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Pelican Technical Article:

Clutch Replacing

Nick Czerula

Time:

9 hours9 hrs

Tab:

$600

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Socket set, transmission jack, complete tool set

Applicable Models:

R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-13)
R56 MINI Cooper JCW Hatchback (2009-13)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-13)

Parts Required:

Clutch kit, transmission bolts

Hot Tip:

Set aside a day and read procedure through before beginning

Performance Gain:

New clutch

Complementary Modification:

Replace clutch master and slave

The traditional automotive clutch is a device that is used in a vehicle drivetrain with manual (standard) transmission. The driver uses the clutch to disengage engine power from the transmission so that a different gear can be engaged without transmission teeth gnashing or damage. Engaging the clutch smoothly then allows engine torque to reach the transmission and the driving wheels, thus driving the vehicle forward or backward.

The clutch resides in a flared housing (the bellhousing) that forms the seam between engine and transmission. The clutch pressure plate is bolted to the engine flywheel. The clutch disc is securely sandwiched between the flywheel and the pressure plate. With the clutch engaged, all three components rotate at engine speed. The transmission's splined input shaft fits in a similarly splined coupling at the center of the clutch disk. With the clutch engaged, the transmission input shaft also rotates at the same speed as the engine.

The clutch pressure plate consists of a set of springs which ordinarily press against the clutch disc and lock it to the flywheel. There are spring release levers attached to a release disc on the pressure plate. Pressing on the release disc lifts spring pressure off the clutch disc so that it can spin freely.

To allow transmission gears to slide so that a different gear ratio can be used, the driver presses on the clutch pedal. Through the use of a cable or hydraulics, clutch pedal movement translates to pressure on the release bearing which presses on the pressure plate release disc. The pressure plate disengages from the clutch disc, allowing the disc and transmission input shaft to spin free of the engine. Once the driver has changed gears, releasing the clutch pedal allows the pressure plate to reengage the clutch disc and once again transmit engine torque to the transmission.

The springs and levers in a traditional clutch pressure plate are generally designed so that the point that the driver feels engagement or disengagement of the clutch is roughly half-way through the movement range of the clutch pedal. However, as the clutch disc, usually made of a fibrous friction material such as asbestos, wears and becomes thinner, the point of clutch engagement moves up (toward the driver) in the range of clutch pedal movement. Eventually, of course, if the clutch disc becomes so thin as to no longer contact the pressure plate, there is no engagement and the clutch slips completely.

The MINI R56 clutch is activated using hydraulics. The clutch hydraulic components consist of a master cylinder at the clutch pedal and a slave cylinder at the transmission bellhousing. Fluid from the brake fluid reservoir is shared with the clutch system. Depressing the clutch pedal forces fluid in the clutch master cylinder to travel through the fluid line to the clutch slave cylinder. This activates the clutch release lever, forcing the clutch release bearing against the clutch pressure plate to disengage the clutch.

Keep in mind the following:

  • If brake fluid is lost for any reason and the level in the brake fluid reservoir drops below the level of the clutch master cylinder shunt hose, clutch hydraulic failure may follow.
  • Clutch hydraulic failure causes a softness in the clutch pedal. The lack of resistance means that the clutch is not becoming fully disengaged when the pedal is depressed to the floor. As a result, gear shifting becomes difficult; the transmission gears clash and grind during shifts. Damage to transmission synchronizers and gears will result.
  • If experiencing grinding gears and difficult shifting:
    • Check brake fluid reservoir level. Top off if necessary.
    • Check clutch fluid lines for leakage. Repair as necessary.
    • Check clutch master cylinder for leakage. Replace if necessary.
    • Check clutch slave cylinder for leakage. Replace if necessary.
    • Bleed clutch system.
  • Faulty transmission of power to the wheel is caused by a worn out clutch. If the engine revs up without a corresponding increase in vehicle speed, clutch mechanical components are at fault.
  • Grinding gears when shifting, or difficult shifting up or down the gears, is caused by a failure in clutch hydraulics.

Have a new clutch kit and new clutch bolts on hand before beginning. Read through procedure to be sure you have all the tools required and the job is not beyond your skill set.

Jack up your vehicle and support using jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

The procedure described here applies primarily to the Cooper S, but clutch replacement on Cooper models is very similar.

Disconnect the battery negative cable and wrap the terminal with tape to prevent accidental reconnection.

Drain the cooling system. See our tech article on cooling system draining and filling.

Working at the crankcase breather heating element, release the tab (red arrow) and disconnect the electrical connector.
Figure 1

Working at the crankcase breather heating element, release the tab (red arrow) and disconnect the electrical connector.

Then lift up to detach the hose lock (red arrows) at the valve cover.
Figure 2

Then lift up to detach the hose lock (red arrows) at the valve cover.

Remove the hose from the valve cover (red arrow).
Figure 3

Remove the hose from the valve cover (red arrow).

Working at the vacuum pump, press the brake booster line release tab (red arrow) and pull the vacuum line straight off the pump.
Figure 4

Working at the vacuum pump, press the brake booster line release tab (red arrow) and pull the vacuum line straight off the pump.

Loosen the intake air duct hose clamps (red arrows).
Figure 5

Loosen the intake air duct hose clamps (red arrows).

Remove the intake air duct from the turbocharger, then the intake air housing.
Figure 6

Remove the intake air duct from the turbocharger, then the intake air housing. Turbocharged: Remove turbo air ducts above transmission. See our tech article on charge air ducts replacing.

Disconnect the electrical connectors for the oil pressure sensor (red arrow) and the coolant temperature sensor housing (green arrow).
Figure 7

Disconnect the electrical connectors for the oil pressure sensor (red arrow) and the coolant temperature sensor housing (green arrow). Use a pick to pull the connector tab up and slide the connectors straight off.

Working at the left rear of the cylinder head, release the tab and disconnect the camshaft sensor electrical connector (red arrow).
Figure 8

Working at the left rear of the cylinder head, release the tab and disconnect the camshaft sensor electrical connector (red arrow). Intake sensor shown, if your vehicle has an exhaust sensor, disconnect it too.

Remove the wiring harness housing (red arrow) from the mounting bracket (green arrow) by sliding it straight up.
Figure 9

Remove the wiring harness housing (red arrow) from the mounting bracket (green arrow) by sliding it straight up. Place it aside and out of the way. Place the front end in service position. See our tech article on front end service position.

Remove the drive axles.
Figure 10

Remove the drive axles. See our tech article on drive axle removing. Remove subframe. See our tech article on subframe removing.

Next, remove the right side shift cable retainer (red arrow).
Figure 11

Next, remove the right side shift cable retainer (red arrow). Use a flathead screwdriver and lever it away from the cable end (green arrow).

Use the flathead screwdriver (red arrow) to lever the cable end off of the shift lever.
Figure 12

Use the flathead screwdriver (red arrow) to lever the cable end off of the shift lever. Note the position of the retainer (green arrow). It has to be removed completely from the cable end.

Press the electrical connector wire retainer (red arrows) and pull the connector straight off the switch.
Figure 13

Press the electrical connector wire retainer (red arrows) and pull the connector straight off the switch.

Working at the slave cylinder, remove the two 13mm fasteners (red arrows), then pull the slave cylinder out of the transmission.
Figure 14

Working at the slave cylinder, remove the two 13mm fasteners (red arrows), then pull the slave cylinder out of the transmission.

Next, remove the two starter fasteners.
Figure 15

Next, remove the two starter fasteners. The fastener heads are E12 (external Torx). This photo shows the top (red arrow) and bottom (green arrow) fasteners.

Move to the top of the starter, remove the 13mm fastener (blue arrow), located just behind the bell housing fastener (red arrow).
Figure 16

Move to the top of the starter, remove the 13mm fastener (blue arrow), located just behind the bell housing fastener (red arrow). Remove the starter.

Remove the two upper bell housing E12 Torx fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 17

Remove the two upper bell housing E12 Torx fasteners (red arrows).

Working at the oil pan, near the exhaust.
Figure 18

Working at the oil pan, near the exhaust. Remove the lower bell housing E12 Torx fastener (red arrow).

Note: There is one more torx just above the one in figure 18 for a total of 7. 

Support the transmission from below.
Figure 19

Support the transmission from below. Remove the three front bell housing E12 Torx fasteners (red arrows). Pull the transmission out and away from the engine. Check for connecting items, snagged harnesses and hoses. When clear, lower and remove the transmission from the bell housing.

To remove the clutch, remove six E10 Torx bolts from pressure plate (red arrows).
Figure 20

To remove the clutch, remove six E10 Torx bolts from pressure plate (red arrows). Loosen bolts in alternating pattern. Support pressure plate so it does not fall when removing. To remove the flywheel, remove six T60 Torx bolts from the flywheel. Loosen bolts in alternating pattern. Support flywheel so it does not fall when removing. If surface of flywheel is in good shape, you can leave it installed. Dual-mass flywheels cannot be machined, so if the surface is in bad shape, you have to replace it.

Now it's time to install the new clutch kit.
Figure 21

Now it's time to install the new clutch kit. You will need a clutch disc alignment tool. Your clutch kit should come with one. The green arrow points to the tool that came with my clutch kit. The yellow arrow points to the MINI tool equivalent. Each one does the same job. I will be using the MINI tool in this procedure.

Install and center clutch disc (red arrow) using alignment tool.
Figure 22

Install and center clutch disc (red arrow) using alignment tool. Then, remove center bolt from alignment tool. If you want, you can remove this bolt before aligning clutch disc. Install pressure plate on alignment dowels. Then, install six new fasteners. Tighten Allen fasteners until pressure plate is flush with flywheel. Then torque six new Allen fasteners. Check the specification for your vehicle to confirm. Once torqued, remove the clutch disc alignment tool from the clutch disc.

Now you have to service the items on the transmission bell housing.
Figure 23

Now you have to service the items on the transmission bell housing. Remove the throwout bearing by sliding it off the transmission output shaft. Note orientation when removing. Install the new clutch fork if you are replacing it, or reinstall the old one. Then slide the new throwout bearing over the guide bushing and align it with the clutch fork. Now it is time to reinstall the transmission. Apply spline grease to the splines on the transmission input shaft. Your clutch kit should come with the correct grease. Jack transmission into place, then line up properly and slide transmission shaft into clutch. You will have to wiggle the transmission to engage the shaft. Once engaged, slide the transmission forward until the bell housing is flush with the engine. Install the bell housing fasteners and tighten. Once transmission bolts are tightened. Install transmission mount and secure transmission in place. Now install remaining items, reverse the removal procedure when installing. Be sure to tighten all fasteners correctly and properly route all wiring harnesses.

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Comments and Suggestions:
MINIMAN Comments: Hi. Where can I find the article for subframe removal for an R56? Cant seem to find it... Thanks in advance!
November 30, 2016
Foofighter Comments: There is one more torx just above the one in figure 18 for a total of 7.
November 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it. I will have the article updated.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
1988targa Comments: Is there a bolt at the bottom of the bell housing or am I missing a torx bolt?
October 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't follow, are you having trouble getting the trans out? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
not available Comments: Is a sub frame removal and service mode necessary for this clutch?
October 4, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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