MINI Solves the R56 Cold Start Issue

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 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.

  • Ryan T.

    Is this covered under warranty?

  • Sure good point about VANOS. Except MCS engines (i.e. turbo charged) don’t come with VANOS.

  • I got this done last month with that latter part number. Been working fine over 2k miles. Hopefully I don’t get anymore problems. Thanks Gabe.

  • rosvick

    I just checked my calendar, and it’s not April Fool’s Day….

    I’m surprised BMW actually investigated the problem, and have finally come up with a fix! Excellent news!

  • tony

    I believe this version of the fix has been available since late April. Hopefully time will tell that this is indeed the fix. If so I’m off to the dealer to place an order for a new R56.

  • emtrey

    My car does not rattle, but occasionally sounds very LOUD at start up. 07 JCW stage 1…any thoughts –is this the same issue?

  • Leo

    We had the first fix but that didn’t help. We are in line for the first pack that comes to the dealer.

  • Gary

    Everyone should be a little cautious about guzzling the Kool-aid just yet. It remains to be seen if the real root cause has been ferreted out, especially since replacement of the tensioner alone did not seem to fix the problem in the more severe cases. That said, 10686850-13 does seem to be enjoying widespread success in its implementation and that’s a good thing.

    Hopefully what we have is THE fix, and not just a really good band-aid. As Tony says, time will tell.

  • David

    Good to see a fix for this issue, however this is not related to the throttle body/intake manifold icing in very cold temperatures, correct? The cold start rattle is unacceptable to be sure, but the icing issue causes serious driveability problems and can trigger limp-home modes that I don’t want to experience next winter on my February build ’09 MCS.

  • The posting specifically mentions the R56. I’m pretty sure I have the same thing in my R55 Clubman. Apologies if I’m missing a detail or splitting hairs, but I assume the same applies since I have the same symptoms?

  • hardingsan

    @Kevin Bleicher: yeah, as far as i know the 55 and 56 have the same internals in the engine dept. you should be golden…


    Has this been incorporated into new builds? If so, starting when?

  • I posted a parts list and notes about this a few months ago in here somewhere. The service centre did mine over Christmas but they had my car for 6 weeks while they waited for parts on worldwide back order. No issues since 🙂

  • Gary


    Circumstantial evidence suggests that the latest tensioner was incorporated into the R55, R56, and R57 production lines starting in March ’09.

  • I don’t know if I have this or not. I think my paranoia has gotten the best of me. I need to look back at MFs earlier story with a video of an engine with the rattle.

  • tony

    David, the icing issue you mention is supposed to be addressed with a new version of the intake manifold. Several threads over on NAM detail the latest changes which seem to be working, though a bit frankenstein to look at. There was a pic floating around of a modified intake (new hoses etc) that looked to correct the icing issue by relocating the PVC (i think) to after the throttle body. Not sure if that’s being included in new builds or implemneted with new parts.

  • that.guy

    Gotta love those French engines.

  • @that.guy: Unless you’re referring to the engine block the only part manufactured in France), the Prince family of engines in the MINI would be considered a German designed British built engine. It was designed by BMW from 2003-2006 and is built in Hamms Hall in the UK. The lead engineer was the same person who lead the inline six design for the E46 family of BMW 3 Series engines.

  • Dr Obnxs

    While the new tensioner may be in the base cooper, the S has Vanos, and the non-S doesn’t. I haven’t really heard of this problem on the base Cooper engine….


  • I just listened to the videos from the previous post and after over 13k on my 2007, I don’t have it… yet!

  • Tom

    So, gabe… question is when will they implement this into the production line or have they already? If so, when was the production date? How can we find this out? I am sure this is good news for existing owners, but what about prospective MINI owners and repeat clients? Thanks.

  • nickminir56

    Great news. Cold start issue really gave me some serious headache during the winter, and the first fix on my car didn’t get rid of the problem at all. First inline for service :).

  • that.guy

    @Gabe: Sorry, meant to say: “Gotta love those German-designed engines assembled in the UK from French parts, as well as the identical German-designed engines assembled in France from French parts and used in Peugeots.”

    My bad.

  • @that.guy: I actually think that phrasing it like that makes your point more spot on.

  • My ’07 MCS has a very nasty stumble, when I first start it up in the morning and pull away in first gear (it almost seems as though it is going to stall.) The problem goes away when the car is already warm. Is this part of the cold start issue

  • JB

    Uh, wrong. The MC dose NOT have VANOS, the MCS does.

  • I’ve been in several times for my Cold Start issue. The latest fix as per my 3/24/09 repair was:

    “As per SIM #11 02 07 measured the slack in the timing chain and found it was greater than 68mm.

    Replaced the timing chain and associated components as per SIM #11 02 07. Verified proper operation. Completed 11 33 04 39 00, 11 31 555″

    Now whether this is the aforementioned fix, I have no idea. But what I can say is this, I now have a rattle even when hot! It sounds like it’s coming from the area of the VANOS unit itself. I will be scheduling another visit and we’ll see what happens this time ;(

  • Torobud

    Gabe – I can assure you that the -12 measure doesn’t work as I had it performed here in Chicagoland and my car rattled right in the dealer parking lot that day…

  • GregW

    You’ve got the Lemon law Stateside. I can’t help thinking that there is too much plastic and alloy componenty instead of the old cast iron of old time engines.

  • Ryan T.

    I just called in to setup an appointment. However, they said I need to leave my car overnight since it happens on a cold start. Are they supposed to “pretend” they never heard of this issue?

  • maximusGeek

    I had mine fixed last month. They requested I leave the car early (7am) and they kept it over night. I have not heard the sound since. I have heard it about once a month since 3 months after I brought it home (2 years) Ill have to check my work order when I get home for the part numbers.

    For those of you that asked in the thread – mine was covered under warranty and if your not sure if you have this problem, you probably don’t have it. It’s a distinct and loud sound. It would be like someone broke into your garage and replaced your engine with a 1982 Mercedes Diesel. It runs that way for a 1-3 min, then goes back to normal. If you park in a garage where sound can bounce off of cars or walls next to you, its very obvious.

  • Blaine

    @JB: Uh, wrong. The Cooper S has Single VANOS (Intake) and the Cooper has DOUBLE VANOS (Intake AND Exhaust).

  • Here’s the actual parts list for this repair (as per my invoice):

    (1) 11-31-7-598-956 CHAIN TENSIO MI (1) 11-31-7-534-251 GASKET RING BMMISA (1) 11-31-7-534-784 TIMING CHAIN MI (1) 11-31-7-568-241 GUIDE RAIL MI (1) 11-31-7-534-833 CHAIN TENSIO MI (1) 11-31-7-534-771 BEARING BOLT MI (2) 11-31-7-534-768 BEARING BOLT MI (1) 11-31-7-550-461 GASKET RING BMMISA (1) 11-31-7-546-697 SLIDE RAIL MI (1) 11-31-7-588-996 SPROCKET MI

    There’s no mention of the VANOS unit. Sadly, I’m still clattering, but now it’s all the time. I’m almost positive the noise I’m hearing when warm is probably coming from the VANOS. I’ll be taking it in to get that checked out this next week.

  • heyduard

    OT: IIRC, the justa cooper has valvetronic, not vanos. check the press releases that Gabe and crew have posted back in 06.

  • Stefan

    “MINI Solves the R56 Cold Start Issue” is partly right. This puma measure 10686850-13 was already available a couple of months. (see A lot of R56 S owners indeed found that this release fixed the problem. But there are still owners with this problem. I was rattle free for 2 months… but recently I got the problem back. Not the same frequency… but every morning my Mini sounds like a cement mixer.

    Yesterday I contacted the spokes person at Mini NL, who could tell me that this wasn’t the latest fix yet! At the moment the are test done in Germany, UK and NL with a new tensioner. So story continues.

    I also got the impression (because I told her that I found this Mini was a pile of crap) that we won’t be seing a similar engine in the new versions. Future version will probably have a BMW developped 3 / 4 cilinder.

    Nevertheless… almost 1 1/2 year I have this issue. This gives a totally different meaning to: Nothing sticks like a Mini.

  • iNomis

    I’m just happy to see that this is getting attention from MINI. Hopefully by the time my free service ends they’ll have a fix most everyone agrees resolves this. I just hope they don’t demand to replicate the problem before they will fix my car. It’s probably only happened six times in two years but I’d hate to get a worse problem after warranty. Also from my reading about this(here and elsewhere) it seems that slight damage has occurred in some cases and thus the need to replace more parts than previous fixes.

  • Blainestang

    @heyduard: From Aug 4, 2006:

    “According to several sources, the 2007 120bhp Cooper is excepted to get around 40-mpg on the highway on using the US system. This efficiency this is primarily due to the new naturally aspirated Cooper engine which features BMW’s Valvetronic and Bi-Vanos technology. Valvetronic means that there is no need for a throttle butterfly control making the valve timing infinitely variable. Like-wise Bi-Vanos changed the valve opening time for infinitely variable camshaft adjustment for greater efficiency.”

  • Malcolm

    Just book mine 🙂 the only thing that is bugging me is that the have to remove engine from place 🙁 🙁


    Now we just need a recall.

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  • heyduard


    An ’04 press release was my reference as it has detailed info on valvetrains. There are major differences in the valve train in n/a and turbo guise. only valvetronic is mentioned and only for the n/a engine. My understanding was vanos is a hi performance version of valvetronic in BMWland and thus only available on the turbo’ed engine.

    in any case, we are probably splitting hairs on terms. 😀 And we can blame marketing for any confusion.

  • Blainestang

    @heyduard: I think you’re right… there’s really a lack of clear information overall.

    From what I can tell:

    VANOS = Variable valve TIMING Valvetronic = Variable valve LIFT

    According to the Prince Engine Press Release…

    … The Cooper has BOTH variable TIMING and LIFT on both intake and exhaust, but it only specifically mentions Valvetronic.

    On the other hand, the Cooper S has JUST variable timing (phasing), and only on the Intake side, and it doesn’t specifically say VANOS there, either.

    I’m not sure why VANOS is not mentioned, but it may be a marketing thing, like you said.

    Based on the information from that source, it seems that:

    Cooper = VANOS (Intake/Exhaust), Valvetronic (Intake/Exhaust)

    Cooper S = VANOS (Intake)

    If someone has another source that says differently, or has additional insight, I’d be interested to see it.

  • akim

    LONG BEACH MINI in Long Beach, CA has denied there is any issue, says there is no puma measure, and says that this article is a scam… good job LONG BEACH MINI!!! anyone no a dealer in SoCal that will do the fix?

  • MrB

    I have called up the dealership. They said that if it is not a recall, they need to confirm and make sure your car has that noise then they can order the parts and fix.

    However, in this warm weather, i can hear the noise while i start up my car every morning….

  • MrB, this is pretty standard dealer crap. I bitched out 1800ASKMINI for over an hour because my local dealer (SF) wouldn’t just fix it even though I had the problem verified, “fixed” twice already and had several recent videos confirming the problem. I had to end up going elsewhere and leave my car for a week so they could “reproduce” the sound, then fix it. At least the second dealer gave me a loaner.

    Word to the wise who are just expecting to go in and get this done: No matter what they’ve done in the past, MINI’s stance is that each and every repair is treated as a separate entity. They still want to reproduce the sound before they fix anything.

  • Stephen Warwick

    HI, To day my BMW local dealer has booked my john cooper works in for the 5th time and iam on fix number 14 so is this going to be the big one or not my JCW’s has only 3,000 miles ,I will wait and see the out come.

  • hardingsan

    for what it’s worth, i had my car in to the dealership yesterday for a few minor issues (including this noise). got a call late yesterday saying they needed another day to work on it because they were having a belt tensioner shipped over from Germany. hopefully picking it up today, so we’ll see what it really was this afternoon…

  • CraigE

    IIRC MINI refers to the combination of VANOS and Valvetronic on the Cooper as just Valvetronic, for simplicity. My understanding is that every BMW designed motor that has Valvetronic, also has VANOS. So it is redundant to refer to both when the motor has Valvetronic.

  • Will a new fix Ref:10686850-14 stop the rattle, And will the car not sound like a diesel I am thinking that the engine is going to be the same after the latest fix. I am booked in at the garage 1st-2nd of June

  • Adam

    Hi guys, I have sent my 07 cooper S in for the cold start issue. They only wanted to replace the timing chain. I am making sure they replace all of it. I even referenced the PuMA number 10686850-13. I will get back to you guys when they update me. Does anyone know what the PuMA is acronymed for? Or what the website is? Thanks.

  • 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.

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

  • 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…

  • 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.