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Engine Turbocharger Wastegate Testing
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Engine Turbocharger Wastegate Testing

Nick Czerula

Time:

5 hours5 hrs

Tab:

$2000

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Oxygen sensor socket, universal-joint adapter, flathead screwdriver, socket set (hex, Torx and external Torx)

Applicable Models:

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

Parts Required:

Turbochargers, fasteners, seals, o-ring, bolt kits

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool exhaust

Performance Gain:

Remedy fault codes and maintain proper running engine

Complementary Modification:

Replace exhaust

Starting with the 2007 R56 MINI Cooper S models, MINI introduced the turbocharged engine. This 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine produces more power (an extra 40 hp) and torque (an extra 80 lb-ft) than the equivalent 1.6 liter normally-aspirated engine. The key to the additional torque and power is turbochargers closely mounted to the exhaust manifolds. As the exhaust is forced out of the cylinders, it powers a turbine which turns a compressor, essentially a high efficiency fan, blowing air forcibly into the intake system. The additional, denser, air increases combustion efficiency and power as needed. This is an efficient way to achieve higher power output from an engine without increasing engine displacement.

Turbochargers spin at speeds of up to 10,000 rpm (or more) and require a very efficient oiling system. Eventually, with wear and tear, a turbocharger may be damaged and lose efficiency.

A faulty turbocharger may cause smoking or produce boost fault codes. I would suggest having your diagnosis confirmed by a professional as this is a difficult and costly repair. A few trouble areas are the wastegate and wastegate vacuum actuator. Check for excessive play at the wastegate lever. Remove the vacuum hose from the wastegate vacuum actuator and apply hand pumped vacuum, does the waste close fully and return open smoothly? If not it is faulty. If you have recirculation valve faults, check for moisture built up behind the valve. Remove the three 4 mm Allen bolts and inspect the actuator diaphragm and seal, replace if necessary. This tech article will show you how to test and confirm if these items are faulty on your turbocharger.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please include your vehicle information.

Start by draining the cooling system and engine oil.

Place the radiator support in service mode. See our tech article on radiator support service mode.

Remove the engine cooling fan. See our tech article on engine cooling fan replacing.

Remove the catalytic converter. See our tech article on catalytic converter replacing.

Read through the procedure before beginning. Be prepared to replace all the bolts, clamps and seals you remove from the engine. Work slowly and take notes. Double check everything as you go. There is not much room for error here. Bag and label the parts and gaskets you remove, note the order of removal to aid when reinstalling. I would suggest grabbing a repair manual as it will have all the torque specs and special tool numbers. The repair manual will also have the factory procedure which varies from the one here.

The turbocharger is mounted to the front of the engine (red arrow) covered by a heat shield.
Figure 1

The turbocharger is mounted to the front of the engine (red arrow) covered by a heat shield. If removing the turbocharger for any reason, I suggest replacing the oil feed and return lines. The oil feed line has a rotating banjo fitting sealed with an O-ring, it always leaks when reinstalled. Do not reuse it.

The MINI R56 turbocharger can produce excessive intake air pressure; the turbocharger system is equipped with a wastegate to release the excess pressure.
Figure 2

The MINI R56 turbocharger can produce excessive intake air pressure; the turbocharger system is equipped with a wastegate to release the excess pressure. This valve is controlled by the DME based on intake manifold pressure. The intake manifold pressure signal is generated by the manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor. A change in the desired turbocharger pressure is interpreted by the DME as a turbocharger or waste gate fault and the MIL (malfunction indicator light, Check Engine light) is turned on. The wastegate shaft can wear over time, creating a situation where the wastgate doesn't fully close, not sealing the wastegate outlet port. To check operation of the wastegate, first remove the catalytic converter, see our tech article catalytic converter replacing. Then monitor the wastegate while operating the vacuum actuator with a vacuum hand pump. The most common fault code associated with this failure is MINI FC (fault code) 2884. Working at the turbocharger wastegate, pull the vacuum hose (red arrow) straight off. Connect your vacuum hand pump to the actuator nipple. You will apply 15" of vacuum when testing. This is the amount of vacuum needed to fully seat the wastegate flap.

This photos shows a normal wastegate, fully open (red arrow) with no vacuum applied to the vacuum actuator.
Figure 3

This photos shows a normal wastegate, fully open (red arrow) with no vacuum applied to the vacuum actuator.

This photos shows a faulty wastegate with 15 of vacuum applied to the vacuum actuator.
Figure 4

This photos shows a faulty wastegate with 15" of vacuum applied to the vacuum actuator. Note how the wastegate flap is not fully seated, allowing air to bypass the wastegate flap, in turn lowering boost pressure (red arrow).

When applying vacuum to the actuator (red arrow), monitor the wastegate shaft and lever (blue arrow), it should move smooth without any notchy or binding actions.
Figure 5

When applying vacuum to the actuator (red arrow), monitor the wastegate shaft and lever (blue arrow), it should move smooth without any notchy or binding actions.

The turbocharger recirculation valve (red arrow) is mounted to the turbocharger.
Figure 6

The turbocharger recirculation valve (red arrow) is mounted to the turbocharger. The recirculation valve is used to prevent unwanted pressure build up when the throttle plate is closed. Also providing faster turbocharger response, preventing turbolag. The valve can fail mechanically, setting fault codes. Remove the valve to inspect the diaphragm for tears or swelling. 

In colder climates the valve can freeze from condensation build up.
Figure 7

In colder climates the valve can freeze from condensation build up. Note the puddle in my subject vehicle (red arrow). This is condensation build up from the crankcase breather system. This can be repaired by simply removing the valve and drying out the turbocharger housing.

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Comments and Suggestions:
NB Cooper Comments: This is a good article with great pictures. Perhaps it could be improved by explaining how the waste gate valve reopens as there isn't a return spring to hold the valve in the open position. Vacuum closes the valve when commanded by the DME and exhaust pressure opens the valve when vacuum is removed. This is just so when people are testing the movement of the valve, they understand that the valve needs to be manually opened after vacuum is bled off. Just a thought.
Nice work and thanks for the ongoing support to the Mini community.
November 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a spring in the vacuum diaphram. Thanks for the feedback.- Nick at Pelican Parts  

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