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Mini Mk2 (R56) common problems (2006-2013)


Talk about a gamble. When BMW decided to reinvent the Mini, it was, in effect, meddling with an institution. Thankfully, the company got it bang-on, and sales were huge. That’s probably why it didn’t change much about the car’s appearance for the second-generation ‘new’ model – if it ain’t broke…

However, while the looks of the Mini, which is codenamed R56, might not have been broken, some other parts of it are prone to the odd failure. Still, that’s nothing for the confident home mechanic to worry about, because we at Haynes are here to help you diagnose those niggling issues that sometimes crop up on the second-generation Mini, and once you’ve sussed out what’s wrong we’ll be there to help you through the repair process, too.

So, not only will you have the sense of satisfaction brought on by sorting your car yourself, but you’ll also save the hundreds of pounds you would have spent on garage labour bills. Winner, winner.

Mini Mk2

What recalls has the Mini been subject to?

The Mini R56 has been recalled on a few occasions, but certainly not very often.

The first recalled concerned a short circuit in the printed circuit board for the additional water pump. This affected 5866 cars, and the solution was for the additional water pump to be replaced.

Next, 163 cars were recalled because an incorrect anti-roll bar had been fitted to the rear axle, with the potential for loss of control. The bar was replaced with the correct item.

Then 30,149 models fitted with an extra coolant pump for the turbocharger were recalled to have the pump replaced with a modified part.

However, that’s the lot, which is a pretty good result.


What common problems does the Mini Mk2 have?

One common issue is with the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, which is codenamed N14. This has a known issue with the timing chain tensioner.

Another engine issue with the Mini concerns the turbocharger wastegate vacuum valve, which can fail and cause the car to run poorly.

The gearshift can cause problems too, because it can seize up completely. And a number of owners have reported an issue that causes the headlight to randomly raise and lower the height of their beams.

And finally, the high-pressure fuel pump is known to be a touch on the delicate side, and can fail.

Mini Mk2

Does the Mini have a fragile timing chain tensioner?

There have been quite a few reports of the Mini Cooper S with the N14 engine suffering a failure of the timing chain tensioner. A stretched timing chain will also cause a worrying rattle at idle and will make the engine perform jerkily.

The solution is to remove the timing chain and tensioner and replace them with new, upgraded items – and soon, because if they fail they engine will be wrecked.

The procedure to replace the chain and tensioner can be found within your Haynes Mini manual. However, this is a lengthy procedure that can cause serious engine damage if carried out incorrectly, so make sure you know exactly what is required, and that you have the required tools to lock the engine in place while taking apart the timing system.

Mini R56

Why is your Mini running roughly?

Another issue that afflicts the Mini concerns its turbocharger wastegate system. If this acts up, then you’ll likely end up with an engine that runs rough and there will be a warning light on the dashboard.

First up, plug in a fault-code reader. If this displays the codes 2C57, 2CB3 or 2C91, then the wastegate system is at fault, perhaps in the wastegate actuation or a blow-off valve that’s clamped open.

There’s no option but to take apart the system to find out exactly which component is at fault, and then you’ll have to replace it. Again, this procedure is covered in the Haynes Mini manual, so, read up and away you go.

Mini R56

Is it hard to change gear in your Mini?

The Mini gearbox is another source of a common fault. This is because the selector shaft can become corroded and gradually seize up, rendering the gearshift inoperative. That’ll spoil your journey.

Your first task is to remove the gear selector cable from the gearbox, as is covered in your Haynes Mini manual. If there’s nothing wrong with the cable, it’s the selector shaft at fault, so you’ll need to remove it from the gearbox and replace it with a new one (part number: 23 00 7 602 720).

Then it’s just a case of reattaching the gearshift selector cable to the gearbox, and the world of cog-swapping will be yours to enjoy once more.

Mini R56

Why are your Mini headlights raising and lowering?

Some owners of the second-generation Mini have talked of a fault that manifests itself through the headlights raising and lowering themselves when the car is idling or being driven slowly. This is also noticeable if you’re driving along a flat, straight road.

The issue is that the wiring for the headlights is poorly routed and can rub against one of the engine ground points, causing the wiring to become chafed and initiating the fault.

The solution is to wrap the affected wiring in strong tape, which will protect it.

However, if you need to change the headlight bulbs on your Mini, simply watch our FREE video below.

Has your Mini high-pressure fuel pump failed?

Quite a common issue on the Mini is a failure of the high-pressure fuel pump.

This manifests itself in several ways. There can be fuel in the engine oil, plus a number of fault codes (3E90, 4560, 4570, 4600, 4610, 4B90, A125).

If you’ve plugged in a fault-code reader and any of these codes is present, then it’s time to check the fuel filter. If the pump has failed, you are likely to find metal filings in the fuel filter.

The only solution is replacement of the pump, but this is a procedure that’s covered fully in the Haynes Mini manual. It isn’t that difficult either, so just gather together your tools, the new pump, and get cracking.

Mini R56