1 2
Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 SuperDork
1/13/20 7:30 p.m.

Hey guys-

Son is 16, just got license. Found a 2008 MINI Clubman S on my jogging route- looks in great shape, 96K, and they want $4k. Too good to be true? Whats wrong with this generation of mini? Seems like it would be a perfect compromise between practical and cool for me, I mean, my little dude.  I mean my son.  Nothing wrong advertised:

 

https://sacramento.craigslist.org/cto/d/davis-2008-mini-cooper-clubman/7052578307.html

 

I asked if there were any problems via email this afternoon and haven't heard back yet. 

 

Danke!

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
1/13/20 7:37 p.m.

I’ve owned an S. I have had five 16 year olds. 

Nope. I wouldn’t let them drive that as a daily driver. 

Aspen
Aspen HalfDork
1/13/20 7:54 p.m.

Google "mini timing chain" then you will likely moved to a different car.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 SuperDork
1/13/20 8:24 p.m.
Aspen said:

Google "mini timing chain" then you will likely moved to a different car.

Was that for the 08? I thought that was an R53 thing.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
1/13/20 8:47 p.m.
Teh E36 M3 said:
Aspen said:

Google "mini timing chain" then you will likely moved to a different car.

Was that for the 08? I thought that was an R53 thing.

Timing chain issue was the R55/56. The early ones ('07-10) were supposedly worse than the '11-'12 cars. 

-Rob

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
1/13/20 8:59 p.m.

The MINI specialty shop I frequent will tell you that the 2nd generation MINIs are they're bread and butter. The staff all drive 1st generation cars which aren't exactly examples of stellar design and reliability.

ojannen
ojannen Reader
1/14/20 6:21 a.m.

Timing chain issues didn't get resolved until 2010 or 2011 depending on who you ask.

A base clubman with a manual transmission would be a pretty good first car though.  Somewhat more reliable.  A bit slower.  Still fun.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
1/14/20 6:50 a.m.

In reply to ojannen :

I agree. But that’s not a Base model. It’s an S. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
1/14/20 7:07 a.m.

I'd say the asking price is reflective of what the car is - an 12 or 13 year old MINI with almost 100K miles and dubious reliability (I don't disagree with any of the previous posts).  The R56 isn't all that much different than the R53, so working on them isn't really the worst thing in the world.  Does your son have an interest in working on cars? 

If the seller would take $3K, you could buy worse cars for him.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
1/14/20 8:04 a.m.

Chances on on that year and being an S, it's either had the timing chain replaced or will need it.  If you end up looking at it, search for MINI death rattle to figure out what to listen for.  The timing chain replacement is extensive, but doable by a home mechanic. Supposedly, if the oil was changed more often than the factory recommended intervals (3-5k miles instead of 10-15k) the timing chain is much less of an issue.

A MINI S of that year is a very quick car, however, and I'd question handing the keys of one to a 16 year old.  It's very easy to drive fast and too much fun not to. 

-Rob

Jumper K Balls (Trent)
Jumper K Balls (Trent) PowerDork
1/14/20 9:01 a.m.

I feel like the whole "death rattle" nomenclature is a bit alarmist. It is probably more appropriate to say "It will need a new timing chain and guides before 100K which is a 6 hour job by the book. What car won't eventually need a new timing chain? I mean, Sure the mini needs it a lot sooner than most. That I will concede.

It would sort of be like calling a timing belt an "apocalypse strap" because if you don't replace it on schedule it will destroy your engine.  If you hear the chain starting to get slack and rattle, and you will because that is where the name comes from, then replace it.

I freaking love my 08 R56 clubman S. Quick, nimble, comfortable, economical and it has more mod cons than I need. That being said, having just passed 80k I have a timing chain kit on the shelf and as soon as I have the time I will be replacing it as a preventative measure. 

The 3 door thing is rad. I never have issue with loading people in the back. The blind spot down the center of the barn doors is noticeable but honestly the rear headrests block more rear view than it does.  I just move my head an inch to the right or left if I feel it is blocking something.

LifeIsStout
LifeIsStout GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/14/20 11:13 a.m.

I had a 2007 Cooper S, owned it for about 3 years and 40K miles  We had to have the heads de-carboned twice, replaced the turbo once, high pressure fuel pumo issues, replacing turbo oil lines, and had a bunch of other maintenance items to contend with.  We never did any power upgrades. Honestly that car cost quite a bit of money to upkeep, and that's with me doing the regular items like oil changes and other small items (it was the ex's daily, so more extensive things were done at a shop because of time).  One of the best improvements on ours was to put on Koni FSDs, for a daily it was the perfect amount of shock. So if you do go that way, I would recommend them at the least.

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
1/14/20 11:21 a.m.

I owned an '08 S.  Didn't put enough miles on it to have an issue, plus it was CPO when I bought it.  However, it only had 40k miles on it when I got it and it had already had the "death rattle" problem.  Nope...not buying one for my teenage son.  Damn shame too, because it was an absolute screaming riot of fun to drive.

TVR Scott
TVR Scott GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/14/20 11:33 a.m.

My daughter is 15 now and I'm also starting to think about a first car.  What about a regular "non-S" Cooper?  The early ones seem to be readily available for challenge money around here.

I would like to get her something small, slow, fuel efficient, and with a manual.  I've been looking at H-Street cars a lot.  They seem to combine a lot of these features.

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
1/14/20 12:39 p.m.
TVR Scott said:

My daughter is 15 now and I'm also starting to think about a first car.  What about a regular "non-S" Cooper?  The early ones seem to be readily available for challenge money around here.

I would like to get her something small, slow, fuel efficient, and with a manual.  I've been looking at H-Street cars a lot.  They seem to combine a lot of these features.

S vs. non-S reliablity = Dumpster fire vs. steaming pile of E36 M3.  Take your pick.

Your answer is Miata, or Civic, or Mazda 3, Accent, Rio, or something like that.

TVR Scott
TVR Scott GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/14/20 1:27 p.m.
Klayfish said:

S vs. non-S reliablity = Dumpster fire vs. steaming pile of E36 M3.  Take your pick.

Your answer is Miata, or Civic, or Mazda 3, Accent, Rio, or something like that.

The Mini is really a long-shot in this contest.  The real front-runners in my thought experiment are Focus SE, Fiesta, Civic, manual-corolla, CRZ, or something a relative offers us for free.  I irrationally like the Kia Soul.

Sorry if this is a bit of a thread-jack...

CAinCA
CAinCA GRM+ Memberand New Reader
1/14/20 2:18 p.m.

We bought our son a 2010 Mazda 3 with a manual. IMHO it's a perfect for starter car. It's fun, but not overly so. It handles well, but at highway speeds it feels unsettled compared to my 2011 GTI.

I remind him on a regular basis that it has ~60 more hp than my 66 mustang 6 cylinder had and that car was plenty fast for a 16 yo kid to get in trouble with.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
1/14/20 2:52 p.m.

In reply to CAinCA :

I got myself into plenty of trouble with an '82 Subaru wagon with all of 73 HP.

Aaron_King
Aaron_King PowerDork
1/14/20 3:32 p.m.

I was able to get into trouble with my 64 Spitfire,  It had all of 63 hp when it was new 25 years before I got it.

dxman92
dxman92 HalfDork
1/14/20 5:52 p.m.

Toyota Yaris Hatch is your answer..

Nitroracer
Nitroracer UltraDork
1/15/20 7:33 p.m.

I looked into an 08' Clubman S to fix up and drive and I'm glad I didn't pull the trigger on that one.  Once I started reading up on the issues it was shocking how bad they can be.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 SuperDork
1/16/20 11:53 p.m.

Ugggh. I hate this. It's soooo (cheap) inexpensive. I could use it for my sfo commute and actually have some fun. 
 

so is it just the timing chain or am I looking at more of an everything problem? 
 

if it's just the chain- surely there is a fix/update?

CAinCA
CAinCA GRM+ Memberand New Reader
1/17/20 12:39 a.m.

A co-worker had a Mini. It was a money pit. Hi n his the trans developed a leak. According to him there isn't a way to add gear oil to the manual trans. That was the last straw for him. He bought a ND Miata and has been really happy with it. 

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
1/17/20 6:27 a.m.

There are a bunch of videos and Pelican Parts has good docs on replacing the chain.  NOT impossible for a home mechanic.  That car looks very well taken care of, so it might not even be an issue.

I'm a MINI fan and willing to deal with the issues (and sites like Pelican and NorthAmericanMotoring are great resources) because they are just so much fun to drive.  My personal preference are first gen non-S cars, but that's because I owned one new back in the day and they were a little simpler.

I heard the latest gen models are pretty rock solid, I just don't like the design as much, especially the interior. 

-Rob

Dashpot
Dashpot Reader
1/17/20 6:50 a.m.
LifeIsStout said:

I had a 2007 Cooper S, owned it for about 3 years and 40K miles  We had to have the heads de-carboned twice, replaced the turbo once, high pressure fuel pumo issues, replacing turbo oil lines, and had a bunch of other maintenance items to contend with.  We never did any power upgrades. Honestly that car cost quite a bit of money to upkeep, and that's with me doing the regular items like oil changes and other small items (it was the ex's daily, so more extensive things were done at a shop because of time).  One of the best improvements on ours was to put on Koni FSDs, for a daily it was the perfect amount of shock. So if you do go that way, I would recommend them at the least.

Same car from new, 4 yrs/95K. Had the timing chain slap on cold start, just made sure to take it easy 'til the noise went away (20 seconds). No fix was available at the time and I sold the car with full disclosure of the issue. It was also probably ready for a de-carbon when sold. 

Other than a VANOS service & thermostat housing early on there were no problems. It also saw a half dozen track days & TT's around the time of those failures, so that may have been a contributor. 

I still like those cars & think they're a lot of fun. Not sure a teenage attention span is a good fit for a finicky turbo car like a MINI S though.

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
E3PatT2Wq9AS7EeRh6k4vEOqjmVHaTEmx36JrBUJ9Qd9FXyd1iYlda0x4293I2Sj