1st Gen R53 Cooper S My 2005 R53 Daily Driver build thread

Discussion in '1st Generation: 2002–06 R50, R53 & 2004–08 R52' started by fishmonger, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. Guest - Welcome to the new Motoring Alliance Site! Steve, MCS02 and I were up until the early hours this morning working to get it done... as you can see it took us a bit longer than expected to get Phase 1 up and running. We are not 100% there.. its a journey. For site updates, "How Do I" and feedback please use the Announcements, How Do I, Feedback Forum (Links below). Like building a car.... its never done... and thanks for your patience

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  1. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

    May 13, 2015
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    I've been posting bits and pieces of this project in other threads so far, but there's going to be more to post over time, so I am putting it all into one place.

    So far I haven't taken a photo of the full car - it was dropped off in my garage by the seller a month ago, and that is where it has been since. I am replacing a '07 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited with this car to cover my daily driving and travel duties.

    Some big shoes to fill, literally, but my daily commuting is done on a bicycle 95% of the time anyway, and shopping trips are short hauls for 2 miles most of the time. I figure if the new all-season rubber isn't good enough, a set of Blizzaks will cover the worst part of the winters, although our recent winters have been on the dry side and pretty mild.

    The main goal is to have a reliable, clean, and only mildly modified car I won't feel bad about taking cross country. For anything more aggressive I have my dark gray car, plus my son's red Mini is slated for various mods as well.

    Specs are pretty close to my ideal R53, short of the color (it's growing on me) and it lacks an LSD like most non-JCWs

    Electric blue with white roof , rims, and mirrors
    xenons
    heated cloth seats
    sunroof
    regular gauges
    crappy Boost stereo (fine, because HK isn't much better anyway)

    The last owner put a 15% pulley in and swapped out the exhaust for a Megan Racing stainless - not bad, not too noisy, but it's getting up in age, as some fine metal fibers stuck in the corner of one of the exhaust tips confirm. It's still pretty quiet, so more years of service lie ahead.

    Power steering recall was just done, so that's off the to-do list.

    88k miles, more or less a one-owner car and not driven in winter (and the usual rust spots confirm that). It was pretty clean at first sight, but it wasn't babied, so my refresh started with a complete interior detail, seats out. Carpet was ok except for a Starbucks spill zone under the passenger seat. The seats are nice and clean again, no stains, not much wear. Like the silver/black dual color a lot.

    Last owner claims to have performed all sorts of unusual maintenance (fuel filter, SC oil service), which I am about to confirm over the coming week. My guess is that was a lie, because the fuel filter cover doesn't show a tool mark on the nuts. Already have the parts.

    Tires that came with it didn't pass my smell test - rears some nice but worn BFG Comp 2 all season, front some Chinese made junk Advanta tires, new, but not something I will drive a single mile on. Google "Pegasus Advanta" and you see what is behind that company...

    The Mini arrived with low oil (but Royal Purple, at least that is what owner claims she used). My guess is the last oil change happened before her divorce. 1.5 quarts low and really black was what came out. The broken dip stick was good for the seller, because it was impossible to use and too risky to pull out until I had a replacement.

    My initial work was delayed by my other car sitting on stands in the garage getting the subframe refresh done. That will be done today once I refill it's coolant system and swap out some wheel spacers. Then I can get the blue car on jacks and get under the hood more seriously, but before that, I guess seats need to get back into it, as I have to drive it from one side to the other side of the garage.

    For most of today, I am doing audio wiring as the access without seats is the best it'll be for a long time. Audio has been great in the Tundra with some special JBL system and I knew I was going to miss that. The HK system in my dark gray is complete junk compared to the Tundra, so I had to go up a notch on this car where I will be spending more time.

    Current project list

    cleaning
    audio system upgrade (blue tooth hands free, etc)
    thermostat replacement (runs a bit hot)
    coolant flush
    New belt, idler pulley and tensioner assembly (it squeaks when cold)
    Top engine mount replacement
    fuel filter
    SC oil service, throttle body cleanup. May do o-rings at the dip stick and CPS locations, although no leaks.
    Tires (already waiting for me at the installer)
    brake fluid flush

    and that's just round one to get the car on the road for fall/winter when the other car goes into hibernation.


    So before I write a book here, this is where I was at last night - scoping the amp install where the HK is usually located plus damping the noisy wheel wells.

    [​IMG]
    amp location

    The 6x9 "Goodman's" speakers came out, too - wow, how cheap can you go, Mini? Compare with a set of $30/pop speakers I am replacing these with:

    [​IMG]
    Fosgate 1692

    Previously, I did the front speakers with a nice pair of Infinity 2-ways. The crossover was a tight fit (huge box for something that could be packaged smaller), but it works in that location. Fixed the disconnected puddle light while I was in there.

    [​IMG]
    front speaker setup

    I also put LEDs into most interior light locations short of the map lights - simply can't find one that fits there.
     
  2. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

    May 13, 2015
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    The entire weekend was consumed by this audio install. Never having been in that deep behind the plastic panels meant it took some exploring to find the proper way to route things. I never had to do anything twice and it still took at least 24 hours of work to get from before to after. So I am anal and won't leave any dust behind panels that I unclip, plus 18 square feet of sound deadener were applied around the rear of the car where I always felt you hear far too much road noise from the tires (especially when you lose the rear seat like I did on both cars).

    As of last night 11pm I have a driver's seat back in the car, all panels buttoned up, phone mount installed as well, as it goes behind the uprights of the console and screws into the same holes the faceplate of the radio goes in.

    A couple of hours before it looked like that

    [​IMG]

    The routing of the interconnects (6 leads, to allow for subwoofer and amp should I ever feel so inclined, although for now only 4 channels are amplified) took the longest. I had to rip out the cover below the passenger door and that's not shown in the Bentely manual. So carefully pried away, but it was so solidly connected, eventually I just had to yank hard to get something to budge. Once opened up, there's plenty of room to route all sorts of wires under that cover to the back of the car. 12 feet were just long enough from head unit to amp input.


    [​IMG]

    lots of closely spaced clips down there

    [​IMG]

    Once I figured out how to remove the panel cover below the rear hatch (again, not in manual - 4 clips on top, pry real hard...) the re-assembly actually went rather quickly. Ran the vacuum through it before the driver seat went in. Next I'll check into the resistor mod for passenger seat to figure out if a single-seater travel Mini will work for me in a week when this car is supposed to head own to Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans, all loaded up with camping and photo gear.

    Fuel filter, tires and some other significant under the hood refreshes are up next, but first the other car needs to get it's proper spacers and studs on its hubs to make room in the space I can jack up my cars. There'll be a first proper look underneath the car since I bought it. Hoping to find it as clean as I've found it so far. One tiny rust spec under the rubber seat at the front bottom bend of the passenger door. Instantly fixed with a wire brush and a coat of Por-15 :D
     
  3. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    Your list of services to be done looks very familiar! I'm looking forward to seeing what I can learn. Luckily, the HK system in Rufus is plenty for what I need in a MINI. Nice work so far!
     
  4. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

    May 13, 2015
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    Details about the audio system I installed. Being a recovering audiophile, I knew from the get-go that car audio sucks, no matter how much you try. However, I do draw a line at systems that have a frequency response close to an old rotary phone, and that's what the BMW Boost system delivers. The speakers appear to be made with only one engineering goal in mind: lowest cost. The radio/amp headunit was able to get away with little to no power output given these speakers can't handle more than 5 watts anyway. Features like AUX input were a $40 add on (came with the car, and was uninstalled this weekend, as it is no longer needed), while Bluetooth phone integration is super expensive as an add-on part, and Bluetooth streaming or satellite radio weren't even on the map yet when these units were designed.

    Fast forward to 2017 and a refurbished sub $100 head unit can do all of that, and more. Just replacing the head unit made a huge difference on my first test, sound wise and obviously features. Adding better speakers in front, then in back bumped it up another notch each time. But head units these days rarely do more than 22 watts/channel and I noticed it's little heat sink getting pretty warm, so I did some research and found that little digital amp that puts out more than 600 watts in actual bench tests, is smaller than the HK amp and integrates nicely with this 4 channel system.

    So here's the list of parts I put into the car

    Kenwood KDC-BT365U CD Receiver with Bluetooth (Refurbished) - bought it at Crutchfield for the bundled install kit discount, but cheaper at Amazon ($70)

    Metrs 99-9302 Single DIN Installation Kit for 2002-2007 BMW Mini Cooper ($14.50)

    Crux BMW Radio Replacement Module (SWRBM-57K), retains Steering Wheel Controls ($53)

    Infinity Reference 6500CX 6-1/2" (165mm) two-way front speakers with crossover ($95)

    Rockford Fosgate Punch P1692 6 x 9-Inches Full Range Coaxial Speakers ($66)

    Noico 80 mil 18 sqft car Sound deadening mat plus install roller - $40 - could have used more

    Kenwood KAC-M3004 4 channel 600 watt amplifier ($115)

    BOSS Audio KIT2 8 Gauge Amplifier Installation Wiring Kit ($16)

    Stinger SI4612 12-Foot 4000 Series Professional 6 Channel RCA Interconnects ($25)

    plus some wire connectors for $5, rest of the supplies were in my parts box, like zip ties, heat shrink, etc

    I think the power amp made a difference, but not that much. Would I do it again? Depends. If I spend a lot of time in the car traveling and being bored on the freeway, yes. Fun car? No. But I do see this job coming up again next year on my son's car. He has bigger plans with much more expensive components. We'll see how far that goes once he hears how many hours it'll take to install :D
     
  5. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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  6. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

    May 13, 2015
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    will get to the seat passenger sensor when the racing seats go into the toy car. On this car, the whole seat is either in the car and fully wired up, or it's out of the car making the Mini a full sleeper van for a 6 foot + tired driver. I have some 3.9 ohm resistors on order, as I could not find any in my parts bin that matched. Got some 2 ohms but in series for 4ohms they still didn't work. The bag light went off for a minute, then it came back on. No code shown on the scangauge, though. I may just plug the seat in tonight to see if that turns off the light or if my audio work with ignition on while seats were unplugged now requires the BMW software to reset the light (I have a cable and a CD with that software, but never used it)

    I spent most of last night pulling 12mm spacers and 90mm studs off the toy car and replaced those with 5mm spacers and shorter spacers. Nowhere as cool looking, but the rubbing risk is now highly reduced. Tonight, after I burp the cooling system in the gray one, I can finally swap garage stalls and get daily driver up in the air. Then I get to explore what's all gone wrong underneath... plus wheels will come off and take a trip to the tire installer. I have 6 days to get the car road ready for a 2000 mile trip, or I'm driving my son's low mile car :D
     
  7. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I can't remember it completely, but I thought that once the airbag light was triggered (by lack of a plugged-in seat or the proper resistors) that you were stuck in airbag-light-on mode until the dealer got a code reader attached. It's possible that a basic code reader like I carry in the boot will clear it, but something sticks in my head that it took a dealer's more advanced tools to get the light reset. When I pulled my seats for cleaning, I first disconnected the battery and then didn't reconnect until the seats were back in and connected into the wiring harness... just to be safe.
     
  8. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

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    I hope I can reset that light myself - battery unplug for a few days may do it if nothing else. I'm curious now, though, so after I do the fuel filter (tonight), I'll put the passenger seat back in and see what's up.

    Last night I finally got the dark gray car out of the "work stall" - took it for a spin around the neighborhood. Steering is a bit off after all the front end work, but apart from that it drives real well. Brakes are brand new, too, so those need a little time to get settled. Have to get that alignment soon so I have a driver car for the coming weeks. The only thing I forgot before driving it out was to refill the power steering (replaced both hoses and basically drained most of the system. Nice green Pentosin in there now.
     
  9. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

    May 13, 2015
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    So back to the blue car. It now sits on the roomy side of the garage where I can get busy on all the under hood and below car jobs

    [​IMG]

    It went on the jacks the first time last night and I was eager to get underneath to check its actual condition. Compared to my other cars, it's a pretty filthy car, but it truly has never been driven in salt. There's barely more rust on the subframe rear mounts (a prime rust location) than on our Florida Mini that has led a sheltered Mini life.

    The biggest rust spot I can find on the entire car:

    [​IMG]

    Some wire brush and Por-15 are already standing by - next summer the subframe will come down for bushings and balljoint refresh, but for now those things are fine.

    wheels came off and the brakes did prove to be fresh, front and back. Nothing special, but owner went all out on the (useless) drilled rotors. I may upgrade the car to R56 spec one of these days, but for now, brakes are only going to get flushed and that's it on that end.

    [​IMG]

    Next item to check was the Megan Racing aftermarket exhaust. It just doesn't sound quite right, and I got a whiff of exhaust fumes through the driver's window when shuffling cars... hmmm. So I went looking in the middle of the car. First impression - rusty is the new stainless, at least at Megan Racing. The welds on that system are clearly not high quality. Looking at the connection the header, it all looked tight wtih a decent gasket. But you can tell from that resonator on the left what I mean with that stainless comment.

    [​IMG]

    My first discovery was that water was dripping out of a slip connection with clamp around it, connecting the resonator to the rear of the system. Likely an easy fix with that clamp, but not a huge leak.

    [​IMG]

    Then I started to wiggle the entire center section left to right, hoping to find the loose heat shield I hear sometimes, and it turns out the entire exhaust is flexing back and forth. The leaking slip connection is just the result of what had happened at the outlet of the resonator:

    [​IMG]

    Now this is at least 2/3rds around the can, leaking moisture and obviously gases. I wonder if this has been repaired before, because if not, the welds on that system are absolute garbage


    I'm hoping a muffler shop can fix this - maybe slip something over that joint and weld around the failure. Worst case yank the resonator and put a pipe section in :D I just don't have time to do that before heading to Atlanta, so this car isn't going. Don't want the exhaust to end up on some freeway. My son suggested JB Weld... not sure I like that approach, but he's thinking outside the box.They do make a putty for exhausts, but it's a filler for holes, not very strong as a "glue" that would hold together that pipe as it vibrates and gets nice and hot.

    Other than the exhaust, I just saw the usual signs of leaking dip stick tube and CPS sensor, although not very recent, so perhaps it got fixed. Will find out as I am tearing off the front end tonight.

    Coolant tank and thermostat are being replaced, and I'll try to drain as much of the coolant from the system as I can. Any trick for that (e.g. run distilled water through it while the radiator hose is disconnected? The car has green crap in the system and that's clearly not BMW spec fluid. Freshly changed, it appears, but ick!
     
  10. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I used a garden hose to blow out the radiator on Jango, years back. I just drained it well before refilling.

    I've read a lot on the subject of drilling vs slotting vs none years ago. The message I remember was "Nothing is fine. Slots are good if you don't mind the noise. Drilling, unless it's an expensive, very well made rotor can cause premature cracking, so don't bother."
     
  11. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

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    the radiator is easy to drain, as I am taking it off. But what about all that stuff that stays in the motor? You only drain 50%-60% even taking off radiator and thermostat housing.

    I guess I could go through a few gallons of distilled water, drain, fill, drain, fill, drain, but in the end I'd have to add pure coolant to get the ratio up to 50/50. Plus, there's a lot of coolant to dispose of - what a mess. Wished I had one of those vacuum systems and a compressor - suck it or push it out, then fill with a vacuum in seconds. You can never have enough special tools! So far I've managed to control the urge to buy an air compressor.

    There's a second bleeder screw the maker of this youtube video points out around minute 3:28 - guess I will have a read of the manual about that one. That may be the answer to some of the fluid pockets

    [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW2AC-qKB-4"]MINI Cooper S Coolant DRAIN, FLUSH & FILL & BLEED - What Type Of Coolant? - YouTube[/ame]

    Video also shows you useful that compressor could be in my garage :wink:

    I did save a link a while back over on another forum - 32 steps to do the flush and there a shop vac is recommended. I also need one of those. Looks like a Harbor Freight visit may be warranted this week after all.
     
  12. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    No such thing as too many tools! I've had the compressor in the past few garages, but I just installed a spring-return hose reel for an air line and for power, in the center of the new garage.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

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    I use old cardboard boxes to protect my garage floor :D Today, I dumped about 3 pounds of crud on the floor as I removed bumper and fender liners and started cleaning. The signs point at no recent service. There were layers of sediment in some places.

    Found some interesting things while starting to take stuff off the front of the car: it appears to have an aftermarket engine damper, but nothing special. Likely a Rock Auto budget part. The tensioner looks like it went through a war, so it's going for sure. belts are fine. Some strange string is hanging from the alternator's pulley like it got sucked in. Not sure if that's bad. Still barely any rust, but so much filth, I think they lived on a gravel road for a while. Brand new power steering pump and fan, as seller indicated, but typical signs of slow oil leaks from the front of the engine and they are not addressed. Doubt they ever serviced the super charger, even though seller claimed it was done recently. No tool marks on any of the bolts that hold the parts you need to remove to get there. Looks like this car isn't going to Atlanta next week. Having my gray one set up for the alignment tomorrow - it'll be road ready before the weekend.
     
  14. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    Fishmonger's story sounds like the Jaguar jokes of old: Man buys 2 Jags... one to drive and a second one to drive while the first one is in the shop. I'll bet $20 that the supercharger service wasn't done, simply because that's something that almost nobody does! Timing chain? OK... maybe. New clutch? Sure... I'll believe that. SC service? Nope, nope and nope!
     
  15. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

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    You'd win that $20. I have a feeling the car never was in front end service mode before tonight. Ever!

    will post some pix when I get some time, but that car will take a little longer to get ready
     
  16. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

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    Having more than one Mini of the same year around does come in handy when you can't get crap back together. Just have a look on the other side of the garage. Better than the manual.
     
  17. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

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    Got the gray Mini back from alignment. Great local shop got it exactly where I wanted it. I like guys who will put your car in the garage overnight, because it it was theirs, they'd like it to be in there, too. The same guys saw the photos of my cracked exhaust on the daily driver. Verdict was that the crack can't be welded safely as the material there is too thin usually. They recommend to replace the resonator. Now, you can't get one from Megan, so we'll have to improvise that one when the car can be driven to their shop.

    Last night I had 2 hours to work on the daily. Radiator came off, GREEN fluid came out. OK, so they did actually change the radiator fluid, but why go to the green stuff? While at that part of the job, I removed the scummy reservoir and put my quality RockAuto part in there. Good enough for what it does. The other one lasted 12 years without a leak. $40 for this part including cap.

    [​IMG]

    I then proceeded to get the radiator completely off the car and found to my surprise the OEM fan resistor wire in full function! One mod I don't have to do right now, plus I am out of the big remote resistors I usually use for that purpose.

    Pulling the plastic front off the car had grit and bugs drop out from every void it could creep into over a decade of neglect. The bugs in the radiator were so fat, I bet nobody ever aimed a hose at that part of the car. No tool marks on any bold I had to undo to get in there, and all bolts were still present (there were two none of my other cars still have :))

    And behind the radiator then the expected oil leaking mess. Our two main suspects are leaking away happily - free subrame corrosion protection, I suppose.

    [​IMG]

    The super charger after a few wipes reveals itself - Water pump solidly oil crusted. Nothing here has ever been off the car to be serviced

    [​IMG]
     
  18. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

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    Next a look at tensioner, pulleys and belt. Maybe it is the unusual rust on this thing, but I don't recall this to be the shape of the OEM damper I pulled off the gray car, nor does that 10.9 bolt look like he factory bolt that came off the other car. Seems serviceable, but long term there's another ATI damper coming my way. This just looks sketchy.

    [​IMG]

    The idler pully looks surprisingly fresh, so perhaps it was swapped when the damper was replaced. I bought one already, so it's coming off the car. The damper is looking pretty worn, but it was coming out anyway, no matter how fresh.

    The squeaking I hear when the car starts up cold clearly comes from the belt - even this out of focus snap tells the story:

    [​IMG]

    Th damage goes all the way around, with one of the multi-grooves almost completely missing from the belt. Could that be damper related? I'll have a closer look at the possible origin of this wear pattern, but my guess right now is that the pulley was installed 70,000 miles ago and that was the last time that belt was replaced. Yinkies!
     
  19. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

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    I continued to tear things off the car. On my way to the thermostat housing, I removed intake, and the snorkel with the throttle body. Carbon central in there, but quickly removed with some carb cleaner. The outside if the ribbed rubber snorkel is a bit rough from oil leakage I think, so may replace that. Also some of the radiator hoses that have been exposed to years of oil leakage. Nothing too scary there.

    The intercooler cover was in the way to get the snorkel and throttle body disconnected from the little side hose, so I took the cover off and had a closer look at how efficient it's cooling fins looked:

    [​IMG]

    Clean cars run better... and they certainly cool better than this. There are generations of bugs in various stages of decay forming a solid crud plug for at least 25% of that intercooler's surface area.

    Then I moved on to get the air filter box out. The two big ECU plugs were super hard to get out of the unit - never been popped before and finest dust throughout everything except properly water/dust proofed connections. To my surprise, I found a washable K&N filter in the air cleaner box! Holy cow, some maintenance. But wait - that was probably done the same day that belt went on, because...

    [​IMG]

    Pretty much caked solid. I shook off about 500 bug pieces, then soaked it in simple green for a while, hot water rinsed it, more bugs and dirt. Let it soak overnight and this morning more bugs and crud came out, so it's still soaking, but for now, I'll try to reuse. There's still a filter from the red car I could pop in if I don't get this clean enough to re-oil and re-use.

    Long term, I plan to build two DIY intakes inspired by the DDM Works intake on my gray car, and that will take a round filter. Seems pretty straight forward metal laser cutting and some bends one could set up with fine cuts in the metal at those locations that need bending. Rest gets sealed with aluminum tape and a lid. If I can use emachines.com's software and service to get these pieces cut, It'll be significantly cheaper than buying more of these (heavy) stainless steel units. Winter project...
     
  20. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    Nice install but please make sure you put some kind of water protection on the front door for your speakers. I put a waterproof foam pod in the speaker hole and then mounted my speakers. The pods will also help you soundstage in the car and less sound will be transmitted into the door.

    The doors on the MINI take on more water then the Titanic when being washed or left out in the rain. Also make sure the drain holes are not clogged under the door. I have seen many speaker ruined from not sealing them in the door properly or having the drain plugs clogged.
     

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