Details Behind the Cold Start Fix

Since our story last week on the 2007-2009 Cooper S cold start issues we’ve had loads of emails asking some basic questions on the issue and the fix. So in an effort to clear up some of the confusion, here’s the inside info into getting this fix applied to your 2007+ MCS.

First up the PuMA reference we used earlier is simply BMW speak or a file created to track the problems on one specific vehicle. The actual reference number for the timing chain rattle problem is SIM-11-02-07. This file provides information to the service advisor and repair tech for diagnosis, parts required, repair procedures, and warranty reporting requirements.

The first section of the SIM-11-02-07 document deals with verifying the timing chain rattle is occurring and not due to other potential issues.

Once confirmed, the old tensioner piston is removed and the new one inserted with the locking nut backed fully off. The piston is then torqued to a specfic value, the locking nut finger-tightened to the block, then the entire assembly removed. If the measured distance from the tip of the piston to the lock nut is 68 mm or greater, the timing chain, guides, rails, crankshaft sprocket, and camshaft bolts are replaced.

SIM 11-02-07 specifically states to not replace the camshaft sprocket or the Vanos unit unless other problems are observed. BMW engineering personnel must approve each case of the complete part replacement, but based on our sources, so far approval has been granted in all cases.

Based on comments we’ve received from readers, dealerships and service advisors are now becoming more helpful with this process. However as most MF readers know, it’s always helpful to understand what the process is and what is actually being fixed. So with that in mind it might be helpful to have this information in hand when talking with your service advisor.

Have you had your cold start issue fixed? Not all cars have the issue but enough have that we’re guessing there are quite a few stories out there of MF readers going through this process. If so let us know how it’s gone and what advice you have for other owners.

Thanks to MF reader Dick Mason for contributing to this article.

  • The best advice I can give is document everything. That and be patient. As I commented in the last article, each time your car makes a noise and is “fixed”, it’s viewed as a separate issue which will infuriate you to no end. They won’t just pull apart your engine on your first visit. They’ll bleed the oil from the system to purge air from it and send you on your merry way. Then after the sound returns (which it inevitably will), they’ll have to re-verify the sound (even though your car already has been fixed for the issue), then fix it according to what they find. You might only get a new tensioner, or timing chain, or the whole thing. Finally, when the lesser repairs have all been tried, they should replace the entire assembly for you. The imperative word is “should”. So, are you still being patient at this point? Trust me, I wasn’t.

    Of course, you might just be friends with your dealer and get it done properly right away, but sadly, I went through the ringer with mine because they had to follow “procedure”. I certainly hope your visits go smoother than mine did.

  • GregW

    I was told that this fix did not work on a car and a new AT RMFD engine was installed that was noisier.

  • glangford

    “most dealerships and service advisors have been very helpful with this process.”

    There are posts on NAM to the contrary, some dealerships even still stating the noise is ‘normal’.

  • illegalhunter

    The dealer told me it was normal noise, i traded the car 2 weeks later.

  • Michael

    I got the version 3 tensioner fitted and can say my car now has zero horrible noises and even if i let it sit for 2 days in the freezing cold and then start it up, no rattles, just a normal smooth sounding engine.

    I was told too by bmw for the past year that it was a ‘characteristic of the engine’ and i knew this couldnt be. The sad thing is some dealers are trying to shy away from doing the warranty work. The best advice for any owner is print off this information on motoringfile and take it to your dealership and make them sort your car out BEFORE you run out of warranty. I hear of people having timing chains break due to this and therefore they need whole new engines OR full rebuilds which is a £5000+ job either way.

    If your dealership is still trying to lie about this serious design fault then report them to bmw/mini HQ. It wont be long before they are on the phone to you asking you to come in.

  • glangford

    All the more reason there should just be a recall.

  • Melis

    I had my 2007 MCSa replaced by MINI Corporate because after a bunch of times trying to get the cold engine start issued fixed…along with some other issues…they still couldn’t get it resolved. So now I have a brand new 2008 MCSa.

    From what I was told my 07 was sent back to UK for diagnostics and a tear down. Maybe my car helped them find a permanent fix. That would be nice.

  • mnicpt

    Patrick MINI has been very difficult to work with and said that they wouldn’t do it until Winter. I had the sound just today and it was 65 degrees. Looks like I’m getting out the video camera.

  • that.guy
    I was told that this fix did not work on a car and a new AT RMFD engine was installed that was noisier.

    That is awesome.

  • mnicpt: Video didn’t help me one bit. They said they had to reproduce it themselves in order for it to be covered under warranty.

    I can’t remember which direction it was, but someone on NAM said that if you parked either slightly uphill or downhill overnight, it would help reproduce the sound by draining the oil from the tensioner more reliably than on flat ground.

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  • Park with the nose pointed downhill, that’ll assist in hearing it usually.

  • Classic MINI replaced the chain tensioner, finally. this after performing the oil bleed down service the cars first trip to service about 6 months ago. I must say, in 2 weeks now, not one time has the cold chattered returned! And here in Cleveland, we’re still having cold nights, so I’m encouraged here. Fingers crossed and thanks to Classic MINI for truly listening to me and taking care of it. So far……

  • What helped me get the dealer going on a noise is not to have ago and get heated with the service advisor, The service advisor will help go through the nosie in the engine , but you need to give him some help me I took in the information that came from australia that came for the UK ,And the dealer got to work and now we are going back again because the noise came back, I lov to here about how bmw get things put right. My UK dealer is Cotswold Gloucester . And I got to say one of the best ,I will see in the first week in June if the noise has gone I will let MF know all about it ,This is the last fix in the BMW box ? lol !!!!!!!!!! WE WILL SEE

  • Roccorocket

    I can’t believe the person, that posted about, trading the car because of this. Why would you willingly take a loss because MINI can’t build an engine properly? Anyway, I have the noise, 2008 MCCS, it was supposedly fixed once and is back with a vengeance. The car is going bye bye.

  • For all Aussies – The PuMA reference has not yet been identified here in Sydney. I took my 2007 MCS to BMW Sydney. They had to submit two PuMA records as there was nothing on the system regarding the rattle OR the melted hood scoop… unbelievable.

  • oldMGguy

    I had the latest timing chain tensioner repair 2 weeks ago. Since the chain deflection test exceeded 68 mm, I got the full package of new parts. So far, after numerous “cold” starts, including nose-down attitudes, all starts have been normal – finally!

    The overall reduction in general engine noise heard in the cabin is remarkable.

  • My service measured 66 mm. They performed SIM-11-02-07 steps 1-11 and replaced the timing tensioner. This was done today.

  • Scottab36

    Took my 05/2007 R56 in for this issue on Wednesday. Received a much quieter R56 when returned on Saturday. All under warranty and no questions or problems. I love my MINI dealer!

  • CC

    My engine just failed with 68K miles. (Yep, out of warranty.) I had it towed to the dealer, who tells me diagnostics indicate a broken camshaft. I have a hunch that the cause may be the “cold start noise” issue being discussed here.

    Do I have any options, short of spending the $4,500+ dollars to repair, or the $8,000 to replace the engine?

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  • Banj

    I took my 2008 MCS to the Mini of Pittsburgh service department in early September ’09 to fix the cold start problem. I mentioned to them that it might be the timing chain tensioner (thanks to this article). They repaired it that same day, the first time I had brought it in. SIM-11-02-07. It was covered under warranty.

    The car has been starting up perfectly ever since (over two months now). Even when the car sits idle for several days, or is started up in very cold temperatures. Hopefully when we get down to the single digit temperatures this winter it will still start up with no rattles.

  • Chip

    Just had my ’08 MCS fixed. They replaced the tensioner. Have to commend Otto’s in West Chester PA. Car has 51k miles on it (out of warranty). The recognized that I had asked them to check this before and took care of the fix under warranty.

  • gerald foye

    I have 2007 mini cooper S with about 14000 miles. Suddenly have cold start issue – I am not familiar with modern injection systems – but comparing problem with carburetors – it reacts same as if the choke valve is stuck in place & won’t open.

    Is this the problem I see as a consumer complaint?


  • Joe Dupre

    I had this happen to my 2008 Clubman S. The car was in the shop probably 5 times during Nov.-Dec 09 when the engine light kept tripping. Initially I was told it was excess carbon build up in the intake. It was cleaned a couple times and I was told that cars in my area were experiencing this same issue. After that I started experiencing cold start issues and wildly rough idle. I took it in again and they adjusted a few things and sent me on my way. Ever since, I noticed the car was still idling rough, but not as noticable. About 1-1/2 weeks ago, the engine light came on again so back to the shop it went. They diagnosed the VANOS solenoid as the issue and replaced it. Then the car would not idle at all and they observed the engine had jumped timing. They verified their findings with BMW and replaced the complete timing assembly. I got the car back yesterday and it’s a night and day change in performance. It starts and idles so smoothly now. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder that it was running out of time for months now. Hopefully no collateral damage has occurred internally.

  • James

    My 08 MCCS is in the garage right now… This is the 3rd timing chain replacement in 3 years. Where do I stand warranty wise with this? Surely there comes a point when it’s considered not fit for purpose…

  • 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.

  • Malcolm Pace

    I got my cold start fixed about a year ago and I’m still hearing some times 🙁 does anybody suggest anything i can do?

  • Mini Blows

    My Mini engine just died at 70K.  Mini says out of “goodwill” they will replace engine, but not pay for service ($3,000). 

    When are they going to issue a proper recall on a known problem.