Used Mini Cars: A Buyer’s Guide to Common Problems

The Mini has been a popular car brand for many years, and many owners really love their car so there should be plenty of examples of Mini cars in good condition available on the used car market. If you are thinking about buying a used Mini yourself then it is well worth taking the time to check over any potential purchase in detail so that you can avoid the most common problems which these cars are known to suffer from. Here is a list of things to look for when you are checking over a used Mini and taking it for a test drive.
Although Mini engines are generally well made and do not suffer from many severe problems you should listen carefully for unusual sounds. If you are looking at a Cooper or Cooper S then one of the main things to listen for is a slight rattle at the top end, which could indicate either a timing chain that needs tensioning, or hydraulic tappets which are coming to the end of their lifespan. A rattle at the lower end of the rev range probably means that the engine has run out of oil at some point in its life, so you should take extra care to look for leaks – check the oil filter housing.
Another important issue to look out for on the Cooper and Cooper S is a whining sound from the transmission. This will probably be apparent no matter what gear you are in, and is another sign of possible oil leakage.  On the Cooper S you should also turn the steering wheel to full lock and listen for unexpected noises, which could indicate that the diff bearings are worn.
If a Mini car is left outside for extended period without being driven then the brakes can rust. This will lead to an unpleasant squealing noise when they are used, but you should not be put off by this as the rust will rub off with regular use. If the car you are looking at is approaching 20,000 – 25,000 miles then you should be aware that the brake pads and discs will wear out and need to be changed before too long.
If you hear a clunking sound from the back of a used Mini then this is a strong indication that the top mounting bushes for the dampers need to be replaced. This is not expensive to do, but you should definitely try to negotiate some money off the cost price to cover it.
Turn the steering from full lock on one side to full lock on the other side while parked. If you hear banging then there is a problem with the universal joint. For newer cars this can be fixed under warranty, but if the car’s warranty has run out then you should be wary of buying the car as it can be pretty expensive to fix.