I just posted a new article in the Library on my aggressive maintenance plan. There isn't any place for discussion over there, so I'm creating a thread here to allow for a conversation. http://www.motoringalliance.com/library/1st-generation-mini-cooper-how-to-3/my-aggressive-maintenance-schedule-for-an-r53-or-r50-98/ --------------------------------------------- This post may cause a bit of discussion… I hope so, at least. Everyone has a different idea of what appropriate maintenance is and everyone has a different use for their car. Everyone has a different level of comfort with the risk of not replacing some items at regular intervals vs. waiting for a part failure (or near-failure). Everyone also has a different long-term goal for the car as well (3 year lease and turn-in vs. driving the same car for 20 years). All of these factors play into a maintenance schedule. Considering all of the factors above, I find the MINI recommendations to be WAY too infrequent for my comfort. I occasionally go out for weekends at the track and I tow a (small) trailer with the car, so I know that Jango sees heavier loads than the average MINI. I also hope to keep my MINI for a long time to come, so I tend to do routine maintenance like oil changes more frequently, in the hopes that it will help engine and transmission longevity. I’m also less likely to accept risk to my persona/vacation time… the smaller chance of losing track sessions or vacation experiences with the car in the shop is worth a few extra dollars to me to prevent. MINI engineers look at things a different way. They have an estimate of how long they should design a piece of equipment to last (or what an acceptable fail rate during the warranty period is) and the maintenance that would be required to sustain the equipment during that period. They aren’t interested in making a MINI engine last 20 years and they definitely aren’t designing their maintenance plan for a car that sees track/trailer use. They are designing for the average expected use of the car. Some of the items that I replace on a regular schedule aren’t even on their list. A few examples of what I’m talking about: • PREVENTATIVE REPLACEMENT FOR HIGH IMPACT FAILURE ITEMS - If I ever make it to 4 years on the same battery, I’m going to replace it (my first battery failed in 3.5 years). Texas summer heat takes a toll on batteries and rather than have it fail when I’m on vacation or when I’m 50 miles from home, I’d rather replace it when it is convenient for me. Yes… I might be replacing a battery a year before it would fail, but that loss of 1 year of service will cost me another $20 (1/5 of the cost of a $100 battery). I’d happily pay $20 to avoid getting stuck at the office at 6pm, calling my wife to come and get me. • INVESTING IN LONGEVITY - I flush the coolant more frequently than recommended and I always replace the thermostat and gasket when I do so. Every other flush, I replace the thermostat housing. My MINI sees some track time (and the trailer puts extra extended load on the engine while towing on the highway), so extra coolant flushes are my investment in engine longevity. The thermostat and housing replacements are much like the battery… these parts are known weak points in the cooling system and I’d rather replace them on my schedule than run a higher risk of having them cause issues at inopportune moments. • PERSONAL HISTORY - I have a preventative replacement of the clutch slave cylinder in my schedule. I’m sure that this isn’t on any maintenance list for MINI, but my personal history with my R53 shows that a clutch slave is lucky if it makes it 40k miles. If I ever have one that makes it that long, I’m going to replace it. So far, I haven’t made it that far… I’m on clutch slave #4 in 60k miles! • LOW IMPACT ITEMS - I don’t have an engine damper replacement on my list and neither does MINI. My personal history suggests that they last only 30k miles / 2 years, but when they fail on my car, it causes very little impact. I can still drive the car and might not even notice any difference until I go for a spirited drive or hit some very rough pavement. Since the risk is small to my time if this goes bad, I don’t worry about it (though I do replace it when it goes bad for best performance and ride quality). How much maintenance is too much? That’s up to you to decide. If you take my methodology to an extreme, you might find yourself doing a preventative engine replacement every 10k miles to ensure that the car is always in tip-top shape. I guess if you have the $$$ and need a maximum-reliability MINI, this might be a way to go at it… there is a cost-benefit analysis that you have to do here.