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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 6
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
40,206 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2008 Mini Cooper Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #23

Oct 132011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 41,000 miles


Shortly after the temperature light came on, smoke started coming out of the exhaust. I pulled over almost immediately on the side of the busy highway I was on. However, in just that short time, smoke was already coming out of the front of the car and out of the car vents. At least one bystander said he saw a fire before I shut off the engine. He called the fire department and paramedics for fear that I might be injured. Please note that this was not a MINICooper S. I am requesting that you expand your current investigation of MINIengine fires to include the standard model (MINICooper).

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #22

Sep 222008


  • 28,000 miles
I bought car new in Nov 2007. Car was used as transportation every day to and from work (~100 mi total). Car was well cared for, service was performed as required, etc. In Sept 2008 after sitting undriven for 10 days while I was away on vacation, I drove 50 mi to work and there were no signs of trouble except that an indicator for a blown headlamp came on when I initially started up. When I arrived at work and pulled into a parking space I noticed wisps of smoke coming from the grill and intake and suspected overheating. I peered into the intake and saw glowing orange, and smelled the smoke and realized this was a fire not an overheating. I had a colleague call 911 and grabbed a fire extinguisher. When I got back to the car smoke was pouring out of the hood. Not wanting to open the hood I aimed the fire extinguisher into the grill, intake, and gaps but it didn't do much. At that point I grabbed valuables from car and walked away. Flames began coming out of the hood over the windshield. Car was completely engulfed within 10 minutes. There were no injuries or property damage except for the car itself. Insurance declared it a total loss. MINIwas notified. I have photos of in-progress and aftermath. Having seen the recent publicity about the investigation into the engine fires I thought I should log my very relevant experience.

- Holmdel, NJ, USA

problem #21

Aug 152011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 57,893 miles
On August 15, 2011, I drove my vehicle to work as I do every morning. On the way, I stopped for gas. After filling up the vehicle would not start. It should also be noted that the engine was very, very hot and the coolant overflow tank was overflowing. The car was towed to the closest dealership and, after investigating, it was determined that the engine was starved of oil, had seized, and would need to be completely replaced. This vehicle has always received regular scheduled maintenance since it was purchased new from MINIin 2008. The last service was performed by the dealership on a leaking oil pan gasket. Furthermore, there had been no warning signals whatsoever that the engine was in danger.

- Fort Collins, CO, USA

problem #20

Oct 062011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 10,000 miles


I was driving around and I began loosing power to my car, so I stopped and then I couldn't get it started again. I was in the process of calling a tow company when I popped the hood and when I lifted it up I could smell gasoline and noticed a cloud of fumes so I backed up and it caught fire so I called 911 and now my cars virtually gone. I come across some MINICooper owners club forum and its apparently happened to other people and also on youtube. Or it seems like it was the same thing since they caught fire in the engine first too. I called MINIand they are going to have me tow it there so they can diagnose it to determine what happened.

- Zionsville, IN, USA

problem #19

Sep 212011


  • 64,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 MINICooper. The contact stated that when driving approximately 45 mph the vehicle suddenly stalled. The vehicle was towed to a dealer and they advised him that he needed a new engine due to the vaccuum pump failing. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure and current mileages were approximately 64,000.

- Columbia, MO, USA

problem #18

Sep 162011


  • 55,000 miles
Housing for the timing chain came loose and caused damage that will cost $1800 to repair. The service guy knew exactly what the problem was. He said he has been seeing a lot of them in the past two years and its a 10 hour job. While I was signing for the loaner, someone else was on the phone saying they replaced the timing chain on another car. This appears to be a design flaw where MINIis making a ton of money on repairs. The service guy also said, "it appears to be a problem with the housing, because once we replace it they never have the problem again. And I some of the cars had this done two years ago."

- Gahanna, OH, USA

problem #17

Jan 252011


  • 20,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 MINICooper S. the contact stated while driving approximately 55 mph the vehicle suddenly stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to a dealer who advised him that the timing belt tensioners needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. A few days later he heard a noise coming in the engine after the vehicle was repaired. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer who advised him that they were unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was contacted and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 20,000.

- Oakland Gardens, NY, USA

problem #16

Feb 262011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
2008 MINICooper S - engine failure due to faulty vacuum pump. While driving my well maintained 2008 MINICooper S under normal driving conditions, the engine issued a loud, brief metallic noise and stopped running. The engine was still turning, but was not running. Had the car towed home. Upon inspection of the valve train, by removal of valve cover, the exhaust cam gear was sheared off and several valves had been bent. The exhaust cam would not turn. Further research into the matter indicates a failed vacuum pump caused the exhaust cam to lock-up and shear off the cam sprocket bolt. The pistons then impacted the valves causing severe internal engine damage. This car also fell victim to the "cold start" issue and had the valve train replaced at 60,000 miles. MINIhas indicated that since the warranty period has expired, they will not assist in the repair. I suggest this issue should result in a product recall of all R56 equipped MINIvehicles for replacement of the vacuum pump. This issue is well documented on the internet, and BMW is aware of the problem. This is evidenced by the procedure executed to repair the "cold start" issue includes a step to remove and inspect the vacuum pump for binding.

- Mount Airy, NC, USA

problem #15

May 052011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 75,564 miles
I have 2008 MINICooper S, I have been having problems with it even the first year I had bought the car. It was still under warranty and they were able to fix the problems. But lately, three years later there was a loud rattling noise in the engine. I have brought it to a mechanic and was told to bring it to the BMW dealer because of the timing chain defects that may lead to engine damage. The car is no longer under warranty, and the dealer will not fix the car free of charge.

- Fairfield, CA, USA

problem #14

Feb 282011


  • 27,000 miles
1. hesitation during acceleration; this may be due to carbon build up. Car will lurch and stumble when trying to accelerate. This could be a dangerous problem when changing lanes or getting up to speed when merging. 2. timing chain rattle during cold start. Car sounds like the timing chain is hitting metal when cold. Dealer claims this is normal, but the metal on metal noise sounds like it could cause excess play to develop and possibly cause engine failure.

- South Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #13

Feb 152011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 MINICooper. The contact was driving 65 mph when the vehicle began to make a rattling sound and stopped accelerating. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who stated that the tensioner gave way and caused the timing chain to stretch. The vehicle had not been repaired. The current and failure mileages were 70,000. Updated 4/4/11

- Napa, CA, USA

problem #12

Aug 302010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 18,000 miles
I had a loud noise under the hood of my 2008 MINICooper S, followed by the timing belt breaking. I had it fixed to the tune of $2000+. it was not covered under warranty. I was told it broke due to being down 1 qt of oil. I have heard this is a common complaint.

- Emeryville, CA, USA

problem #11

May 012009


  • 25,000 miles
2008 MINICooper S engine knocking.

- Monroe, NJ, USA

problem #10

Dec 132010


  • 8,900 miles
2008 MINICooper S. no engine modification. Loud knocking noise on start up and continues for about 5 mins of driving and then goes away. Mile is under 8900 miles.

- Cockeysville, MD, USA

problem #9

Oct 222010


  • 29,300 miles
When starting the car cold (first thing in the morning or after it has been off for a long time), the engine makes a loud rattling noise sort of like a tractor noise when accelerating. It goes away after a couple of minutes of continuous driving, but sometimes when turning and accelerating at the same time, it also makes the same noise.

- Tustin, CA, USA

problem #8

Nov 112010


  • 59,000 miles
Noticed a strange sound, almost like wheel bearings were grinding. On November 11, 2010, when starting the vehicle, check engine light came on, and engine did not seem to have as much power as it should. Took to the MINIdealership and they said the engine light was on because the turbo was damaged. Apparently the oil supply hose to the turbo was either blocked or cut, and was not providing oil to the turbo. As a result of the lack of oil, the bearings in the turbo were ruined. Had to replace the entire turbo. After the turbo was replaced we were told the timing chain was going bad. Was told the timing chain, tensioners, and guides needed to be replaced. I've read where the timing chain has been a continuing problem with MINIcoopers, and that, if fixed, it will go bad again and could cause a severe engine problem, resulting in failure. I also wonder if the timing chain is already damaged enough to cause the oil supply hose to the turbo to be damaged.

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

problem #7

Sep 212010


  • 35,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 MINICooper S. the contact heard an extremely loud knocking sound whenever he started the vehicle. The knocking noise was not present while the vehicle was driven. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the timing belt and other components were replaced at the his expense. The contact called the manufacturer who offered no assistance. The VIN was unavailable when the complaint was filed. The current mileage was approximately 40,000. The failure mileage was approximately 35,000.

- Massapequa, NY, USA

problem #6

Feb 062010


  • 25,000 miles
My 2008 MINICooper S, when cold, often starts up with a tremendous amount of rattling from the engine. So much so that it sounds like a diesel (but its not a diesel motor). Numerous online forums have documented this problem, including some complete engine failures. It is a very expensive problem to fix and I would like MINIto issue a recall to permanently fix the problem and to have an unlimited warranty on this specific problem. The dealership has been "unable to duplicate" this sound and therefore refuses to provide the fix for it.

- Amelia, OH, USA

problem #5

Mar 202009


  • 600 miles
My 2008 MINICooper S, when cold, often starts up with a tremendous amount of rattling from the engine. So much so that it sounds like a diesel (but its not a diesel motor). Numerous online forums have documented this problem, including some complete engine failures. It is a very expensive problem to fix and I would like MINIto issue a recall to permanently fix the problem and to have an unlimited warranty on this specific problem.

- Addison, TX, USA

problem #4

May 102009


  • 8,500 miles
Noise in engine after cold start. Engine was replaced by MINIof peabody MA after a internal engine failure. This is a 2008 Cooper S jcw and the engine has been noisy since it was replaced. Noise goes away after it warms up. Dealer tells me nothing is wrong. Original engine failed at 8,000 miles and so did the transmission and had to be replaced as well. Now at 17,000 miles transmission ok but engine sounds like it is knocking at start up.

- Swanzey, NH, USA

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