Here are some DIY (Do it yourself) instructions for replacing the oil pan gasket in a R53 Mini Cooper S. This is meant to be a supplement and not a replacement for the Bentley service manual and the mini tech manual from BMW. I strongly urge you to purchase the Bentley service manual. It’s less than 100 bucks and you’ll use it for other things. I also recommend you can always get a subscription to the online tech site from BMW at for only $30 bucks a day at http://www.minitechinfo.com/ That being said you can probably just use these step by step instructions to get the job done. I’ve broken this blog into several parts for manageability. Since you are attempting the repair there are several other repairs you should consider doing at the same time since you are tearing apart the car. One is to replace the serpentine belt and doing an oil and filter change. You can also replace the power steering fan since you have to remove that as well. A belt is less than $40, a filter less than $10, and oil less than $50. A new power steering fan will set you back $170 but the new design is much better and includes a grill and new relay for high and low speeds built in. If you have no issues with your fan, you can replace it a later date easily.
This repair is usually $500 at a local shop to as much as $2,000 at the dealership. And everywhere in between. If you find this is a little over your head here is what I recommend. YES the dealership first for your repair. Why? It will have a warranty, it will be done correctly, and they have the correct tools on hand that will not damage other parts of your Mini. My second choice is a local shop that ONLY does BMW/Mini repairs and have done this repair before. This is a big job the front end of the car must be removed and if not support correctly you risk damage to your AC and Radiator. You’re better off doing it yourself with these instructions. I would not recommend the corner repair shop. Too many “Mini” specific things and most of those guys don’t have the finite knowledge for this specific model and repair.
So what should you be charged? Figure anywhere between 4-6 hours of labor for an experience mechanic to do this job. If they are charging you $500 that seems too low and they probably, do not know what is involved in removing the oil pan. It’s not a ’57 ford truck where you can remove the pan in 15 minutes with six bolts.
The DIY? Expect to spend 6-16 hours working on the project. Yes, that seems like a large range, but inexperience, learning curves, and possibly spending an hour or two to loosening one stuck bolt can all be time killers. Not to mention the number of beer breaks.
If you’ve done oil changes, break jobs, coolant flush, and are comfortable and have the tools this is not an incredible hard job but very time consuming. Your Mini will be out of commission for a little while too. So read on if you are prepared!
First, get your tools and supplies together. You will have to special order the oil pan gasket as well as at least one “special” BMW tool. You can find a used BMW tool on Ebay for around $60 or Outmotoring sells them on the Internet for around $100. Please note if you are buying a used BMW Tool that it has been redesigned and the welds have been reinforced. On older tools, the welds failed and the tool is useless. Buy a new one if possible. You can use it in the future if you have want to change your pullies or serpentine belt if you don’t change it today or you can sell on EBay when you’re done.
As you work LABEL every screw and bolt you remove with the steps in which it was removed. It will help in reassembly. Or keep in zip lock bags by steps.
- Floor jack
Two jack stands
- Socket set and ratchet set (angle and extension accessories)
- Torque wrench
BMW Tool 11 8 410 Lever For relieving tension on belt tensioner (A universal serpitine belt removal tool just does not work well and this tool will only take you a minute!) A must!
BMW Tools 11 8 400 Extensions OR 8mm 4 inch bolts from Home Depot or hardware supply store. (You don’t need to buy these special tools if use long bolts from Home Depot) For accommodating front end lifting engine
- BMW Tool 11 8 470 Locking pin For locking chain tensioner (A allen wrench or long thin pin will work fine- I used the end of an old metal file that usually inserts into a wood handle… you don’t need to buy this tool – you probably have something in your garage you can use)
- Trouble light so you can see what you are doing!
- Oil catch pan or container
- Small sledge hammer
- Set of torx angle keys
- OBDII Scan Tool (Helpful to borrow one from a friend or you can ask to borrow one at AutoZone or other auto parts store. They usually read the codes for free and may charge a small fee to clear them. Or you can just borrow it and clear it yourself.)
- Wire just to secure some parts while you are working on them.
- Assortment of bumper fasteners to replace broken/ rusted nuts bolts. Wait to see if you need them then go to Auto Store and match the closest part.
- SHORT breaker bar. A long one will not fit with you under the Mini but needs to be longer than a ratchet. Some bolts especially from the oil pan to the transmission housing will probably be over torqued and hard to remove.
- Propane torch to heat stuck bolts and then freezing them with a freezing penetrating spray.
Creeper (saves the back but a couple well placed towels on the floor under your car make a nice pillow)
Supplies and Parts
- Oil Pan Gasket
- Penetrating spray like WD-40
- Shop rags
- Gallon of Degreasing liquid
- Gasket sealer (optional but I’ve always used it)
- Serpentine Belt
- Five Quarts SAE 5W-30 Synthetic Oil (Mini Brand or Royal Purple)
- Oil Filter
- Power Steering Replacement Fan
- Freezing penetrating spray
- Six pack of Miller Genuine Draft