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First Generation Faults & Fixes MINI faults and fixes 2001 - 2006

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post #46 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2014, 10:42 AM
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Checking coolant level with my alloy tank is not a problem because the tank has a collar around the bottom outlet inside the tank which is as least as tall as the Minimum level and maybe as tall as the Mid-point level.

If you look in the opening of the tank from above, I guess if the top of the collar is visible above the remaining coolant you need to add enough coolant to just cover it.

Obviously this is not as easy to check as the see-through plastic tank, and it does mean that you have to unscrew the cap to check the level!

I've just gone and removed the seal from my old cap as I was going to investigate fitting an 'o' ring in addition to the seal to see if this solved the sealing/over tightening problem.

Don't know if you have done this but interestingly I found that: 1) you can't reverse the seal in the cap because it is shaped and only goes in one way around. 2) The seal is much thicker and harder than I imagined, and although it definitely will get an indentation in it if you tighten it down hard, it is much thicker than I thought, so I don't think over tightening it is a problem apart from getting it undone later!

in hindsight, I think the problem with with a plastic tank might be more to do with the finish of the top lip of the tank not allowing the cap seal to bed down properly.

So, apart from damaging the tank neck or the cap through overtightening, I think we ought to be able to tighten it enough to produce a good pressure seal without resorting to changing the tank.

Meanwhile I am in search of a suitable size & thickness 'o' ring to try this out on my alloy tank because I still get occasional leaks if I don't tighten the cap up enough after checking levels.


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post #47 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2014, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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That makes an awful lot of sense. Its almost TOO logical.

Im going to get home tonight and check the coolant level again because im now teally paranoid that i may have overfilled it. Last time it boiled over, it was still hot when i topped it off - possibly making it even worse.

It might literally just be the car blowing out the excess coolant for all i know??

Obviously, this still doesnt solve the lack of pressure you mentioned so also gonna tighten the crap out of the cap and see how it goes for a few days... Just hope i dont break down cos i wont be able to remove the cap haha

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post #48 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2014, 02:46 PM
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Managed to find an 'O' ring this afternoon that is a snug fit on the cap thread, but may not be thick enough to get a good seal against the tank filler lip. When I went to try and fit it, its clear that my brand new cap (fitted last week) has been leaking again! So, I'm going to try using the 'O' ring as well as the standard cap seal once the engine is cool enough for me to get the cap off safely.

I'll let you know how I get on......this would be a much cheaper fix than changing the tank!!!

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post #49 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2014, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Oh dear - these caps are pants aint they! Good luck with the 'o ring' method.

Would be keen to hear how you get on...

I drove home today in some pretty bad traffic - temp on OBD went up to 91c and i was expecting to see steam so i whacked the heater on max temp/speed to help keep it cool. Stayed at 90c until i eventually moved and it then reduced to 88 where it stayed til i got home. Checked it over and no visible signs of leakage at the time so gonna check again later in case it leaked as it cooled down.

Im hoping it hasnt and any excess coolant has now been purged out in the last few days...
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post #50 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2014, 10:19 PM
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I remember putting the heater on full blast was an old trick to keep our classic Mini's cool in traffic!
If the heater is blowing hot at least it shows you have no airlocks in the heater system.
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post #51 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 5th, 2014, 12:12 AM
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If water does leak out the cap when the system isnt pressurised I would say that is where your problem is.
Check that you have pressure in your top hose if you dont then you are always going to have this problem no matter how many times you try to bleed it or top it up if the system isnt pressurising its going to boil over. I personally think you should get a new tank & cap & I think that will solve your problem as the car isnt overheating but the cooling system wont work properly if its not under pressure.

Did I mention that the system needs to be under pressure
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post #52 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 5th, 2014, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, the old heater on full blast used to work on an old Cavalier SRI i had years ago!

It was a pain but it worked haha

I checked the tank for leaks last night - no evidence of coolant but i didnt check the coolant level as it would have still been warmish.

Drove to work, checked tank - fine again.

Went back an lunchtime - third time lucky - no evidence of leakage.

This time the car was cool so got to check the level and it was just below the baffles but pretty much on the 'minimum' mark.

Should i top it off or just leave it?

Also, the cap didnt hiss when i took it off - thats ok though isnt it?

It should only hiss when its hot/warm if i recall?

What would you do next?

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post #53 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 5th, 2014, 05:16 PM
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When its warm check you have pressure in your top hose
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post #54 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 5th, 2014, 06:08 PM
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If it is still leaking at the cap it probably won't start leaking until the temp hits around 96 97 when the water starts to boil. Keeping it 90 & below it may not leak anyway as its not quite boiling
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post #55 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 5th, 2014, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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You're right about the temp when it starts leaking. When i was testing it at the weekend, i remember it getting to around 95-96 before it would weep (while the engine was still running btw)

Gonna keep an eye on it for a few days then get it hot at the weekend to see if it leaks again.

No evidence of any leaks for the last two days so I'm hoping it just blew out the excess coolant where i may have overfilled it in the dark.

Ive resigned myself to getting a new alloy tank and replacement BMW cap anyway as a preventative measure assuming its fixed itself now?

Btw, i gave the top hose a squeeze when it was warmed up and i think it felt a little firmer than the other day. Every squeeze made something happen in the expansion tank - as if it was pushing coolant in/out if that makes sense?

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post #56 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 6th, 2014, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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Right, so I didn't need to wait til the weekend...

Sat in traffic, temp rose to 106c but no steam or bubbling sounds from under the bonnet.

Temp had reduced back down to the usual 86c by the time I got home so I thought it passed this little test...

Immediately popped the bonnet and saw the cap had leaked but it didn't look like a lot as it would normally have been trickling out and it wasn't leaking at the time of checking it at all.

Coolant level was above the baffles but only slightly and there was no hiss as I took off the cap.

Am I right in thinking it didn't pour out like usual because there simply wasn't as much coolant in the system as before?

What does that indicate? - still a dodgy tank/cap?
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post #57 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 7th, 2014, 12:29 AM
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If it was still hot when you removed the cap it should hiss as it should be pressurised. I still say your tank & or cap is shot. I dont want to sound funny when I say this but I have been trying to explain it all to you over the last couple of weeks how the system needs to be pressurised but you keep checking it everyday & coming back with the same symptons, the problem will always be there until its fixed. Now go out get a new tank & cap then come back on to tell us its all fine now.
Dont take that the wrong way I am not being funny with you after all thats what the forums are for. I just want you to get it sorted before it ends up completely boiling over & wrecks your engine.
If you lived near me (burton on trent) I would ask you to call round so I could look at it for you & help fix it
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post #58 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 7th, 2014, 06:52 AM Thread Starter
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Haha - thanks, man! Don't worry, i haven't taken it any way other than intended. As it happens, i ordered a new alloy tank off ebay and will be picking up a new cap from BMW later today. I've been reluctant to spend any more on this car than i have, thats all.

Youre right though, of course the problems still there if i haven't fixed anything!

I've been paranoid that the head gasket's gone so taking it to a garage near work to see if they can check for combustion gas in the coolant.

Ive no other symptoms of a HG blown as its fine in every other way - no foam in the coolant, no milky oil, no white smoke whatsoever and no misfires.

Thanks again for your help, mate - i wasn't being dismissive of your advice - just paranoid and being a cheap-arse.

Sorry for any offence caused...
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post #59 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 7th, 2014, 07:28 AM Thread Starter
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Pretty conclusive update :

Waited at the garage while they did a check for combustion gasses in the coolant - head gasket definitely gone!

1100 ish to fix as an estimate.

Bye bye R53... It was fun while it lasted.
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post #60 of 72 (permalink) Old Mar 7th, 2014, 06:13 PM
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I would get a second opinion are they Mini specialists?.....the price quoted also seems excessive....the parts are only 113 from here:
Cylinder Head Swap - Gasket and Bolt Kit - R50,R53. MINI - Servicing - Repairs - Tuning - Parts - Spares

This similar garage head gasket gone diagnosis on an R53 turned out to be the radiator...
Head gasket needs changing

Quote:
"Head gasket failure as reported by me after a garage detected exhaust fumes earlier this year. Turned out to be Radiator failure when the bottom of rad corroded away.
Turns out this a common problem with these cars as to the water trap underneath rad.
Anyway all is OK now.
Makes you think what the first garage was up to with the diagnoses."
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