Needle-nose pliers, small screwdriver, 10mm wrench
R50 MINI Cooper (2002-06) R53 MINI Cooper S (2002-06) R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08) R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08)
Don’t touch the glass parts of the bulbs.
Install a set of tinted or smoked lenses
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:
Sooner or later, one or more of the light bulbs in the MINI will burn out and need replacement. The good news is that replacing the bulbs is one of the easiest jobs to perform on your car.
For the rear taillights, the owner's manual is a bit vague about the replacement procedure. The way it is worded, one is left to assume that you can replace the bulbs by simply removing the bulb holder from the back of the tail light assembly. I tried this, only to have virtually no room to remove the bulbs.
The easiest method of replacing the taillight bulbs is to remove the taillight assembly from the car. The taillight is held in by a 10mm nut and two clips on the other side of the housing.
To begin, remove the plastic panels mounted on either side of the trunk. Press down on both tabs of each panel and pull it off (See Figure 1). Inside, you have just enough room to see the bulb holder on the back of the taillight assembly and a 10mm nut on a stud (See Figure 2).
This is one of those instances where a ratcheting wrench comes in very handy. I've been using Gearwrenches for nearly a decade and highly recommend them. It's well worth the additional cost of a regular wrench set. Once the nut is removed, carefully pry the taillight assembly out of the body (See Figure 3). Once removed, disconnect the electrical harness from the bulb holder and press down on the black plastic tab that secures the bulb holder to the taillight assembly (See Figure 4 and Figure 5). At this point, you can simply pull the bulb holder out to replace the bulbs (See Figure 6).
It's interesting to note that in the owner's manual of our MINI provides no instruction for removing both the front fog lamp bulbs and the side marker bulbs. All it says is “Please contact a MINI Dealer in case of a malfunction”. To replace both of these bulbs, you simply have to remove the front wheel liners. Removing the front wheel liners is something that would have made an excellent addition to the owner's manual. Removing them with the wheels on is possible. However, the rivets that hold them in are more easily accessible with the wheel removed (See Figure 7).
Once removed, you’ll see the backside of the fog lamps and the bulb holders. Just turn the bulb holder to remove it from the lamp. Then just pull the bulb out of the holder and replace it (See Figure 8). You will also have access to the side marker lamps with the liner removed. Just twist the bulb holder to remove it from the lamp (See Figure 9).
Replacing the bulbs for the front turn signals and parking lights is pretty straight forward. Once you open the hood, you’ll see two access holes right behind the front bumper. Simply reach in and twist the holders to remove these bulbs (See Figure 10).
To replace the side turn signal bulbs, push the lamp towards the rear and angle it out (See Figure 11). Once out, turn the bulb holder to release the lamp and change the bulb inside (See Figure 12).
For the headlights, open the hood and locate the covers that fit over the headlight housing. If your car has Xenon headlights, you simply turn the connector counter-clockwise to release it from the bulb. Once removed, release the metal clips holding the bulb inside the housing. There is a slight difference in the mounting of the bulb in cars from 07/2004 on. Once you remove the Xenon connector, the bulb is held in place with a retaining ring rather than metal clips (See Figure 13 and Figure 14 ).
For all other headlight bulbs, you just have to pivot the bulb out of the housing as shown in Figure 15. Use the side of the bulb opposite of the locating tab as the fulcrum point. It should pop out with just a little pressure. Once out, remove the electrical connector. Now pop the new bulb into the headlamp assembly and put the connector back on.
Press down on the two tabs (green arrows) to remove the access covers on both sides of the trunk compartment.
With the access cover removed, you can just barely see the bulb holder inside (purple arrow). The easiest way to change the bulbs is to remove the whole taillight assembly. This is done by first removing the 10mm nut seen here (green arrow).
The factory owner's manual on our car says to contact your local MINI dealer if the side marker or fog lamp bulbs burn out. All that is required to replace them is to remove the wheel liners. Shown here are all of the rivets holding the liner to the car (green arrows).
On cars with Xenon headlamps, pull the two rubber covers off the back of the headlamp assembly. Underneath, you will find the Xenon low beam bulb (green arrow) and the halogen high beam bulb (purple arrow).
To remove the Xenon bulb, first turn the connector counterclockwise. Then press the two ends of the metal retaining clip together as shown here (green arrows). Maneuver the clip off the bulb and remove it. It's important to remember not to touch the bulb when installing the new one. The oils in your finger can damage the bulb while you install it. Only grab it from the back of the bulb. On cars from July of 2004 on, the retainer is a little different. On these cars, the metal clip is replaced with a retaining ring that locks the bulb in place.
Comments: Also could you please guide me on what bulbs I have to buy to get them all blue h7,h1,h11 I'm seeing loads around and I don't know which ones I need. My Wife is a Copper S 200353
February 21, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right bulbs. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello Nick. I must say such a fantastic article you have here. I have a few questions to ask. Mini Cooper S 53 plate
The are two small circle lights on each side of the front bumper, can you explain which are which..?
Are all the bulbs H7..? Just I want all my lights to be blue other than my indicators. I know one set at the front are fog lights but what are the other one and are they the same bulbs. Thanks
February 21, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think you are referring to the fog light bulbs. In the US that is an H11 55 watt bulb. To be sure, give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right bulb. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: How do you know the computer from a mini is not functioning properly?
February 16, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is not operating as it should. For example, erroneous actuations or fault codes. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 2003 mini cooper. The turning signals doesn't flash from back and front side, neither in the meter. What could be the cause?
February 7, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: This could be a fault with the turn signal switch, the hazard switch or the BUS system. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi I have a Mini Cooper 2005 base model and want to replace the tail lights with aftermarket one's, my Q. Does the tail lights on the cooper S have any difference than the ones on the cooper 2005 base model ?
February 5, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I do not believe there is a difference on the tail lights during the same model year. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Just replaced the rear brake bulb in my 2006 convertible. Bit of a fiddle but just followed the same instructions as above. The only way to get access to the internal nut is through a small panel that you remove. It's about 12cm by 6cm but gives you just enough space to get a 10mm wrench to the nut. Thanks to Pelican for the very clear notes though. Will be back! You can do it Mindy.
January 26, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 2006 convertible Mini Cooper and the rear passenger brake light went out. I've seen "How to" vidoes on replacing brake lights for hardtops but not convertibles. Can you help me? I'm determined to do this myself as BMW wants to charge me $70.
January 22, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: See this comment from Mart:
Just replaced the rear brake bulb in my 2006 convertible. Bit of a fiddle but just followed the same instructions as above. The only way to get access to the internal nut is through a small panel that you remove. It's about 12cm by 6cm but gives you just enough space to get a 10mm wrench to the nut. Thanks to Pelican for the very clear notes though. Will be back! You can do it Mindy.- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, great article on bulbs and the best photos.
I have an 02 plate R53 in the uk.
I have a nearside xenon dip beam intermittently going out. If I change the bulb first, is it a sensible precaution to remove the negative lead off the battery
given the voltage, also can the ballast be tested on or off the car.
Hope you can help me. Many thanks.
December 7, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: For liability reasons, disconnecting the battery when changing electrical components is nearly always recommended by the car manufacturer. A shop with specialized electrical testing equipment might be able to test the ballast by itself, but such a shop probably odes not exist! - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: We have an 09 mini clubman. The driver's side parking lamp is out. What are the steps to replace the light bulb? If you have photo that will help a lot.
October 21, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have a photo to share. However, there is a round access panel inside your wheel well. Remove this access cover by rotating it counterclockwise. Once removed you can remove the socket and replace the bulb.- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Inside my headlight the indicator is bright orange is it legal to spray this black? Plus thinking of spraying some of the silver inside the head light will this affect the brightness upgraded lights to hid Cheers chris
October 21, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You are not allowed to change the lighting that way, at least that is how I understand it. Here is some info from the SEMA site which is very helpful.
Is “DOT-approved” a legal term? No, NHTSA has no authority to "approve" or "disapprove" vehicle equipment. The equipment is self-certified. Sometimes the term is confused with the DOT symbol, which is required to be placed by the manufacturer on certain items of equipment such as headlamps. This is simply an affirmative statement by the manufacturer that the equipment is compliant with an applicable NHTSA rule. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi there , I have a mini cooper R56 , Year 2007 hatchback automatic , I just got my mini back from the panel beaters spray painters , In the repairs to my mini they put a hole left hand side driving light , at night time it is pointing down to the ground on both hi, low beam . How is the best way to align the light up please .
September 15, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a Phillips head screw above the fog light. This is the adjustment screw. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Great article about brake light bulb replacement! I spent a lot of time trying to get the bulb holder back in before I found your article. I was done in a snap once I removed the whole assembly. One note: since the bulb holder was out, it was very easy for me to squeeze the two clips in Figure 3 from the inside and to remove the whole assembly. Once it was all back in place, I could still reach the top clip from the inside, but not the bottom. Regardless, once I pried those clips the assembly slid right out after removing the 10mm nut. Thanks again.
September 4, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 2005 Mini Cooper Convertible R52 engine. What do they mean when the front brake lights are out? And where is it located? Can you help me with step by step directions?
July 23, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are no front brake lights. Maybe fog lights? Now sure I follow what you're saying. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Sorry to have sent you the same question twice I didnt think it went through. the outer lense on my car is starting to look a bit shabby and even though it has been very lightly cut and polished it is still not back to new and I wondered if it was better to just replace them if the price is right, or is it an expensive operation?
June 20, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Cost is relative. I would price out the reapir, then decide if it is worth it to you. Keep in mind, eventually the lenses may be so bad you will have to replace them. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi there is it possible to replace the front outer lense on the mini cooper S r53?
June 19, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, the lens covers are not available as separate parts. You have to replace the headlight assembly. Give out parts specialists a call, they will help you find the right part. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello there, is it possible to replace the outer lense on the front lights or do you need to replace the whole assembly? on the mini r53with zenon lights?
June 19, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, the lens covers are not available as separate parts. You have to replace the headlight assembly. Give out parts specialists a call, they will help you find the right part. - Nick at Pelican Parts - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: In figure 15, where is the harness going to in the lower left. I believe that is the parking lamp on my 03 xenon optioned R53 but I can't seem to get it out. The directional down in the bumper only has a single filament yellow bulb and doesn't serve as a parking lamp also.
October 10, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a parkinglam in the headlihgt. To remove the socket, twist it counterclockwise and pull straightout of headlight. - 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-)