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N16 Timing Chain Replacement - Is it worth it

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N16 Timing Chain Replacement - Is it worth it

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  #1  
Old 06-06-2018, 03:54 PM
kodeyedwardjones
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N16 Timing Chain Replacement - Is it worth it

Hello all,

Before you end up reading more than necessary, this write up is just describing my take and experience after replacing the timing chain, guides, and tensioner on my 2011 Mini Cooper (base). Hopefully this will give others thinking about it an idea of if the job is worth it or not. Disclaimer: Some of this will be opinion based, other parts will be strictly observational throughout the repair. Also, some of what I say will be pretty obvious to many of you, you never know what skill level or knowledge some may have. Enjoy, and I'd love to hear feedback

I own a 2011 Justa with a little over 140k miles on it. I've owned it for just about a year or so and ever since I bought it, I've been aware of the horrific and terrifying timing chain issues that are all over forums, car review sites, etc. I am also aware that it affects some mini engines, and others it doesn't. In any case, I felt I should go ahead and replace my Justa's timing chain. To start off, there were no warning signs that prompted this replacement (no death rattle or noticeable drivability changes). I simply didn't want any "unexpected" mishaps to occur as I begin a new career far from my home and father's garage (I'm 23, and have worked with him on vehicles my whole life).

Now to what I really want to talk about. If you have a high mileage Mini, at least with a N16 engine, I'll start off by saying that, in my opinion, a timing chain replacement is worth the time and effort. Given you have the tools, experience, and time, I think that it could be beneficial if you wish to have your Mini for a long time with some sort of peace of mind. Before I get into the key highlights I want to hit during the replacement, I will say that my Justa simply runs smoother, sounds smoother, and isn't as sluggish as before.
ABSOLUTELY before starting a job like this, be sure you have all necessary tools, parts, and reference materials. I had the timing chain kit for a few months, and didn't realize I had the wrong one until I opened the valve cover and saw two VANOS gears and a different top guide . Having a Bentley Manual is invaluable, unless you want to watch a couple hour long videos on youtube (which can be helpful! To each their own!). Lastly, having good quality camshaft locks, crankshaft lock, and all special tools recommended are also invaluable. I own the EWK camshaft alignment tool kit and it isn't the greatest quality... but it got the job done.
Once I began tear-down and took out the old parts, I made sure to inspect for any wear, damage, etc. Probably the most noticeable was the old chain length compared to a new one. The old chain was about half a link longer than a new one. Granted, that's why there is a tensioner (if it works, right?). The old guides had some decent grooves set into them from the chain, which is expected. The old crankshaft gear had some wear on the teeth, but nothing too excessive. The top guide, specifically the plastic part on the metal bracket, was quite loose. Even while assembled and under chain pressure, it would move transverse to the chain a good bit. I'll try to post a couple pictures on this post but I've never done so before. When you put the new cassette in with the crank gear, chain, all that jazz, I highly recommend just putting some oil directly on the guides and chain before starting it up. Before that oil pump can oil everything, that chain will slide on those bare guides a bit (and make you worry when you smell it a little). Other than that, the job went rather smoothly and the car is running better than before.

All in all, I think replacing the timing chain and friends was worth it on my Justa. I'd be happy to answer any questions if anyone has any!! I'm no master mechanic, so I'll try my best! I mainly wanted to write this post to help anyone else thinking of doing this type of job on their own.

Happy Motoring everyone!




Here is what the grooves in the guide look like. Nothing excessive, but they are quite visible.



Notice the wear on the sides of the teeth. I believe this may have been due to the chain being slightly offset with the camshaft VANOS gears. I could be wrong, but I think that's what it is.



Just the lower guides. A picture doesn't do it justice, but the locking mechanism that holds the cassette together was incredibly weak. I could take the two apart by barely twisting them, unlike the new guides.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-07-2018, 06:05 AM
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Good stuff, thanks for taking the time to make the post.
 
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Old 06-08-2018, 07:41 AM
2cati
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Thanks so much for posting this. I recently purchased a 2013 Mini Copper and I hear some rattle on cold start up. I consulted others and they said the newer minis shouldn’t have the timing chain issue.

Is there a definitive way to determine there is a timing chain problem by measuring the slack by removing the.m tensioner and inserting the measuring tool?

 
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Old 06-08-2018, 08:31 AM
2cati
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Would you kindly post a picture of the cam locking tool you used ? Also what tool did you use for the crank?

Where re did you purchase the parts from?

Thanks so much!
 
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Old 06-08-2018, 09:29 AM
kodeyedwardjones
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2cati, you are right that others say newer minis shouldn't have the issue. When I did my replacement, I did notice that the tensioner on my engine was the "new" type. You can tell by the head of the tensioner bolt if it is newer or not. Check this article by Mini Mania (it does specifically say N14 engines, which you shouldn't have:

https://new.minimania.com/Mini_Cooper_Cold_Start_Rattle

The newer tensioners have a raised circular edge or middle dimple. These new versions are supposed to solve much of the issue by increasing cold start performance I believe.
My mini kinda had a slight rattle upon cold start and had a fluctuating idle, but once warm it was quiet and stable. Not sure if that is timing chain related or not, but I don't have that issue after the replacement.

Regarding slack measurement, I'm unaware of how to do so myself, but there is this other thread that has a procedure on how to do so! The toolkit I used has a tension tool included, which I will link to later.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...procedure.html

Lastly, I used the EWK Timing Tool Kit from Amazon. The link is below. It isn't the greatest, as I described in my original post. The lockers were slightly misaligned when I tried to bolt them together and to the engine (so they are most likely cheaply manufactured). However, they did work! The crankshaft locking pin is also in the tool kit. It is the brass 90 degree bent pin in the kit. When you use it, be sure that it doesn't slide out. Mine did and I luckily caught it before continuing the job.

Amazon Amazon

I hope this helps!!
 
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Old 06-08-2018, 09:41 AM
2cati
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Thank you for the detailed reply! I have a subtle rattle that to me sounds like the timing chain that goes away when warm.
I suspect the timing chain. Interesting your cold start rattle went away once you replaced the timing chain.

Where did you get your timing chain kit from?

what tool did you use for the crank?







 
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Old 06-08-2018, 10:28 AM
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I went to Way Motor Works for my timing chain kit, which by the way, I recommend because they have some amazing customer service and can answer so many questions.

The only downside to the kit is that it didn't come with a new crankshaft seal, so you'll need that (as well as a new valve cover gasket set).

That is the crankshaft tool I used.
 
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Old 06-09-2018, 08:29 PM
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Thanks for the reply again.

Im going to prepare to replace the Timing chain by getting the tools and then sourcing the cam timing kit.

For some reason I can’t access the way motor works website from CANADA - really odd.

Would someone post their email address so I can reach out to them?

Any other trusted sources for a can timing kit for a N16 engine? Detroit Tuned? Ecs?

Thanks!



 

Last edited by 2cati; 06-09-2018 at 08:30 PM. Reason: Additional information.
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Old 06-10-2018, 01:45 PM
kodeyedwardjones
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I think you can reach them through [email protected]
 
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Old 06-12-2018, 09:28 AM
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We have them: Chain Kits and tools.

https://www.ecstuning.com/Mini-2011-Cooper-R56-Base-Coupe-L4_1.6L_N16B16A/Engine/Timing/

Tools are at the bottom after you click through and the schwaben one is on sale now.

More tools here:

https://www.ecstuning.com/Mini-2011-Cooper-R56-Base-Coupe-L4_1.6L_N16B16A/Engine/Timing/3

Crankshaft holder and others.
 
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:32 PM
2cati
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Thanks for posting!!!

All - I was speaking with the dealer and they told me that the entire timing chain and guides done need to necessarily be replaced. Most often just the top guide and a new tensioner.

If the bottom guides aren’t broken

Does that make sense?

Has there been cases that only the top chain guide resolved the death rattle?

 
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Old 06-14-2018, 06:31 AM
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Two things that cause the rattle, stretched chain w/bad tensioner. Boken one of the guides (nylon plastic part) and the chain slaps a bit. You do it all at once as a kit so you dont have any issues after the fact. If you have a budget then maybe the top T and the tensioner, but that's just a short-term fix, you need to have the chain slack measured. Or measure it yourself.
 
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:35 PM
2cati
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Thanks.

So ideally the chain, guided and lower sprocket should be replaced however there is a possibility that just the tensioner and/or top guilds could resolve this.

I ordered a timing chain kit - hopefully when I take the valve cover off I’ll have a better idea of next steps.

 
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Old 06-16-2018, 05:42 AM
2cati
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Cody- Would you do me a favour and post the part number of your original tensioner?

Did the new new one have the same part number ?
 
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Old 06-18-2018, 11:49 AM
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The dealer confirmed that the correct tensioner for my N16 motor is the “551” tensioner.
 
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Old 06-18-2018, 03:56 PM
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Yes the 551 is the one in the kits, newest version. We have it labeled on our site.
 
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Old 06-19-2018, 11:28 AM
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Awesome.

My Febi kit arrived - new chain, guides and tensioner. Nice - made in Germany.

There was a Febi pamphlet stating all tensioners are tested before being shipped!!!

Im going to start with the easiest item first - swap out the tensioner. I know it’s low probability being the root cause but will start there.

 
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Old 06-19-2018, 11:29 AM
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You are welcome.
 
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Old 06-19-2018, 02:37 PM
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I’m trying to replace the tensioner and just preparing - ive disconnected the tubing and removed the air filter box to give me more room however it appears the intake or throttle body needs to be removed as well - does that make sense?

I don’t recall any of the videos I watched removing the throttle body or intake. Can someone confirm?

 
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Old 06-19-2018, 04:12 PM
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I have confirmed the throttle body needs to be removed. 3 t30 torx and a connector.

Ill pick up a new oring tomorrow but will proceed with swapping the tensioner.
 
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Old 06-19-2018, 04:59 PM
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Interesting development....

The tensioner in my car is 7597895 and is shorter than the new one in the ECS kit - the ECS kit one is 7607551.

Both are stamped IWIS Germany.

I asked the dealer what tensioner my car came with - the parts guy looked up the vin and gave me the “551” part number...I guess this is the latest.

The original tensioner is strong however it’s shorter. I didn’t feel as if it was pressing the guide rail as I was taking it out.

I also read read somewhere not to put in a “551” unless it’s with the complete new chain and guides.

Anyone have some guidance?
 
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Old 06-19-2018, 05:02 PM
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Old 06-19-2018, 05:57 PM
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ECS Tuning

this is for ECS Tuning personnel,
i ordered kit last month and dissappointed because you used FED Ex and they ended using USPS and took almost a month to get the kit. I kind of hesitant to order again unless you change shipping company, Fed Ex to my place been a pain in the butt and not reliable, as much as possible dont want to use them, id rather use USPS, but Amazon used UPS which i dont care because its Prime.
 

Last edited by drea-min; 06-19-2018 at 05:59 PM. Reason: Mispelled
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:48 PM
2cati
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I’ve noticed the old tensioner doesn’t move smoothly when compressed - it clicks as well.

It it certainly is not as strong as the new tensioner.

I decided to put the new tensioner in and I’ll seal it up when the valve cover gasket arrives.

im going to research this “7597895” tensioner. It has a “dimple” and it seems a bit shorter than the new “551”.

 
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Old 06-20-2018, 04:20 AM
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