really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
68,350 miles
Total Complaints:
6 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (6 reports)
2009 Mini Cooper S engine problems

engine problem

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2009 Mini Cooper S Owner Comments

problem #6

Jul 282022

Cooper S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,404 miles


Yet another issue with our MINI Cooper. Worst car I've ever owned. We've owned it for about a year and it has been in the shop more than on the road.

- Tony M., Indianapolis, IN, US

problem #5

Aug 202014

Cooper S S 1.8L

  • Manual transmission
  • 62,500 miles

click to see larger images

timing chain broken timing chain broken timing chain broken


DATE: August 1, 2016

TO: Ms. Mariella Kapsaskis, President, MINI COOPER USA Mariella.Kapsaskis@miniusa Cc: Mr. Ludwig Willisch, President, BMW North America Ludwig.Willisch@bmwna.com

SUBJECT: MINI COOPER / BMW North America’s Handling of R55, R56 & R56 Defective Timing Chain Tensioner Claims

Dear Ms. Mariella Kapsaskis,

I’m writing and posting this Open Letter of my opinions and observations to you on any available social media for multiple purposes. First it is being posted openly since I’ve received no response from your office to multiple previous communication attempts. Second to hopefully find someone within the MINI COOPER USA / BMW North America organization who has the decency and “Scope of Authority” to honestly respond to the sincerely asked questions contain herein.

Third, and most importantly, to publicly add my voice to the ever growing number of victims who have had experiences similar to my own whereby, in their opinions, MINI COOPER / BMW North America has treated them with contempt and dishonesty all the while displaying a complete lack of ethics, decency, empathy or concern for the personal costs and life inconveniences resulting from MINI COOPER’s utilization of a Timing Chain Guide Design concept already known for its high failure rates (See Harley-Davidson Twin Cam Motor beginning 2000). Harley-Davidson was already repairing motors these timing chain guide part failures destroyed in 2006; long before the majority of MINI COOPER vehicles with the defective part were produced.

In my opinion it appears throughout this matter MINI COOPER / BMW North America’s every decision and action has been made with no concern whatsoever for their customers; only in limiting the cost to MINI COOPER/BMW via any methods available including but not limited to denial, deceit, financial exploitation of your customers regarding repairs, a laundry list of why the failures must be the customer’s fault and even after settling a Class Action Lawsuit refuse to concede the part was defective and/or cover the customer’s out-of-pocket expenses.

In the terms of the Class Action Settlement MC/BMW appears to show complete disregard for your damaged customers by only agreeing to cover partial portions of a repair cost due in total to your part’s failure, then only for customers who can produce your laundry list of required paperwork plus refusing to cover any customer out-of-pocket expenses (even the towing charges) incurred directly due to the failure of your part. Forcing your customers to personally absorb financial losses incurred directly by MC/BMW’s failure to show due diligence in the design of the part and refusing to accept responsibility for your decisions again displays no ethics or decency.

Please note my own personal experience as follows:

1. In August 2014 my low mileage, fully maintained 2009 R56 Mini Cooper S suffered total engine destruction with less than 65,000 miles as a direct result of the failure of the poorly designed timing chain guide which has subsequently been most recently addressed via Class Action Settlement Skeen v. BMW of North America, LLC (Civil No. 2:13-cv-01531-WHW-CLW) which, by the way, does not apply to me.

2. Upon removing the valve cover the broken Timing Chain Guide was immediately obvious. My research immediately revealed that it appeared MINI COOPER’s decision to utilize a Timing Chain Guide Design concept already known for its high failure rates (See Harley-Davidson Twin Cam Motor beginning 2000) was resulting in an ever increasing number of these parts failing normally totally destroying the motor.

3. Upon determining the Timing Chain Guide had indeed broken, I contacted MINI COOPER USA which, based upon an email I received 2 days ago from your Corporate Offices in New Jersey, was apparently my first mistake. According to the email received 2 days ago (shown below w/bold & underline added for emphasis) the Customer Service Representatives (& Supervisors) in the Ohio Call Center don’t have any authority.

7/27/2016 5:26:15 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time Good Evening Luther, I have taken the time to review our records regarding the misunderstanding of reimbursement you write about below. There is no documentation accounting for a commitment from MINI USA to reimburse for towing or rental car expenses. In addition, the team members within my organization you spoke with do not have the authority to make such commitment. I am confident this is not what you were hoping to read and I am sorry for that.

Jess Cusumano, National Operations Manager, Motoring Relations Jess.Cusumano@bmwna.com

If this is the case why is the Ohio Call Center the only MINI COOPER Customer Service Contact listed?? Why if this is the case did every CSR and their Supervisors (a) specifically advise they were “...the one and only final authority on these matters...” and (b) my getting through to MINI COOPER/BMW Corporate HQ was only via my own extensive efforts with nothing but obstacles put in my way throughout my efforts to escalate?? Again it would appear someone in MC/BMW is being untruthful and how is a customer to know who can authorize what?? Every person I spoke with assured me they were “..the final authority..” on this matter.

4. Why from August 2014 through March 2015 did the official MC/BMW Corporate line change as follows: A. First MC/BMW denied there was any problem with the part whatsoever and wanted me to pay over $13,000 to have it repaired. I refused in that, according to my research, there was no doubt the defective part was 100% MC/BMW’s responsibility and while I believe they knew much earlier, by this time the evidence was so overwhelming as to be irrefutable that the Timing Chain Guide was defective and was the sole cause for the engine failures. It appears MC/BMW wanted to make money for their dealers from their defect by having me and other customers pay full retail to have it repaired.

B. Second, over a series of calls spent begging for help, I was forced into combating MINI COOPER's amazing catalog of reasons why they would not cover the defective part repairs including accusations of (1) my not following the factory maintenance schedule (proven wrong), (2) using the wrong oil (proven wrong) (3) "abusing the car" (proven wrong) and (4) not having an oil change by a MINI COOPER Dealer (a factory Jaguar dealer changed the oil once before I owned it). Instead of attempting to do anything to assist me, MC/BMW did everything in their power to dodge/deny any responsibility and transfer that responsibility to me, the customer.

C. As I did more research and escalated to MC/BMW Corporate HQ I was finally offered 75% coverage (of retail) whereby I was asked to pay $3,300+ to repair damage directly attributable to a MC/BMW defective part failure. I again refused to pay for MC/BMW’s mistake.

D. After arguing weekly from August 2014 though March of 2015 I finally escalated the issue whereby I received a call from a Ms. Donna Russo in New Jersey Donna.Russo@bmwna.com who was quite "brisk" and apparently irritated at being bothered with my problem. At one point Ms. Russo asked me "What do you want?" I replied "The same thing I've told every single person I've spoken to since August 2014....I want Mini Cooper to pay for repairing my factory defective engine and reimburse me for the towing and rental car charges I paid and submitted. "Ms. Russo replied "OK, fine....I'll call you back" and disconnected the call. Afterwards Ms. Russo did call with arrangements for MC/BMW to cover 100% of the repairs however, despite almost 18 months of requests, has failed to honor the commitment to reimburse me $598.00 in towing/rental car cost as promised repeatedly by MC/BMW.

E. During MC/BMW’s 8 months of delays and excuses, I was forced to purchase a second automobile which I didn't want while continuing to make car and insurance payments on a defective car sitting in a dealership while arguing with MINI COOPER/BMW about a known to be defective part.

5. Why would anyone have any desire to purchase a vehicle from MINI COOPER/BMW after simply observing your reactions and handling of this problem; another German based automobile manufacturer in my opinion misleading, deceiving and selling defective vehicles in the North American Market?

Ms. Kapsaskis, it’s my opinion MINI COOPER/BMWNA's lack of decency/ethics, selfishness and dishonesty in this matter is beyond any reasonable understanding and displays complete disregard for your customers. Would you please be so kind as to advise me any justification(s) other than complete self-interest for your organization’s decisions and, in my opinion, amazingly unethical behavior?? MINI COOPER/BMW North America has all my contact information and I look forward to hearing from you.

Luther O. McKeehan, III Titusville, FL

- Luther M., Titusville, FL, US

problem #4

May 012015

Cooper S N14

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Timing chain slippage was the last occurrence of a whole series of problems related to tensioner related problems. My first tensioner related issue was tensioner has caused me:

1. complete engine failure at 45,000 miles (replaced engine) $7,000

2. timing chain slippage, breaking of timing guides (REALLY THESE ARE PLASTIC??) $2.00

3. The Annoying Death Rattle that if been seeking to cure for 4 years and mini kept telling me it was not an issue

4. replaced cam position sensor ..

BMW .. Bring a Massive Wallet .. and expect to do it over and over again ..these are not all my issues .. these are only the timing related ones

- mass_upset_mini, North Andover, MA, US

problem #3

Oct 252013

Cooper S

  • Manual transmission
  • 63,931 miles


I barely made it home after hearing an awful noise coming from the engine and it started sputtering and barely moving. Had a neighbor look at it and after a long grueling troubleshooting process he figured it out...said that it will cost at least $5,000.00 to fix and even more if you take it to the dealerships.. I also found out that it had no oil and I got no warning indication telling me that the car was low on oil... So very pissed about it!!!!

- kalawahine, Kapolei, HI, US

problem #2

Oct 052012

Cooper S Clubman S 1.6L

  • CVT transmission
  • 45,000 miles

BMW dealership says to wait 15,000 miles between oil changes. Causing carbon buildup in the head and valves at a price of $2,000 to fix. The cam seized on the factory engine and cam gear broke off destroying the head and block. We bought a salvage engine from eBay with 45,000 miles the timing chain broke 2days after putting the engine in. Both engines had carbon buildup in head and block so bad the oil couldn't travel up to the head. Thanks BMW for being so cheap!

- willh, Burns, TN, US

problem #1

Aug 012012

Cooper S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Timing chain guides broke at ~45k miles. Pieces of the guides ended up in the oil pan. If not caught when it did, could have caused engine failure.

- Jen C., Hoffman Estates, IL, US

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