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Turbocharged Engine Carbon Cleaning
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Turbocharged Engine Carbon Cleaning

Nick Czerula

Time:

6 hours6 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Socket set, picks, plastic scraper

Applicable Models:

R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-11)

Parts Required:

Intake gasket set, engine cleaner

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine and clear DME fault codes when done

Performance Gain:

Proper engine operation

Complementary Modification:

Change oil

MINI R56 models with a turbocharged engine utilize direct injection. This style injector sprays fuel directly into the cylinder and is mounted in the rear of the cylinder head. With the design of this injector efficiency and injection control greatly increases. The down side is the lack of fuel spraying on the back of the intake valve. This removes the cleaning effect port fuel injection engines get, a real benefit new engine designs need. Add in a crankcase breather and oil vapors, and you have a real problem. As the engines tick up in mileage, oil residue, often referred to as carbon builds up on the back of the intake valve. This build up is not like valve carbon of the past, which was dry and solid. This valve build up is mushy and wet, due to the origin being from crankcase vapors.

Just about every 50,000 miles the intake valves need to be cleaned to maintain optimum engine performance. Once the build-up reaches the maximum tolerable level, the engine will begin to run rough and misfire. You may have a rough idle, poor acceleration, stalling or single to multiple cylinder misfires. If you have any of these symptoms, check for valve residue build-up.

In the years past a walnut blaster has been used to clean engine valves with the cylinder head still installed. This is still the best and fastest method to clean the valves. However, many DIY mechanics may not have this tool. So I will show you how we were cleaning MINI valves before MINI and BMW released the walnut blaster adapter for these engines.

Be sure the intake valves are 100% closed on the cylinder you are cleaning before beginning the cleaning process.

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 you're 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. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve, as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

MINI R56 models with a turbocharged engine utilize direct injection.
Figure 1

MINI R56 models with a turbocharged engine utilize direct injection. This style injector sprays fuel directly into the cylinder and is mounted in the rear of the cylinder head. With the design of this injector efficiency and injection control greatly increases. The down side is the lack of fuel spraying on the back of the intake valve. This removes the cleaning effect port fuel injection engines get, a real benefit new engine designs need. Add in a crankcase breather and oil vapors, and you have a real problem. As the engines tick up in mileage, oil residue, often referred to as carbon builds on the back of the intake valve (red arrow). This build up is not like valve carbon of the past, which was dry and solid. This valve build up is mushy and wet, due to the origin being from crankcase vapors.

Remove the intake manifold.
Figure 2

Remove the intake manifold. See our tech article on intake manifold removing. Once the manifold is removed, use an inspection mirror, or a borescope to inspect each intake port and valve set (red arrow). Not all cylinders may require cleaning. Be sure you at the very least spray them down if they look clean. Rotate the engine over using the crankshaft pulley fastener so that the valves on the cylinder you are working on is closed. Confirm this with your inspection mirror and by using a leak down tester in the cylinder. This step is very important. You don't want any debris of liquid entering the cylinder. Seal the cylinders you are not working on with tape or stuff them with rags to prevent debris from entering them.

Using a long dull-end pick (red arrow), scrape the majority of the residue off the valves.
Figure 3

Using a long dull-end pick (red arrow), scrape the majority of the residue off the valves. This is a time consuming task. Move the residue off the valve and scoop it out. Be careful not to scratch the valve or cylinder head.

This photo shows the chunks of residue (red arrow) that are scraped out.
Figure 4

This photo shows the chunks of residue (red arrow) that are scraped out. Note the chunky moist look. Keep at it until the majority of the residue is removed.

Once the residue has been reduced to only a thin coating, pour in a top engine cleaner.
Figure 5

Once the residue has been reduced to only a thin coating, pour in a top engine cleaner. Let this cleaner sit and soak in for about an hour.

Confirm the liquid is soaking in and not leaking into the cylinder; the valve should be closed (red arrows).
Figure 6

Confirm the liquid is soaking in and not leaking into the cylinder; the valve should be closed (red arrows).

Use lint-free paper towels or cloths to soak the cleaner out of the intake port.
Figure 7

Use lint-free paper towels or cloths to soak the cleaner out of the intake port. Press it in and allow it to sit until the cleaner is absorbed. Repeat this process until all the cleaner is removed.

Using about five PSI of air pressure, lightly blow dry the intake port.
Figure 8

Using about five PSI of air pressure, lightly blow dry the intake port. Cover the port with a rag (red arrow) to prevent a mist of debris from making a mess. Wear a respirator during this step and cover your eyes and body. Repeat until the cylinder head port and valves are dry. Once dry, inspect your cleaning job, and repeat steps 3: 8 until the valves are completely clean. Once the first cylinder is clean, move onto the next. Be sure the valves are sealed on each cylinder as you work. Reassemble the engine when complete and clear any fault codes.

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