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Buying a used mini

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  #1  
Old 10-10-2018, 03:29 AM
pinchetaco
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Buying a used mini

I know this has most likely been asked and I've looked over the FAQ section on buying a used mini and what to look for. I'm looking at an 09 JCW with 106k on the clock. I'm going to be using this car to get back and forth to work 45 min each way. I'm not afraid of maintenance needed on these cars. I'm a gearhead and I am no stranger to engine work, I do all my own maintenance is what I am saying. I'm currently running around in an 89 civic hatchback and its extremely reliable and has no issues whatsoever. I'm just wanting to get into something more modern with modern amenities like power steering, door locks and windows haha. So, what do I need to be looking for buying used? Maintenance costs, problems, stuff like that. I've done research on some of the issues but what else do I need to look at. Enough rambling, any and all advice is much appreciated.
 
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:01 AM
Yupetc
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Lots of issues but nothing major that you can't handle from the way you described yourself. Even if on the day you buy the car and you see nothing wrong with it, do expect something here and there to fix down the road.

I also do my own maintenance and have a garage full of common and special tools. Having gone through a bunch of Japanese cars then the BMW cars, now the MINI (2nd gen), I'll have to say that these cars have more occurrence of problems than any of the cars I've owned so far (20 years tinkering with cars so far). Expect high chance of oil leaks, coolant leaks, failed water pump, few sensor problems, even the sensor plugs are mostly crap, they get brittle and crack easily especially on the VANO's solenoid plugs. Then lastly, the timing chain rattle, skip tooth, bent valves, etc. Anyhow, even with bent valves, it's not that difficult to pull the heads and get to that valve repair. Also, you'll probably be better off investing in air compressor and a walnut blasting kit. Your intake valves will likely get real dirty every 30k miles due to direct injection. Having it done out there will cost $350-700 depending where you go, for that price, all you need is 1-2 cleanse and you'll get that money worth.
 
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:50 PM
pinchetaco
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Originally Posted by Yupetc View Post
Lots of issues but nothing major that you can't handle from the way you described yourself. Even if on the day you buy the car and you see nothing wrong with it, do expect something here and there to fix down the road.

I also do my own maintenance and have a garage full of common and special tools. Having gone through a bunch of Japanese cars then the BMW cars, now the MINI (2nd gen), I'll have to say that these cars have more occurrence of problems than any of the cars I've owned so far (20 years tinkering with cars so far). Expect high chance of oil leaks, coolant leaks, failed water pump, few sensor problems, even the sensor plugs are mostly crap, they get brittle and crack easily especially on the VANO's solenoid plugs. Then lastly, the timing chain rattle, skip tooth, bent valves, etc. Anyhow, even with bent valves, it's not that difficult to pull the heads and get to that valve repair. Also, you'll probably be better off investing in air compressor and a walnut blasting kit. Your intake valves will likely get real dirty every 30k miles due to direct injection. Having it done out there will cost $350-700 depending where you go, for that price, all you need is 1-2 cleanse and you'll get that money worth.
Thanks for the feedback. As far as timing chain stuff. If it’s been done, when would it need to be done again?
What’s the service interval on that?
 
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:01 AM
Yupetc
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Originally Posted by pinchetaco View Post


Thanks for the feedback. As far as timing chain stuff. If it’s been done, when would it need to be done again?
What’s the service interval on that?
Timing chain interval really depends on your tolerance level and the integrity condition of the guide rail pieces. Once you perform the timing chain job, assuming you also replaced all the guide rail plastic pieces, you're likely safe for another 30k miles without any issues with it. There are three common problems which will happen as the assembly starts to age:

1. top guide rail is made of plastic combined with aluminum bracketing. The plastic piece is what touches the chain and holds it down to keep the chain tight in addition to the tensioner bolt (from the back side of the engine). This plastic piece is notorious for breaking, on my 9 timing chain jobs across four 2nd gen mini's to date, I've see 2 occasions where the aluminum pieces broken off with the plastic piece and fell into the timing chain bay. Both cases I got real lucky that those pieces get stuck right there above the crankshaft gear and didn't go any further down, else it would jam the crankshaft gear and causing timing chain to jump tooth. If this guide breaks, and you're still lucky that the pieces didn't intercept any rotating components within the chain bay, then you'll end up driving with a loosened chain, and you'll hear timing chain rattle, quite distinctively loud, and it only gets worse until you decide to do something with it. The interval period for this to happen can vary. I'd strongly suggest opening up the valve cover every 30k miles just to take a look and make sure. Valve cover gaskets are cheap and the job is simple. Why not?
2. The tensioner bolt itself. This bolt is a spring loaded shaft mechanism to push the side rail onto the chain as the chain turns. Over time, this tension will decrease it's spring constant and chain will get loosened a bit. You'll get timing chain slap and rattle once this chain gets loose. It's basically a loosening of the chain which makes it slap anywhere inside that confined space. The interval period for this check, from my personal experience, is around 50k to 60k miles. I actually replace it with a new one if there are no rattle for 60k miles and just felt like it needed my attention. I find on many mini's at 90k miles which has never replaced it, to have that timing chain rattle. Open up the valve cover and all guide rails are still in tact, then after I replace the tensioner, rattle sound diminished.
3. Timing chain wear. Lots of people call this timing chain stretch, they don't really stretch, it's the wearing of the link joints which causes the chain to become loose and longer. I've taken out 4 sets of 90k mile timing chains and compared them against the new one, they are usually at least 1 link longer than the brand new. This is because all the joints wear and if you pull it to compare, all the small worn dimensions add up. The lengthened timing chain also causes looseness and a chance for slap and rattle, no matter how intact and efficient the tensioner and guide rail assembly may be. The service interval for the chain itself, to absolutely prevent issues from lengthened chain, should be around 75k-80k miles. This is just my opinion based on what I've seen so far. I have pulled chains at 45k miles and 52k miles, no real stretch observed, pulled 4 sets of 90k miles chains, all stretched. I'm suspecting somewhere between the two scenarios to find this lengthening to occur.

I hope my info helps, and other may debate against my findings, but I'm stating it here again, the above are all from my experience with the 2nd gen mini's, pulled timing chain 9 times from different vehicles at different intervals.
 

Last edited by Yupetc; 10-11-2018 at 08:05 AM. Reason: typo needed editing
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:03 PM
pinchetaco
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Originally Posted by Yupetc View Post
Timing chain interval really depends on your tolerance level and the integrity condition of the guide rail pieces. Once you perform the timing chain job, assuming you also replaced all the guide rail plastic pieces, you're likely safe for another 30k miles without any issues with it. There are three common problems which will happen as the assembly starts to age:

1. top guide rail is made of plastic combined with aluminum bracketing. The plastic piece is what touches the chain and holds it down to keep the chain tight in addition to the tensioner bolt (from the back side of the engine). This plastic piece is notorious for breaking, on my 9 timing chain jobs across four 2nd gen mini's to date, I've see 2 occasions where the aluminum pieces broken off with the plastic piece and fell into the timing chain bay. Both cases I got real lucky that those pieces get stuck right there above the crankshaft gear and didn't go any further down, else it would jam the crankshaft gear and causing timing chain to jump tooth. If this guide breaks, and you're still lucky that the pieces didn't intercept any rotating components within the chain bay, then you'll end up driving with a loosened chain, and you'll hear timing chain rattle, quite distinctively loud, and it only gets worse until you decide to do something with it. The interval period for this to happen can vary. I'd strongly suggest opening up the valve cover every 30k miles just to take a look and make sure. Valve cover gaskets are cheap and the job is simple. Why not?
2. The tensioner bolt itself. This bolt is a spring loaded shaft mechanism to push the side rail onto the chain as the chain turns. Over time, this tension will decrease it's spring constant and chain will get loosened a bit. You'll get timing chain slap and rattle once this chain gets loose. It's basically a loosening of the chain which makes it slap anywhere inside that confined space. The interval period for this check, from my personal experience, is around 50k to 60k miles. I actually replace it with a new one if there are no rattle for 60k miles and just felt like it needed my attention. I find on many mini's at 90k miles which has never replaced it, to have that timing chain rattle. Open up the valve cover and all guide rails are still in tact, then after I replace the tensioner, rattle sound diminished.
3. Timing chain wear. Lots of people call this timing chain stretch, they don't really stretch, it's the wearing of the link joints which causes the chain to become loose and longer. I've taken out 4 sets of 90k mile timing chains and compared them against the new one, they are usually at least 1 link longer than the brand new. This is because all the joints wear and if you pull it to compare, all the small worn dimensions add up. The lengthened timing chain also causes looseness and a chance for slap and rattle, no matter how intact and efficient the tensioner and guide rail assembly may be. The service interval for the chain itself, to absolutely prevent issues from lengthened chain, should be around 75k-80k miles. This is just my opinion based on what I've seen so far. I have pulled chains at 45k miles and 52k miles, no real stretch observed, pulled 4 sets of 90k miles chains, all stretched. I'm suspecting somewhere between the two scenarios to find this lengthening to occur.

I hope my info helps, and other may debate against my findings, but I'm stating it here again, the above are all from my experience with the 2nd gen mini's, pulled timing chain 9 times from different vehicles at different intervals.
This is great info!!! The mini I was looking for sold, so im back on the hunt. I've got my eye on one and its been serviced its whole life at the local mini dealer. I called them and ask if they know if its had timing work done and they couldn't find anything. They also told me that they recommended a bunch of maintenance when it was last in but the owner declined, its got 95k on the clock in an 09. Think they said it was oil leaks. Its sitting at a small car dealer so idk who the previous owner was. Debating on passing on it
 
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Old 10-12-2018, 09:49 AM
Yupetc
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Originally Posted by pinchetaco View Post
This is great info!!! The mini I was looking for sold, so im back on the hunt. I've got my eye on one and its been serviced its whole life at the local mini dealer. I called them and ask if they know if its had timing work done and they couldn't find anything. They also told me that they recommended a bunch of maintenance when it was last in but the owner declined, its got 95k on the clock in an 09. Think they said it was oil leaks. Its sitting at a small car dealer so idk who the previous owner was. Debating on passing on it
Oil leaks are mostly easy to find and repair. Pretty much all around the motor including the valve cover are suspectible for leaks. They aren't difficult to repair, mostly just changing gaskets and what not. Just about every Mini I get through my garage have some sort of oil leak, it's really common and easy to fix.
 
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Old 10-15-2018, 05:48 PM
pinchetaco
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Originally Posted by Yupetc View Post
Oil leaks are mostly easy to find and repair. Pretty much all around the motor including the valve cover are suspectible for leaks. They aren't difficult to repair, mostly just changing gaskets and what not. Just about every Mini I get through my garage have some sort of oil leak, it's really common and easy to fix.
ill keep that in mind when I go look at one this Thursday. 2011 MCS with 112k on the clock it has a manic stage 2 tune w bbq mode, upgraded intercooler, h&r lowering springs, rear sway bar, cold air intake, custom exhaust, Enkei rims, jcw brake upgrade, new clutch, and the turbo was replaced at 58k and some other small things. Seems like a decent car from the pics but we will see in person. Current owner hasn’t messed with the timing chain on it and he’s owned it for 55k miles, so I am assuming that it would need to be done but I’m not 100% sure.
 
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Old 10-15-2018, 07:52 PM
cargusjoh
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2011 has N18 motor, much improved timing chain, carbon build up, etc. N14 07-10, and JCW/Convertible through most of 2012.
 
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