93EXCivic UltimaDork
9/12/12 8:43 a.m.

So I have been helping one of my friends search for cars and so far the best two we have looked at are an '02 WRX which is mostly stock except an all aluminum radiator and lowering springs (doesn't seem abused), 102k miles and a '05 Cooper S (smaller supercharger pulley, catback exhaust, Tien lowering springs), 127k miles. What are problem areas on these cars? Seems that I remember the WRX not having the world's strongest transmission. Do MINIs have the normal BMW cooling system problems?

sachilles Dork
9/12/12 8:52 a.m.

The wrx is at it's timing belt interval (105k), that is a fair amount of work if you are paying someone to do it. Transmissions are fine for daily driving, but not for nightly burnouts at the dragstrip. My 02 wagon had 166k on it when I took it off the road for rust. Transmission is still strong after leading a life of having the tar knocked out of it, and autocrossing monthly. Look for rust. Look for the turbo heat shield. If there is no heat shield, they probably put the car "back to Stock". The risk with that is that it may be tuned for modifications it no longer has, causing issues down the road if not re-tuned. I've moved the motor into my race car, with no guilt, though I did not move the transmission only for the fact the race car transmission had a better gear ratio. The mini, the only thing I know about them is to watch to make sure the front strut tops haven't mushroomed.

93EXCivic UltimaDork
9/12/12 8:57 a.m.

In reply to sachilles:

I didn't see any rust on the heat shield of WRX. Rust isn't really common round here.

sachilles Dork
9/12/12 9:12 a.m.

Sorry, I worded that wrong. Look for the rust on the subframes and anywhere under the car. There is a recall for rust on the front control arms.

Ojala Reader
9/12/12 9:19 a.m.

He meant to look to see if there is a heat shield present. If the car had a different turbo the owner might not have flashed back on a stock rom to the ECM. The radiator is not a big deal. The stock plastic end tanks are known to fail and all of the common aluminum aftermarket replacements are pretty good.

The stories of exploding Subaru transmissions are vastly overblown. It is not a race transmission but it is not made of paper-mache, glass, and bunny farts either.

93EXCivic MegaDork
9/12/12 10:37 a.m.

With the MINI strut tops mushrooming, are there any parts to help prevent that? And if they are mushroomed what does it take to fix it?

93EXCivic MegaDork
9/12/12 12:42 p.m.

Found a kit on Mini Mania to prevent the mushrooming but it says it isn't work with a strut tower bar. Are there any out there that do? I don't really know any of the aftermarket companies for the MINI.

sachilles Dork
9/12/12 12:45 p.m.

I'm fairly certain a strut bar will also help to prevent mushrooming. Unsure of a cure after the fact.

9/12/12 8:03 p.m.

The rad in my 02 WRX just E36 M3 the bed. The one you are looking at already has that replaced. That is good.

Mine shifts just fine, mature 1st owner and not abused - watch for 2nd gear grind - bad synchros, but many have pointed out that this issue is from abuse.

mrhappy HalfDork
9/12/12 8:44 p.m.

scottgib New Reader
9/12/12 8:55 p.m.

Mini S

Most any camber plate will prevent mushrooming.

Ask what % reduction the pulley is. Red flag over 15%. 15% is ok, anything over can eventually grenade the SC.

Strut tower braces are not really necessary. Chassis is already fairly stiff.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
9/12/12 11:32 p.m.

I'm at 110k with my '02 WRX wagon. No problems. I bought it new though, whatever that means. Not sure what those are talking about with the end tanks, but I'm not worried about it..

heyduard Reader
9/13/12 12:12 a.m.

117k here on me 05 MINI Cooper S. Ireland Engineering makes a set of fixed camber camber plates that use a bigger bushing than OEM.

that'll keep the mushrooming at bay. And front negative camber typically ends up being around -1.5 to -1.8. On the OEM part (on the right), notice the bent plate (which has a rolled lip to look "thick").

Any car at those miles will need TLC anyhow.

93EXCivic MegaDork
9/13/12 7:36 a.m.

In reply to scottgib:


93EXCivic MegaDork
9/13/12 7:43 a.m.

What maintenance will be upcoming on the car at 127k?

drmike Reader
9/13/12 8:00 a.m.

At 127K it's getting to be bushing time - the front control arm bushings and the rear trailing arm bushings in particular. There is an auxiliary cooling fan under the engine that directs air to the power steering unit that is often dead or dying around that mileage (mine just died at 100K). As to the cooling system, I have not heard about some of the more common BMW problems, such as an apatite for water pumps or insta-dead radiators, applying to MINIs (but then again, the oldest USA market MINI is a 2002 so there's time for such things). As pointed out above, the coolant bottle was the subject of a silent recall, so you will want to be sure that the one in the car is the newer one (don't remember how to tell) or an aluminum aftermarket one.

93EXCivic MegaDork
9/13/12 8:27 a.m.

In reply to drmike:

The power steering stuff was done already. I will check the coolant bottle.

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