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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi! I am new to the forum and enjoying reading everyone's posts. I have not been a mini owner for long but I love my mini despite the trouble it has caused me since purchase. I will try to detail the problem I am having as best as I can, but I am honestly the stereotypical clueless female driver, despite me trying my best to learn. I hope I haven't done anything wrong myself with regards to refilling. My suspicions are having read this forum and probably about 20 others is that either my head gasket is a goner (PLEASE GOD NO) or the less expensive thermo housing. Please let me know what you think as I am at the end of my tether having just dropped £300 on rear calipers, pads and discs (which turned out to be a nightmare repair). I am just starting a new job and my car is going to be laid up for at least a week until I get paid, nightmare!

Around 3 weeks ago, I noticed my coolant was just below the minimum line in the overflow resevoir so I topped it up to max with 50/50. A week or so following I noticed white smoke/steam coming from my engine stopped in traffic and loud fans intermittently, sure enough my reservoir was bone dry when I got it home, so I topped it off again. This problem has increased to the point where I will fill the resevoir and the radiator, do a 10 minute drive and steam will be pouring from the engine and the reservoir will be empty again.

Things to note:

  • I mentioned it to the garage, they said they couldn't find any leaks - how thoroughly they checked I don't know
  • There is no gunk on the oil cap or on the oil stick
  • To my untrained eye there is no coolant in the oil, or any oil in the radiator
  • With the engine running there is a slight movement or bubbling in the coolant resevoir, it's hard to tell which
  • The heating does not blow hot air anymore
  • The temperature needle on the dash stays pretty much dead central all the time after rising up from the bottom
  • The engine has not cut out or overheated as of yet
Thank you so much for reading! Hope I can get to the bottom of this soon as I just want to be back on the road. ::smile::

NEW INFO: just noticed there's a lot of steam from the front centre-ish of the grille, and a wet spot. water pump???
 

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When you say 'steam pouring from the engine'.....do you mean from under the hood?

From your description, there is a gross leak under the hood. If the reservoir is being emptied within a 10 minute drive and your 'garage' can't find a leak......the very first thing you need to do is find a new repair facility. With that kind of a leak a six year old should be able to see it. Are you seeing any coolant on the ground after your 10 minute drive? Is the bottom of the car wet with coolant?

A head gasket failure usually does not drink that much coolant that fast although it could. If this were the case though, the car would display running problems and the exhaust would look like the business end of a crop duster. You would have clouds of steam and probably raw coolant coming from the tail pipe.

I would strongly suggest to you to take this car to a dealer or certainly someone more competent than where you have been going, explain the situation just as you have done here and let them find your problem. Do this before you do irreparable damage to the engine.

Edit: Just saw your new info....Get the car to a dealer. Water pump is usually on the front of the engine, which would be the left side as you face the bay......but steam gets areound so there's no telling without some testing.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
When you say 'steam pouring from the engine'.....do you mean from under the hood?

From your description, there is a gross leak under the hood. If the reservoir is being emptied within a 10 minute drive and your 'garage' can't find a leak......the very first thing you need to do is find a new repair facility. With that kind of a leak a six year old should be able to see it. Are you seeing any coolant on the ground after your 10 minute drive? Is the bottom of the car wet with coolant?

A head gasket failure usually does not drink that much coolant that fast although it could. If this were the case though, the car would display running problems and the exhaust would look like the business end of a crop duster. You would have clouds of steam and probably raw coolant coming from the tail pipe.

I would strongly suggest to you to take this car to a dealer or certainly someone more competent than where you have been going, explain the situation just as you have done here and let them find your problem. Do this before you do irreparable damage to the engine.

Edit: Just saw your new info....Get the car to a dealer. Water pump is usually on the front of the engine, which would be the left side as you face the bay......but steam gets areound so there's no telling without some testing.
Thank you! I am not driving the car again until I can take it to a (different) mechanic. To be fair to him there isn't a leak within the radiator or reservoir, I think the water pump is goosed as above, the steam is definitely coming from front left-centre of the grill. Getting it looked at as soon as I get paid. Just wanted reassurance that it's not the head gasket, really!
 

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If you have to wait to have it looked at I would suggest you not drive it. If you have to then of course be sure to feeding it coolant and watch your temp gauge closely.

Water pumps usually, not always, make noise when they start giving up.

Be careful, you have the very real potential to damage this engine way beyond a water pump.
 

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Your going to need to check all hoses and fittings, thermostat housing and radiator. The thermostat housing can crack and or the thermostat needs replacing. All hose clamp fittings and hoses. Which R52 do you have ? the Cooper or the Cooper S variant ? The Cooper water pump has a tell tale weep hole but some idiot designed it where the tell tale is up against the engine block so you need to remove the pump to see if the weep hole has coolant staining to indicate a leak. If you have the S variant, you may have a worn water pump or and or stripped PTO gears on the Super Charger. Older radiators can and do have a habit of leaking between the header tanks (plastic) and the radiator core (alloy) and can be difficult to detect. Also check the carpet under the heater unit to see if the heater core is leaking. Don't refill it with water only, use a 50/50 coolant to de ionised water to refill it as the coolant will aid in detection of leaks by staining the leak area with a blue colour.
 

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Not an answer to your problem, but at least this will allow you to see exactly what is happening with the coolant temp. Thanks to Milpol for this one.

Display Actual Coolant Temp
1. With the key in the ignition, but in the off position, press and hold down the odometer reset button with one hand.
2. While holding the button down, switch the key in the ignition to position 1 (first click) with the other hand. The screen will have a number and the word “TEST”.
3. Scroll through the numbers by pressing the odometer rest button, through to 19 and wait a moment. (Note: the number order is: 1, 2, 10, 19)
4. The message will say 19 "L i-off", flash to "L i-on", and back to "L i-off" again. When "log i-off" appears, press the odometer rest button again.
5. You are now in the system.
6. Scroll through to 7.0 Actual coolant temp.
7. Start the engine and go for a drive and you will see the temp fluctuation as the thermostat opens and closes. Your thermostat should start to open at around 90ºC
 

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Steve Farman ( My Man)
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Hi

get them to check the core plugs on the back of the engine block, we had one the had a rust hole in it, but only leaked when engine was hot. until we touched with a screw driver then it was a
proper hole !!!

issue is its an engine out job to replace it.

good luck
 

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Which R52 do you have ? the Cooper or the Cooper S variant ?
We need to know answer to this question.

Also, I wouldn't bother with using the cars menus to get the coolant temperature. This is a leak issue not an overheating issue.

My money would be on the radiator, or hose, or water pump.
 

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If the coolant is bubbling I would get a sniff test done to determine whether the headgasket is leaking.

Does it smoke excessively oot the exhaust?
 

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Hi! I am new to the forum and enjoying reading everyone's posts. I have not been a mini owner for long but I love my mini despite the trouble it has caused me since purchase. I will try to detail the problem I am having as best as I can, but I am honestly the stereotypical clueless female driver, despite me trying my best to learn. I hope I haven't done anything wrong myself with regards to refilling. My suspicions are having read this forum and probably about 20 others is that either my head gasket is a goner (PLEASE GOD NO) or the less expensive thermo housing. Please let me know what you think as I am at the end of my tether having just dropped £300 on rear calipers, pads and discs (which turned out to be a nightmare repair). I am just starting a new job and my car is going to be laid up for at least a week until I get paid, nightmare!

Around 3 weeks ago, I noticed my coolant was just below the minimum line in the overflow resevoir so I topped it up to max with 50/50. A week or so following I noticed white smoke/steam coming from my engine stopped in traffic and loud fans intermittently, sure enough my reservoir was bone dry when I got it home, so I topped it off again. This problem has increased to the point where I will fill the resevoir and the radiator, do a 10 minute drive and steam will be pouring from the engine and the reservoir will be empty again.

Things to note:

  • I mentioned it to the garage, they said they couldn't find any leaks - how thoroughly they checked I don't know
  • There is no gunk on the oil cap or on the oil stick
  • To my untrained eye there is no coolant in the oil, or any oil in the radiator
  • With the engine running there is a slight movement or bubbling in the coolant resevoir, it's hard to tell which
  • The heating does not blow hot air anymore
  • The temperature needle on the dash stays pretty much dead central all the time after rising up from the bottom
  • The engine has not cut out or overheated as of yet
Thank you so much for reading! Hope I can get to the bottom of this soon as I just want to be back on the road. ::smile::

NEW INFO: just noticed there's a lot of steam from the front centre-ish of the grille, and a wet spot. water pump???
hi here's my input the best and cheapest way to know for sure no guessing involved is a sniff test, ie it filters the gasses in the coolant water jacket and reacts to carbon monoxide and turns yellow, if turns yellow then without any doubt gasket or head issues and at worst porous bores etc,, below link but that do it your self in 5 minutes saves a load of guess work,, i only ever use this test with any car with water issues as the first job cuts out loads of hassle and maybe's that cost time and money,,

BT-1 COMBUSTION LEAK TESTER KIT CO2 PETROL HEAD GASKET TEST FLUID BLOCK 15D | eBay

just follow the intructions that come with it very easy to do and is fool proof
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Sorry, it's my bad. It's a mini one made in 2002 first driven 2003, which gives it a 52 plate. I thought that was the number everyone was referring to when people say r-numbers haha. I think that actually makes it fit r50? Confuses parts places to no end I know that much.

Thank you for your replies. I noticed a slight white smoking from the exhaust when the garage were testing new brakes in their car park and I mean slight, no plumes of smoke whatsoever.
 

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One other area to check is the heater matrix. When I was losing coolant I got steam in the car through the demister vents and then the passenger side footwell carpet was wet.

I had a new matrix fitted for around £100.

It doesn't sound the same as your description, but I thought at first it was the head gasket.

MiniAlf

PS I have a 2008/09 R52 Cooper S
PPS Weren't all Gen 1 convertibles designated R52 regardless of engine?
 

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Also, I wouldn't bother with using the cars menus to get the coolant temperature. This is a leak issue not an overheating issue.
Agree Johnny, which is why I prefaced my post "Not an answer to your problem". Just thought, if it was mine, I'd want to have a gander at when, how quick, how much, thermostat opening and so on. An 'as well' not an 'instead'.
 

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Find a water leak

Hmm well to find the leak grab an ultraviolet endowed torch (Available from Ebay for a couple of bucks) then lift your bonnet when it's dark around the car. Don't be scared. Then shine the torch at the engine and low and behold the leak will show up as a very strong fluorescent green color. You see there is a fluorescent dye that is mixed with the coolant liquid and when it's hit by the ultraviolet light beam will spring to life and emit photons that make the leak glow. Now you know where the coolant is going. My bet is a cylinder head gasket on the right hand corner of the engine about 6 " down.
 

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Hmm well to find the leak grab an ultraviolet endowed torch (Available from Ebay for a couple of bucks) then lift your bonnet when it's dark around the car. Don't be scared. Then shine the torch at the engine and low and behold the leak will show up as a very strong fluorescent green color. You see there is a fluorescent dye that is mixed with the coolant liquid and when it's hit by the ultraviolet light beam will spring to life and emit photons that make the leak glow. Now you know where the coolant is going. My bet is a cylinder head gasket on the right hand corner of the engine about 6 " down.
Great post Rod, thanks. Haven't got any leeks, but need one, want to give this a try.
 
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