2002-2006 Mini Cooper (R50)

Potential 2004 R50 Newbie Seeking Wisdom

Old 09-03-2015, 11:35 PM
RAA is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2015
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Default Potential 2004 R50 Newbie Seeking Wisdom

Howdy everyone!

I'm planning on test driving (and hopefully buying) a used two-owner 2004 R50 manual tomorrow from a private owner. It has 48,500 miles and the owner seems honest/trustworthy; she needs to get rid of the car because she had another child and now uses a larger car. I'm planning on making this my daily-driver and need it to be reliable.

She did mention that the catalytic converter and O2 sensor need to be changed along with a "couple of other minor repairs". (The check engine light is on, but she says this is due to the O2 sensor problem.) Her mechanic has quoted her $2000USD to do these repairs and she wants $5,500USD for the car. I'm confident I can get her to lower the price any thoughts on a what a good price to settle on would be? I just graduated college and am still paying off student loans, so I'm not looking to spend too much.

She also mentioned that she got sideswiped just before she bought her new car but that the damage was purely cosmetic and is now fixed.

KBB value ranges from $4,400USD to $5,400USD depending on condition; I haven't seen the car yet, but she says it's in good condition. VIN is clean and CARFAX report suggests paying $560USD over retail book value.

Long story short, just found out about the car in the last couple of hours on a private mailing list (not Craigslist) and have been scrambling to do as much research as possible before tomorrow's test drive after work. So far what I've heard is that the 2004 non-S stick models are quite good but some things to look out for are:

- oil leaks
- rust around door sill
- sunroof (make sure it doesn't leak)
- good transmission/clutch (make sure it's "snappy"?)
- front strut-towers (make sure they're not mushroomed)
- power steering electric motor (slightly whiny is normal, but "sticky" driving wheel is not?)

Anything missing from the list?

If you have any tips on how to identify these potential issues or general suggestions as to what to look out for, that would be super helpful if all goes well, tomorrow I'll be a proud new owner of a Mini

Looking forward to getting to know the community!

ps. I'll post pictures tomorrow.
Old 09-04-2015, 12:13 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,302

I'd suggest reading through the buyers guide here. It provides some good information in regards to common issues and failures with the R50/R53. 48k miles is low for that year, so good find. Which sensor did she say it was? If you have the ability to get the car jacked up and get under it, they're pretty easy to remove and replace yourself. Sensors can be purchased here and the tool is helpful. All you need to do is disconnect the electrical connectors, use the tool or an equivalent one to remove the sensor from the exhaust. Install is the reverse of this. They do come pre-coated with an anti-seize paste that you should get as well, but be sure to not contaminate the tip of the sensor. I'd highly recommend getting the car PPI'd by a MINI specialist before you purchase. You can take her word, but it's always smart to get vehicles checked over before purchasing so you know really what repairs you're in for. This way they can note if there is any real damage still from when she was in the accident. KBB is a good baseline for pricing, but look at www.truecar.com, search on craigs list, and see what they're going for to compare what it may be worth. Good luck and hope things go well!
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