and replaced if wear is present. Other issues that have been noted by many members here are; 1.) Crank Sensor O-ring. This $5.00 rubber washer seals the crank sensor that is located on the engine behind the radiator/cooling fan. This o-ring will flatten out and oil will start to run down the front of the motor. From postings here, the o-ring can flatten out in as little as 30,000 miles 2.) Water Pump. The water pump on the “Justa” is driven by the drive belt on the passenger side of the engine. On the “S” the pump is driven by the supercharger. At 70,000 miles the pump has seen better days. 3.) On the “S” there is a belt tensioner that has small shock absorber type piece. This piece along with bushings wear out. Replacement is approximately 40,000 miles. 4.) There are three engine mounts, one on the driver side at the transmission, one on the passenger side and one underneath the engine that connects to the car frame. These mounts have either rubber components or fluid that wears out/down over time. The passenger side mount on the “S” can wear out in 30,000 miles. 5.) The crank pulley/harmonic damper has a rubber layer that over time will break down and the pulley can split apart. The rubber is affected by both time and weather. 6.) The shock towers may mushroom due to the force of the wheel absorbing road bumps. There are now aftermarket stiffeners that are sold to mitigate the issue.

The 1st Generation cars are all at least nine years old; the oldest models from 2002 are approaching 16 years old. Rubber components all wear out with age.

0013 - What tires and/or aftermarket wheels should I use?
NAM has a special section discussing Tires, Wheels and Brakes, the link is below. Tire Rack, a Vendor here, also has information on Tires and Wheels.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...and-brakes-36/

0014 – Is there a way to determine what part number a specific item is on my car? Yes, below is a link to Real OEM that has information on all BMW and MINI parts. Once you select the model, year built and month you are able to bring up “templates” that reflect the various parts and fasteners along with the MINI part number.

https://www.realoem.com/bmw/select.do

0015 – Is there any place where I can see wiring schematics? Yes, below is a link to new TIS.com.

https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/

0016 – There are allot of performance abbreviations, what do they mean? Below is a link to our Performance Dictionary:

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...ictionary.html

0017 – Can I “reset” my ECU and see more engine information without special tools? Yes to both of these questions. The link below will provide you information on both.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...ni-viagra.html

0018 – What is Front Service Mode? In order to access portions of the motor or transmission, the car must be placed in Front Service Mode. Modmini is a well known individual to 1st Generation MINI owners. He has a series of YouTube Video. Below is a video on Front Service Mode that he prepared.



0019 – How should I jack up my car to work on it? Here is another good Modmini video on jacking and supporting the car.



0020 – My car AC is not working, what should I do? If you are not able to work with a wrenches then you should take the car to a mechanic or automobile air conditioning expert. If you are able to use wrenches, below is good video on determining what is wrong with your AC.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...c-problem.html

0021 – What is a good suspension modification? There are numerous suspension modifications that can be made. Springs can be shortened that will lower the car. Different shocks, suspension bushings and stiffeners can all be installed. Many here will say that as the MINI is front wheel drive, the car does have “understeer” meaning upon entering a corner the car has a tendency to go straight and not turn in sharply. A rear sway bar can reduce the understeer to a more neutral condition. There are numerous discussions in the Suspension section on the matter. Below is video from Madness Motorworks, a Vendor here, on how to install the swaybar.

NOTE: Any time the suspension is changed, the manner in which the car handles may be impacted. A noted racer/auto crosser here has said that when he had the stock swaybar installed he never spun out during an autocross. With a heavier swaybar he has spun out more than once.



0022 – What is a good performance modification? There are numerous performance modifications that can be made. A Cold Air Intake (CAI) can increase the amount air going to the engine. Larger injectors can be installed but in some instances the ECU would need to “retuned.” The motor cam can be changed and on the “S” the supercharger pulley can be changed to a smaller diameter that will increase the amount of boost going to the engine. The exhaust system can be changed as well. Here is a thread that discusses several different options.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...6-or-17-a.html

0023 – I need information on the fuses and relays, is there any? Yes there is, the below thread provides information on both:

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...nd-wiring.html

0024 – Who can I buy parts from? There are many sources for MINI parts, both OEM and aftermarket. MINI dealers, auto part stores, Amazon and EBay all sell parts for 1st Generation MINIs. As with most purchases, the buyer needs to be informed on both the source of the part and the company that is selling the part. We have a list of companies that sell and or service MINI vehicles at the below link. In many instances these vendors own and drive MINIs as well as participate in providing answers to questions posed here.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co..._directory.php

0025 – Are there DIY articles, videos, manuals etc for the working on/repairing a MINI? There is an immense amount of information for those that work on their MINI vehicles.

1.) In a couple of threads above Modmini, an owner of several Generation 1 MINIs, has prepared numerous videos on repairing. A YouTube search of Modmini will reflect these very handy videos.

2.) Bentley Publications is a company that specializes in service manuals for the majority of automobile manufacturers. They have a manual specifically for the Generation 1 MINIs with 1440 pages along with 2208 photos, illustrations and diagrams

3.) Many of the NAM Vendors have tutorial videos and articles. Madness Motorworks was noted above in the suspension discussion. They have numerous tutorial videos on YouTube. Tire Rack provides information on tire and wheels. On tires, they review and compare all the various tires that fit the MINI. Pelican Parts has an excellent section of DIY articles/tutorials for just about everything on the MINI. Integral Audio provides installation instructions on the products they provide. Bytetronic has a download section for support of the products they provide. Detroit Tuned has a download area for all the products they provide as well as information for items such as air filters, horns, heat shields and numerous other items. Mini Mania has excellent information on the original Mini as well as good information on the Generation 1 MINIs. TCE Performance Products has a good assembly tips sections for the products they provide.

0026 - How do I check to see if my car has any recalls outstanding? Below is a link to the MINI USA site where you can enter your VIN and determine whether your car requires recall servicing.

http://www.miniusa.com/content/miniu...rt/recall.html




None of this could be possible without the members that have participated in this forum.

I will be working on another thread that will try to provide three to four of the most posted threads for items such as brakes, clutches, exhausts, headers, sc pulleys, water pumps, superchargers, various suspension parts, etc.

It is in no way perfect. If I have stated something incorrectly please let me know. Vendors, if I left you out, please accept my apology up front and advise me what you offer relative to Item 0025.

Last edited by r53coop; 10-21-2017 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 09-17-2017, 11:40 AM
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Great job putting this together!

On item 0004 I think the NAM VIN decoder only lists general specifications. You can get the actual build specification of your MINI by entering the last 7 of VIN on the following site.

http://myminivin.com/
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Old 09-20-2017, 02:34 PM
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ECSTuning ECSTuning is online now
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Great Q&A, I remember some of these sticky threads (2005) back in the day somehow got lost. Well done.
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Old 09-23-2017, 11:39 AM
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ItsmeWayne ItsmeWayne is offline
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Good Job r53coop!
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Old 10-25-2017, 02:58 PM
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What a post!!!!! Great stuff
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Old 10-25-2017, 07:57 PM
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Wow! This is a "sticky" to end all "stickies"!
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