MINI is known for their performance-packed sub-compact Cooper and Cooper S models that were essential in the revival of the retro-modern style explosion. The tight handling and relatively impressive capabilities of the little Cooper and Cooper S are a result of the amazing suspension geometry and wheel placement at each of the four corners on the car, but they experience a major drawback thanks to some oversights in the design itself. In Gen 1 MINI Cooper and Cooper S models particularly, the stiff ride and low-profile tires exceed the ability of the strut towers to maintain their shape. This causes the dreaded ‘mushrooming’ or even cracking that deforms or destroys the strut towers and can dramatically affect your alignment. At ECS Tuning, we, fortunately, have the resources here that you need to understand the problem and what to do to permanently fix the issue and prevent it from happening ever again.
Run-flat tires, stiff suspension, and soft metal of the strut towers combine to make a ticking bomb that will eventually explode out of your strut towers. This is mostly the case with Gen 1 MINI Cooper and Cooper S models but can happen as a result of extremely aggressive aftermarket suspension in later models as well. When the strut towers are deformed as a result of the stiff ride, it can make installation of new strut mounts difficult and can affect the alignment or even prevent your MINI from returning to factory alignment specs entirely.
Several companies, us included, produce various reinforcement plates that both re-shape the strut tower into proper form and protect against the issue from happening down the road. MINI Madness reinforcement plates, which are designed to sandwich between the strut mount and strut tower, offer the benefit of helping re-shape the tower and also prevent the issue from persisting, but are only part of the picture. The ECS Reinforcement Plates that mount on the top of the strut tower press down on the tower and further add reinforcement to the towers, which will allow you to drive your MINI the way it was meant to be enjoyed, while also on extremely aggressive suspension. The additional reinforcement essentially sandwiches the soft metal of the strut tower between the much stronger MINI Madness lower plates and the ECS upper plates to create the strongest possible mounts for a permanent upgrade and fix.
Never, Never Do This:
On some forums, you may see advice from non-experts who claim to have ‘fixed’ their mushrooming issue by simply hammering the soft metal back into shape. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RE-SHAPE YOUR STRUT TOWERS WITH PERCUSSIVE FORCE. Without going into the science, this further weakens the metal and can result in cracking and failure quite quickly.
Do It Right:
The MINI Madness plates are designed to safely pull the tower back into shape as you tighten the strut mount bolts down onto the plates. For best results, the ECS Strut Tower Reinforcement Plates should be paired with the MINI Madness lower plates. This method does not shock the metal and will retain its original strength to help prevent further problems with mushrooming and to resist cracking.
So, if you have a MINI, especially a Gen 1 or stiff aftermarket suspension and low profile tires, the MINI Madness Reinforcement Plates, and ECS Tuning Strut Tower Reinforcements are exactly what you need to protect your MINI from disaster. Of course, if yours are warped enough, you will likely need to re-align the suspension to prevent any extra wear on your tires and restore the suspension geometry. With our advice and the reinforcement plates from ECS/MINI Madness, you should be able to safely fix and prevent your strut towers from mushrooming or failing!