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Spark Plug and Cable Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Spark Plug and Cable Replacement

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$70

Talent:

**

Tools:

Spark Plug Socket

Applicable Models:

R50 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2002-06)
R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08)
R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08)
R53 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2002-06)
R55 MINI Cooper Clubman Wagon (2008-14)
R55 MINI Cooper JCW Clubman Wagon (2009-14)
R55 MINI Cooper S Clubman Wagon (2008-14)
R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-13)
R56 MINI Cooper JCW Hatchback (2009-13)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-13)
R57 MINI Cooper Convertible (2009-15)
R57 MINI Cooper JCW Convertible (2009-15)
R57 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2009-15)

Parts Required:

Spark Plugs, Plug wires

Hot Tip:

Do not use anti-seize on the plugs when installing

Performance Gain:

Cleaner, better running engine

Complementary Modification:

Install new coil pack
How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI

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 2015. See The Official Book Website for more details.

One basic tune-up procedure for just about any car on the road is the replacement of your spark plugs and spark plug wires (where applicable). I recommend examining and/or replacing your spark plugs every 10,000 miles, or about once a year. In reality, you can probably go longer than that, (MINI recommends an interval of 100,000 miles) however, you never really quite know how long the plugs are going to last, or you may forget to do it if you don't setup a yearly schedule.

On the MINI, BMW has eliminated the use of a distributor by integrating a single spark plug coil that sits on top of the valve cover. While this configuration may be a bit more expensive than the old distributor type system, it makes the car's ignition system more reliable by removing components that constantly wear out and fail (distributor caps and rotors). It's a pretty cool setup, not commonly found on older cars. As manufacturing components has become increasingly inexpensive, ignition setups like these have become more common.

Begin by prepping the car. The only thing that you really need to do is to make sure that the car is cold. If you try to remove or install spark plugs in a hot car, then you may encounter problems with the spark plugs galling up or damaging the relatively delicate threads in the aluminum cylinder head. Make sure that the car is cold, or at the bare minimum, only slightly warm to the touch.

The first step is to remove the spark plug boots from the engine. (Figure 2). You need to remove each of these carefully, in order to gain access to the plugs. Using a screwdriver, Simply pry the boot from the surface of the valve cover all the way up and out of the engine. They are a bit longer then would appear when they are installed.

With the wires detached and placed slightly out of the way, you can now remove each of the spark plugs. You should be able to look down the hole and see the spark plug hiding in there.

Spark plug removal is easy - you just need the right spark plug wrench. I have one that I love - it's a spark plug socket with a rubber insert that catches the plug and also has a built-in swivel on the attachment end. These wrenches are readily available from the tools section of PelicanParts.com. This tool is especially useful when trying to remove plugs in hard-to-reach places.

Using a breaker bar, grip the plug and turn it counter-clockwise until it is loose. Then pull out your tool and grab the plug. When the plug comes out, you may want to take a close look at it. The spark plug is really the best way to visually âsee' what is going on inside your combustion chamber.

Install your new plugs using a torque wrench to measure the amount of torque applied to the plug. This is very important, as it is easy to over or under-tighten spark plugs. Make sure that the plug is firmly seated in your spark plug socket as it is very easy to insert the plug into the head and have it cross-thread. This means that the threads of the spark plug don't mesh properly with the ones in the head, instead choosing to "cut their own path." This damages the threads on the head, and in extreme cases, may destroy the threads in the cylinder head entirely. Trust me - you do not want this to happen. Proceed carefully and cautiously here.

Install each plug into the cylinder heads without using any anti-seize compound. Torque the spark plugs to 27 Nm (20 ft-lbs). I recently learned that one high-performance automotive manufacturer, Porsche, doesn't recommend using anti-seize compound on spark plugs for any of their engines. The bulletin applies retroactively to all models and the theory is that the anti-seize tends to act as an electrical insulator between the plug and the cylinder head. This could have detrimental effect on the firing of the spark due to the loss of a good, consistent ground connection. Keeping those findings in mind, I make the same recommendations for the MINI, don't use anti-seize compound on the spark plugs.

With the new plugs installed and tightened to the correct torque, you can replace the spark plug wires/boots. In the photos, you can see that replacing the wires/boots is pretty easy. You will want to keep an idea of which boot goes where. In the case of the MINI, you can see that both the valve cover and the coil pack have small numbers stamped into them to prevent you from mixing them up.

Take the boot and press it firmly down until you just barely feel a small "click". This "click" is the electrode inside the boot connecting to the spark plug. Also, make sure that the rubber gasket along the top of the boot seats firmly around the hole in the valve cover.

The top of the spark plug boots have a small groove molded into them to allow you to fold the wire down as you route the wire up to the coil pack. This allows the wires to be neatly mounted and helps to prevent wires from getting mis-matched. You will also want to replace the spark plug wires every 30,000 miles or if they look cracked or worn out.

The procedure for changing the spark plugs on the R55/R56/R57 cars is essentially the same, although the engine now features individual coil packs on the top of each spark plug. For the Cooper models, remove the two Torx screws on top of the valve cover and also the oil filler cap (See Figure 17). Now remove the upper valve cover. Directly underneath you will find each coil pack and the electrical connection going to each. Lift up the metal tab on each coil pack to release the electrical connector. (See Figure 20). Now pull the coil pack directly up. A screwdriver may help to provide leverage. The spark plug is directly underneath (See Figure 21). You'll need to use a special 12-point spark plug socket with a long extension to loosen and remove each plug (See Figure 22).The procedure for changing the plugs on the Cooper S is basically identical, the only difference being that the ignition coils are not covered (See Figure 23)

Once out, carefully thread the new plug into the cylinder by hand with the extension. Once you are sure you have threaded it correctly, attach the torque wrench and torque the plug down to 27Nm (20 ft/lbs.). Once torqued, pop the coil pack back over the plug and make sure it seats firmly down on the plug. Reconnect the electrical connection to each coil pack and refit the ignition cover on Cooper models.

New spark plugs and wires are an essential part of any tune up.
Figure 1

New spark plugs and wires are an essential part of any tune up. It's a good idea to inspect your plugs and wires every 30,000 miles. If the wires appear cracked or frayed, replace them.

Use a screwdriver to gently pry the spark plug boot up off the spark plug and out of the cylinder head (Green arrow)
Figure 2

Use a screwdriver to gently pry the spark plug boot up off the spark plug and out of the cylinder head (Green arrow)

Slide the spark plug boot up and out of the head.
Figure 3

Slide the spark plug boot up and out of the head. At this point, you can see how far down the spark plugs sit inside the cylinder head.

You'll need a long extension on the end of your ratchet in order to remove the old plugs.
Figure 4

You'll need a long extension on the end of your ratchet in order to remove the old plugs. Slide the extension all the way down until you feel the socket firmly grip the spark plug. The spark plugs should be tight in the cylinder head, but not overly difficult to remove with a little force.

This is what a normal used spark plug should look like after running for over 30,000 miles.
Figure 5

This is what a normal used spark plug should look like after running for over 30,000 miles. Note the condition of the electrode, a slightly tan, burnt appearance usually means that the engine is running normally.

This photo shows the markings on both the coil pack and also the OEM plug wires (green arrows).
Figure 6

This photo shows the markings on both the coil pack and also the OEM plug wires (green arrows). Each terminal is marked with its intended cylinder position, thereby making it much easier to know what wire goes to what plug.

Take the new spark plug and push it into the specialized spark plug socket.
Figure 7

Take the new spark plug and push it into the specialized spark plug socket. There is a small rubber retainer ring inside that will firmly grip the plug and prevent you from dropping it inside the cylinder head. Carefully thread the new spark plug into the cylinder head and torque it to 27Nm (20 ft/lbs.)

Each cylinder has its number cast into the valve cover to aid you in sorting out the wires (green arrow).
Figure 8

Each cylinder has its number cast into the valve cover to aid you in sorting out the wires (green arrow).

The new spark plug wires will have a plastic tab mounted around it to indicate which cylinder it goes to (green arrow).
Figure 9

The new spark plug wires will have a plastic tab mounted around it to indicate which cylinder it goes to (green arrow).

Make sure that each new wire fits on its respective terminal.
Figure 10

Make sure that each new wire fits on its respective terminal. In this case, the coil end of wire number one fits onto terminal 1 at the coil.

Slide the boot of the new spark plug wire down the hole and make sure it slides down over the spark plug.
Figure 11

Slide the boot of the new spark plug wire down the hole and make sure it slides down over the spark plug.

This is the point where the boot will just start to make connection with the spark plug.
Figure 12

This is the point where the boot will just start to make connection with the spark plug. You want the rubber insulator to sit flush with the valve cover. If any of the boots look like this, press them down before you continue.

The spark plug boot will make a tiny click as you push it down all the way over the plug.
Figure 13

The spark plug boot will make a tiny click as you push it down all the way over the plug. As such, the rubber insulator should sit flush against the valve cover as shown here.

Take the spark plug wire and fold it flat in the groove mounted on the side of the insulator.
Figure 14

Take the spark plug wire and fold it flat in the groove mounted on the side of the insulator. This will help to guide the wires and give it a clean, routed appearance.

Shown here are all the new wires mounted on both the coil pack and each cylinder.
Figure 15

Shown here are all the new wires mounted on both the coil pack and each cylinder.

(R50 Cooper) As shown here, changing the spark plugs is essentially the same procedure on the non-supercharged engines.
Figure 16

(R50 Cooper) As shown here, changing the spark plugs is essentially the same procedure on the non-supercharged engines. The only difference is that there is no supercharger in front of the spark plug tubes on the valve cover.

(Mk2 Cooper) Remove the two Torx screws (green arrows) and the oil filler cap (purple arrow).
Figure 17

(Mk2 Cooper) Remove the two Torx screws (green arrows) and the oil filler cap (purple arrow).

(Mk2 Cooper) Remove spark plug cover panel and flip metal tabs up (green arrows) to release electrical connection.
Figure 18

(Mk2 Cooper) Remove spark plug cover panel and flip metal tabs up (green arrows) to release electrical connection.

(Mk2 Cooper) Shown here is the electrical connection removed from the coil pack.
Figure 19

(Mk2 Cooper) Shown here is the electrical connection removed from the coil pack.

(Mk2 Cooper) Use a screwdriver to pry the coil pack up and off the spark plug.
Figure 20

(Mk2 Cooper) Use a screwdriver to pry the coil pack up and off the spark plug.

(Mk2 Cooper) Pull coil pack up and out of valve cover.
Figure 21

(Mk2 Cooper) Pull coil pack up and out of valve cover. Spark plug is below (green arrow).

(Mk2 Cooper) Use the special 12 point spark plug socket with long extension to remove plug from head.
Figure 22

(Mk2 Cooper) Use the special 12 point spark plug socket with long extension to remove plug from head.

(Cooper S) flip metal tab up (green arrow) to release electrical connection to coil pack.
Figure 23

(Cooper S) flip metal tab up (green arrow) to release electrical connection to coil pack. Then remove the plastic trim piece at the front of the valve cover and pull coil pack up and out of valve cover. Use a socket with long extension to remove plug from head.

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Comments and Suggestions:
e-dot Comments: My little R53, the daily, began sputtering at low RPMs and throwing codes along with the symptoms. Ive switched plugs, wires, coil pack, fuel injectorsand cleaned everything I can, and Im getting a strange code. The DSC will come on, then the SES pops on, followed by a P0302 code. A compression test shows a 150 average, +/- 5. Im at a loss. DME issues? Injector wiring? arghhhh. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
December 6, 2016
unluckiest Comments: Great guide, and a very easy job for a novice mechanic such as myself. That said, it does come with some risks. Started it earlier this evening but then I had one problem: the plug snapped, leaving the thread inside. What do I do? Will a fluted screw extractor do the job, or is a head off task? I'd rather avoid that if possible!
July 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The spark plug snapped off? if that is the case, you will need a specialized extractor to remove it. If the threads stay in, you will need to remove the cylinder head. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
stonekold Comments: First you only need 12-point spark plug socket 14mm or 9/16 only if its a beru/bosch plug all other use standard 5/8 socket. If you use iridium plugs they all come pre-gaped for optimal performance of the plug and does not require re-gaping per manufacture suggestion. After you hand tighten with the ratchet you need to only turn a half a turn to tighten to required torque.
June 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Squibbs Comments: I have a R50 and there is a popping sound on idling coming from plug chamber. Any one know why.
June 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Spark plug is loose or the coil boot is allowing voltage to leak. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Charlie Comments: I have a 2012 Cooper S. My cover doesn't have the 2 torx screws like the one in your pics. I don't see any visible screws or bolts. How do I remove the cover to so that I can get to the spark plugs?
June 18, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your vehicle should have the same cover as the steps denoted for MKII. Can you share a photo? I may be bale to offer advice. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
nelsonm1 Comments: 2011 Countryman - what size socket for original OEM spark plugs?
February 16, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Standard spark plug 5/8 should work. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jugarte Comments: hello what is the torque for a R56 N14 JCW engine?
January 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don’t have that info.



I would grab a repair manual. It will have it.
Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Matt Comments: Great instructions. I have a 2008 Mini Cooper base that had poor idol for months, rough to start sometimes stalling out right after starting and stalling out when stopping in traffic. Accelerating was also difficult, where if I would hit the gas too quickly it would hesitate and sputter and stall out if I kept my foot on the gas to accelerate more quickly. I went too long without fixing it, now my car won't start. The engine tries very hard to turn over, as if it's just about there, rumbling, then it stalls. I originally thought this was an engine solenoid issue, as the exact same thing happened before and replacing the solenoids fixed it, so I replaced them again and the car still isn't starting. It's throwing an engine fault code P0304, cyl 4 misfire. Switching the coils doesn't change the fault code. Could this still be a ignition coil/spark plug issue, or something else?
November 23, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a bad cylinder. I would check spark, fuel and compression on all cylinders. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jet Comments: Does changing the ignition coil and spark plugs a labor intensive job?
September 3, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could take a little over an hour. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
2010 Mini Gal Comments: Hi
I have a 2010 Mini Hardtop, my engine looks like the MK2 on the manual pictures. Just to double check...Would my 2010 need that special 12 point socket?
August 15, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jtshadetree Comments: Another job made easy and affordable with great parts, tools, advice and photos. Thank you very much Pelican!
May 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Doug Comments: Can you tell me the torque amount for a 2005 Mini Cooper s coil bolt. Thank you
April 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 12 Nm - Nick at Pelican Parts  
htexans Comments: Hi. A lady reader here. Thanks for the great instructions. I like to do the work on my car if it's something simple ie. brake pads, oil change, spark plugs.... I'll just say that the only major problem I had was finding the 14mm, 12point spark plug socket without ordering it. Oh boy! Not a good experience at all. Finally found one from a place I never even knew existed, with the help of a customer at a local auto parts store. You talked about the special socket needed, but they are not readily available at your local stores. Unfortunately, my problem was not solved. Still have misfire codes, 300, 301, 302, 304. Recently I drove through a large puddle of water which I didn't realize had so much water. It hit under my 2011 mini cooper with a lot of force. I was stunned because my 12v charger sparked as I went through the water. Later I realized a penny had falled in there. Anyhow, my poor mini remains sick sputtering, flashing to not flashing yellow check engine light upon first starting out, decreased power, low idle in neutral, rough ride throughout entire ride. My ex-warranty expired about 30 miles ago. So trying to do as much research as I can, as to not be taken advantage of if I'm not able to fix it myself and have to take it in to be repaired. Any opinions, advice, suggestions, or comments? A little history: had work done in Oct, a misfire on #3 was dianosed at that time, ignition coil was replaced.
January 7, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: To isolate the misfire, I would check spark, fuel and compression on all cylinders. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dr_Romulus Comments: Is the book available yet???
January 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The MINI book? Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can answer that better than me. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Steve Comments: You say 20 ft-lbs of torque for the spark plugs but the box itself says 17 ft-lbs. Which would you go with?
December 18, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What is the year, vehicle and engine? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
SteveP Comments: Just completed replacing spark plugs, cables, and coil. Great instructions as always. A really quick job and worth the effort. A few learnings 1 If the spark plugs are a good way of seeing what's going on in the combustion chamber, mine have been pigging out on burgers and fries! I am sure that they have never been replaced I have 70k KM on the clock. See picture. 2 The coil that I got with the kit cannot reuse the screws from the stick coil. The stock coil screws have metal sleeves on the screw itself. The coil I have has the sleeve embedded into the coil itself. I had to go and find some replacement screws and washers. All up. super simple job and the MCS run heaps more smoothly than before. Thanks Pelican!
November 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Be careful when using aftermarket screws on the coils, if too long the valve cover can be damaged.

Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Tygre Comments: What kinds of trouble codes are related to the engine mis fire? P030, P0304? I had the engine light come on and took it to scan at O Riley's and the codes they gave me was a generic P0300. I ended up taking it to a auto shop because I didn't know how to trouble shoot.
September 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: P0330 is a random misfire. That is a misfire that cannot be pinned to one cylinder. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Don Comments: 2012 mini what size spark plug socket? to remove spark plugs. Thanks
July 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 5/8" spark plug socket. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
awestone Comments: great article and so easy to follow the instructions. I will be ordering parts shortly. THANKS
March 28, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Pcow Comments: Hi _ I have a 08 R56 non-turbo, not an S that i recently replaced coil on. I lost the two screws that secure the Spark plug/coil cover as seen in Figure 17. Can you tell me where i can find replacements, or what size those might be?
Thanks
February 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Vincent Comments: is the di-electric grease necessary at all?
September 26, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I like to use a small amount on the end of the spark plug boot. this allows the plug wire to be removed easier later. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mchute Comments: Very good. Like your content the best....
August 13, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
atraain Comments: i have heard of applying some di-electric grease on the plugs and cables? is this the same as "anti-seize"?
May 29, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Anti-seize is used on the spark plug thread, a small amount. The same goes for di-electric grease, a small amount is used onthe spark plug boot to stop the boot from seizing on the spark plug.

They are two different items that need to be applied.- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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