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post #16 of 72 (permalink) Old Feb 12th, 2014, 10:41 AM
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I've certainly had problems with leaking rad caps on my MCS JCW's. I replaced the first one as soon as I bought the car as it continued to leak despite tightening it so hard that I had to use a pair of 'grips' to undo it.

I noticed that the expansion tank had a very slight seam/moulding mark right on the surface of the header tank where the cap seal should be making a perfect seal.

I then replaced the cap again, but it still leaked despite tightening it down beyond the point where you can undo it easily by hand.

So recently I replaced the plastic header tank with an alloy one.

It isn't a FORGE tank as these may be excellent but far too expensive for my budget. I found a similar alloy tank on ebay for 88 plus shipping.....about half the price of a Forge. It was great quality when I unpacked it and it certainly looks good installed.

It was very easy to fit, (I syringed the coolant out of the old tank before undoing the bottom hose connection and you don't end up losing any coolant from the enigine, or need to bleed the system afterwards), and the only problem I had was that the return pipe inlet is slightly set at the wrong angle so that it comes very close to the power steering cap when installed into the original mounting bracket. Not a huge problem, and the return hose doesn't actually rub against the power steering cap in use, but it's close!

Since then with another new expansion tank cap I have not had any further leaks.


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post #17 of 72 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2014, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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So far, so good. Been driving it since Saturday and yes, it's got over 105c in traffic without the first stage fan kicking in - it doesn't appear to have leaked from the cap or the tank!

Hasn't boiled over so fingers crossed it's sorted!

Thanks again...

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post #18 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 1st, 2014, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Back again!!!

Been fine since but got stuck in traffic today and according to the OBD temp it was reading 107c and steam everywhere.

Pulled over and water was running out of the radiator cap (which was new 2 wks ago).

Took the cap off and coolant was just gushing out!!!

Let it cool down and re-checked coolant level and it was literally just above the baffles at the bottom of the tank so topped it up.

There is no other leak and the tank itself seems fine so I'm all out of ideas with this banger now...

However, Before I set off today I went to re-bleed it and even though the car had warmed up to 84c, nothing was coming out of the top bleed valve. No air or coolant.

When it boiled over, I opened that bleed valve again and it did hiss out some air and coolant though.

What is causing this flipping car to keep boiling over???
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post #19 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 1st, 2014, 06:23 PM
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When you checked the car first and nothing came out the bleed valve it may have been because the thermostat wasn't open although it sounds like you have an air lock somewhere
For some reason it is over pressurising, normally if the temp is ok its air in the system.
I would try getting it vac filled where they suck out all the fluid and air and while its under vacuum they refill the system to ensure you get no airlocks
1st check your expansion tank isn't split on the seem
I would check your supercharger belt (if its slipping it wont turn the supercharger/waterpump properly)
Is the supercharger noisy (waterpump drive bad)
Have a sniff inside your expansion tank to see if it smells of fuel could be headgasket, most people think if your headgasket goes your oil goes milky but the gasket can go between the cylinder and the water channels so not affecting the oil. If this happens though you normally get steam out your exhaust and the car would be boiling over all the time.
I would get your low speed fan sorted and see how you go from there, this looks like a hard one to diagnose
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post #20 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 1st, 2014, 06:29 PM
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Was your radiator fan running at all during this problem?
If so was it on high (noisy) or low speed when you lifted the bonnet?

You must fix the 1st and 2nd stage fan operation, it is essential it kicks in at the right temperature in traffic......without it by the time the 2nd stage fan starts it is too late to stop boil over occuring and the pressure cap releasing the excess pressure building up. If neither stage of fan operation is working boil up is inevitable in traffic.

"For the engine cooling system, the fan operates on low speed at 105 degrees C (221 degrees F). When the temperature drops to 101degrees C (214 degrees F) the fan will switch off. The fan switches to high speed at 112 degrees C (234 degrees F) and remains on high until the system coolant temperature drops by 4 degrees C (7 degrees F) at which the system reverts to low speed."
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post #21 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 1st, 2014, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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heathwebbo : what sort of sound would I need to listen for on the supercharger please, mate? It doesn't rattle, tap, grind or squeak if that's what you might mean?

The tank seam looks a bit ropey but doesn't look like it's leaking - I can't afford to change the tank just for the sake of trying if you know what I mean... The pressure test would have shown if the tank was knackered, right?

I can't tell for sure but I don't think I can smell fuel in the coolant. I do get steam from the exhaust in the mornings when cold and occasionally when I give it some throttle once car is warmed up but it's not constant - just a small puff that disappears almost straight away.

mab01uk : The last time I know the fan was definitely working was the first time it boiled over the first time last month. The loud fan was running even after I turned off the engine.

Since then, the fan hasn't been on at all but that's probably because I've had the OBD set to show coolant temp on every trip. If it got over 90c I'd pull over to check for leaks (all fine)

This has meant I haven't given it the opportunity to overheat and therefore see if the fan works. Today, I know for sure that the first stage fan didn't activate because I checked it while engine was still running at 107c before i shut it off. It won't make it far enough for the second stage fan to kick in as it will boil over by then for sure!

What really concerns me is that coolant appears to start leaking from around 90c which is way too early.

I've even checked the strength of the coolant today with a cheapo Halfords hydrometer which says the strength is fine - I though maybe the coolant was weak resulting in early boil over.

I'm now getting too scared to drive this car and have been carrying around a load of water and antifreeze for the last month!

If it isn't this then it's the proxy airbag light!!!!

Sorry for the long reply.... Pent up frustration hahaha
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post #22 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 1st, 2014, 09:13 PM
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The supercharger would most likely rattle/tap if the waterpump gear was dry/warn.
Yes the pressure test would have shown if the tank was leaking & I would have thought if the head gasket was leaking between the water jacket & the cylinder that should show up on a pressure test & what you say comes out the exhaust also sounds normal.
The only thing I can think of at the moment is the seal between your expansion tank top & the cap or an airlock in the system as at 90c I wouldn't have thought the pressure should be enough to blow through the cap & it doesn't sound like you have a overheating problem
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post #23 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 1st, 2014, 10:04 PM
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So at present.....we have no sign of the 1st stage fan ever cutting in when required.....my thoughts would be to check this out and if it is definitely not functioning get it fixed before trying anything else.

More info here:
Solving MINI Cooling Problems.......... - Mini Cooper Register Forum
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post #24 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 05:47 AM Thread Starter
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Hi heathwebbo, my thoughts exactly. 90c is barely normal operating temperature isn't it?

If I let the car just sit there and idle, it'll happily purr away at a stable 84c. Whilst driving it will typically stay at around 86c and occasionally it may rise up to around 88c if going uphill or something.


In stop/start traffics is where it then goes beyond 90c and coolant starts coming from the rad cap.

So it's not overheating as such, just losing coolant once the system appears to be pressurised at around that temperature range....

The only thing I have now noticed, (thanks to someone else who previously posted a reply)
Is that on the expansion tank itself, at the very top of the filler neck where it should make a tight seal with the rad cap, there is a small "ridge" all the way around which has also created an opposite "ridge" on the rad cap gasket/seal too.

Probably a long shot but do you think that might be contributing? I'm guessing that this raised "ridge" isn't allowing the rad cap to properly seal as it can sit fully flush.

I don't have have the means to check any other minis to compare either haha
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post #25 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 05:57 AM Thread Starter
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Hi mab01uk, thanks for that.

Yes, definitely no stage one fan. As far as I'm aware it's never worked since I bought the car in May last year. During the summer the fan would come on very regularly in traffic and I just assumed that was normal.

That was before understanding there were two stages of the fan. This was most definitely the second stage kicking in.

My concern is that even if I somehow got the first stage fan working (which is supposed to kick in at 105c) - my car would've already started losing coolant way beforehand if you see what I mean.

It sort of renders the fan useless at this stage until I can work out why the coolant loss occurs when it does...

I've read up about checking the operation of the fan when turning on the aircon. Makes no difference. The fan doesn't operate even after I've had the aircon on for 5-10 mins (when idling)

I've prodded the fan blade itself and it turns freely enough, I noticed the 5a fuse in the engine fuse box had blown so I replaced that last week. The relay (FL9 I think?) looks ok but don't know how to test it so just gave it a few gentle taps in case it was stuck and put it back.

Gonna read your link now so hopefully it might help... Cheers.

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post #26 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 06:25 AM Thread Starter
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If this helps... I've attached a picture of the old rad cap and the new one I replaced it with a few weeks back.

It's only to show what I mean by the "ridge" being made by the expansion tank.

My new cap now has the same "ridge" indentation on the seal on it.

... Does anyone else have this ridge on their rad cap seal please?
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post #27 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 09:12 AM
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What year is your R53, if its a later one you will have the 3 wires to the fan (single plug) which is easy to do the resistor mod or if you dont have a resistor to hand for now you could wire it without so the fan just comes on at high speed when you reach 105c but like you say if its blowing coolant out over 90c thats not going to be much help.
Mine is the earlier 5 wire 2 plug fan which involved more work to wire in my resistor.
I am sure my R53 sits around 93 94c on normal driving, I will check it out today & let you know.
With the caps getting the indentation in the rubber seal it looks like it is sealing tightly
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post #28 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 10:02 AM
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Re: Expansion Tank Cap seals. The design of the cap means that there is hardly any 'give' in the seal so that if you overtighten it then it does end up with a ridge like impression in the seal and will tend to leak. The trick seems to be not to over tighten it and in fact just tighten it enough so that it doesn't leak!

I'm wondering if fitting a suitable size 'o' ring might actually do a better job.

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post #29 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Cheers, guys.

ihughes, it was actually your previous comment I was referring to so thanks for explaining again. Looks like I'll be needing another cap then and just make sure it's not too tight even though this one is only just over solid hand tight?!?!?

heathwebbo, mine is an 02 R53. I might have some helpful info that's just become apparent about half an hour ago.

Just been out - driven for about 20 mins and OBD temp was sat between 84-86. Thought I'd try the "aircon trick" again as it didn't work previously.

So, driving along as I was before but now with the aircon set to LO and the temp gauge rapidly rose to 92 and dropped back to 88 then rose up again when I decided to pull over and check - engine and aircon still running at this point and OBD was showing temp at 96c but tank/cap wasn't leaking. I couldn't tell if any fan came on but the aircon was definitely working as cold air was blowing out although there was a constant feint hissing sound from inside the car.

Turned off engine, went back to look again and a smallish amount of coolant began trickling from the cap. I don't know how long that continued for as I had to go to my destination.

Once I'd got back to the car, I wanted to check if it was still leaking - it wasn't but I didn't remove the cap to check fluid level and just drove home where the temp stayed between 84-86.

Got home and left engine running and tried the aircon again. Temp rose up to 93 when I suddenly heard a fan come on for about 3 seconds then off again. Temp dropped to 88 and rose again to 95 and then the fan did the same again.

That continued for about 5 more mins before I decided to call it a day. Turned off the engine expecting coolant to leak from the cap. Stood there for a good two mins waiting but nothing trickled out.

Does that help with anything?

Why do you think the coolant leaked out after I turned off the engine earlier?

Any suggestions would be great!
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post #30 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Scratch that. Just checked on it and at some point between then and now, the caps leaked again. Can't tell how much as want to let it cool before checking fluid level.
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