2008 Mini Cooper drivetrain NHTSA complaints: Power Train

NHTSA — Power Train Problems

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CarComplaints.com Notes: The 2008 Mini Cooper has problems with the oil feed lines to the turbo leaking which is not only dangerous & a fire hazard, but also costs $1,200 to fix at relatively low mileage.

Also the 2008 Mini Cooper has a defective timing belt tensioner pulley that can cause the timing chain to break, resulting in expensive engine damage.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
57,951 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2008 Mini Cooper drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2008 Mini Cooper Owner Comments

problem #16

Feb 192016


  • 92,000 miles


I purchased a new 2008 MINICooper from autohaus West/MINIof St louis. The MINICooper was designed, manufactured, assembled, distributed and sold by BMW of North America, BMW (U.S.) holding Corp., and bayerische motoren werke aktiengellschaft. I experienced a progressive failure of the timing chain, timing chain tensioner and related tensioner rail, guide rail and support rail. The timing chain had previously been represented to have a useful life equal to the life of the car. The timing chain is located within the engine, consists of a metal chain, and is not subject to adjustment or routine maintenance. I experienced a progressive failure of the timing chain as follows: (a) death rattle or diesel noise from engine upon start up & at low speeds, (B) rough idling after highway driving, (C) power loss & engine stalls on highway exit ramps, (D) power loss & engine stalls on highway, & (E) catastrophic engine failure. The MINICooper was serviced by autohaus West on three separate occasions with repairs//replacement of spark plugs, battery, igniter coils, thermostat cover and other items totaling over $3,000. Autohaus West failed to identify the timing change as a problem. Autohaus West, BMW of North America, llc, BMW (U.S.) holding Corp., and bayerische motoren werke aktiengellschaft have known about the timing chain tensioner defect since 2007 and have failed to warn consumers, issue a recall or provide extended warranty coverage.the loss of power & engine stalls are serious safety hazards & will eventually lead to accidents, injuries & even death. Technical service bulletin M110207 was issued in January, 2008. However, it is not widely known to consumers and fails to give consumers adequate warning. BMW settled class action re N14 engine used in MINICooper S. however, it has ignored same problem with N12 engine used in MINICooper. Same issues.

- O'fallon, IL, USA

problem #15

Dec 012015

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 46,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 MINICooper. When shifting into first gear, the vehicle easily switched into the reverse position. The contact was involved in a crash. The air bags failed to deploy. There were no injuries and a police report was not filed. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the issue. The failure mileage was 46,000.

- Renton, WA, USA

problem #14

Aug 282014

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 111,000 miles
Leading up to incident car wasn't shifting smoothly and would become stuck I third gear with yellow gear light with exclamation illuminated. If you stop and turn engine off then start again the light turns off and car drives normal. Yesterday the car slammed into park while driving 25mph. Gear selector was in drive the whole time. Yellow gear light came on with exclamation mark and trip computer said cruise control malfunction. Check engine light also came on. Car would not start. Had to be towed.

- Benicia, CA, USA

problem #13

Dec 012013


  • 91,000 miles


Stretched timing chain seems to be a common issue with this model, but recall is only on the type S models.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #12

Jan 282014

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 38,879 miles
Car has had issues with cvt transmission. Yesterday I was told that it needed to be replaced. At urging of other MINIowners in the same situation, I am reporting problem to your Agency in hopes to have BMW recall the cars and replace the faulty transmissions.

- Browns Summit, NC, USA

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problem #11

Dec 242013

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
Driving my 2008 MINICooper S at 70mph on the highway, the vehicle lost power and died. The timing chain tensioner failed causing the motor to blow up and the timing chain popping through the valve cover, the timing chain tensioner is under a factory inspection notice, I never received a notice to inform me of the part failure. Now the engine needs replaced.

- Wichita, KS, USA

problem #10

Nov 112011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 48,700 miles


Loud engine noise coming from chain tensioner at startup. Sounds like diesel engine. Also happens during cold engine start.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #9

Oct 092013

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 69,000 miles
Transmission failed (cvt). Vehicle has low miles and cost to repair is over $8,000.

- Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

problem #8

Jul 012013


  • 46,000 miles
Transmission is going on a 2008 car with only 47000 miles on it. Doesn't shift when needed therefore doesn't accelerate safely.

- Wyomissing, PA, USA

problem #7

Apr 112012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 46,000 miles
Dear [xxx], I am writing to you in regards to my MINICooper VIN# [xxx]. firstly, I am aware of two recall notices, id# [xxx] and id #[xxx]. I believe I should have been notified of these recalls but to date have not received a letter. Several times I indicated the sensory warning came on with engine malfunction. This concerns me, because since I purchased this vehicle, I have had catastrophic failures before 45,000miles. I have brought it to the MINIservice center for these failures, including: Replacing spark plugs, faulty coil pack, faulty latch, brake replacement, catalytic converter failure, on-board computer replacement, total replacement of the transmission and currently, the solenoid valve replacement which is not yet fixed. I have enclosed copies of my invoices for these problems and service visits. [xxx], the technician at MINIof camarillo, stated this last problem (the solenoid valve) apparently is related to the vanos although the engine light came on/off with caution message engine malfunction catalytic converter. I took it out for a test drive with him it still had the same exact jolt thrashing back and forth motion hard enough it is felt on the seat. [xxx] at MINIof camarillo informed me in order to repair the ignition coil and replace the spark plugs previously replaced at the calabasas service center I have to pay a substantial amount of money in order to fix this current problem. I don't understand this since the time I brought the vehicle on May 24th the car still shakes violently while exiting out of the freeway and on frequent stops. These continued mechanical problems with my MINICooper have required it to remain unrepaired and out of service at the MINIservice center now for a week to be mechanically safe to drive. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Simi Valley, CA, USA

problem #6

May 212013


  • 40,000 miles


Sound of the engine rattle noise when stars in the morning.

- Fairfield, OH, USA

problem #5

Mar 242013

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 49,200 miles
I have owned the MINIsince new. Always regularly serviced at the MINIdealer. Recently I started the engine and it sounded more like a diesel engine, very noisy and unusual. Took it to the MINIdealer and as I explained what the symptoms were, the front desk person that took my details diagnosed the problem. The preliminary diagnosis was confirmed later through an inspection by a trained technician. Like many, many MINIowners I have had a timing chain problem. That the front desk staff can diagnose a problem like this made me curious, it must be such a common problem that the dealer sees it regularly. Some research confirmed this was a widespread problem with minis. Owners have had terminal engine damage with engines that are low mileage and simply should not have any problems. This issue with the engine is serious and can lead to a major accident because of a catastrophic engine failure while driving at highways speeds. Although I was lucky, and do not have a huge out of pocket expense as I have extended warranty coverage, I still believe this is an important safety matter that BMW/MINIappear to be ignoring. It should be the subject of a vehicle safety recall. It is poor engineering and design on their part, that should be rectified.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #4

Jul 022012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 70,138 miles
Loud sudden diesel like rattle (commonly known as "the death rattle" by impacted MINIowners) from engine compartment on a meticulously well maintained 2008 MINICooper S turbo. Diagnosed by mechanic as defective timing belt tensioner and if left unattended would result in a catastrophic engine failure and possible serious injury. Cost of repair is $1,800. BMW/MINIis well aware of this common and systemic tensioner defect (defective original part). They should "do the right thing" and recall and/or reimburse good faith purchasers for this defective part.

- Dracut, MA, USA

problem #3

Dec 012011


  • 55,000 miles
The critical timing chain failure can lead to premature engine failure. This is a safety issue because the failing timing chain can also cause the motor to fail. This in turn leads to a lack of power/acceleration/movement endangering the driver and other drivers. Currently BMW/MINIhas acknowledged this issue however has failed to repair or replace the defected item outside of the warranty period. This issue also does not appear to be an issue from certain date or assembly line. It has been affecting a wide range of MINICooper S and john Cooper works models with a date range between 2007-current. MINICooper drivers around the U.S. and world have been reporting a strange knocking/rubbing noise coming from the engine compartment for the year 2007+ MINICooper. From the misc dealer repair details it appears to be a issue with the timing chain and tensioner system. It also appears the without being fixed the car will eventually have a timing chain failure and possible motor destruction. On a good note BMW/MINIknow what the problem is however is failing to come up with or acknowledge a permanent solution. How many customers issues will it take before BMW/MINIwill issue a full recall? we all hope not many more. I am in the second generation MINIgroup myself. Every morning I cross my fingers in hope that when I push the start button the sound of engineering failure doesn't sing from under my hood!

- Lilburn, GA, USA

problem #2

Mar 162012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 59,302 miles
Vehicle makes a loud noise from the engine compartment at cold start, dealer informed me it's the timing chain and tensioner, total cost about $1950. Dealer informed me it's a common problem but there is no recall from MINIusa.

- Westampton, NJ, USA

problem #1

Sep 272008


  • 0 miles
Here in Oregon the electric vehicles are severely restricted to 20 miles per hour and one can not get a license to drive them on the streets. In light of global warming this is a disgrace. People will not buy vehicles that are so severely restricted yet the government is bragging about how much it is doing for the country. I intend to keep looking for proper agencies to respond to this serious breach of trust to the citizens of this nation. I request a response in regards to what steps you can take and what help you might need from me. Thank you, bruce burns ps: I had to choose a vehicle and zap car was not on the list so please substitute zap car for Cooper (MINI

- Portland, OR, USA

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