R53minicooper’s Blog

May 4, 2009

Add an OEM 3-button HomeLink Garage Door Opener For Less Than $20

Filed under: DIY Mods — r53minicooper @ 6:43 pm
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Are you missing having a built in garage door opener? You don’t want to spend $300 or $400 for an after-market mirror that has Homelink built in? Did you see other mods that require a battery or other strange wiring? Are you sick of that big black empty spot in between the sunroof opener and speaker mic on your roof console? It just SCREAMS for some buttons!!!

Here is the completed custom modification:

Look at the color and shape! Looks stock! And that big bright red light that says my garage is going up and some cool buttons that match the clock buttons too! Bonus!


Time required Two hours depending on skill

Difficulty: Medium


1 used OEM Homelink transmitter

Utility or exactor knife

Propane torch

Two six inch long pieces of 16 gauge wire (white and black is best)

Inline wire tape

Angled (skewdriver works best) screwdriver with torx bits or torx set.

Soldering Iron and electronics solder

Various electrical connectors (round)

Multimeter for testing

Drill and/or Rotozip and bits

Krazy Glue


Wire stripper/cutter

  1. Buy an OEM Homelink transmitter off Ebay. You can get beige or grey depending on your interior color. They have black but it is harder to find and I liked the contrast of the gray against the black. My personal opinion. I bought mine for $6.00 plus shipping. I’ve seen them with buy it now prices of $19.99. This is the kind of transmitter you want. Make sure the wiring harness is still attached. The wires will be cut off but that’s fine you are going to replace them. This one probably came out of a ’94 Ford or GM Truck.

  2. Disconnect negative battery lead
  3. Release switch from sunroof finisher.

  4. Remove multiplug.

  5. Open sun guard.

  6. Release cover strip all round from frame.

  7. Unclip front cover strip and remove.
  8. reinstallation: Make sure trim is correctly seated on roofliner and sliding sunroof frame.
  9. After you remove the trim some rubber cubes may pop out or may be wedged up in near the clock. Save them.

  10. Remove the clock buying pulling down
  11. Open the wireless transmitter with by prying up on the two tabs on the side. You’ll notice the gray (or beige if that is the color you got) trim piece is popped into the plastic black box. It will not come off easily. Do not break of the pins holding it in! CAREFULLY take your utility knife and cut enough of the SIDE of the tab so that the gray trim piece and buttons pop out. Make sure to leave the length of snap connector alone. We are going to make plastic rivits with the remaining gray plastic posts that should be sticking up later. Remove the gray trim piece and buttons from the black circuit box.

  12. Remove the wiring harness.
  13. Note there are two wires coming from the harness. White is a positive and Black is a negative. Pull out the old wires carefully from the wiring harness. Insert your new six to eight inch long write and black wires into the harness in the same location that you took out the old wires. You can test your wiring and to see if your used homelink transmitter works buy just connecting them up to your car battery in your trunk (or under your hood if standard cooper) If the light illuminates when a button is pressed it works.

  14. On the loose end of wires on the wiring harness take the black wire and solder on and crimp a round eylet that can be slipped over a bolt in the ceiling of your mini cooper so that you can ground your device. Set the wiring harness aside.
  15. Break this tab off.

  16. Next take the roof trim you removed. This is what the inside looks like before.

  17. Remove all the areas in RED with utility knife. Even though you are removing the plastic once you glue the plastic wiring box in it will be stronger than before.

  18. Carefully test fit the black circuit box with the circuit board removed. Using a pencil mark where buttons and LED light are in correlation to the panel.

  19. Using a drill or rotozip tool remove just enough of the plastic headliner so that the buttons can be seen as well as the LED light from the back side. It does not have to be perfect. It will be covered with the gray trim piece with the buttons. DON’T over cut! Start small with one small hole and keep testing the fit. You are also creating a small square opening for the LED light. Start with a small drilled hole and you can heat the end of flathead screwdriver with your propane torch to “push” and shape some of this area. Here is what you want the bottom to look like approximately.

  20. Completely cover the bottom of the black circuit board case with Krazy Glue as well as the tabs that are inserted under the braket you but out earlier. Then clamp it down. WAIT for it to dry. SEVERAL hours is best if you used a lot of glue.

  21. Insert the rubber buttons and grey trim piece from bottom.

  22. Heat screwdriver with propane torch.

  23. Melt the grey plastics with a screwdriver.

  24. Carefully reinsert circuit board and close plastic cover. Set aside completed parts.

  25. Take your wiring harness and connect the white wire with an inline splice from the clock power lead. Use your multimeter to find the approiate hot wire. I wanted to be able to use my opener with the car off so I connected to a lead that was hot all the time and not connected to the ignition. The choice is yours. You do not need power all the time as the controller has a flash memory. Connect the black (negative) wire to a grounded screw in the roof. There is one all the way towards the front and left a little that is perfect but you need a screwdriver with a torx bit and that can hit it on an angle. Here is the completed harness on the right. The one on the left is for the power roof button.


  26. Take your roof trim piece and thread the roof multiswitch harness through it’s opening and connect the HomeLink to the other harness. Insert those black foam  cubes you saved and place right between garage door opener and roof  of car.  Reverse the disassembly for the roof trim and multiswitch button.
  27. Reconnect battery
  28. Enjoy your new OEM Remote Control!


April 30, 2009

DIY (Do It Yourself) Oil Gasket Replacement for Mini Cooper S R53 (Summary)

Filed under: Repair Instructions — r53minicooper @ 5:17 pm
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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.

  1. Tools
    1. Required
      1. Floor jack
      2. Two jack stands

      3. Socket set and ratchet set (angle and extension accessories)
      4. Torque wrench
      5. 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!

    2. 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


      1. 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)

      1. Trouble light so you can see what you are doing!
      2. Oil catch pan or container
      3. Hammer
      4. Small sledge hammer
      5. Set of torx angle keys
      6. 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.)
      7. Wire just to secure some parts while you are working on them.
    3. Optional
      1. 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.
      2. 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.
      3. Propane torch to heat stuck bolts and then freezing them with a freezing penetrating spray.
      4. Creeper (saves the back but a couple well placed towels on the floor under your car make a nice pillow)



  2. Supplies and Parts
    1. Required
      1. Oil Pan Gasket
      2. Penetrating spray like WD-40
      3. Shop rags
      4. Gallon of Degreasing liquid
      5. Gasket sealer (optional but I’ve always used it)
    2. Optional
      1. Serpentine Belt
      2. Five Quarts SAE 5W-30 Synthetic Oil (Mini Brand or Royal Purple)
      3. Oil Filter
      4. Power Steering Replacement Fan
      5. Freezing penetrating spray
      6. Six pack of Miller Genuine Draft

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

DIY (Do It Yourself) Oil Gasket Replacement for Mini Cooper S R53 (Part 1)

Filed under: Repair Instructions,Uncategorized — r53minicooper @ 5:16 pm
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Part 1:

Necessary preliminary tasks:

Read out fault memory of DME control unit.

Check stored fault messages.

Switch off ignition

Disconnecting and connecting battery



Disconnect battery:

Switch off ignition.

Following safety instructions for handling vehicle battery.


If the ignition is not switched off when the battery is disconnected, some control units may store a fault.

If the repair instructions for reasons of safety contain a specific instruction to disconnect the battery before carrying out a specific operation, always follow this instruction.


The battery is stored in the boot of the car. Using your socket set remove the negative battery terminal from the battery. Don’t shut the boot!!! Otherwise you will be crawling through the car to reconnect the battery to open the boot. Leave it open during the service.


Connecting up battery:

Reverse the procedure above.

Reset clock.

Initialize power windows. (Later I’ll show how to do this)

DIY (Do It Yourself) Oil Gasket Replacement for Mini Cooper S R53 (Part 2)

Filed under: Repair Instructions,Uncategorized — r53minicooper @ 5:16 pm
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Part 2:

Raising vehicle with trolley jack and removing the front right wheel




Observe the following trolley-jack-related instructions:

1. Use only BMW-distributed/approved trolley jacks which have rubber plate contact points. (Not really) (Or just buy a Sears floor jack… works fine!)

2. Trolley jacks must be regularly serviced and always checked for functional reliability before they are used!

3. Check the rubber plate on the trolley jack prior to each use, replacing if necessary.





The vehicle may be raised with a trolley jack only at the following jacking points!

1. Side of front axle subframe

2. Side car jacking points

  1. Loosen lug nuts on right front tire with impact wrench or lug wrench. Do not remove the lug nuts.
  2. Life your car with the floor jack at the front of the car (2) on one side and raise it as far as it will go. Place a jack stand under (1) or other part of frame near front of car.
  3. Go to the other side of you’re and raise it as far as it will go. It will be higher than on the other side. Place your jack stand under that side on the frame (1)
  4. Now go back to the other side of your car with your jack and raise it as far as it will go. It should now go up even with the other side. Raise that jack stand so they even.
  5. Remove lug nuts and remove the right front tire.
  6. The goal is to have the front of the car on jack stands as high as it will go and the front right tire removed.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Oil Gasket Replacement for Mini Cooper S R53 (Part 3)

Filed under: Repair Instructions,Uncategorized — r53minicooper @ 5:15 pm
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Removing and installing/replacing front underbody protection (engine)




  1. Slacken screws (1), do not release fully.
  2. Release screws (2).
  3. Tightening torque 51 11 1AZ . (For reassembly)
  4. Pull underbody protection out of bumper trim and remove.
  5. Note that screws (1) might be rusted along with their connectors. You can buy replacement bumper connecters of a similar size at Autozone. If the connectors are rusted just carefully remove them with visegrip and use lots of wd-40 or you can cut them off.



  1. Slacken screws (1), do not release fully.
  2. Release screws (3).
  3. Tightening torque 51 11 1AZ . (For reassembly)
  4. Pull underbody protection (4) out of bumper trim (2) and remove.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Oil Gasket Replacement for Mini Cooper S R53 (Part 4)

Filed under: Repair Instructions,Uncategorized — r53minicooper @ 5:15 pm
Tags: , , ,

Removing and installing/replacing front right wheel arch liner


  1. Remove screws (1) and threaded blind rivets (2) from wheel arch liner.
  2. Remove liner from wheel arch.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Oil Gasket Replacement for Mini Cooper S R53 (Part 5)

Filed under: Repair Instructions,Uncategorized — r53minicooper @ 5:14 pm
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Replacing or removing the tank venting valve

You have to do this so you can remove the belt.

  1. Unlock and disconnect both lines (1).

  2. Bend locking tongue (1) straight and slide venting valve from holder.

  3. Unlock connector (2) and remove.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Oil Gasket Replacement for Mini Cooper S R53 (Part 6)

Filed under: Repair Instructions,Uncategorized — r53minicooper @ 5:14 pm
Tags: , , ,

Removing serpentine drive belt (COOPER S)


Special tools required:

11 8 410

11 8 470

This is the belt tool mention in the summery and a spare Allen wrench or similar tool.



Drive belt tensioner is subject to heavy tension. Make sure that locking pin is correctly seated.

Mark the direction of rotation of the drive belt if it is to be reused.

Replace the drive belt if it is fouled with coolant/engine oil or hydraulic fluid.


Your belt probably and should be replaced since you are doing all this work. You probably will get grease on it and if your car is over four years old and a few miles on it enough to have oil gasket leak go ahead and change the belt while you’re at it.


  1. Pull dipstick out of dipstick tube.
  2. Insert special tool 11 8 410 as shown. Note: Make sure paintwork is not damaged.

  3. Attach special tool 11 8 410 to tensioner (1).

  4. Relieve tension of drive belt and block tensioner with locking pin, special tool 11 8 470. Note: A second person may be needed to hep install special tool 11 8 470 in the second bore hole.
  5. Remove drive belt. (If you are not replacing the belt you can just slip it of the AC Compressor.
  6. Examine drive belt for traces of coolant or oil, replace if necessary.


Assemble engine.

Check that drive belt is in correct installation position.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Oil Gasket Replacement for Mini Cooper S R53 (Part 7)

Filed under: Repair Instructions,Uncategorized — r53minicooper @ 5:14 pm
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Removing and installing front bumper trim

  1. Unfasten screws (1 and 2). Tightening torque 51 11 1AZ

  2. If necessary, release clip (1) and remove release handle (2).

  3. Release screws (3). Tightening torque 51 11 2AZ .

  4. Release screw rivets (4) and screws (5). Tightening torque 51 11 6AZ

  5. Release bumper from catches (1).

  6. Disconnect plug connector (2) for parking lights.

  7. Disconnect plug connector (3) for direction indicators.

  8. Disconnect plug connector (4) for outside temperature sensor.

  9. Remove bumper towards front with a second person helping.


When you are reinstalling there is some play in the adjusting bolts that let you line up the hood to front bumper. You can raise the bumper up and down and right to left a little to make the body panels match up. When you are reinstalling make sure to close the hood and check the clearance between the bumper cover and hood (bonnet – sorry!)


In addition, the wiring harness for the side markers and directional indicators look identical. The one with the long wires goes to the front turn signals and the shorter wires go to the side markers. Note where the wires run through the MDE and when you are reattaching make sure not to pinch any wires.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Oil Gasket Replacement for Mini Cooper S R53 (Part 8)

Filed under: Repair Instructions,Uncategorized — r53minicooper @ 5:13 pm
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Removing and installing, sealing or replacing oil sump


  1. Place oil catch pan under car
  2. Unscrew oil drain plug (1).

  3. Drain engine oil.


After work is done and during reassembly

  1. Tightening torque, 11 13 1AZ
  2. Top up engine oil.
  3. Start engine and run until oil indicator lamp goes out.
  4. Switch off engine and wait approx. 5 minutes.
  5. Check engine oil level.
  6. Top up if necessary.
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