The Pros and Cons of Owning a Mini
What Is a Mini?
So what is a Mini? It's basically a small economy car that is known for its speed, extreme drifting, and unique look. There have been various types of Mini cars over the last several decades, but their popularity has surged because of their availability almost all over the world, their unique look, and their race car-like quality.
Mini, which is owned by BMW, is recognized at making some of the most popular small cars. While the Cooper is the most recognized model, there are other cars from Mini to choose from.
I have owned a Mini Cooper for four years. I thoroughly researched the brand before buying it, and I did not want to write an article until I felt experienced and knowledgeable about what vehicle had to offer. This article will cover my experience owning this car. I will go over its pros and cons as well as go over the current models offered by Mini.
The Pros of Owning a Mini
I'll start with the positives as to why you should own a Mini brand vehicle.
- Fun to drive. The main reason I wanted a Mini was because they looked so fun to drive. Once I got behind the wheel, I knew it was a good choice. They can quickly go fast, make turns without a problem, and can practically park anywhere. A don't really care to drive, but when I do, I want it to be in a fun car. Of all of the vehicles I have owned, the Mini has been the most fun.
- Customization. When I was first shopping around for a Mini, I went to their website to play with the various options I could have on the car. A cool thing about this car is that you can customize it almost anyway you want. Not only does the Mini stand out among other cars, you can make your own Mini stand out among identical models.
- Affordable. If you choose not to get any options, this can be a very affordable car to buy. Granted, having some of the neater options are nice, they are not required.
- Less frequent maintenance. A Mini doesn't need an oil change or regular maintenance done every few months like other cars. Instead, you can go two years before having the car checked out. With the standard three-year warranty, you can take it to a Mini dealership for it's first maintenance. However, I like to get my oil changed sooner somewhere else just so it can have clean oil.
- Great gas mileage. Even though these cars use premium gas, it does offer decent gas mileage. I only have to fill up my tank once a month, and that is driving to and from work as well as other places around town. I can do about six to seven hours of solid freeway driving before needing a fill-up.
- High resale value. A Mini brand car has a pretty good resale value, assuming the car is in great shape and has no problems with it. If and when you decide to get rid of your car, you will earn more back than what you would with other vehicles. I tend to change cars every five years, and while I may not with my Mini, having a high trade-in value is definitely a bonus.
How Much Is a Mini Cooper?
Here are the MSRPs of the 2019 models of Mini Coopers, as well as the prices for the various other models offered by the brand.
Mini Hardtop 2 Door
- Classic: $21,900
- Signature: $24,900
- Iconic: $29,900
- John Cooper Works: $31,900
Mini Hardtop 4 Door
- Classic: $23,400
- Signature: $25,900
- Iconic: $30,900
Mini Cooper Clubman
- Classic: $25,400
- Signature: $28,900
- Iconic: $34,900
- John Cooper Works: $35,900
Mini Cooper Countryman
- Classic: $27,400
- Signature: $30,900
- Iconic: $35,900
- John Cooper Works: $37,900
- Classic: $27,400
- Signature: $29,900
- Iconic: $34,900
- John Cooper Works: $36,900
The Cons of Owning a MINI
Unfortunately, there are cons to buying and owning a Mini as well, some of which I have experienced personally.
- Mini knows you want one. When people shop around for a car, they can bounce from dealership to dealership without really expressing they want a particular type of car. Unfortunately, when shopping for a Mini, most dealers will know that you want one of those in particular. If you express you drove a long way, loved them for years, etc., then they can turn that against you.
- Can be expensive. If you want to get multiple options, then the price of this car can skyrocket. With all of the options I wanted, the price of my vehicle jumped by over 30%! Granted, it was worth it, but it made it the most expensive car I have ever owned. So be prepared to spend a lot of money if you want various options to make your car unique.
- Dealerships aren't everywhere. In my case, the closest dealership is about an hour and a half away. It is certainly a pain to drive to. I am lucky that I have one that close. Other people may have to travel hours to get to a Mini dealership. If you do buy a car, then ensure that you learn about your warranty. The flatbed service they offer to pickup your Mini is only for a limited area, and even getting a rental while your car is being repaired can be limited in how far you can drive it.
- Maintenance can be expensive. Once your car is out of warranty, all repairs will need to be covered by you. There are extended warranty options, but those are expensive as well. Despite Mini brand cars becoming more common, the repairs can be very expensive. So if you purchase one, be prepared for that if your car starts to have issues.
- It's a small car. I went from a sports car to a Mini, which to me was a big jump in size. A lot of people complain that these cars have very little storage space. It's not meant to be a family car, it's meant to be a fun car that can barely fit four people. I can hold a lot in my car, it just requires a bit of effort. However, the more expensive models have more space.
- Uses the most expensive fuel. Despite the decent fuel economy, the Mini does require premium fuel. You can use the cheaper types of gas, but it won't be great for your vehicle, and it will require more fill-ups, so it's strongly discouraged that you do that.
- Non-Mini dealerships won't do a good job servicing your vehicle. I took my car in to a local repair shop to deal with a couple small issues, as well as get an oil change. They couldn't fix the issues I had with my car, and missed a very critical issue that my dealership found months later. So don't rely on a non-Mini dealership/repair shop to take good car of your vehicle.
Secret Compartment in the Mini Cooper
Common Mini Cooper Problems
The Mini Cooper is a fairly reliable vehicle, but it does have its share of common issues. Here are some that can be frequently seen.
- Clutch Failure: This was a fairly common problem with first and second generation Mini Coopers. The usual cause was hard driving, and it could occur as early as under 20,000 miles.
- Transmission Failure: The first generation vehicles were notorious for an automatic transmission that would routinely fail. A lawsuit actually forced BMW to offer a warranty specifically for the transmission. The coverage was for eight years or 150,000 miles, whichever came first.
- Water Pump and Thermostat Housing Leak: The water pump leaking on the first two generations of Minis was a fairly common occurrence. They often had to be replaced at over 50,000 miles. The thermostat housing in the second generation models were made of plastic. This would naturally break down over time.
- Radiator Support Problems: The radiator support is made of plastic and is located in a low spot on the front of the car. It is very delicate and can be damaged by hitting a low curb when parking.
- Electric Power Steering Pump Problems: The electric power steering pumps were prone to failure, enough so that BMW ordered a recall. The main cause of the issue was either low power steering fluid or the malfunction of the electric cooling fan.
My Personal Experience Owning a Mini
I'd like to offer some of my own experience buying a Mini, just to give you a taste of what I had to go through.
I had wanted this car for years. I did a lot of research before deciding to buy one. I actually had to go to three dealerships before I finally purchased my car. I will cover each experience with each dealership.
- Dealership #1 - I was on vacation one week and decided to make the two-hour drive to test drive a Mini. I arrived at the dealership and felt like I was more of a pain since I wasn't buying at that time. I was given a short test drive and was sent on my way. That thoroughly discouraged me and I stopped looking for awhile.
- Dealership #2 - I decided I would buy a Mini, despite my negative experience, but it took months for me to get to that point. I made an appointment with this dealership to test drive a vehicle. When I arrived, I was advised there were no automatics to test drive, as they were all still "wrapped up." They had a lot full of cars, but none of them were automatics. The salesman had the gall to state I could still make a down payment on a car, even though I hadn't test driven the one I wanted yet. I walked out as I was very upset.
- Dealership #3 - Even though I was upset, I was close to another dealership. I made the short drive to that one. The salesman was very nice; I was able to find the car I wanted, and I purchased it that day. It was a great experience, it was just a shame that it took three attempts to find a good dealership.
So now I owned a Mini. I had a couple small issues with it. It was nothing too bad and nothing that warranted taking it back to the dealership. I did take it in to a local place after a couple years to have the oil changed and to look at a minor issue. Unfortunately, they couldn't fix it.
I recently took it in to my dealership to get full maintenance done on it, as well as have some issues looked at. Unfortunately, it was going to take more than a day, so I was given a rental and would have to go back the next day. By the time I arrived the next day, it still wasn't done. I basically wasted two days on getting the car maintained, but it was worth it.
There was an oil leak, which is apparently common in Minis, but for whatever reason they don't tell people that or do a recall. Had it been ignored, especially since the local repair shop didn't find it, it would have crippled the vehicle. There were some recalls as well, but for whatever reason, I was never notified of those.
Despite all of that, I was pleased with the service. They talked to me throughout the process, and for the first time ever, I was taken back to my vehicle where the mechanic explained some of the repairs to me. Even the mechanic was friendly. So despite the issues I had having to take two days off work to get this done, I was happy overall with the experience.
I love my Mini, it's the best car I have owned. I am concerned about any future repair costs, but I think if you take care of your car and have a Mini dealership look at it directly, then there shouldn't be many issues. I recommend this car for anyone who wants something fun and exciting to drive.
I eventually traded in my Mini. Once the warranty expired, I didn't feel comfortable owning it since I did not have a local dealership close by to service the vehicle. I do miss the vehicle and will probably pick one up again if a dealership ends up in the same city I live in.
Still no Mini dealership in my area, but I know I still want another Mini in my lifetime. I still have concerns about reliability, so I need a dealership close by if I ever were to consider one again.
Still Want a MINI?
After reading everything, do you still want a MINI?
Great Mini Video
The Vehicle Models Offered by Mini
These are the models that have been offered by Mini.
- Cooper - This is the hardtop Mini, and it's the most recognized model. It's considered the basic, and cheapest, model. This is the model that started the craze for the brand.
- Clubman - This is basically a longer version of the Cooper, allowing for more legroom. It has a different method to open the trunk. If you want more space, this is the way to go.
- Convertible - If you live in a nice place, then the convertible version is the way to go. The top goes down nicely, and it seems to be a popular model among celebrities.
- Countryman - This could be considered an SUV. This is the first model to have doors for the front and backseat passengers. It can also have four-wheel drive.
- Coupe - This is the fastest of the models. Unlike the other models, this one has quite a distinct look. Expect this one to be a tight fit. This model was discontinued in 2015.
- Roadster - This is basically the convertible version of the Coupe. This model was discontinued alongside the Coupe.
- Paceman - Another cross-model, this is the two-door version of the Countryman. Production for this model ended in 2016.
- John Cooper Works - You can choose to upgrade to the John Coopers Works edition of most of the Mini models, but it comes with a high price tag. If you want the best engine, you can go with this.
What Model MINI do You Want?
What model of MINI do you want the most?
MINI Cooper S
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Is it worth it to buy a second-hand MINI rather than new?
That's hard to say. I know one person who has a MINI that has lasted for a long time, while mine was having recall issues. It depends on the price. Get a report on the vehicle as well.Helpful 95
Could I bring a Mini to a BMW dealership for maintenance and repairs?
Call a BMW dealership up and check if they will service a MINI. My local BMW dealership could not service my MINI. Even if they say they will verify that they will accept your warranty just in case it's a warranty issue. Just because they can service it, doesn't mean they will accept the warranty.Helpful 46
So what kind of car did you get after you were done with your Mini?
A Nissan Juke, which was a complete mistake. It broke down within two years, the dealership treated me poorly, and the car lacked the power I wanted. So I switched to a Chevy Camaro after that, which I have to do this day. It's a 2018, and is a great car. Dealership has treated me well, the car runs like a dream, etc. I love it.Helpful 36
I love a good hot hatch, had a GT PT, and a GTI, currently looking at AWD options lime an A3 and a 4 door clubman 2010 and newer. Curious if any of these have the major engine issues. I've heard horror stories with previous models?
My Mini never had a breakdown, but there was a recall for some issue in the engine that would eventually have had a broken-down engine. It was caught and fixed, but I was never notified of the recall until I went in for a different issue.
It's hit or miss. Mine had issues but knew someone who had a model a few years older than mine who had no issues at all. It's a gamble with Minis.Helpful 14
How does a mini handle in the snow?
Deep snow may cause an issue because of the low clearance. There is also a concern about those tough up hills.
However, it will greatly depend on your choice of tires. If you live or plan to go someplace snowy, finding tires good for that will be your best bet.
Since they are great at turning, you'll want to be careful you don't turn yourself into a spin either.Helpful 44
© 2014 David Livermore