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  #1  
Old 05-17-2007, 03:19 PM
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Maintenance :: Cooper S Oil Change (with pics!)

Ok.
This is going to be a LONG article, and not for the faint of heart. If you're still interested, read on...

Today, I decided, with 1500 miles on the odometer, that it was time to change the new MINI's oil. Little did I know, I would have the fire marshall stop by, be changing the oil AND the transmission fluid, and go on a motorbike ride during the project!

Ok, first things first. I bought a filter from MINI of Sterling, and six quarts of oil, 5w30. The new engine actually only uses 4.4 quarts btw, but it is always good to have a quart or two on hand. Tools needed for this job:

Socket set with a long extension... I used two together to reach the filter cap.

T50 Torx bit for the oil drain plug.

8mm wrench to remove the coolant tank.

27mm socket for the oil filter cap.

Lots of paper towels to soak up oil.

And the best... latex rubber gloves, never have my fingernails been so clean after this kind of work!

So, I set the car up on my ramps, here on the street in Old Town, Alexandria. Note the old sheet under the car, to keep stuff from spilling on the road!
Click the image to open in full size.



Next I loosened the oil filler cap and unscrewed the T50 Torx bolt for the oil drain... this one...
Click the image to open in full size.

Hmm, oil coming out very clear, and not much of it. Checked again... doh!!! I had removed the transmission fluid drain plug!!!!

Here is the oil drain, I removed this one and sure enough, lots of black oil drained into my catch pan.
Click the image to open in full size.


At this point the fire marshall arrived. He explained that in the city of Alexandria, we are not allowed to work on cars, certainly not to change oil! Then he commented that I hadn't made a mess and nothing seemed spilt. I mentioned that I had also accidently drained the transmission fluid and that the car would be "stuck" for a bit while I went shopping for fluid. He didn't give me a ticket... would have been $40!

Here is a photo of the oil filter cap, tucked in behind some hoses and the coolant tank. I have already moved the coolant tank out of the way.
Click the image to open in full size.

Removing the coolant tank, using an 8mm wrench was easy. It lifts out and can be pushed aside for very easy access to the oil filter cap.

I used the 27mm socket to unscrew the oil filter cap, removed it from the car, wiped everything clean, replaced the gasket and reinstalled the filter.

Here is the socket and extension as I am unscrewing the filter cap...
Click the image to open in full size.


And the filter cap, filter and gasket. Don't forget the little washer that goes on the oil drain plug. All shown here...
Click the image to open in full size.


I reinstalled the oil drain plug, wiped everything off and added 4.4 quarts (roughly) of engine oil. It's difficult to judge how much oil is in the engine, as the dipstick is a bit odd, or French, depending on your perspective.

Next, I went shopping for gear oil. Since I couldn't drive, and my Z3 was being blocked by my Aprilia Atlantic, it seemed like a good time for a motorbike ride!

I was able to get a few quarts of Mobil 1 gear oil, (75W90) and using a handy, and rather large syringe, I filled up the transmission, replaced the filler plug and was ready to test the car.

Luckily, the parking guy and fire marshall didn't return, so no tickets for me today!

The funny thing is the transmission has a big sticker on it that mentions "Lifetime Oil"! I totally missed it. The real clue is that the transmission fluid drain plug is vertical, the engine oil drain plug is horizontal!
Click the image to open in full size.

Anyway, just took the MINI to Clydes for a late, well deserved lunch. The transmission shifts nicely, the engine runs smoothly, and I didn't see any leaks or drips, so all is well!

A shiny, happy MINI with fresh engine oil and transmission fluid...
Click the image to open in full size.

... and the moral of the story... if you are doing things yourself, double check before you merrily start draining fluids!!

That said, changing the oil on an R56 Cooper S is significantly easier than an R50 MINI! Once you move the coolant tank out of the way, unscrewing the oil filter cap and removing it is easy. Draining the oil was actually pretty easy too, though you need that T50 Torx! (I happen to have a bunch of torx bits from my Jeep Wrangler days)

I hope this helps people with their oil changes, and that you don't make the same mistake I did and have to change your transmission fluid too. But now that I have done it, I can say that as long as you have a way to pump the fresh fluid into the transmission, it's not that tricky.

Happy motoring!
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Last edited by z3bum; 05-17-2007 at 03:25 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-17-2007, 03:23 PM
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For the tutorial (exclellent otherwise) to be complete...

...can you please add some BIG RED ARROWS pointing toward the correct screws?

Thank you - MMM
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Old 05-17-2007, 04:49 PM
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Thanks for posting! Avoids repeating mistakes and doing the "uh no" at this end.

What size is the oil drain plug?
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Old 05-17-2007, 05:21 PM
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Great post ! Also gotta give you for doing it in the street ! I love it.

Also glad you pointed out the gearbox drain. After break in, I plan on changing the gearbox oil to Redline MTL.
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Old 05-17-2007, 05:45 PM
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The oil drain plug is also a torx T50.

Thanks, hope this helps everyone who decides to change thier oil.

I wondered about using Redline Mtl vs. Mobil One. But since the tranny fluid change was unplanned, I didn't have alot of choices!
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Old 05-17-2007, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by z3bum View Post
The oil drain plug is also a torx T50.

Thanks, hope this helps everyone who decides to change thier oil.

I wondered about using Redline Mtl vs. Mobil One. But since the tranny fluid change was unplanned, I didn't have alot of choices!
Mobil 1 is great, but I've always used Redline MTL, with no problems. Where did you find the spec. calling for 75/90 ?
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Old 05-17-2007, 05:57 PM
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Is this the oil drain plug?

This is the oil drain plug, right?

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 05-17-2007, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by z3bum View Post
...hope this helps everyone who decides to change thier oil.
Definitely! Much appreciated.

So, after 1,500 miles the oil was time-to-change-it black?
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Old 05-18-2007, 06:47 AM
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The red arrow is pointing at the oil drain plug, yep! And yes, the oil was nasty! Very black, more so than I would have imagined after only 1500 miles.

One thing that worries me a little, is that the car uses only 4.4 quarts! So not much oil in reserve for a turbo engine. That implies that the oil really should be changed more often. I think I'll do every 5000 miles or a year, whichever comes first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Casady View Post
This is the oil drain plug, right?


Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 05-18-2007, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by z3bum View Post
The red arrow is pointing at the oil drain plug, yep! And yes, the oil was nasty! Very black, more so than I would have imagined after only 1500 miles.

One thing that worries me a little, is that the car uses only 4.4 quarts! So not much oil in reserve for a turbo engine. That implies that the oil really should be changed more often. I think I'll do every 5000 miles or a year, whichever comes first.
At around 500 miles, the oil on the dipstick is still clear, but starting to show some pearlescence (metal in the oil).

My 1990 Integra has about the same oil capacity. I've been using Castrol Syntec in it for years. After about 3,000 miles I can start to hear a difference in the engine, and an oil change causes it to run smoother. With this small an oil reserve, I can't see how it could safely go 15,000 miles between changes.

IIRC, on another thread someone posted a link to a site claiming that Castrol is not a true synthetic. People on that thread seemed to have the opinion that Mobil 1 and AMSOIL were better than Castrol. Trying to find that site, I Googled, "Castrol not synthetic" and found a site claiming that Mobil 1 and AMSOIL were also not a true synthetics. BMW recommends Castrol. It is all quite confusing. Not sure what I want to use.
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Old 05-18-2007, 08:20 AM
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MINI's Castrol recommendation is simply a marketing tie in. It doesn't mean that Castrol is better to use in the MINI. On the other hand, if you use it, it eliminates one of MINI's possible attempts to avoid warranty work (although, they can't really avoid it if you use the recommended weight of the proper DOT spec of any brand. But, at least it avoids the argument).
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Old 05-18-2007, 08:29 AM
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After reading the thread on Castrol not being synthetic I was ready to switch to something else. However, since the others may not be true synthetics either, perhaps Castrol is just as good? It would be nice to know how they compare.
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Old 05-18-2007, 12:25 PM
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Thanks z3bum, excellent post, very helpful!

Is it me or is checking the oil level with the dipstick nearly impossible with clean oil? I only have 300 miles on our cooper and I checked the oil level the other day, just to make sure everything was tip top, and couldn't tell for sure where the heck the level was at. There was definately oil there, just found it very hard to read the level.
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Old 05-18-2007, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evergreen View Post
Thanks z3bum, excellent post, very helpful!

Is it me or is checking the oil level with the dipstick nearly impossible with clean oil? I only have 300 miles on our cooper and I checked the oil level the other day, just to make sure everything was tip top, and couldn't tell for sure where the heck the level was at. There was definately oil there, just found it very hard to read the level.
Yup, the only way I could tell was to see that the "threads" seemed to have liquid clinging to them. It's not just the MINI. I've had this problem with Syntec on a normal looking dipstick from an Integra.
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Old 05-18-2007, 12:41 PM
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[quote=z3bum;1529127]

Thanks, hope this helps everyone who decides to change thier oil.



Great DIY...Thanks!
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Old 05-18-2007, 12:43 PM
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so envious of how easy it is to get to the filter housing (I actually noticed this when we test drove one last time we were at the dealer and he popped the bonnet). I absolutely cut my hand to shreds getting to the one on my wife's R53.
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Old 05-18-2007, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Casady View Post
Yup, the only way I could tell was to see that the "threads" seemed to have liquid clinging to them. It's not just the MINI. I've had this problem with Syntec on a normal looking dipstick from an Integra.
I figured it had something to do with the synthetic oil, but that dipstick doesn't help matters either.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evergreen View Post
I figured it had something to do with the synthetic oil, but that dipstick doesn't help matters either.
I got the impression that the MINI dipstick was designed specifically to try and help show clear oil.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:18 PM
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Yeah, for whatever reason, the oil level on the dipstick is quite hard to read. It's also confusing because you can see right down into the engine from the oil filler cap! There is nothing to keep you from dropping stuff in there. I'd be very carefull when adding oil, not to drop the bottle cap in, or a ring, etc.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Casady View Post
I got the impression that the MINI dipstick was designed specifically to try and help show clear oil.
As I'm sure you know, there is all sorts of new things to learn and get used to with this car, I'll just add this to the list.
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Old 05-19-2007, 11:17 PM
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Thanks! z3bum.

Just changed my baby's motor oil today (it's just under 5k). Your post was a great help... The horizontal drain plug was kinda weird -- perhaps they thought it would be easier for the mechanics?

I would admit that getting to the oil filter on the R56 is a lot easier, but still kind of annoying, I still have to move the coolant expansion tank out of the way.

It's that bad on the R53, once you know where it is and kind of how to get to it. Getting the filter housing back on on the R53 is hell, though. Because it was spring loaded, there was one time, I spent an hour trying to get it screwed back on properly.

I've always used Mobile 1 on the R53 in the past -- and I'm using it for my R56 as well. No complaints.

Oil dip stick is not that hard to read for me. But it's confusing... there is no label at all to indicate acceptable oil levels -- I guess I have to read the manual, then.:-P
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Old 05-20-2007, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by kolinar View Post
Just changed my baby's motor oil today (it's just under 5k).

How did the oil look if you don't mind me asking?
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Old 05-21-2007, 02:55 AM
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On some of my previous rides, this type of oil change could not be done. But it appears ok on the MCS. What I'm referring to is riding the car up on stands, which leaves the front end and thus the oil drain plug on the high side. This prevents a good throuough drain as some drain plugs I've encountered are towards the radiator, not the cat.
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Old 05-21-2007, 03:26 AM
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Excellent post!
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Old 05-21-2007, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by DV8MINI View Post
On some of my previous rides, this type of oil change could not be done. But it appears ok on the MCS. What I'm referring to is riding the car up on stands, which leaves the front end and thus the oil drain plug on the high side. This prevents a good throuough drain as some drain plugs I've encountered are towards the radiator, not the cat.
I have a pair of drive-up stands I bought sometime ago. I looked at using the on the MCS, but it looks like they would hit the air-dam. Was that not a problem?
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Old 05-21-2007, 08:44 AM
 
 
 
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