Excitement & fear in Central Va: just bought a 2003 R50 w/91K miles

Discussion in 'Starting Line - New Member Introductions' started by Different Computers, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. Different Computers

    Different Computers New Member

    Apr 7, 2014
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    Mac Guy
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    Can't find a local Mini club to post to, so I'll just say hi to the whole world instead.

    I've just bought an all stock 2003 R50, black over white, sunroof, base model as far as I can tell. I was seduced by the low price compared to a new car, the nearly pristine body and the clean interior. And of course it's a fun to drive Mini!

    It has a new clutch put in by Cosner Brothers after the previous owner sold it to them, I imagine when he got the bad news about the clutch. Wednesday it gets a brake flush and a new serpentine belt.

    I'm not really planning to do any crazy customizing. Creature comforts are high in the to do list: Modern, upgraded sound system (though the speakers seem OK) and some sound dampening, though I haven't decided what kind and I'll likely do that myself. Since I never expect to wedge anyone into the back, I've removed the rear seat backs and plan to remove the rear seats entirely.

    I would appreciate any thoughts about 2003 R50s, especially if they're along the lines of "you should be fine, no you shouldn't have to drop another $2K to make it reliable." Or, you know, informed opinions along the lines of "You've made a terrible mistake" would also be handy.
     
  2. rum4

    rum4 Club Coordinator
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  3. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    Welcome to M/A the FUN Mini site. :Thumbsup:

    I think will have a great time modding / upgrading the sound system.
    One thing about the sound system if you have H/K system it is a pain in the a$$ to upgrade.
    An easy way to tell if you have the H/K system is look at the door speakers and if the have silver trim rings with H/K on them you have the H/K system. We can all talk about the H/K system later if you have it.

    For now enjoy your new to you MINI.
     
  4. Different Computers

    Different Computers New Member

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    Mac Guy
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    Thanks Dave.

    My sound system is stock, not HK. Speakers seem OK, it's the head unit that needs replacement. I'm thinking of this Pioneer MVHX560BT Digital Media Receiver because I don't care about CDs because iPhone.
     
  5. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    Excellent I put in an older Alpine unit because I did not care about CD's either plus it has a color display that is very close to the rest of the interior lights and blends in perfectly. I have a 160 GB iPod in my glove box and have not used a radio in 8 years. :D
     
  6. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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  7. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    Welcome, thanks for joining Motoring Alliance, the FUN and Friendly MINI Community.

    R50's are pretty sturdy cars, yet there are some weak points. The Midlands gearbox can be a bit crotchety at times. MINI says it is a lifetime fill. HAH! Might want to change that fluid. If you don't have records I'd be looking refreshing all the fluids so you have a baseline to start with.

    The cabin filter probably needs to be changed too.

    Check the control arm bushings. If they are OEM then they are probably shot, or if replaced recently recently with OEM will be shot soon. The poly ones are a lot better and last.

    Other than that I can't think of other R50 specific items there may be, but then again, I don't own one. I'm sure some others will chime in with more.
     
  8. Different Computers

    Different Computers New Member

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    Mac Guy
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    Control arms shot? symptoms?

    Nathan, could you explain what the symptoms of the control arms being shot are?
     
  9. ZippyNH

    ZippyNH New Member

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    First..steering is a bit less precise....stock ones are only good for about 70,000 miles MAX....the rubber is crap. Get powerflex urethane..they will last forever...
    Tire wear can be an issue...depending on how bad they are...inner edges tend to wear faster with bad bushings (lots of turns or a lowered car can also do this).
    A few tips......
    Keep an eye on the oil level....some leak and or burn a bit..synthetic only...
    midgrade fuel (90)or better ..or valves can get burnt...
    and check the coolant...many cars have this system neglected.....and they corrode...remember you have a CAST IRON BLOCK....and the heater core gets blocked first....so a flush every 3 years is easy.
    Good luck! Enjoy the car! have FUN!
     
  10. Different Computers

    Different Computers New Member

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    Mac Guy
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    I do enjoy it, thanks ZippyNH.

    Tomorrow it gets the serpentine belt replaced & the brakes flushed. Hopefully after that I can relax a bit and not fret about whether I'm going to have to drop another couple of thousand dollars into it!

    Hilariously, in the past 2 days I've seen what I'm pretty sure are three different minis around Charlottesville, all with the exact same paint job!
     
  11. eMINIparts

    eMINIparts Well-Known Member
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    Welcome to the coolest MINI forum on the net................:cool:
     
  12. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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  13. wmwny

    wmwny Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to M/A! I have an '03 R50, but it has a CVT. I've not had any problems with the car and it has around 55k on it. I bought it used in '04 with 2200 miles on it and it has served me well.
     
  14. Different Computers

    Different Computers New Member

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    Mac Guy
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    #14 Different Computers, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
    Doom and gloom

    So, I had just started to notice what sounded like a front right bearing noise at low speeds. Disappeared at higher speeds--or maybe I just couldn't hear it over louder road noise. So I asked my local shop to check it while they replaced a cracked serpentine belt & flushed the brakes.

    The belt replacement didn't go great. Turns out the tensioner is shot.

    But worse, the good news from the shop is that the LF bearing is fine is followed on by the bad news: the noise is coming from the transmission. It's a sound like gravel in a can to my ear.

    I bought this second hand (well, fourth hand) less than a week ago. I don't notice any shifting responsiveness problems. Like I said, the noise seems to disappear above 30 MPH.

    Again, so you don't have to read the whole thread to know: this is an R50 5 speed manual with 91K on it and a new clutch installed prior to my buying it. The shop I bought it from claimed that while the clutch work was being done, they dropped the transmission and sent it to a transmission shop to be checked and it came back AOK.

    Any insights or ideas would be greatly appreciated, especially if someone can chime in with "Just change the transmission fluid and it should be fine."

    But failing that, if anyone knows what happened to http://minitransmissions.com or has a recommendation on rebuilt Midlands gear box purchase or a strong opinion on going custom with a rebuilt Getrag instead, I'm interested. Just keep in mind that while I've recently inherited a good set of tools, I've never done anything more complicated than changing the oil on a car.

    I've only driven this car for FOUR DAYS and I admit I kind of love it. But at the same time, the most appealing answer economically is to get it running, drive it to a Hyundai dealer and see if I can get $3000 in trade for it on a new Veloster with a 100K power train warranty! 'Cause I don't see any way that this issue isn't going to make me double down on my purchase price of $3850.
     
  15. ZippyNH

    ZippyNH New Member

    Jan 25, 2010
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    Sounds like you got a lemon.....
    Sometimes it is best to cut your losses and run...other times best to fight...
    New cars can be nice...but $$$$ due to deprecation...EVEN if you have a warranty....remember...when the warranty ends..the payments for MOST folks last longer...it is a downward spiral....repairs maybe be needed WITH a payment....
    You need to do what is best for you....just do it with your eyes open...or you may be delaying the pain.....good luck.
    You might find somebody here that has a lead on a cheap tranny....sometimes new cylinder heads, etc show cheap....
     
  16. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    Why you go back to the shop where you bought it. They told you the transmission was good and it's not. I know they probably did give you a worinty but in this case I would think you have a little room to force the issue.
     
  17. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    No idea what happened so I went to look. The domain was not taken by anyone anymore.

    Thirteen dollars and 17 cents later I now own the domain. For what. I have not a clue as of yet.
     
  18. daviday

    daviday Active Member

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    Sometimes phone numbers are better than websites.

    0044 2476 221225.

    These guys offer full rebuild kits for the midlands box. Around $700 w the clutch kit shipped to the US.

    I'm in the same boat as you by the way. Bought from a dealership a few months ago. Not a litigious person but the car is making me angry to the point where a fight may make me feel a bit better to say the least.
     
  19. maacodale

    maacodale Club Coordinator

    May 7, 2009
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    Welcome, since you're in VA check us out. We're Hampton Roads club MINI Hampton Roads Club Mini - Home. Also check our facebook page search HRMINI conquors the world. (yea, I know they spelled conquers wrong!). We're based in Southeast VA but we have events throughout the state. Also check out RVA MINIs out of Richmond.

    Hope to see ya soon.
     
  20. Different Computers

    Different Computers New Member

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    Mac Guy
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    There has been a lot of fear since my last entry!

    The shop I took the mini too for it's post-purchase maintenance told me the noise I heard was coming from the transmission. Doom and gloom!

    I talked to the shop I bought it from and they agreed to take a look at it. They also explained in more detail how the transmission shop they took the transmission to tested the transmission--they literally took it apart and examined it, not just bench tested.

    So the shop I bought it from can't hear the noise I heard. Since I heard it VERY clearly, I'm now wondering if I had picked up some gravel in my wheel on my 200 yard long driveway!

    The shop also noticed that the AC wasn't putting out well even though they had charged it, and offered right out of the blue to replace the compressor at their expense. I have some real confidence in this shop now, and therefore much more in my purchase.

    With a little luck I'll be driving it tonight!
     

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