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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Folks.
Hope someone can help me out here.
I've got a 2007 Mini Cooper non-turbo which suddenly stared stalling on me at traffic lights and pretty much every time I came to a standstill. There was no warning light at this point.
After reading this forum, I decided to replace both Vanos solenoids. The old ones were spotlessly clean, with zero crud, but I replaced them anyway. After replacing them, the car stopped stalling at idle but the idle became erratic and the revs now fluctuate between 700rpm and 2000rpm without me touching the accelerator. Now I'm getting a CEL warning light after a few minutes of idling and the engine seems to surge before the fault light comes on.
I've plugged in my basic fault reader and the warning light relates to a P0015 code. I've swapped over the camshaft position sensors and the fault remains the same.
I had the timing chain replaced at 69,000 miles and the car has now done 72,000 miles so I'm stumped as to why this would start happening now.
The only thing I did prior to this fault starting was to change the oil and filter. I did use a cheapo filter so I have done an engine flush, replaced the oil and this time I used a genuine BMW Mini oil filter. The idle is still erratic and the P0015 code is still coming on, after a surge.
I've read threads on this forum relating to this fault code, however they all seem to have occurred after a timing chain replacement. My timing chain was replaced 3000 miles ago and the car was running beautifully until about 100 miles ago. Could an oil change produce this fault or am I barking up the wrong tree?
 

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P0015 code definition
Camshaft Position “B” - Timing Over-Retarded (Bank 1)

What the P0015 code means
P0015 is the OBD-II generic code indicating the engine control module (ECM) has determined that the exhaust camshaft timing for bank 1 is more retarded than what the ECM has commanded it to be. The over-retarded timing condition can be during the advancing or retarding phase.

What causes the P0015 code?
  • The variable camshaft timing (VCT) oil control valve (OCV) is stuck in the open position.
  • The camshaft phaser is stuck in the retarded position due to damage or clogged oil passages.
  • Oil flow problems to the VCT piston and phaser from incorrect oil viscosity.
  • The OCV has an open circuit or the ECM has an open circuit.
What are the symptoms of the P0015 code?
  • The Check Engine Light comes on if the timing is commanded to move, but it stays retarded.
  • The engine will have a hard start and low power condition due to the retarded timing position.
  • The engine fuel mileage will go down.
  • The engine may stall, hesitate, and run rougher than normal.
Note: The camshaft position will cause erratic drive complaints depending on the camshaft failed position.

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0015 code?
  • Does a visual check for problems with the connections or wiring of the OCV
  • Checks the engine oil to see if it is full of clean correct viscosity oil
  • Scans and documents engine codes and views the freeze frame data to see when the code was set
  • Resets the Check Engine Light and road tests again to see if the code returns
  • Commands the OCV on and off with the scan tool to see if the camshaft timing changes
  • Performs the manufacturer’s tests for the P0015 code
Note: The manufacturer's recommended pinpoint test is used to narrow down the problem. Possible engine internal damage may be done if tests are not performed in accordance with a correct procedure.

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0015 code?
Follow these simple guidelines to prevent mistakes:

  • Verify the failure and codes before attempting any repairs.
  • Do a visual check for any problems with the wiring or connections to the components.
  • Do all pinpoint test steps to help prevent misdiagnosis of good components.
  • Replace parts only as directed by the pinpoint test or after a visual check indicates a problem.
How serious is the P0015 code?
  • Erratic engine running conditions like stalling and rough running may occur.
  • Excessive fuel consumption and hesitation of the engine will follow with carbon fouling of some valve and piston engine components.
  • Driving the vehicle for a prolonged time with the camshafts retarded may cause additional internal engine problems depending on the failed part.
What repairs can fix the P0015 code?
  • Resetting the fault codes and performing a road test
  • Replacing camshaft phasers on both camshaft banks
  • Repairing the wiring or connection to the camshaft OCV
  • Replacing the camshaft OCV for bank 1 exhaust camshaft
  • Replacing timing chain and guides
Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0015 code
The camshaft phaser controls the timing advance and retard function through oil pressure and oil. If the camshaft phaser is leaking oil or the phaser is broken internally then both phasers should be replaced on both banks of the cams.

when timing chain replaced were new stretch bolts used for cams and crank, you say replaced the oil control valves what valves were used,, the cheap Chinese ones are rubbish genuine or FAI genuine are a must link below.
would also need to lock the cams and crank and check something has not moved or was stalled incorrectly n the first place,, believe me i have seen many over the years were a so called mechanic has fitted one for the first time and not get right the first time
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks so much for that info. I'm not sure if the vanos solenoids I used were cheap Chinese ones but they but they weren't OEM. Would the quality really make a difference? Surely they either work or don't work? If this is not the case, would cheap vanos solenoids cause this issue?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So, I've pretty much taken my fault-finding as far as I can now:
I've checked the oil non-return valve and the vacuum pump and they're both perfectly clean and functional so it looks like I'll have to take it to garage to have the timing looked at cos I can't justify spending £250 on a timing tool.
The only other thing I've noticed is a ticking sound which, I think, is coming from the phaser side of the head. This ticking seems to come and go as the engine surges, which makes me think it's a phaser issue. Do these just suddenly 'go'? Nothing has been done inside the valve cover since the chain replacement being 3000 miles ago.
 

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think you need to start again with a scan tool that will scan all codes and will allow live data on all the controllers or take it to a garage who have proper diagnostics tools,,, these engines are stupid complex and i have had this fault of idle is all over the place on a few of them and each time been something different,, the last one was throttle body worn out another was 02 sensor or cat, another was broken chain tensioner after using a cheap shit chinese one
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Mike. That's what I'll do then. I'm going to get full diagnostics done and hopefully it'll be sonething electrical. If not, I've found an independent BMW Mini specialist to address any mechanical/cam timing issues. Thanks again for your help. I really appreciate it.
 

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will be interested in what you or they find with it helps me keep a idea of any thing new that comes along with them, these engines are state of the art and have won a lot of awards for emissions and design over the years and run on a knife edge so they must be serviced right and chain are a service item and 8-10k oil filter changes good way forward,
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yes, they're certainly very fickle. I'll definitely update you on my progress. Thanks again.
PS. Where are you based Mike?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Apart from tooth wear, what can go wrong with the vanos phasers and is there any way to test them? Are they spring loaded?
 

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yes spring loaded back to zero point, ie start of travel, they do fail wear out where bleed all the oil pressure from worn moving parts, can be checked with diagnostics see the vanos positions actual and prescribed and then rev engine see that both match as they advance and retard with revs and loads etc, very common is the oil control valve that controls them, also a new thing i have found with cheap timing chain kits is the chain tensioner goes rock hard and wont allow the movement of the vanos ,, i had this on a citreon the other day new chain kit on it very cheap taiwan tg part numbers on it found the engine when rev'd hard would rattle the inlet vvt and cam followers,, that little cherry kept me guessing for way to long ie never ran on to that before,, fitted a genuine latest spec timing chain tensioner to the new chain and guides etc now runs smooth and no chain noises, i tend to change the vanos's around 100-120k on a 60k timing change would reuse them again, FAI do a ok chain kit with vanos £280 ish,
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Brilliant. Thank you so much for that. I'll hopefully get some answers this week from diagnostics. I do think my issue is mechanical. My tensioner is the latest genuine BMW part and it was replaced 3000 miles ago with the chain so my thinking is phasers (if the timing itself is ok). I can also hear an intermittent ticking coming from the phaser end of the valve cover. Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a detailed reply.
 

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the prince engines all tick a bit they are fairly noisy as engines go, just rebuilt my cooper s n14 and it use zero oil now holds a 80psi oil pressure when hot, and its mapped and makes gti golfs look slow lol. that will tick also slight chain rub noises a well,, very common issue with gen 2 cars are 02 sensors going weak have had a lot of faults around them,, also aftermarket sensors are rubbish,, on non turbo engines ticking can be from injectors or even a faulty coil pack or two gap plugs can effect ie when gaps to big the spark gets blow out on compression at tdc, i set mine to 0.10mm to 0.12mm gap,, we played with it while on rolling road last time found it made more power with smaller gap to spark was stronger,, its known fact the coil packs on these engines are fairly weak and dont do well with hard cold plugs either ie iridium dont work as well at ngk platinum cause misfires at low revs and can cause fuel wash past piston ring on cold start up.s,
autocom cdp plus software off ebay will show vanos positions actual and prescribed cost around £50 best £50 you will even spend works on all cars to 2017 ish and has good live data options as you need to find these faults,,, starting form a good base is best way,, ie car serviced timing chain done new plus air filter and if above 80.000 miles chance are the 02 sensors will be worn out and as will the cat from a lot of cars with these same issues, you can new cat off ebay seller cats4u very cheap work well ie think turbo car ones are £112 and non turbo £140 main dealer wants £400 ish for genuine,, the good part about this is this all the fuelling is controlled from these sensors and will or should from that point do better mpg and just be better to drive, so will save money in long run, the prince engines all use oil from factory this oil gets held in cat and 02 sensors over time etc,, or think i over come this with mine by using different piston rings and heavy hone the bores etc and gapped the piston rings under 0.10mm when rebuilt it, i found on this engine after 60,000 miles the rings had worn and were 0.30mm to 0.50mm gaps and seems to be the norm for these engines and partly reason for oil use as well as low friction rings etc,, i fitted non coated rings and good make commonly used in race engines and no more money than factory ring sets,, i did try the bmw latest spec ring set first time with plastic oil control rings and they were shite would smoke on over run and on idle,, just thought would explain to have a open mind with these engines and the need to know all that should be healthy is just that first
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Wow. That's given me a lot to consider. I'm trying to look ahead to when I whip the valve cover off and fit my new timing tool (I bought a Laser 5149 tool and tensioner tool for £170) and, if the timing is ok, know what else to look for.
That Autocom tool sounds like a good investment. Thank you again.
 

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laser tool is good also draper do a really good timing tool that covers all prince engines,, funny enough years a go when could not afford the £400 bmw wanted for genuine lock tool kit ie when these engines were only out for 4 years not many cheap ones a round i found a chinese one ,, ie still got it, i crossed ref'd it with a genuine one and draper tools and it was perfect when added a feeler gauge to cam square lock points,, i've done so many now i dont use the pretension tool i use the spring tensioner to set timing and must have steady hand and a 27mm open ended spanner to hold camshafts so they do not move when doing up the bolts,, i also do the crank bolt up including the stretch part before setting the camshafts up this works a treat and reduces any risk of movement when setting the sprockets up,, i have a number of garages that send me these to do these days as its al about the process to get them timed right,, i got them so the vanos actual and prescribed are total the same number on autocom live data
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks again Mike. I think I have read every one of your posts online on this procedure. They are a great help. I've bought new crankshaft and camshaft bolts just in case my timing is out. Can I replace the crankshaft bolt without renewing the crankshaft sproket and oil seal? I'm still confused as to why Mini didn't put keyways on the camshaft and crankshaft sprockets to eliminate these timing problems?
 

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MUST ALWAYS REPLACE THE BOTTOM SPROCKET AND STRETCH BOLT,, also for piece of mind do the oil seal as well as its a new bolt of a few thousand miles down road it leaks,,, lightly oil the crankshaft bolt, the reason they dont keyway them i believe is cost and when at factory where engines are made the machines that offer up such parts dont need to wait for some human to drop a woodruf key in place maybe, its a psa engine as well on there diesels they cast the lock keyway n crankshafts to avoid above thats my theory on it. the only way mini or psa would eliminate these issues is by fitting a duplex type chain like the older engines did ie i bought bmw 325i and m3 and 325tds etc back in 90s never had chain issues due to the chain were thick and made in germany i expect,, today the chains seem to be designed to fail made of chocolate and stretch thats the issue,, ie they are more interested in saving a few grams of weight in the name of emissions than making something to last much past warranty times to be honest,, all makers except honda and some merc stuff do it,, gone the day when timing chain is life of car now its no better or worst than a timing belt,, nissan diesels when chain stretches and they all do it snaps the camshafts off when the chain lashes,,
when all cars are electric it looks like they will be 80% more reliable than a engine car also add the brakes will last over 100k as braking done by the regen systems etc, wonder what faults these maker will in build to these cars to keep stealing our money lol
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yeah, I wonder too lol. Despite their faults, I do love my Mini N12 engine. Before this, I had a Toyota Avensis which had a timing chain. It gave no issues but was boring as hell :0)
 

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i car hop like you would not believe my trouble is most cars bore me these days i've had a lot of sports bikes over the years but now have got to that age where cant be done with the risk involved anymore as i was always first to get anywhere when riding with groups lol not a good sign that, must admit do like the copper s i got at moment its a screamer now mapped and rev limit increased etc, i'm already looking around for next project to use for a few months lol, this mini had a piston failure and and turbo and cat as well only got just over 60k on it
 
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