What Is the Maintenance Schedule for a 2005 Mini Cooper S?

by Richard Rowe

Some say the Mini wasn't what it was after BMW bought it out, and that is certainly true. Post-BMW Minis have proven larger, heavier, more expensive and considerably less British than their predecessors. However, they're also more reliable, versatile, powerful and better suited to the modern world than those sprightly little things from "The Italian Job." In general, Mini grabbed the best stuff from Das Germans to make sure the new Mini met the legend in memory of the previous car. However, BMW also brought its latest maintenance scheduling, which, to be kind, isn't exactly as improved as it is new.

BMW's Approach

The new Mini relies on BMW's latest computer-indicated service scheduling procedure, which uses all kind of mathematical formulas and computer power to tell owners when to change the oil and perform scheduled maintenance tasks. This wouldn't be so bad, if BMW weren't so obsessively secretive about what the expected mileage intervals are. They just say "Trust the computer, and bring it to us when the car tells you to." That's not exactly the Mini way. Apart from oil-change intervals, BMW prescribes two different "sets" of maintenance lists; when the computer tells you it's time, you bring the car in and BMW mechanics charge you to perform the items on lists "Inspection I" or "Inspection II." But, back here on Earth, we use mileage- and time-based schedules based on regular intervals -- no matter what a German computer says.

5,000 Miles

There are 18 Items on the 5,000-mile interval. The first two are to rotate the tires and change the oil and filter, refilling the car with full synthetic as recommended by BMW. The rest are inspection items. Check the brake fluid level, as well as the coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and washer fluid levels. Check to see that your battery has about 12.5 volts with the ignition off, and check the horn, lights and turn signals. Check that the clutch pedal feels tight and direct, and that the shocks, radiator, coolant lines, exhaust system and CV-joint dust boots for leaks. Inspect the steering linkage and tie rod ends for damage, and inspect the drive belt for wear, cracks and splits. Check the air filter to ensure that it's not excessively dirty or clogged.

15,000 Miles

Every third oil change, or 15,000 miles, you'll perform all of the previous services and a few more. Check that the parking brake lever still works and functions smoothly. Check the rest of the braking system for leaks, and inspect the brake pads to ensure that they're not excessively worn. You should see at least a 1/4 inch or so of brake material. Inspect the clamps on the cooling system hoses, as well as the suspension ball joints for damage or leakage around the grease boots. You'll also inspect the grease caps in the center of the wheel hubs to make sure they're solidly in place and not leaking. Finally, you should replace the cabin air filter, especially if you've been driving in extremely dusty or humid conditions.

30,000 and 45,000

At this interval, you'll perform all of the previous services, and three more. Now, replace the fuel filter, and the engine air filter whether it seems clean or not. Inspect the heat shields around the exhaust manifold, catalytic converter and pipes to make sure the bolts are still tight. Part of "Inspection I," which should be considered the 30,000-mile service schedule -- that's about when it will pop up on your computer display -- is the body inspection. Check the central locking, wipers and wiper blades, seat belt function, rear-view mirror operation, as well as your interior lights and light bulbs. At this time, i's also good policy to lubricate your door, trunk and hood hinges, and maintain your weatherstripping by coating it with a silicone-based seal conditioner.

45,000, 100,000 and Time Intervals

The "Inspection II" light will come on at about 45,000 miles, so plan on all of the above plus a new drive belt. At 100,000 miles, you'll perform your first major "tune-up," as it's understood these days. Replacing the oxygen sensors and spark plugs should make a noticeable difference in performance and driveability by now; less so the engine coolant and PCV valve, but these are important in terms of preventative maintenance. Regardless of your mileage, there are some things that are just going to wear out with time spent on the road. BMW suggests bleeding and changing the brake fluid every two years regardless of mileage, as well as the coolant even if you haven't reached the 30,000-mile coolant-change interval. Mini also requires inspection of the body for rust and broken welds every two years as part of the body rust warranty, though that's long since elapsed on a 2005 car.

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