R56 Cold Start Official Fix Coming

MF Exclusive: For all those who might have missed the story initially (and all 200 comments) some R56 Cooper S’ have been experiencing some odd noises on start-up. After posing the question to friends at MINI early this year, we finally have some answers. Sources tell us that the cold start or noisy start issue that some R56 owners have been experiencing has been acknowledged, at least internally, and a fix is in the works. Various solutions have been sought from the dealer level on up to address the problem (with very mixed results). From an engineering standpoint the problem has to be repeatedly replicated to find the source of the issue and that takes time. According to these same sources the problem is within the engine management software and a fix is currently in the works. This is still preliminary but hopefully those who are experiencing the issue won’t have too much longer to wait.

If this is indeed a software issue, a simple software update could solve the problem as it did with the engine stumble and/or yo-yo experienced by many 2002-2003 MINI owners. As always, we’ll keep you posted as information comes in regarding this issue.


+ R56 MCS Cold Start Issue Exposed / MotoringFile

  • korby

    I’l believe it when I see it ! But Thanks

  • rhawth99

    Sounds like BMW screwed up the logic of when the oil pump should be running. Guess they didn’t consider that an engine needs lubrication while starting and when it is coming up to temperature. 🙁

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  • LynnC

    Let’s not forget the R56 MC as well. Mine has the cold start noise, but evidently not as extreme as the MCS variants. Mine sounds exactly like too much valve clearance and/or a collapsed lifter. My amateur diagnosis was insufficient oiling so it is good to see some validation from MINI. My dealer could not replicate the noise, of course. It sounds exactly like someone tapping a screwdriver on the underside of the hood. Anyone with an older engine that needed the valves adjusted knows the noise. The noise goes away quickly and then life is good until the next cold start. It is definitely not injector noise. And only occurs at temperatures of 40 F or less.

  • Dylan

    Thank you for the update. When starting from cold, this now happens to me more often than not (15,000ks on the clock). Hopefully no long-term damage has been done.

  • C4

    Hard to believe this is strictly a software originated problem. Hope they are not approaching this with a “band aid” fix.

  • nuvolari
    If this is indeed a software issue, a simple software update could solve the problem as it did with the engine stumble and/or yo-yo experienced by many 2002-2003 MINI owners.

    The stumble and yo-yo issues were resolved by a software update? I think a lot of 02-03 owners (who had their ECUs reflashed multiple times trying to resolve these problems to no avail) would be surprised to hear that.

  • mike

    Does anyone know if this has happened on the MCS with JCW stage 1 kit? I’m almost at 6700 miles and haven’t had any issue… yet.

  • Lee L

    Hopefully they do a better job with this that the “yo-yo” since they never actually did fix that.

  • Boro Boy
    Does anyone know if this has happened on the MCS with JCW stage 1 kit? I’m almost at 6700 miles and haven’t had any issue… yet.

    Yep, the issue is not affected by the fitment of the JCW kit. That is, if you had the clatter before, you’ll have it after as it were. Was/is the case with mine anyhow.

  • mike

    Thanks Boro. What about those who have had their kit fitted from the start? Anyone?

  • Does anyone know if this has happened on the MCS with JCW stage 1 kit? I’m almost at 6700 miles and haven’t had any issue… yet.

    No problems here at 7700 miles.

  • Thanks for the info..

    i had the same problem with my R56 and it was solved by the dealer


  • Brian

    I still have my 03 MCS and my yo-yo issue was fixed with a software update.

    I’m sure they will eventually fix it for the R56 owners.

  • Ken E.

    If this is indeed a software issue, a simple software update could solve the problem as it did with the engine stumble and/or yo-yo experienced by many 2002-2003 MINI owners.

    That software fix did nothing to fix the yo-yo.

    But, it did give me the problem when the dealer flashed it without asking first. I never knew what other owners where talking about until the dealer gave my car the yo-yo that it didn’t have before. I have an “08” but I hope I don’t have this issue.

  • lavardera

    Before it was surmised that it had to do with the design of vale train components – the parking angle allowed oil to drain out which otherwise sustained lubrication till the running engine replenished it. This was the discussion at Michigan Mini club’s messageboards:


    Since we have a computer controlled oil pump rather than a mechanical I suppose they could software patch it to provide oil earlier, upon the start-up. I guess we will find out.

  • msh441

    My first engine… replaced due to this very issue… had the jCW Stage 1 kit installed. So I woould second the opinion that the kit makes no difference.

    That said… I’m 4500 miles into engine #2 (JCW kit, too) with no sign of the rattle this time around. So this is definatly a hit or miss issue. I pray it stays a “miss” for me this time around.

  • Fred

    Thanks for the updated information.

  • GregW

    Funny this noise subject should come up. I notice that the R56 I am driving does sound like a rattley old diesel and I even checked the oil level. This is at 5000 miles. I just thought it must be the way it should be with the valvetronic set up. Now I am worried.

  • Dr Obnxs

    I”m skeptical…. The guy on the Michagan Mini site did a very, very thoroug analysis of what makes the noise and why it’s not just an oil pressure issue. Oh well, a software update that keeps in from happening is much cheaper for Mini than replacing a bunch of rocker/lifter assembies. But really, if it’s software control of the oil pump, then I really have to laugh. This is when the pump should be pushing as much as it can!

    Let’s just hope that this is more sucessful than changing the tensioner, the first official fix!


  • lavardera

    GregW – don’t confuse the fuel injection sound with this. This sound happens at start up and goes away as the car warms up, sometimes in seconds, sometimes minutes.

  • Can somebody please show me on RealOEM where this mystical electronically controlled oil pump is? The only one I see is driven off the crankshaft with a chain, and it’s explicitly called “oil pump”.


  • mlg2ca

    I think we all need to thank MF for bringing this issue at the forefront. I am sure that it was instrumental for BMW to here our collective voices. Having said that, I have over 28K kms on the odo with only one occurence (after the car went to dealer for oil change). The fact that this might be just a software fix supports my theory that the engine may be behaving like a diesel. Let’s not forget, direct injection spark engines are a relatively new concept.

  • J Ryan

    That’s the reason I am holding off on trading in my current MINI. I will have to wait to hear some real proof.

    This is what I found on the oil pump through Google:

    “Yet a further innovation in the MINI segment is the introduction of a volume flow-controlled oil pump on the engines. Driven by a chain, the pump delivers only as much oil at any time as is actually required by the engine, thus reducing the drive power required by the ancillary units by approximately 160 Watt, saving approximately 1.25 kW at 6,000 rpm, and reducing fuel consumption by roughly 1 per cent.”

    So if it is a lubrication issue, it would depend on whether this flow-control is managed through ECU software or done hydralically/mechanically. In any case, I would at least wait for a 2009 before moving to the new MINI.

  • theworks

    I have a new 09 JCW to arrive any day now. I hope the fix was done before they finalized the development of the engine. Or will the 09 jcw be the same ???? I will keep you posted

  • GregW

    My Technical guy says that there are two issues on the MINI PuMA system – the Vacuum pump noise (when you remove the oil cap) and the chain noise thing. Then theres another issue when the engine squawks. Apparently the BMW PuMA system has a video with sound of these examples.

  • Victor

    The oil pump is able to vary it’s flow rate and load on the engine, it is a gear pump and driven by the motor.

    From the BMW engine release.

    “Controlled volume flow for even greater fuel economy. On-demand oil supply delivers exactly the amount of engine oil required, no more and more and no less. Accordingly, the oil pump controlled as a function of volume flow reduces fuel consumption by up to 1 per cent. Together with the oil/water heat exchanger, the on-demand water pump serves to further reduce fuel consumption and emissions. This again saves drive power and warms up the engine more quickly, coolant only being circulated when the engine has reached its operating temperature.”

  • I’ve got 16800+ miles on my 2007 MCS and have only seen the issue once; after my car was sitting in my garage for about a week. There were about 12000 miles on it at the time. Usually I park on a sloped driveway but the garage is level, maybe related? The sounds that engine was making on startup caused even my wife and daughter in the dining room to sit up and take notice. Anyway, the engine calmed down after only about 5-10 seconds and it hasn’t happened again. I’ve had the oil changed since then and the dealer didn’t notice any issues but was aware of the cold start problem in the newer engines.

  • Aussom

    Agree with others in this thread – Considering how much the MINIs cost in Australia, I’m still holding onto my trusty, reliable, dependable (i.e., proven) R50 2002 MCS until this issue is well and truly fixed. If the upcoming R60 offers a different engine that has proven reliability at the right price, then I may be tempted to change over.

    Keep up the good work & hoping to see a complete and proven solution soon.

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  • Mark

    Hi everyone,

    As a UK MINI owner suffering the same problems as you guys I thought I would add my thoughts and experiences. My March 07 Cooper S has been back 5 times now to the dealers, they have changed the timing chain tensioner and the timing chain, they now tell me that a permenant fix is coming in December 08 in the UK in the form of a 100% spring tension timing chain tensioner rather than the current oil pressure tensioner. This would make sense, however, no-one knows if it’s the definitive cure until they arrive!

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  • Bryan Henry

    Are there ANY SOLUTIONS???? The belt tensioner is by far the worst design that has ever been put on a car. My belt failed and the tensioner jammed into the harmonic balancer with such force it killed the bearings on my 2003 cooper s. I talked to a few of my fellow mini maniacs and heard their horror stories as well . One of them actually got the dealer to foot the bill after the warranty was over , go figure . I tried and was DENIED>> Something should be done about this , If my belt fails again and it costs me another $1200.00 to fix I`ll go postal.

  • Malcolm Pace

    Hi has there been any updates regarding this subject?

    Coz after a hot summer here in Malta… today the temperatures got a bit cooler and the noise is back 🙁

    any help please

    cheers Malcolm

  • spiff

    Not any help that I know of, nor official info. I’m waiting for a Peugeot 207 RC now (Same R56 engine) for over 3 months and it will take 2 more.. and still, no official info that I know of.

    Getting tired of both the delay (Peugeot sucks) and the lack of official info regarding this. Perhaps it is time to look at other possibilities and other brands/engines… the EP6 DTS is not only noisy when cold but apparently slow getting here from France…

  • Dylan

    My dealer failed to fix the problem (no surprises there) and have negotiated with BMW to have the entire engine replaced. My advice to anyone with a similar problem is to read up on consumer law in your country and leverage it to your advantage. Bottom line is the affected engines aren’t working as intended and should either be fixed or replaced. Waiting shouldn’t be an option.

  • Dave K

    My ’08 MCS did this for the first time for more than 1 min, Eng has just turned 10K mi’s, happened very briefly in the past only lasting for seconds. Had to shut it down as it was more than I could stand, took a few restarts for it to stop. I was lucky I was not on my way to work, it was on a Sunday and 75 deg F. I have re-built many engines over the years, BMW, Jaguar and Porsche. This is a valve Tappet issue, lack of oil and the tappets are not pumping up, so the valves & tappets are slapping and that is not a good thing. We need a fix now or at the very least 100k Mi. warranty coverage for those of us with the issue, BMW needs to put their money where there their mouth is. As my long term confidence in this other wise superb little car is nil.

    Dave K

  • Spiff

  • Sax

    Any news on this one? Have they managed to solve the problem? I have the same problem but my car has 35.000 km on the clock. It happened two or three times in the morning.

  • Dylan

    Update: my engine has been replaced, and with just 900ks on the new engine the noise is back loud as ever. Not happy!

  • barice

    Well, when is this “cold start” fix coming? It seems my ’07 MCS (11Kmiles) has started to do the “noise” again now the temperature is dropping. This morning I had to restart the engine three times!! (~35F here, in Boston). Although annoying, it did the trick and the noise disappeared. It seems restarting the engine solves the problem… until the next day. My wife and I are getting sick of this noise and we are currently thinking in getting rid of this car ( It has been almost 4 months since it was reported that MINI was looking into this issue. Any word on it? I have little hope our official dealers have any information about what is going on internally. What amazes me is that MINI quickly released sort of a recall due to the complaints of three people (as far as I know) who reported getting burned by the MCS’ tail pipes. This issue, on the other hand, has been reported by hundreds (thousands?) of MCS owners and nothing has materialized yet…. NOT HAPPY EITHER!!!

  • Glenn

    Does block heater help with this issue?

  • TK76911S

    I now have the dreaded CS death rattle. ‘08 MCS – del. 2/08. 12,000 miles. Without prompting, my 16-year old, soon-to-be-driving son asked me: “What’s that noise?”

    I can tell you it dashed any desires I had re: a 2d MINI, the JCW factory, cabrio, Stage 1 JCW, JCW suspension, MINI bits, etc.

    What gives at BMW? With winter rolling around again, doesn’t BMW realize the issue will be back again? And this time with a vengeance in the same engine that is also in its coveted Clubman? Wait till it hits the engines of those who just sunk $40k in new factory JCWs.

    The noise is a downright embarassment when I start the car. Like the old days of having a dragging muffler. BMW should be horrified to have that clatter on their niche brand.

    If this persists, I’ll sadly forego any MINI/BMW product and simply trade for a less-troublesome vehicle and brand. I otherwise love the little car, as does my wife (who, until now, was talking about getting one for herself).

    Do the math BMW: the rule of thumb is that for every single disgruntled customer, twelve future customers are lost. How many here and on NAM have already posted re: their unanswered complaints?

    Gabe and MF Crew, any updates from BMW/MINI?

  • r.burns

    There is absolutely not a single proof that this noise is damaging the motor, so why worry ? It happens only when there is no pressure on the accelerator pedal, so this “problem” is quite ridiculous !!

  • boroboy

    r.burns – it sounds like you may be referring to something quite different. I can assure you, the issue as described in detail in the article is definitely a problem with the R56 MCS. I think TK76911S has expressed what ought to be a sobering view for BMW MINI, especially in the current financial climate.

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  • Roccorocket

    Referring to the yo-yo thing, I didn’t have the issue until they plugged in the so called fix.

    I have an “08” I hope its not another Cluster ****!

  • islabáez

    Has anyone in the UK received the fix for the cold start that was anticipated in December? How did that work for you or anyone in the world with an afflicted R56 (MINI Cooper S engine)?

  • barice

    I’m currently enjoying 3 1/2 weeks of wonderful summer weather in Brazil… but I am already fearing what my 07 MCS will “tell” me when I fire up its heart upon my return. 25 winter days in Boston…. I’ve never had a similar feeling with any of my previous vehicles. They never complained. Before leaving, I stopped by my local dealer to find out if they heard anything about this “fix” I’m so eager about. They didn’t. I hope they do now. So far this has been a love/hate experience. If this doesn’t get resolved by the spring, I will get rid of it.


  • Boro Boy

    Gabe – you reported some time ago that you were aware that MINI were formulating a fix, and several owners have gleaned info from various sources, so that we are now in a position to understand that the fix is in the form of a replacement mechanically-operated cam chain tensioner. Do you know if MINI have officially stated that this is the case? I get the feeling that most dealers are not aware of it. It would be nice to know if all R56 MCS owners will shortly be receiving ‘quality enhancement’ letters! Cheers.

  • Gary

    Still nothing from BMW MINI on this?

    A small part of me is hoping that the problem has been mitigated in the R57 — maybe one of those quiet, semi-covert engineering updates that are not publicized so as to not draw attention to the original problem (to wit: the wiring harness improvements on the 1st Gen PS pump fan). I’m still betting on a software update.

    I’d love to be in a position to place an order on a new R57 S very soon, but I absolutely will NOT without evidence that the R56 cold start death rattle has not been inherited.

  • Peter Caldwell

    We have a Peugeot 207GT (early 2008) – same engine – same noise. In November 2008 we left the car with the dealer for 2 weeks. They replaced the ‘inlet cam hub’. The noise returned about two weeks later and got worse. Mid January 2009 the dealer had it for 2 more weeks and replaced the ‘timing belt tensioner’ The dealer claims this is the only example of this problem he has seen – I referred him to this site. It is summer here in Melbourne and fairly hot – so cold weather is not a big factor.

    Peter Caldwell Melbourne Australia

  • Gary

    There are now posts on MINI2 linking this issue to catastrophic engine failures:


    The situation is getting dire.

  • oldMGguy

    There have been two revised timing chain tensioners available to the US MINI dealers so far – April ’08 (#11317565868) and November ’08 (#11317582036). Neither part has been effective in stopping the start-up “death rattle”. There are reports on the UK-based MINI2 forum that fix version 3.0 is rolling out to UK dealers. Apparently a much more extensive replacement of tensioner (with internal spring), timing chain, guides, and sprockets. A few owners with the new parts report a quiet start for the first month at least. Time will tell. I don’t know the part number of the new repair kit, sorry …

  • barice

    What “oldMGguy” states (Feb 23rd) is correct, according to http://www.realoem.com/bmw. Realizing there apparently was a sort of redesigned chain tensioner (the November ’08 part no. 11317582036), I decided to give it a try on my R56 MCS built 06/07. It was “apparently” replaced just a few days ago by Herb Chambers MINI of Boston. I stress “apparently” because it DID NOT make any difference at all. The cold start death rattle is still there, from the day I got the car back from the dealer. To me is if nothing was really done to it. I am VERY disappointed and now eager to learn more about the “fix version 3.0”. The warranty on the car will run out in a little over 2 years. I am not sure if I will wait that long for a solution.

    I think, at this point, we should get some satisfaction from BMW. We need to get some answers. If those do not exist, then we have to get together and force a reaction from BMW, even if this means a class action law suit. I think this site could help us out. I think Gabe, Matt, Don and Co. can give us a hand as they have the resources we lack.


  • Gary

    Well, our mates over in the UK with the cold start death rattle have been reporting back-fits of “Chain Tensioner v3.0” since the second week of the month (March). So far, there have been zero reports of the rattle coming back.

    I’m scared to even hope…did they actually get it right this time? Could we finally be putting this issue behind us? (Yeah, I know. It’s still too early to draw conclusions…)

  • oldMGguy

    Here’s the numbers for the new “death rattle” version 3.0 fix:

    The PuMA measure number is 10686850-12 and it was released on the 24/02/09,so it’s pretty new. The part number for the new tensioner is Modified tensioners are supposed to be installed in new and re-manufactured engines beginning in March ’09.

    (from a post on the MINI2 website)

    Everyone gets a new redesigned chain tensioner assembly. Depending on the installed measurement of the chain, cars may also get a new timing chain, guides, Vanos sprocket, and other sprockets.

  • mini lover

    any more update on the issue?

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  • I have the same problem from the time i bought my 2007 MC.I hope this problem ends soon before my Mini warranty expires.

  • Jodie

    I have a 2008 Clubman S. My Coop started having the loud rattle in the morning on cold days after only 5,000 miles. I took it to the dealer and they said there were timing belt issues and that they replaced the tensioner. The noise went away and of course this summer no issues since it’s warm out. Now that it’s fall and we’ve had a few 34 degree nights here in Minneapolis, the rattle is back. And now my car has a jerky acceleration and idle at low speeds. I can barely shift it (it’s a manual) because of the jerky acceleration. The dealer has had my car for three days and they say they can’t get it to log codes on the computer. They are giving it back to me and say it has no problems. It’s got 42,000 miles on it and will be out of warranty soon, which really worries me.

  • Rixter

    So here’s how I duplicated the cold-start rattle everytime… Started the car and moved it 10 feet (from garage to driveway) Left car in driveway for 45 minutes (simulating length of time to wash Spike). No wash actually occured and Spike was not injured during the exercise Started up the car and drove it 10 feet (back into garage) Started Spike the next day and he was rattling for the first mile from my place This proves out the theory that water is not a contributing factor. I don’t know if you actually need to leave the car over night, but you do need to leave it for several hours. The problem relates to the car not getting up to full operating temperature before being shut down. Give this a whirl and see what happens.



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