1st Gen R53 Cooper S Got the subframe out. Now what?

Discussion in '1st Generation: 2002–06 R50, R53 & 2004–08 R52' started by Rawhyde, Sep 22, 2013.

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  1. Rawhyde

    Rawhyde New Member

    Apr 7, 2012
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    Mountains of NW Georgia
    OK guys, last night and today, I dropped the subframe from under my 2005 MCS. I worked slowly and kept everything cleaned up and straightened up as I worked. Actually, I wasted a few hours scheming on how to get the job done without dropping the subframe. The pleasure (if any) ain't worth the pain. Just drop the thing...

    Anyway, now it's out. I'm planning to run down to Way's next week and pick up a set of Power Flex control arm bushings and ball joints. I plan to put in fresh power steering fluid while I'm in there.

    Here's my main question. Should I replace the sway bar bushings (as a matter of good workmanship), or upgrade to a better sway bar? My current setup is JCW springs and shocks, and an R-Speed adjustable rear sway bar. (I can hop out to the shop and measure it if need be, but I think its 2 or 3 mm bigger than stock. On its lightest setting, it was too much for the stock springs and shocks. It was much better behaved with after I added the JCW suspension. Any suggestions on a good upgrade? Anything else I should do while I'm in there?

    Rawhyde


    156-MINI-Subframe-webpic.jpg

    158-Left-Bushing-webpic.jpg

    161-Right-Bushing-webpic.jpg

    164-MINI-with-Subframe-out-webpic.jpg
     
  2. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

    Jun 4, 2009
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    If your swaybar bushing look questionable replace them. Rather than change out the front swaybar I'd recommend installing a set of IE fixed camber plates. Those plates along with a good alignment will make you MINI really handle.
     
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  3. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    Jul 31, 2009
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    Get rid of the stock power steering hose clamps. Those crimp type clamps will leak.
     
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  4. ScottinBend

    ScottinBend Space Cowboy
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    May 4, 2009
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    Front sway bar bushings are not really prone to problems. Just give them a good lube and all should be good.
     
  5. jiminni

    jiminni New Member

    May 7, 2009
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    I would change out everything, all bushings, even the steering rack bushing, the ball joints, even the tie rod ends. Check the actual power steering lines, good time to replace them also if anywhere near bad. Think about it, do you really want to drop it again?
     
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  6. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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    + 1 on the power steering lines & tie-rod ends.
     
  7. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    Dec 22, 2009
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    I'd think replacing "everything" would depend on the miles and how it's driven. Since it seems to get driven in a spirited manner, if it had miles too I'd also replace the ball joints and tie rod ends, it's so much easier to do now than in the car. Sway bushings don't wear much, but again, they're so easy to do now and almost impossible to do later without dropping the subframe again......the camber plates are also easy to do now, so why not?

    Lastly, take a good hard look at the top bearing mounts, the rubber can crack with age.

    Once it's all back together, a good alignment and you're good to go for many, many miles.
     
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  8. Norm03s

    Norm03s New Member

    May 5, 2009
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    Somewhere in Sykesville. Md.
    Do it all now, just my opinion.
     
  9. Rawhyde

    Rawhyde New Member

    Apr 7, 2012
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    Facilities Engineer
    Mountains of NW Georgia
    It's a 2005 model with 97K miles, and from time to time, it has been driven in a spirited manner...:biggrin5:

    I'm not looking to waste a ton of money, but as long as it's out and everything's easy to reach I want to replace anything likely to fail soon.

    Back when the warranty was in effect, the power steering pump and control arm bushings were replaced (two separate visits), so this is probably the third time the subframe has been out.

    The amazing part is that it really wasn't that difficult. (I may sing another tune when I put it back in...) Even so, I'd prefer not to do it multiple times if it can be helped. I think I'll replace any rubber bushings that are now easily accessible. Everything's a little over 8 years old and has seen nearly 100K miles.

    I never liked the idea of dropping the subframe with the power steering reservoir attached, so I thought I'd drain the system and detach the hoses from the pump. One of the lines already has a screw type hose clamp on it. I went to Ace Hardware and picked up some small diameter polyflow tubing and an assortment of hose clamps and a new empty paint can with a lid. I stuck the tubing into the reservoir and hunted for the hose with my tubing. I couldn't find it, so I used the Mity-Vac to suck out all the fluid. When I got all I could, I looked into the reservoir and saw a filter screen held down by a button head allen screw with a 3 mm head. Undaunted, I unscrewed it and learned real quick that the filter screen was MUCH bigger than the hole. :mad2: I did manage to fish the tubing down to the pump through the bigger hose and evacuate it, but I never was able to get it into the smaller return line. I'll add that reattaching the filter screen and getting the screw started was a royal pain. Just thought I'd pass that along to save anyone from a fruitless endeavor if the same lightbulb goes off in anyone's head...

     
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  10. McFly

    McFly New Member

    Jul 6, 2013
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    Central FL
    Nice lift! When I dropped my subframe I thought it was rather easy only issue was that I needed to have the car about 2" higher to be perfect.
     
  11. cct1

    cct1 New Member
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    May 5, 2009
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    You all missed the most critical step after going through the hassle of dropping the subframe.

    And that is....wait for it, it's worth it.....

    Drink a beer.

    Then worry about the rest of that crap.
     
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  12. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

    May 13, 2015
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    Madison, WI
    I am in the same position right now - subrame on the floor. Almost everything is being replaced. What came up unexpectedly is that my front sway bar is heavily rusted underneath the driver side bushing. Sanded it but the bar is now thinner there and rough, will definitely eat up the new bushing. so, do I get one of those Hotchkiss or Eiback bars? Or just another rust free junk yard R53 bar?

    There's not a lot of info out there on those aftermarket front sway bars. used on ebay is $55, the aftermarket stuff is all $250+, so that matters, given the car ran just fine with the OEM, Given I am already replacing all bushings, ball joints, PS hoses, axles, wheel bearings and brake rotors, this has been a pretty expensive subrame drop already. End links, still have to order a set of those.
     
  13. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    Dec 22, 2009
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    I'd stick with the stock bar, buy a good clean used one and you're good to go
     
  14. ColinGreene

    ColinGreene New Member
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    May 15, 2009
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    Corvette Restoration
    Orange county Ca
    When mini ran the R53 as a challenge car they even saw no need for the addition of a larger sway bar.
     
  15. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

    May 13, 2015
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    ha. good to know I made the right choice. Got me a clean OEM on ebay for $52 shipped and it is already here. Perfect condition where the bushings mate with the bar. Going in once the last package of front end parts (end links and the small power steering hose) arrive.

    This will be better than new when the car goes back together. Am somewhat worried about getting that steering column thing back into the bracket, but we'll get that sorted like the rest of the job.
     
  16. myles2go

    myles2go Active Member

    May 7, 2012
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    The biggest problem with connecting the steering column to the rack is the lack of space to work. Mount he subframe in place and then swivel the end of the column onto the input shaft of the rack. I just did mine yesterday. The tedious part was tightening the nut.
     
  17. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

    May 13, 2015
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    Madison, WI
    When remving it, access to the nyt was ok with the axles out - I don't expect that to be hard, but now I realize my mistake: To facilitate nut access, I had the column turned 180 degrees from what you suggest. That way the bolt was where I needed it. I had no idea it swiveled in any direction to facilitate installation. I suppose I now need to deal with the problem on the install side of things, because there's no way I can rotate that shaft in the PS rack to match a turned steering wheel that would move the bracket to the opposite side.

    Oh well. I did paint everything that was slightly rusty with POR-15 yesterday - good as new. One new A-arm arrived. Still waiting for PS hose and end links, but some time next week, I can tackle this re-install. That motorcycle jack I have will come in handy to balance that subframe properly.
     
  18. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    Apr 22, 2009
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    Good timing! I'm seeing this operation in my near future as the new 2005 JCW I just got already has the leaking PS hoses (crimp hoses are crap, MINI!). I'm going deep on a refresh, so I'll probably 'do everything'. I just noticed that Detroit Tuned has 2 packaged sets with all of the bits and pieces for this operation.

    I've also gotta go deep in the engine bay... time for a bunch of new gaskets, a new crank pulley and oil pan seals. Looks like I get to get dirty!
     
  19. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    Oh yeah... I remember looking into upgrading the front sway on my first R53. The consensus was, as you have already heard, that it really wasn't necessary and that some additional camber up front is about all you need (and perhaps the powerflex bushings while it's easy to reach the bolts). The rear sway is absolutely necessary, however... massive upgrade!
     
  20. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

    May 13, 2015
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    Madison, WI
    My rear was upgraded when I bought the car, but that doesn't mean I am done with that end of the car :D

    Now that I have a "daily driver" R53, my original dark gray Mini will become the no compromise fun car build, so this winter it's time to tear into the rear suspension and make that all R56 grade aluminum control arms, poly bushings, 4 Helix (currently just 2) control arms. And maybe, just maybe, if that Miltek I ordered 4 weeks ago doesn't get shipped soon, I'll cancel that order, relocate the battery and build a custom straight through exhaust, so I can do some diffuser mods, spit flames out the back and raise the dead with that extra noise such a muffler setup will produce. On the other hand, the Miltek is going to be a nice upgrade right now. Can always move it to my son's car, who also wants that exhaust.
     

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