R50 MINI Cooper (2002-06) R53 MINI Cooper S (2002-06) R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08) R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08)
new gaskets and grommets
take your time
car may run better as you have eliminated vacuum leaks
change spark plugs.
This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Pelican Parts'
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 expected to be released in 2015. See The Official Book Website
for more details.
Check out some other sample projects
from the book:
Over time, the grommets that seal the spark plug tubes to the valve cover can harden up due to heat and oil penetration. This can result in oil leaking into the spark plug tubes and also idle problems with the fuel injection due to vacuum leaks. Eventually, oil filling up in the spark plug tubes can reduce performance or even cause the plugs to stop firing. If you go to change your spark plugs and there is oil all over the plugs, the seals are leaking and must be replaced.
Begin by disconnecting the battery. This is just a cautionary measure to prevent any errant short circuits by touching something by mistake. We will be working around various fuel injection components. Keep in mind that this article is written using a non-supercharged Cooper. For those of you with a MINI Cooper S, you will first need to remove the intercooler and also the fuel rail. Please refer to our articles on water pump replacement for the Cooper S for more information.
On the Cooper models, begin by pulling back the two plastic tabs holding the fuel rail cover to the front of the engine and carefully prying it off. Now remove the ground strap from the passenger side engine mount (not necessary on Cooper S models). You’ll need to remove the ground strap in order to slide the fuel tank vent valve off its mounting bracket. Squeeze the tabs on both the upper and lower hose connections to the valve to release them from the valve. Once removed, press the lock tab on the side of the mounting bracket and slide the fuel tank vent valve off the bracket. Disconnect the electrical connection on the valve and set the valve aside.
Next, follow the plastic hose up to the plastic clip that secures them to the valve cover. Pull the hoses out of the plastic clip along with the larger diameter hose to the right. Once out, pull the plastic clip up and off of the mounting stud. Directly below the clip, you’ll see another clip holding the wiring for the cam position sensor. Carefully pull the plastic clip up and over the mounting stud.
Now unbolt the 8mm screw holding the PCV valve to the valve cover on the left side. Once loose, pull the PCV valve out of the valve cover. Now unbolt the ignition coil from the valve cover. This is held in place with four 10mm bolts. Also pull each spark plug boot out of the cylinder head. You don’t need to remove the electrical connection to the coil, you can just lay the coil off to the front of the engine.
Locate the two plastic tabs that secure the fuel rail electrical harness to the fuel rail. Pull these tabs back slightly and pull the harness up and over the retaining lugs. You’ll need to position it towards the front in order to access the valve cover mounting bolts underneath. Now loosen and remove all of the bolts holding the valve cover to the cylinder head. There are a total of twelve 8mm bolts holding the valve cover to the head. Four of these bolts incorporate a stud type design. Make a note of the position of these bolts. Once removed, pull the valve cover up and off the cylinder head. Peel the old valve cover gasket off the bottom of the valve cover.
You’ll need to remove the old spark plug grommets from the valve cover. I found that you can hammer a screwdriver against one edge of the old grommet to crush it inward. Be very careful when doing this, as you don’t want to damage the sealing surfaces of the valve cover. Once all of the grommets are out, press the new grommets. You should be able to press them in by hand, however if it is difficult, you can use a 36mm socket to GENTLY tap them into place. Keep in mind that the valve cover is plastic. You don’t want to risk cracking it or worse. Once the grommets are all in place, fit the new valve cover gasket to the bottom of the valve cover, making sure that the sealing edge fits into the groove on the bottom of the cover. Now just put the cover back on, making sure that the grommets seal against the spark plug tubes.
Here’s a shot of the spark plugs as I pulled them out of the engine, covered in oil. This is caused by leaking grommets at the top of the spark plug tubes. Over time, this can cause the plugs to foul out and not work as well.
Remove the 13mm nut holding the ground strap to the engine mount (green arrow) and move the ground strap out of the way of the fuel tank vent valve. Next, squeeze both connections on both the top and bottom connectors to the fuel tank vent valve (purple arrows). Lastly, press the tab on the mounting bracket (yellow arrow) and slide the fuel tank vent off the mounting bracket.
Follow the hose from the fuel tank vent valve back up to the plastic clip securing them to the valve cover. Pull the hoses out of the clip (green arrows), including the larger vacuum hose (purple arrow) to the right.
Once the hoses have been removed from the plastic clip (purple arrow). Pull the clip up and off of the mounting stud. This stud also acts as one of the bolts that secures the valve cover to the cylinder head. Also unbolt the 8mm screw that holds the PCV valve in the valve cover (green arrow). Once removed, pull the PCV valve out.
If you haven’t already, remove each spark plug boot from the valve cover as well as the ignition coil. Remove the four 10mm bolts that secure the coil to the top of the valve cover (green arrows). You don’t need to remove the electrical connection to the coil, you can just lay the coil off to the front of the engine.
Carefully pull back on the two plastic tabs (green arrows) to release the fuel rail electrical harness from the mounting brackets. You’ll need to pull this up slightly and pull it forward in order to reach the front mounting bolts for the valve cover.
Now loosen and remove all of the bolts holding the valve cover to the cylinder head. ThisPicture shows the relative positions of all the bolts. The green arrows point to regular 8mm bolt heads while the purple arrows point to the longer, stud style bolts. You’ll need a deep 8mm socket for these bolts. Be sure to pull each bolt completely out of the valve cover before trying to remove the cover itself.
this picture, you can see the old spark plug grommets still in place on the valve cover. The green arrow points to the edge that has expanded over time, no longer sealing against the spark plug tube. This causes the oil leak and also an odd idle problem due to the vacuum leak.
Comments: In step #7 I found it easier to remove the two bolts that secure the fuel rail underneath the two green arrows in the photo as this seems to allow more room for access to the valve cover bolts and also to allow the valve cover to be lifted off.
November 16, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Wouldn't a polymer valve cover gasket instead of a rubber one provide more lifespan? Where can I find one?
July 2, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Head gaskets are metal with a rubber coating. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Wouldn't a polymer head gasket seal instead of a rubber one provide more lifespan? Where can I find one?
June 30, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Head gaskets are metal with a rubber coating. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: When changing the oil pan gasket on a 2003 Mini Cooper S, do you need to use RTV? Also, is there caution to be taken when changing the oil filter housing and oil heat exchanger gaskets, since the housing mixes with water?
February 26, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a gasket for the oil pan. Use proper torque and replace any single use fasteners. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right parts.- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a r57 and was wondering if there was a sequence to which bolt get tightened up first when reinstalling the cover gasket? Also do we need to apply rtv silicone gasket sealant to make sure of a proper seal?
July 30, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The gasket should provide sufficient sealing. Theonly time you want to use RTV is if there is two metal surfaces being joined, oil may leak out of the mating surface. An example would be an engine with a timing chain cover that bolts to the cylinder head. The area the valve cover gasket overlaps where the two join will need RTV.
Tighten the fasteners in a criss-cross pattern. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Instead of using a screwdriver in step 14 to remove the tube seal / grommet, use a pair of visegrips. Use a pair to grab the inside edge of the seal and lever them out. The seal is coated metal so if you can get a good grip, they can be pulled out. Easier than the screwdriver I tried and less likely to stab yourself.
March 17, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Needle nose pliers work well also. Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi guys,
I have an engine misfire code- checked the coil pack burt out end - changed it out for a new one - yey, new coil pack, new rocker cover this link rcks for helping out wih how to do that and charged up battery- new spark plugs ! 2 as running the engine light came off - sweet 2 days later back on again - any ideas ? should I be getting new leads or lokking fora ne fuel pump.... or something else? Thanks
July 18, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You have to isolate which cylinder is misfiring and when the misfire occurs. It could be a vacuum leak at idle (if misfiring at idle, a fuel delivery problem (ie fuel injector) or an engine mechanical problem.- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: What are the torque specs when re-tightening the valve cover bolts?
June 7, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The valve cover to cylinder head bolts torque: 12 Nm (9 ft-lb) - 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-)