Mini Cooper 5-speed Transmission

The MINI 5-speed gearbox GS5-65BH found in the Cooper models (non-S) built between 2001 and July 2004 is commonly referred to as the R65 or ‘Midlands 5-speed’ Gearbox.

The front mounted transverse configuration was a major design challenge when it came to the length of the engine/gearbox unit. In designing the MINI, maximum crash safety and therefore optimum configuration of the longitudinal members in the engine compartment and front body section were priorities. This requirement imposed an additional limit on the permitted length of the engine/gearbox assembly. Because the length of the engine is largely fixed, depending on the spacing between the cylinders, the length restriction on the powertrain as a whole determines the length available for the gearbox.

There was therefore no room in the MINI’s engine compartment for a conventional two-shaft gearbox with all the gears arranged one behind the other. BMW had wanted the car to have a Getrag gearbox, but the original UK engineers put in the R65 gearbox instead, because it was $170/car cheaper, more compact with a two-shaft as opposed to a three-shaft layout, and no inherent cyclic vibrations, so a mass damper was not needed.”

The R65 was an existing major component, which was already being manufactured on the Longbridge site, and was in large scale use in other Rover Group front-wheel-drive cars. Originally a PSA (Peugoet-Citroen) design, it was well-proven, and well thought of.

Chris Lee (MINI Product Leader ’96-’99) and his team stuck to their convictions, produced rafts of evidence regarding costs, performance and service experience. Back-to-back tests, evaluations on the road and comparisons of torque capacities were all made. In addition, major improvements to the R65’s change quality, a reduction of free play and healthy attention to warranty claim records were all needed before Rover’s R65 won the argument.

Although not widespread, there have been numerous reports of failures with the R65 Midlands gearbox over the years. Compounded with MINI USA’s policy to replace instead of repairing these gearboxes with factory rebuilt units, the owners are faced with hefty repair bills from their local MINI service centers.

Fortunately, repair parts are available for the R65 Midlands gearbox from suppliers such as Mini Mania Inc. Qualified independent transmission repair shops are able to repair these gearboxes at a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire gearbox.

Mini Cooper 5 speed transmission

Mini Cooper 5 speed transmission


17 thoughts on “Mini Cooper 5-speed Transmission

  1. I have a 2002 mini cooper hatchback with 5 speed transmission. It has been making a “whirring” metal scraping sound especially when shifting from 2nd to 3rd, or 3rd to 4th gears. This sound continues even into fifth gear. I had a mechanic look at it who thought that possibly it could have been an axle problem, or cv joint problem, but he has pretty well ruled that out.
    He thinks it is the transmission and not a clutch issue either. I’m wondering about purchasing a rebuilt trans, or whatever options I might have. Please send any helpful information. I’ve had this vehicle only a little over a year. It has about 84000 miles, and I only will drive it about 6,000 miles annually.

  2. In response to the comment. I also have an 2002 cooper 5sp. About the time you posted this comment I also experienced that metal on metal grinding noise. The car had just over 70k miles on it. I had the car towed to the dealer unsure of what was wrong. I had thought that it was in relation to a recall that I thought was never done to the vehicle (I bought it used apr of 2008). After anxiously waiting hours to get a call back, they had told me that the pressure plate in the clutch was broken which caused the noise. They said if they removed the transmission (if I authorized it), they could look more. If they were going to do that, they might as well replace the whole clutch. I said no thanks (2200 to replace it!), and ordered the assembly and had a good mechanic friend do it for me. After he pulled the transmission out to work on the clutch, he noticed I also needed the trans replaced as well. Trust me I was heartbroken! This is like my 3rd child, I love this car. Its the only thing I wanted in life.

    After doing some research, we arent the only ones having this problem. Sadly MINI wont do much of anything. I have found out that the trans can be rebuilt, just call around and see if anyone will service them.

    As of today, my MINI is still sitting in my moms garage waiting to be worked on. I dont have the cash to have it repaired until taxes are done.

    Hopefully you can have your MINI fixed and back on the road.

    • get ready to replace the head at somepoint when u start to get a constant misfire that wont go away no matter what you do.
      the minis are really glorified neons.

  3. I have had a very similar problem.

    Over a year ago, my 2002 Mini Cooper (then less than one year in my care) experienced the same sorts of issues. My engine/transmission made a grinding or whirring noise in first gear, but it seamed to dissipate once I was in third. The dealer that I purchased it from (who I will not name, nor would I suggest) told me most basically that it was all in my mind and that it sounded “normal” to them.

    On my way to work, while shifting from second to third gears, my transmission seized up entirely. I had it towed to the dealership of origin and that is where it remains to this day over a year later. The owner of the dealership and false friend estimated the cost of replacement at $5,500 and up. He informed me at the time that Mini transmissions could NOT be rebuilt (a fact that I have since found refuted) and that I might as well pony up to replace the clutch and front wheel axle because they were most likely damaged in the process.

    I wish that my Mini was in my mom’s garage and not at the dealership, because he has since changed his story. While he told me that he was willing to hold onto it in his storage facilities until I figured out funding options, he has since changed his tune. As soon as I sought another mechanic to offer a secondary estimate, he created outlandish “storage fees” that had not been discussed or agreed upon. Now it may become a legal battle as well as a battle of wills.

    Any advice or suggestions are more than welcomed.
    I miss my Mini; we have a love/hate relationship.

  4. Listen man here’s the real deal. I’m a military Seabee mechanic and I just brought my future son-in-law Mini from him when the transmission went out. It’s not a big deal IF you have a maual transmission (MIDLAND 5-speed)except for the cost. The automation version Constant Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic is a piece of shit so stay away from it, cost between $5500 – $8000 to replace and their is no rebuild parts. You have 2 options just like me. First find a FRIEND who knows how to rebuild a manual transmission. The 5 speen manual in the Cooper is easy as hell to rebuild. Then ask him if he has “” if not tell him to subscribe to it for a week. This site gives you the COMPLETE break down on how to rebuild the transmission and all the torques spec too. You can get all the parts for Depending on what’s broke and need replacing the parts can get expensive because each part is sold seperate at new mini. I already have $2000 spent on parts but I know what i’m doing plus i’m replacing other parts so I wont have to do it again. The diferential is the main part that goes bad because of it’s design but you said it locked up so something else might be wrong too. On the web site they give you the cost of all their parts so you can see how much it’s going to cost you. Option number 2 is to buy a rebuild unit for the dealer or NEW MINI. It cost about $ 2600 plus $400 for the core totally about $3100. If the dealer want more then that get it from NEW MINI for about $2550 plus shipping. Then get someone to put it in and your back on the road. OH you have to replace the clutch assembly too. DO NOT buy this from the dealer or New Mini be caus it cost $385 at the dealer and $318 at New Mini. It cost $195 at part #03-061. I like to rebiuld cars so it’s nothing to me. I could just buy a rebuild ine an off I would go but I dont trust anyone to rebuild my shit because they only replace worn parts I repalce everything. However, everything in theis transmission would cost $4200. Let me know what you decide, I will help any way I can. If you email me let me know I wrote you a long ass email on your mini cooper so i know who I’m talking too. Good luck

    • Gary:
      I am thinking on puchasing a mini cooper. And I just found one i very good condition except for the transmssion. It is a anutomatic transmission and the mini cooper is 2004.
      The tranmission shifts work fine except for reverse which does not work. What do you think it would cost to repair this tranmsission? Do you think is possilbe? Or about how much would it cost to replace it with a rebuild one and where should can I get it?
      Please advice

    • Hi there I have read your response to the other transmission problems that that other guy was having. I bought this 2004 mini from this guy down in Sac and I think that he totally fooled me when I bought it. I know almost nothing about cars (my fault I didn’t research it ) and The guy told me that it just needed a new clutch release berring.. I thought it would be a quick fix and it seemed like a good deal so I bought it on the spot. (bad move on my part) I brought it home and now I just got informed that it was the transmission that had a problem. not the clutch. I took it to a transmission specialist and they said that it was going to cost me upwards of 3 grand.. Im so bummed to figure out that I was fooled by the asshole that sold it to me. I was hoping that it wasnt going to cost me that much., You seem to know a lot about minis ..I was wondering if that was a correct estimate for that job. and I was also curious if you knew where I could get discounted transmissions or something. I need a little advice. please help. Jamie

    • Oil is in the crankcase.
      Are you asking how to check the oil?
      or the transmission fluid?

      I strongly suggest reading your owners manual cover to cover a few times, there are “sealed” systems.

      On the Manual Transmission there is a fill/check plug, and a drain plug on the side of the transmission.
      The fluid should be full up to the FILL/check plug.
      If short, then replace with manufacturers suggested Transmission Fluid Type. NO OIL

      There is no “dipstick” to check the level, as on a “average” Automatic Transmission

      Most engines have a dipstick for measuring the OIL level.

      The following procedure must be followed to ensure indication of the correct oil level:

      1. Park vehicle on flat and even ground with the engine at operating temperature,
      i.e. after uninterrupted driving for at least 6 miles (10 km).

      2. Turn off the engine.
      3. After waiting approximately 5 minutes, pull out the dipstick and wipe with a lint-free cloth, paper tissue or similar.

      4. Carefully insert the dipstick as far as it will go into the dipstick tube and pull out again.

      5. The oil level must be between the two marks on the dipstick.

      Depending on the type of engine, the amount of oil between the two marks on the
      dipstick is approximately: 1 – 1.5 liters.

      Note: Do not exceed the upper mark on the dipstick otherwise engine
      may be damaged by over filling with oil.

  5. my mini run great from 1st to 5th, but when going in reverse. you hear a thumping noise, and it jerks. i’m thinking that some of the teeth are missing or broken. what can i buy without replacing the tranmission?

  6. Joel,
    My name is Isaac and I just bought a 2002 Mini Cooper Hard top (not S) Manual transmission. When in reverse, I hear tick-tac and as I go faster, it increases with speed. So, not sure what it is.

    Also, when shifting to second gear, and from 2nd to 3rd, it shutters a bit. So, not sure what to tell you that, I am new to this. Based on my readings on the net (and googling this issue), I read that there is a lot of issues with the CV type of transmissions. The Manual trannies will have issues due to the poor design as it was a 190 some dollars of cost savings to the manufacturers (instead of going with another type of transmission).

    so, if you know an inexpensive way of fixing your car, please let me know. I live in WA state.

  7. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve truly loved surfing around your weblog posts. After all I will be subscribing for your feed and I’m hoping you write again soon!

  8. My ’04 MC seemed to be going well with just under 60k kms. Nevertheless, i’m keeping up with information from the Mini forums and checking on companies that sell the rebuilt kits. In the event my Midland does die, at least I’ll know who to call and what to do.

  9. does anyone know if the slave cyinder is on the top or the bottom of a cooper on a 03 plate, as this as iv’e been told is a £600 difference on the price of a recon transmisstion…

  10. Had third 5sp trans installed in my 2004 (March-build) COOPER back in July 2012 — it came with a 2-year unlimited-mileage warranty. Well, good for that! because last week the synchro for 3rd gear is shot. Dealership replaced it FREE OF CHARGE … plus new clutch for cost-of-parts ($275) since labor was covered by the transmission work. So year… 10 years old, 150k miles… on 4th trans, 3rd clutch, 3rd power-steering, 3rd windshield too. $$$

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