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MINI Solves the R56 Cold Start Issue

death rattle

The Death rattle. It’s a story we’ve been following closely on MF since 2007 and a topic many of you have been extremely concerned about. Last year we posted a lengthy expose on the topic that you can read here. But for owners affected, this news will bring a huge sigh of relief.

For a bit of background on the issue, here’s a description of the issue we posted last year:

The cold start issue has been a common theme popping up in the Faults and Fixes threads on various MINI forums. Specifically, MCS owners complaining about a peculiarly loud engine rattle on start-up. Now the R56 is an “interesting” sounding engine to begin with. The direct fuel injection solenoids give the car a very diesel-esque sound at idle. But this is a very different sound altogether.

BMW has determined that the cold start rattle was/is being caused by the timing chain tensioner (which is in turn powered by an oil-pressurized piston). More specifically the sound is caused when the tensioner piston doesn’t extend all the way (or at all) which then allows the timing chain to come in contact with the guides on the engine cover.

After two years of research into the issue MINI now has official repair information at dealers that will eliminate the issue. The PuMA measure number that will need to be referenced is 10686850-13 (we’ve seen 10686850-12 mentioned but we believe 13 is the latest) and the part number is 11.31.7.598.956. According to the information we’ve seen, all cars affected in with the issue will get a new timing chain, chain guides, cam sprockets and VANOS unit.

At this stage MINI is handling this on a case by case basis when the owner complains about the sound. We’re guessing they would like to steer clear of something along the lines of a recall (voluntary or otherwise) due to the cost of the service. However don’t be surprised to see and hear more about this issue and the official fix soon.

In the mean time if your 2007-2009 MCS is affected we’d urge you to call and make an appointment at your local dealer.

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Written By: Gabe

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1222762568 Stephen Warwick

    Hi Adam, I had the Puma Ref:10686850 – 14 to fix the rattle on my JCW 2008 model,But after the fix I then had a misfire at 5000 rpm, BMW only fitted a timing chain tensioner because that is all my car needed but I am in the UK wear the Mini is made, currently I have no noise to say about and this is the last BMW fix. The new misfire did get a new PUMA number and has now been sorted after 10 day. BMW list’s all problems and new ones and solutions ( PUMA list )

  • Michele Roles

    I have a 2007 Mini Cooper S. I had my Mini into Mini of Baltimore, Maryland (formerly, Mini of Towson)numberous times for the loud, cold start engine noise. First, the service department told me they couldn’t duplicate the noise. Then, they kept my Mini over night and still they could not duplicate the noise. Then, they said they were aware of the issue but it wouldn’t cause any damage or problem to the engine…it was just a loud engine. Then finally, they put this “band-aid” fix….replaced the timing chain tensioner. Since this “band-aid” was put on, (less than a year ago), the car continued to have the loud rattling “death rattle”. Now that my Mini is out of warranty and is extremely difficult to start, Mini of Baltimore, Maryland has FINALLY REALIZED that the timing chain is stretched and the guide is broke. Mini USA is paying for the parts but I have to pay the $900.00 in labor. Needless to say, I’M NOT HAPPY!!!! If the tensioner was not getting the proper oil and needed to be replaced….the chain was not getting enough oil and it too should have been replaced while under warranty. I now hate my MINI!!! I do not recomend ANYONE Purchase a MINI. Mini USA does not stand behind their product…they stand behind the DEALERSHIPS and their deceptive practices. I also had a problem with my Sun roof. The sunroof would stick. While under warranty, I took it to the dealership and they adjusted it. I then had “air noise” which I did not have before they adjusted the sunroof. So, I again took it back to the dealership several times and guess what? They could not duplicate the noise. So, eventually my sunroof opened on one side and not the other. The dealership wanted $700.00 just to close it. NOT FIX IT…ONLY CLOSE IT!! It would now cost me $4,000.00 to have the sunroof fixed! DON’T EVER BUY A MINI! MINI does not stand behind their product….they stand behind the dealerships and their deceptive practices!

  • Peter S

    My 2008 Mini S has had the start up noise for at least a year. It’s 2.5 years old with 68k miles. The racket and shaking is now bad enough that it is leaking oil from a couple different points. I have a guy in San Pedro, CA who thinks he can do the recommended fix for $2k. I have a call into Mini Long Beach and MiniUSA to see if they will pay for parts as described above. I’d be happy to get out of this for $900. I totally agree that the Mini dealers are total scam artists. Bob Smith Mini Calabasas, where it was towed when the low engine oil light came on, tried to put me on the hook for $1,000 in labor just to diagnose the problem. I immediately had AAA tow it to a private mechanic, and now that I have researchd the issue, I think it’s criminal that Mini Calabasas was going to charge me $1,000 to diagnose a problem MINIUSA is well aware of. I’m also going to ask Mini Long Beach to take my car at max-resale value and try to walk away from it, and maybe into the new model once I research that.

    • http://twitter.com/topscientist Top Scientist

      The new Mini model? Wow, you’re dumber than a stump if you do that after that experience.

  • http://www.youtube.com/mrryno45 Ryan

    Here’s the death rattle to my 2008 base cooper. Looks like i’m in for it. Great. I contacted BMW of North America and they basically made a file for my complaint but need the problem diagnosed by the dealer. I’m waiting on my service advisor to contact me back at the moment. Hopefully I get some good news. I’m beyond the warranty now, so this should be interesting…

    http://www.youtube.com/user/MrRyno45#p/a/u/1/KBES5N1_B_U

    http://www.youtube.com/user/MrRyno45#p/a/u/0/DcWdjTep9q0

  • Greg

    I have 2007 Cooper S. I just took it in a few days ago and mentioned the rattle sputtering sound at cold start and the next day the advisor called me telling me it needed a new timing chain.

    I was curious when they replace the timing chain does that automatically include the tensioner and the other related parts or should I make it a point to ask if that is also being done?

    I see this thread go back pretty far, for those of you that have had yours replaced and some time has now passes how has your MINI been to you? Should I sell it and move on. I am out of warranty as of the end of January.

    • Craig

      I have a 2009 clubman JCW. I love the car but this is my third time in with the noise, First engine light came on after 1 month in owning it then the second time the engine dumped oil, First went to MINI Escondido, Second time Bob Smith MINI Calabasa. I am at Mini Ontario right now and they told me that I ma out of warranty which is true and that I will need to call 1-866-275-6464 to talk to them about this problem to see if they will cover it since it has happened twice before and have not fixed the problem yet. If they don’t cover it I think it is time to do something, lemon laws, recall, etc… more if needed. I paided a lot of money for this car to have to many issues.

  • Lapounk

    J’ai les boules, j’ai commandé ma Mini et devrait la recevoir d’ici 1 mois mais en lisant tout ces post je regrette déjà de l’avoir commandé :o(

  • Mike

    I have a 2009 S and had the same issue. I noticed a small oil leak coming from the timing chair tensioner bolt. Since I had 54,000 miles on my car, I called the local dealer to check if the repair was covered under warranty. No commitment from MINI! The service manager asked me to being the car in for service and he would call MINI. I decided to make the repair myself – very simple. It took less than a hour. They key is using WD40 or similar oil to loosen the hose on the bottom “Y” fitting.

    Note: My tensioner bolt was only hand tight! Luckily the bolt never backed out. I can’t believe MINI has not recalled this part. I was very fortunate to notice the oil leak. If you own a 2009 MINI, take you car in for service or make the repair yourself. If you can hold a wrench and watch YouTube, you can make this repair.


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