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What I learned from dropping the subframe

R50/R53 :: Hatch Talk (2002-2006) Cooper (R50) and Cooper S (R53) hatchback discussion.

What I learned from dropping the subframe


Old 08-12-2015, 07:12 PM
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What I learned from dropping the subframe

So first off I'd like to mention that I am not mechanic. I am a software engineer by trade. Getting dirty and grimy on hot summer weekends is not my idea of fun. However, with all off the reference material available to me on the internet (and the Bentley manual) I thought I'd tackle this job and see how far I could go. In retrospect, it was fun getting to know my MINI on a more intimate level.

But in all seriousness, this post is for those individuals that will be or that have been, thinking about lowering the subframe in order to perform some maintenance on their MINI. As for my MINI, I needed to change the LCA bushings on my 2006 MCS; that was what triggered this personal undertaking. And although I was eager to get this maintenance performed, the MINI is my second car....that allowed me to have it up on 4 jack stands for about 4 weeks...going at my own pace.

When all is said and done, it looks like I may need an alignment. I have one more tire to put on tonight before I can take it off the stands and give it a spin. Nonetheless, here are some things that I learned.

What I learned (The Good):
  • The internet has a lot of good info on dropping the subframe on the MINI. Watch every video several times to know what steps you're performing and when.
  • Google, search and study the pictures that show what you need to do.
  • Disposable gloves helped keep my hand somewhat clean.
  • A pair of mechanics gloves helped provide more torque when needed because it reduced some of the pain when using a wrench.
  • You need a 13mm stubby, ratcheted wrench to remove the pinch collar nut on the lower steering column.
  • PB Blaster works great!
  • Bentleys Manual (Expensive but worth having if you're serious)
  • Having an iron mallet handy makes some things easier.
  • The Three-Jaw gear removal set easily removed the bushing from the housing.
  • If you don't have a press, buy the LCA bushings pre-pressed. It's worth it in my opinion.
  • SpeedOut Damaged Screw Extractor & Bolt Extractor Set really works!
  • It gave me a better appreciation of the what the mechanics have to go through sometimes.

What I learned (The Bad):
  • I had the carrier bolt snap in 2 while torquing the bolt that attaches the LCA bushing to the body of the MINI.
  • You can get gritty and grimy fairly easily. Use disposable gloves and change them often. (Amazon has some fairly cheap ones.)
  • I have plenty of tools to fix a PC but I had none to work on my MINI. I had to buy a lot of tools. Some to make my life easier, some out of necessity.
  • Many of the screws were torqued on tight. My impact electric wrench worked on 95% of the bolts.
  • Have plenty of Advil on hand. My hands were getting swollen often so I would take a few in the afternoon and in the evening if I was working a lot on the car.
  • The outer ball joints were rusted up onto the knuckle. I had to pry them off with a cold chisel and an iron dead blow hammer. I just pounded away and soaked the joints with PB Blaster. It took several hours.
  • Replacing the big connector on the power steering pump was a pain when you're trying to connect it, incorrectly. I flipped the connection after battling it for about 1 hour and it slipped right in. I had to take a 10 minute break and watch the YT video again. The red wire should be closest to you when trying to put back, NOT the yellow.

Vendors used:
Way Motor Works
ECS Tuning
Harbor Freight

Tools Bought:
1/2" Impact Wrench
Metric Wrench set
Metric socket long set
Metric socket set
Torx set
Breaker bar
Torque Wrench
Three-Jar Gear removal Tool set
13mm stubby ratcheted wrench
Flat Screwdriver set
4 - Six Ton Jack Stands
Three Ton Jack
2 Creepers (1 broke)
Steel Wire drill set
PB Blaster
Liqui Moly Lube
Super Lube
Rubber Mallet
Iron Mallet
Moving blanket (used to lay on the floor)
Safety Glasses (must have)
SpeedOut Damaged Screw Extractor & Bolt Extractor Set
Cold Chisel set
Hook and Pick set
Oil Pan

Work Performed:
New Front Sway Bar Bushings (PowerFlex)
New LCA Bushings (PowerFlex)
New Outer Ball Joints
New Inner Ball Joints
New Power Steering Hoses (To and Fro from the Reservoir)
New Right Lower Motor Mount (BSH)
New aFe 30-10103 Air Filter
New Febi-Bilstein Power Steering Fluid CHF 11S

Many thanks to the following people for their great photos, videos and tips. I watched Mod MINI's videos over and over and over to make sure I was getting it right.:
Mod MINI on YouTube
NAM Community for their tips and tricks that were sprinkled throughout the forum

I'm sure I missed something but you get the idea. My next task, the struts!


Last edited by minipopkart; 08-13-2015 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 08-12-2015, 08:50 PM
Milpol is offline
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Well done, nice to see others tackle a DIY and take pride in their work, bet your a lot faster next time I know I am, two Gearbox installs in one week in the middle of winter was fun!

Modmini's videos are gold and def agree about watching them several times over to become familiar with the process.
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Old 08-13-2015, 06:22 AM
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Congrats on the DIY and thanks for the orders

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