Have you ever heard a rattling noise when starting your Mini Cooper? Here at Import MotorWorx, we’ve been maintaining and repairing Mini Coopers for over six years now. During this time we’ve noticed an increase in engine failures in the Mini Cooper S, model year 2007 thru 2011, using the N14 engine. There have been many discussions about this on the internet but none that directly deal with the issue as it relates to owning a Cooper S in the greater Los Angeles area.
The engine failures we see are due to a lack of oil which causes the timing chain tensioner to loose oil pressure, allowing the mechanical chain inside the engine to slash around. This causes the plastic guides that keep it in place to break which then ultimately allows the chain to jump one or two teeth on the camshaft gears, causing major engine damage – especially to the intake and exhaust valves in the cylinder head.
When purchased new, Mini USA provides free maintenance (oil changes) for your Mini for up to three years or 36,000 miles. These oil change intervals are controlled by a computer in your car known as C.B.S. (Condition Based Servicing). It is programmed to turn on the Service Due light somewhere around 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Remember when your Dad said “change the oil every 5,000 miles”. Well in the Cooper S this is still true. Which brings me to the fact that if you drive a Mini in Los Angeles, you’re intimately familiar with the traffic on LA freeways. The average speed in this great city of ours is around 22MPH – unlike other parts of the country which can be as high as 50MPH plus. When you do the math, it means that your poor little engine has to be running for 681 hours (or 28 days) nonstop, 24 hours a day before that light comes on. Your Mini Dealer will not complete that free oil service until that light comes on.
Going back to what your Dad said about a 5,000 mile oil change and living in LA, your engine will only run for 217 hours or 9 days. This is still a long period of time without checking the oil level. Even when you do check the oil, a Mini can be difficult to accurately assess as the dipstick is very hard to read. For that reason here at Import MotorWorx, we extend to all our customers a free oil level check along with a free top up when required. Just come by any time we’re open Monday through Friday, 7:30am to 5:30pm.
Keeping your engine full of oil will inevitably keep your timing chain intact – and you a happy camper. Look at it this way, oil is for a car like water is for humans.
Some of the less fortunate out there may already have a rattling noise starting to occur. One way you can tell if your Mini Cooper’s timing chain is about to come loose is if you hear a rattling noise when start the car. In idle it will sound like a clanging rattle, but running your engine up to around 1,800 RPMs or more will make the noise go away. This noise is definitely more prominent in colder weather. The very second you hear this noise, take it in for service immediately. The last thing you want to do is replace your car’s engine because of such a little problem. What’s worse is that it’s not only the engine that is susceptible to damage. Anything from a blown turbo to broken gaskets are prone to happen when this chain goes out. So rather than spending a bunch of money on fixing your car when it’s broken, if you drive your Mini in heavy traffic, change your oil every 5,000 miles or less to be on the safe side.
Moral of the Story
Remember, oil is much cheaper than a new engine! All in all, do not let this whole timing chain issue discourage you from enjoying such a fun vehicle as your Mini. All it takes is some proper care and maintenance, and you can drive your little rocket with confidence.
Have your oil level checked for free and check out our other services at importmotorworx.com/services/