2 ton jack, jack stands, , engine oil drain plug, oil filter kit, 36mm & 13mm socket and driver
R50 MINI Cooper (2002-06) R53 MINI Cooper S (2002-06) R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08) R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08) R55/R56/R57 Cooper/Cooper S (2007-12)
Oil filter kit, 4-6 Quarts of Motor Oil
Make sure that you have a big enough bucket
Prolonged engine life and reliability
Install synthetic oil
This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Pelican Parts' new book, How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI The book contains 240 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 500+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any MINI owner's collection. The book is due to be released in late 2012. See The Official Book Website for more details.
Check out some other sample projects from the book:
One of the most common tasks to perform is replacing your engine oil. Frequent oil changes are perhaps the most important procedure you can do to maintain and prolong the life of your engine. With the better oils that are available today, the requirement for frequent changes is diminishing. Even though MINI recommends oil change intervals that are much farther apart than in the past, I usually recommend that you keep the changes under the 5,000-mile limit. If you don’t drive your car too often, you should change the oil at least once a year to keep things fresh.
The first thing you need to do is to make sure that you have everything that is required for the job. Nothing is more frustrating than emptying your oil, only to find out that you don’t have a replacement filter or enough oil. You will need an oil filter kit, (See Figure 1) a 13mm socket, a 36mm socket, a new drain plug, a roll of paper towels, a very large oil pan or bucket, and 5 quarts of oil. Start by driving the car around, and let it heat up to operating temperature. You’ll want to empty your oil when it’s hot, because the heat makes the oil flow a lot easier, and more particles of metal and dirt will come out when the oil is emptied.
Once you get the car parked, place the oil pan bucket underneath the engine. At the bottom of the engine sump there is a 13mm plug that is used for draining the oil from the engine. Remove this plug carefully, and make sure you have a very large oil pan: at least a 7-quart capacity - under it, with a drip pan underneath in case you underestimate. The oil will be very hot, and will empty out extremely quickly, so be careful not to burn yourself (wear rubber gloves). (See Figure 2 and Figure 3)There will be no time to grab any more buckets or oil pans if you underestimate, so make sure that the one you choose is big enough.
On the MINI, the oil filter is a cartridge-type filter, which is contained within a metal oil filter housing. The filter housing is located between the firewall and the rear of the engine on the passenger side. (See green arrow in Figure 4) There is a 36mm nut on the cap that is located on top of the housing. It’s a tight fit to get the socket on there. I recommend using a long breaker bar to reach the housing from the top. (See Figure 5) Remove the top slowly to allow the oil to drain back into the housing, and underneath you will see the cartridge filter. Simply remove it from the oil filter housing. Have plenty of paper towels on hand, as oil will spill from the filter if you're not careful. (See Figure 6)
When all of your oil has finished draining, take the new drain plug and screw it into the bottom of the sump. Torque the drain plug to 25 Nm (18 ft-lbs). The drain plug is designed to be used only once as it has a small rubber seal built into the plug itself. You can choose to re-use the old drain plug, but it may leak when you re-tighten it. The plug itself is cheap, so it’s added insurance against oil leaks.
It’s a good idea to clean out the inside of the oil filter housing before installing the new oil filter cartridge. This will be a bit difficult due to the location of the housing, but a few wadded paper towels should do the trick. Take the new filter cartridge and place it in the housing and press it down into place. (See Figure 7) Take note of the rubber seal on the top of the filter. This should be facing down when you install the filter. Push the filter down as far as it will go into the housing.
In your oil filter kit, you should have the oil filter cartridge as well as an large O-ring. Look at the cover for the oil filter housing. Below the threads, you will see the old o-ring in place. Remove the o-ring and clean the housing cover (both inside and out) thoroughly. (see Figure 8) Once clean, slip the new o-ring from the filter kit over the threads and into the groove on the filter cover. A light film of oil can help to slide the O-ring into place. Take the cover and screw it back down over the new filter cartridge. Take care to make sure the threads are lined up and it seats correctly.
Now it’s time to fill up your MINI with motor oil. A lot of people aren’t really sure what motor oil to use in their car. Traditionally, the characteristics of motor oil were linked closely to its weight. Heavier-weight oils protect well against heat; lighter-weight oils flow better in cold. In general, if you live in a cold climate, you should use a 10W-40 or similar oil. This oil is a 10-weight oil that behaves and protects against heat like a 40-weight oil. In warmer climates, you should use a 20W-50 oil. This oil doesn’t flow as well at the colder climates, but gives an extra “edge” on the hotter end. In our case, we chose Mobil1 0W-50 synthetic. This is Mobil’s recommended oil for use in the MINI Cooper.
The question of whether to use synthetic or traditional “dinosaur” oil often comes up among car buffs. Consumer Reports (July 1996) ran an extensive test on the two types of oil, altering amongst many different brands. The testers installed freshly rebuilt engines in 75 taxicabs, and then ran them through the harshest conditions on the streets of New York City. Placing different brands, weights, and formulations in the cars, they racked up 60,000 miles on the engines, tore them down, measured, and inspected the engine components for wear. The oil was changed at 3,000 miles in half of them, and the rest were changed at 6,000 miles. The results: regardless of brand, synthetic or dino, weight, and oil change interval, there were no discernable differences in engine component wear in any of the engines. Their conclusion? Motor oils and the additives blended into them have improved so much over the years that frequent oil changes and expensive synthetics are no longer necessary.
Still, some people swear by synthetic oil. In practice, I don't recommend using synthetic oil if you have an older car with old seals in the engine. There have been many documented cases in which the addition of synthetic oil has caused an otherwise dry car to start leaking. If you own an older car that doesn’t have fresh seals in the engine, I would stick to the non-synthetics. However, if synthetic oil was the only type of oil that your engine has seen, I usually recommend sticking with it.
Fill your engine with the new oil from the oil filler hole in the top of the valve cover. Add about 4 quarts to the engine, and check the dipstick. Continue to add about a half a quart at a time and keep checking the dipstick. Fill it up until it reaches the top mark of the dipstick - the engine oil level will automatically lower when the oil filter fills up with oil. Make sure that you put the oil filler cap back on the top of the valve cover, otherwise, you will end up with a messy engine compartment when you drive away. (see Figure 10)
Now, start up the engine with the hood open. The oil pressure light should stay on for about a second or two and then go out. Hop out of the car and look at the engine compartment, then take a quick look underneath the car. Verify that there's no volume of oil seeping out of the engine. Now, take the car out for a drive and bring it up to operating temperature. Shut the car off and then recheck the oil level (careful, the car will be hot). At this point, I like to top the oil off at the top point on the dipstick. Make sure that you dispose of your old oil at a respectable recycling station.
Finally, the MINI has an internal oil lamp reset lamp that needs to be reset when you perform your oil change. You can use a special tool to perform this reset, and the Peake Research R5 tool discussed in Project 28 also does the trick. There is also an easy way to reset the oil and inspection dashboard lamps. With the ignition off, press the trip reset button. Then turn the ignition switch to position 1 (ignition on, engine not running) Within 5 seconds, the odometer display will show the current Service Interval Display (SIA) status. These are the oil service and inspection lights.
Once you see these lights come up, release the trip reset button. Then press the reset button again and hold it for 5 seconds to change the lights to reset mode. The display will flash “RST” if performed correctly. Press the trip reset button again. The SIA status will be reset and will show the new status for 5 seconds.
On the later MINI cars, (R55/R56/R57), the oil change procedure is a little bit different. The oil drain plug is located on the bottom of the oil pan and uses a hex plug instead of a drain bolt on the side of the engine block (See Figure 11). Use a 8mm hex socket to loosen and remove the oil drain plug (See Figure 12). Let the oil drain out of the pan until it stops. Be sure to have a drain pan underneath to catch all the old oil (See Figure 13).
The oil filter housing on these cars is located at the front of the engine, just underneath the coolant expansion tank. The housing is oriented differently for Cooper (See Figure 14) and Cooper S (See Figure 15) models. Use a 27mm socket to loosen and remove the oil filter housing cover (See Figure 16). Now carefully remove the filter housing cover. The old filter element will be right inside the cover. Pull the old element out and place the new element in its place. Also remove the old filter housing O-ring (green arrow) and place the new O-ring from the filter kit in its place (See Figure 17). Now place the filter cover back on the housing, make sure the threads are lined up and it seats correctly.
Additionally, the oil service light reset procedure is a bit different. These cars use a computer system called Condition Based Service (CBS) which needs to be reset after changing the oil.
Get in the car and do not press the brake or clutch pedal. Now insert the key and press the start button to turn the car on, but do not start the car. Look at the tachometer and wait until the oil change service light goes out. Now press and hold both buttons on the tachometer.
The car will perform a dash light check. Keep holding the buttons. The car will then show the VIN/menu on the tachometer. Continue to hold the buttons until the time appears on the tachometer. Now release only the right hand button for approx. 1 second and press it again while still holding the left hand button. After another second or two, the display will show the front brake symbol. You are now in the service menu.
Use the BC button (on the turn signal stalk) to scroll through the various service symbols until you get to the oil service symbol. To reset the service light, press and hold the BC button until RESET appears. Now press and hold the button again until it resets.
The filter used on the MINI Cooper and Cooper S is a cartridge-style filter mounted inside a canister on the back of the engine. The oil filter kit shown here includes the filter and also a new O-ring for the filter housing cover.
Start out by letting the car warm up. This will heat up the oil and will let the oil drain out of the engine easier. Then, locate the SAE 1/2" drain plug on the bottom of the engine and carefully remove it. This is one of the rare occasions where you find a standard fitting on a metric car. Usually, it's the other way around.
Use a 36mm socket with a long breaker bar to reach the nut cast into the top of the filter housing. It may take some effort to get the housing cover loose. Remove the top slowly to allow the oil to drain back into the housing, and underneath you will see the cartridge filter.
Carefully pull the old filter out of the housing and examine it for metal particles or other debris. An old oil filter is a good way to determine the overall condition of the engine. It's a good idea to have plenty of paper towels on hand to clean up any oil that may have spilled out of the housing.
It’s a good idea to clean out the inside of the oil filter housing before installing the new oil filter cartridge. Take note of the rubber seal on the top of the filter. This should be facing down when you install the filter. Push the filter down as far as it will go into the housing (green arrow).
Fill your engine with the new oil from the oil filler hole in the top of the valve cover. Add about 4 quarts to the engine, and check the dipstick. Continue to add about a half a quart at a time and keep checking the dipstick. Fill it up until it reaches the top mark of the dipstick - the engine oil level will automatically lower when the oil filter fills up with oil.
Shown here is the oil filter housing cover with the old filter element inside. Pull the old element out and place the new element in its place. Also remove the old filter housing O-ring (green arrow) and place the new O-ring from the filter kit in its place.
Comments: Just bought a new-to-me '08 S convertible, love your site, as I am a devout DIYer, so thanks! One minor point from the OCD side of me - your figure 2 pic shows you using a 1/2" wrench instead of the 13 mm you specified. I know its only 0.3 mm difference, but when you say to do something in your article, I would expect you to be doing that in your pictures...
March 3, 2014
Comments: Thank you very much.I'll try your advice.Thanks again.Rui Vasconcelos.
February 23, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 2002 Cooper-s and my motor oil stick broke and til I got a new one I used a hanger metal to check my oil level.Since I did that I can't read the level anymore.The stick shows oil over the marks.I'm afraid I damaged something but don't know what.Can anyone help me with this problem?Thanks.
February 19, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Are you saying the new dipstick reads over-full? If so, drain the engine oil, add the specified amount, then recheck. It may have been overfilled. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Great site ! Very informative. I have saved many hundreds of $$ using the site instructions to complete routine maintenance tasks. Very reasonable prices too!!!
January 19, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I'm from the old school and it was difficult to move fom 3 k to 5K oil changes, but it makes sense with today's oils. Both of the owners manauals for my 2003 & 2009 hatchbacks recommend 5-30 W synthentic oil all year round. I'm in Northern NJ, hot summers & cold winters. Should I be using "seasonal weight" oil? If so what do you recommend?
November 24, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Nah, stick with the 5w/30 and you'll be fine. Just keep an eye on the oil level between oil changes. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: What's the Drain Plug torque spec. for a 2012 Cooper Hatchback not S Model?
October 10, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: R56 models are 30Nm (22 ft-lb). (M8 x 1.5 bolt) - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Is the Oil Drain Plug torque the same on the R55,R56,R57 engines? 25Nm, 18ft-lbs
October 9, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, R56 models are 30Nm (22 ft-lb). (M8 x 1.5 bolt) - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: when I start the car in cold produces a noise in the camshaft gear and comosi failure was lack of fuel, after reaching temperature stops but still fail to start at boot rpoduciendo noise
October 3, 2013
Comments: on 2002 mini cooper what is the recommended oil change intervals UNDER NORMAL CONDITIONS
September 26, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would suggest replacing your engine oil every 5000 miles. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Mine is a 2003 non-S model. Is it gonna be okay if I use the updated filter with internal plastic support if I accidentally lost the plastic cage and spring?
September 6, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You should be OK, as long as it has the updated filter. I think MINI n o longer sells your style filter housing lid, if you needed a replacement you would receive the aluminum style lid. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, Just to say thank you for an excellent site with some very useful articles - I am in the UK and have just bought a 2004 Mini Cooper which I want to maintain myself. Can do most things myself but never had any dealings with the Mini.
Thanks again, Alan
August 21, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Quick question I've been reading about r53 oil filter housings
Apparently older r53 might of had the plastic Cage and spring setup....
However I don't remember my 2003 r53 having that.
Do you have any insight on this ? It seems to apply to regular mini coopers, but I keep reading so many conflicting info for the mcs
August 18, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Models before 7/2004 had the metal housing with the plastic cage. Models after 7/2004 has the metal housing without the plastic cage. An updated filter was introduced with the later models, replacing the early filters without an internal plastic support. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I had the oil changed on my 2007 Mini Cooper convertible with the JCW package and the next day the passenger side motor mount began to leak.is there a possible connection between where changing the oil could cause the mount to leak?
August 15, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I canot imagine a connection ebtween the two. Likely just coincidence or it was leaking the whole time and was just noticed. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello. I am new to the world of Mimi's having just purchased my first one. I have a 2012 Mini Cooper s. it is a hatchback. I am planning to change my own oil. In doing so, I plan to use an oil recommended by mini. I have not found the part number for the oil filter that is needed. Could you provide it? For this car, the drain will be on the pan I believe. Do you normally change the drain plug or simply install a new copper crush washer? Any thoughts or information would be appreciated. Have a good day.
July 24, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right oil filter. You should replace the drain plug washer when changing the oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 09 Cooper and I personally see no reason to change oil every 5000 miles. I have been to several dealerships in Southern California none of them see any reason to do this unless you just prefer it. I'll trust the guys who have serviced thousands of Minis.
July 20, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: MINIs and many other vehicles tend to use engine oil. If you are not replacing your engine oil every 5000 miles, be sure to check it and top it up between oil changes. You do not want the engine to run low. This is the number one cause of timing chain and engine problems on late MINIs. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Is it normal to have your fan turn on after shutting car off? I know before I replaced the coolant reservoir it did, but now I changed my oil and I was wondering if that had anything to do with the fan turning on?
July 4, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The cooling fan could run after the engine is switched off, that is if the engine temperature is at a point that requires fan operation. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Just started to use castrol 5W 50 on my 04 MSC I tried to find the Mobile 1 0W 50 but no one around here had it. I have to say the engine is burning less then it did with the 0w 40 and is running great. Any idea were you can get that Mobil1 0 w 50
June 23, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right oil.- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I used the sight recommendations and it was a breeze. The 36 mm socket happened to be in my tool box and except for a cramped clearance to the fire wall from the torque wrench, it was a breeze. Thanks, Peter
May 29, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad it worked out. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: On my new-to-me '05 Cooper S the box where the DSC controller lives sticks out into the space between the engine and the firewall and the remaining hole is too small to bring the housing up and out after I've unscrewed it. I finally got it out by reaching up from under the car and snaking it out that way but I don't think that's normal. Do I have some kind of non-standard DSC box, or is there a trick to getting the housing out the top that I'm missing?
May 20, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Have you tried pushing the lines out of the way? Sometimes it is just plain easier to remove the oil filter housing from below. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: My tacho meter is different to the one in the pic, not to worry tho I've bought your reset tool. I changed my brake pads the other day using your tech article. It was awsome I was quite chuffed when I finished. Funny tho my drivers side brake didn't have a sensor. My mini is 2002 1600cc and in New Zealand. Is that normal?
April 6, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Usually the sensors are on the left front and right rear of your vehicle. is that what you had? - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Do I need a new draain plug on oil change on '07 R56 coupe? Do you have them on stock?
March 26, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would replace when you change your engine oil. Give our parts specialists a call, they will help you find the right drain plug. 1-888-280-7799 - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thanks so much for the informative article! I do have one little tip that could be useful. It may sound silly but it could prevent disaster. As soon as i park the car and take out the key, I put a little piece of masking tape over the key hole. That servers as an extra reminder not to start the car until you've refilled with oil and checked the level.
February 16, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Great idea. If I leave a vehicle without oil or fluid for an extended period, I leave not on the steering wheel reminding myself. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: We just purchased a new for us 09 S Convertible. I asked the salesman if there was a way to reset the oil light. He stated they had to connect a computer to the car and that there was special software. I was skeptical. Reading this site confirms I was correct. Thank you for providing the instructions.
January 18, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: odd, on here and all the forums my R53 2004 mini/s doesnt have a standard oil drain plug but instead an oil sending unit nut ? mine was built in 03 .
January 12, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Normally they are equipped with oil drain plugs. Can you share a photo? - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Why do you list the need for jack stands in the tools section. Does the oil drain better when the car is on an angle ?
July 16, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, it doesn't. But, the drain plug is pretty difficult to reach with the car on the ground. I typically raise it up when performing oil changes... - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: This sight is frickin great! Allows us diys'ers to preform what can cost up to 170.00 per hour . thats right, in west palm beach fl. our dealer charges 150.00 for an oil change on my 2009 cooper s. thank you ,thank you ,thankyou. CRL
June 5, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback, glad to help. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Check out some other sample projects from the book:
Applies to: R50 MINI Cooper (2002-06) - R53 MINI Cooper S (2002-06) - R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08) - R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08) - R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08) - R56 MINI Cooper (2007-) - R57 MINI Cooper Convertible (2007-)