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Hey guys, so recently bought a 2011 Cooper S and I've been battling an odd sound coming from the engine bay. I narrowed it down to either the chain rattling or the drive belt/pulleys rattling/chugging. I've seen some videos of a similar sound that turned out be the drive belt falling apart and was misdiagnosed as the chain. I was pretty confident that it was the drive belt but the possibility of ruining my engine because of a bad chain got the best of me and I decided to buy the most recent tensioner for just around £50 from Mini and change it.

I took some photos of the process to hopefully help anyone out that is thinking if doing it. The hardest part I found was removing the piping that is in the way of the tensioner. Some people say to remove the air box but I didn't and I managed fine, it's a bit tight but doable.

Tools used:
  • 1/2" Socket Set
  • Torque Wrench (To break tensioner free and retorque new one at 65nm)
  • 27mm socket for tensioner
  • Flathead Screwdriver (For prying pipes)
  • Small Socket set for jubilee clips (Makes removing the jubilee clips easier due to tight space, can use flathead too but depends on angle of jubilee clips)
  • WD40 (Helps remove pipes)

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This is the first elbow pipe that needs removed. I started on the side with jubilee clip but found the pipe much easier to remove once I had removed the wire clip that holds the top section of the pipe in place (with the silver ring).

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Here you can see the clip that I mentioned before, it has a hook on either end which holds it in place, bit of a pain to remove but no specials tools needed. I used a flat head screwdriver. (QUICK NOTE! THE BUMP ON THE SILVER RING OF THE PIPE ABOVE HAS TO MATCH UP WITH A SECTION IN THE PIPE IT MATES TO. IF THE BUMP DOESNT MATCH UP THE OTHER PIPE IT WONT GO TOGETHER LATER. MAKE SURE YOU ORIENTATE IT RIGHT WHILE REASSEMBLING.)

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Here you can see where the elbow pipe was. Next job is to remove that plastic pipe just to the left of the air box in the photo. Heads up, it's a pain in the ass. There is a plastic rim around the bottom of this pipe to stop it receeding too far into the pipe below, there is a break in this plastic rim that you can slide a screwdriver into to help pry it out of the rubber hose with and spray wd40 into. There is a jubilee Clip on this pipe that also has to be loosened, make sure it's loosened off a fair bit so you can work on getting the screw driver around the pipe. It takes a while but trust me it's possible.

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In the image above you can see how I've got the screwdriver wedged between the plastic tube and rubber hose below. Not long after this I managed to pry the pipe out.

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Above is the plastic pipe that was removed.

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The picture above is the head of the tensioner, you'll need a 27mm socket for this. At this point it's quite easy to access and see, it's right next to the lower elbow pipe as you can see above.

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Another image illustrating the location of the tensioner.

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In the photo above I've got my socket on there with my torque wrench. To get it in there I just pushed the lower elbow pipe towards the cabin and out of the way as best as I could and proceeded to removed the tensioner. After you've got it fairly loose you can remove the tensioner by hand.

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Here is a comparison of the tensioners. The newer one is longer than the one I had in there before. To be honest the old one still felt fairly stiff but I'm happy that I've got the newest tensioner in there now for peace of mind.

So... You might be wondering, did the tensioner fix my noise? No it didn't. But it's something knocked off the list and it makes me feel better knowing that it's done. So it's looking like it may be my drive belt or pulleys causing my noise. It's almost like a heavy diesel chugging, hard to explain but I can post a video to give people an idea of my cars symptoms. It's quite noisy down by the wheel well, convenient since the the belt is right behind it. That's a job for this weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter #2

Here is a link to the the video I mentioned showing the sound of my engine, the second half where the sound gets a bit louder is down by the wheel well. Just to note, my car still pulls very well and doesn't act in an odd manner in anyway so don't think there's rod knock or anything like that. The sound in the video is consistent whether cold or hot and its prominent at idle, I think it can be heard outside while I drive but I can't hear it unless at low speed or idle when driving.
 

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only trouble with fitting only a new tensioner on a old worn chain kit is chances are when the chain has stretched so much it slips or top guide snaps there will deffo be no warning as many do give a warning with a rattle,, also and by far the worst thing it will do is run the car for longer with retarded timing this will hurt 02 sensors and cat and even cause valve stem seal issues or cracked valves from the over thermo effect it causes,, 60.000 miles seems to be the life of most chains some go to 100k but do a lot of damage by doing so,
 

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only trouble with fitting only a new tensioner on a old worn chain kit is chances are when the chain has stretched so much it slips or top guide snaps there will deffo be no warning as many do give a warning with a rattle,, also and by far the worst thing it will do is run the car for longer with retarded timing this will hurt 02 sensors and cat and even cause valve stem seal issues or cracked valves from the over thermo effect it causes,, 60.000 miles seems to be the life of most chains some go to 100k but do a lot of damage by doing so,
Thanks for the reply Mike, annoying to hear they only last around. 60k because I'm on 66k now... I've had a really good listen to the chain cover and it doesn't sound like it's slapping it or tapping it at all and that was before and after the tensioner swap. The old tensioner didn't feel as though it had given up so hoping I won't have chain issues. A chain replacement will definitely be on the cards in the future I think. Will see what happens with this belt replacement and inspection of the pulleys, there are videos that sound like mine and have turned out to be the drive belt so fingers crossed! Thanks again for your input I appreciate it, do you know roughly how much it costs to get a chain replaced/is it possible to do yourself?
 

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main dealers want over £800 for a basic kit, genuine parts for chain and guides and tensioner and bottom sprocket plus stretch bolts £250 for genuine parts,, thats the trouble with new longer tensioners they make it sound fine until the day its not fine, it will start with needing a upstream 02 sensor or cat and feel like a hesitation when reving all the revs ie flat,, those engines when timing is perfect will rev in 3rd gear all way to limiter if dont then thats a good sign its running retarded,, i know people that had no warning went to start car in morning and it jumped teeth and bents valves, its not a if its deffo a when
 

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main dealers want over £800 for a basic kit, genuine parts for chain and guides and tensioner and bottom sprocket plus stretch bolts £250 for genuine parts,, thats the trouble with new longer tensioners they make it sound fine until the day its not fine, it will start with needing a upstream 02 sensor or cat and feel like a hesitation when reving all the revs ie flat,, those engines when timing is perfect will rev in 3rd gear all way to limiter if dont then thats a good sign its running retarded,, i know people that had no warning went to start car in morning and it jumped teeth and bents valves, its not a if its deffo a when
 

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main dealers want over £800 for a basic kit, genuine parts for chain and guides and tensioner and bottom sprocket plus stretch bolts £250 for genuine parts,, thats the trouble with new longer tensioners they make it sound fine until the day its not fine, it will start with needing a upstream 02 sensor or cat and feel like a hesitation when reving all the revs ie flat,, those engines when timing is perfect will rev in 3rd gear all way to limiter if dont then thats a good sign its running retarded,, i know people that had no warning went to start car in morning and it jumped teeth and bents valves, its not a if its deffo a when
So something interesting just happened, started my car after work and there was no weird sound that I had before. Looked down in the engine bay and the water pump pulley wasn't moving. I kept inspecting and then the noise starts to begin and when I check the water pump pulley again it's spinning. Odds on a knackered friction pulley? The water pump pulley looks alright itself, either that or the aux belt isn't giving enough friction to the friction pulley?
 

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Here's the drive belt, will post back after its changed with the result. Guessing it's the culprit
 

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Belt replaced and noise is gone
happy days nice when its not a expensive job. just bare in mind all the prince engines all suffer timing chain stretch even later N18 engines 60k-70k is good mileage to change them for piece of mind also running around with a retarded timed engine does a lot of collateral damages to them.
 

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Yeah chuffed with that, thanks for the help Mike. I'll defo get that done soon just for peace of mind!
 

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Yeah chuffed with that, thanks for the help Mike. I'll defo get that done soon just for peace of mind!
little tip ocean bmw in plymouth do genuine timing chain kits for £260 with the longer tensioner ie guides and bottom sprocket chain tensioner
 
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