February 20

2004 Mini Cooper, Clutch

Mini Cooper


Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Serving Vancouver’s auto repair and maintenance needs for 38 years, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

Mark: So, a 2004 Mini Cooper had a clutch problem. What was going on with the mini?

Bernie: So the vehicle was brought to our shop basically the owner of the vehicle wasn’t able to put the car into gear. It would just, well you weren’t able to put in gear, forward or reverse. They had it to another shop who did some repairs but they didn’t have any success in fixing it. They did replace the clutch hydraulics, the slave and master cylinder but that didn’t repair the issue. I guess they got a little disenchanted and decided to bring it to us to do some work.

Mark: So how did you determine what was wrong with the clutch?

Bernie: Well, we did a couple of things. First of all there’s, actually to bleed the hydraulic system on a Mini can be a little complex. There’s a bleeder screw and you think, oh I can just pump the peddle which is sort of normal procedure that works on almost every car but sometimes with clutches, not just Minis but other vehicles, it’s hard to get the air out of the system and there’s a special procedure where you have to actually make sure that the slave cylinder is completely collapsed, like right at the bottom, right at the fully retracted position before you bleed it. So we did that. There was actually a little bit of air in the system and we were actually able to make a bit of an improvement to the clutch where you could actually shirt it into the forward moving gears but you still couldn’t get it into reverse without grinding. So there’s clearly a problem inside the clutch. So to determine what we had to do, I mean basically at that point, we established a hydraulic system was all fixed. There was a problem internally, either a broken pressure plate or some other issue.

Mark: And so, do you have some pictures of that?

Bernie: Yeah, I do. So what we found actually to get right down to it as I mentioned, a broken pressure plate is one issue but well, this is the problem we found. Actually the clutch fork was the part that’s broken. Now the fork attaches to the, out of view of the picture and outside the body of the transmission, is the clutch slave cylinder which is actually what when you push the peddle, that’s actually the force is transmitted to the slave cylinder and that actually moves this fork and this pushes the clutch release bearing, I’ll show another picture in a second, against the clutch and this weld here is broken and cracked. It’s not entirely uncommon issue on Minis. So this was broken and so the bottom end of the fork was pushing fully but the top end wasn’t. So that wasn’t allowing the clutch to release full. So we’ll just go to another picture. This is with the new fork installed. You can see both the arms are good. And this is the clutch release bearing which pushes against, our next picture, which is the actually clutch itself. This is a view, this is bolted up to the engine, there’s the flywheel which is attached to the engine, this is a clutch pressure plate and there’s a disc inside and that’s what’s attached to transmission. So when you push the peddle, these pieces here move, that releases the pressure on the disc and that’s what allows you to be in neutral or to shift gears.

Mark: So how often do you find clutch forks breaking? That’s not something I remember us talking about.

Bernie: No I don’t know if we’ve ever talked about it. It’s not really common but it happens from time to time on any variety of cars. We’ve had some Subarus with broken clutch forks and in the past, a lot of American vehicles where the clutch fork will break. Sometimes they get damaged as well, you know they do rub against the, push against the release bearing system so there’s some forces that will affect and where the tabs, and where the release fork touches the release bearing. But it’s not a really common issue. But it does happen from maybe one out of 20 to 50 clutches needs a fork replacement. 

Mark: That seems like quite a few. Now Minis I’ve got some experience with the old version, the English made original Mini and they were pretty crowded. Is this engine compartment pretty crowded in the new Mini that’s made by BMW?

Bernie: Yeah, it’s insanely crowded. This was actually a non turbo, sort of a base model and it’s just packed full of stuff and the turbo’s are, I don’t know if I can say any worse, but they’ve got to be because they’ve got a whole bunch of other stuff. But yeah, they’re extremely tight fitting. There’s really nothing that’s easy to do on these vehicles except may open the oil the oil filler cap. But everything else is pretty complex and involves a lot of work to do it.

Mark: And how are Minis for overall reliability?

Bernie: Well, I’ve got to say that Im going to use the word fair. There are a lot fo things that tend to go wrong with them, I mean even the clutches don’t tend to last a lot longer in these vehicles. We’ve had clients with you know, by the time they hit a hundred or hundred fifty thousand kilometres, they’ve replaced two or three clutches. So things like that aren’t quite as reliable as you’d expect, belt issues, they’ve got a lot of plastic parts in the cooling system that fails. So they’re not exactly trouble free vehicles. But people buy them because they like the style of them and they are kind of fun to drive especially the Turbo S model is a really fun vehicle. So there is a bit of a price to be paid for it but it’s you know, just expect to do a little more repairs than you would on a Toyota Corolla, and you’ll be having more fun too

Mark: Well it’s more of a performance car than a Toyota Corolla is.

Bernie: It is. I always use Toyota Corolla for a base comparison, it is probably not really fair but you know, anyways, a little more work to be done but a good car otherwise. 

Mark: So there you go. If you have a Mini in Vancouver that you’re needing some service or maintenance on, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to book ahead they’re always busy or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel. We’ve got thunder, hundreds and hundreds of videos on there of all makes and models of cars over may years. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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