1st Gen "How To" My Aggressive Maintenance Schedule For An R53 Or R50

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Everyone has a different idea of what appropriate maintenance is and everyone has a different use for their car. Everyone has a different level of...
By agranger · Jan 18, 2018 ·
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  1. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I just posted a new article in the Library on my aggressive maintenance plan. There isn't any place for discussion over there, so I'm creating a thread here to allow for a conversation.


    http://www.motoringalliance.com/library/1st-generation-mini-cooper-how-to-3/my-aggressive-maintenance-schedule-for-an-r53-or-r50-98/

    ---------------------------------------------

    This post may cause a bit of discussion… I hope so, at least. Everyone has a different idea of what appropriate maintenance is and everyone has a different use for their car. Everyone has a different level of comfort with the risk of not replacing some items at regular intervals vs. waiting for a part failure (or near-failure). Everyone also has a different long-term goal for the car as well (3 year lease and turn-in vs. driving the same car for 20 years). All of these factors play into a maintenance schedule.

    Considering all of the factors above, I find the MINI recommendations to be WAY too infrequent for my comfort. I occasionally go out for weekends at the track and I tow a (small) trailer with the car, so I know that Jango sees heavier loads than the average MINI. I also hope to keep my MINI for a long time to come, so I tend to do routine maintenance like oil changes more frequently, in the hopes that it will help engine and transmission longevity. I’m also less likely to accept risk to my persona/vacation time… the smaller chance of losing track sessions or vacation experiences with the car in the shop is worth a few extra dollars to me to prevent.

    MINI engineers look at things a different way. They have an estimate of how long they should design a piece of equipment to last (or what an acceptable fail rate during the warranty period is) and the maintenance that would be required to sustain the equipment during that period. They aren’t interested in making a MINI engine last 20 years and they definitely aren’t designing their maintenance plan for a car that sees track/trailer use. They are designing for the average expected use of the car. Some of the items that I replace on a regular schedule aren’t even on their list.

    A few examples of what I’m talking about:

    • PREVENTATIVE REPLACEMENT FOR HIGH IMPACT FAILURE ITEMS - If I ever make it to 4 years on the same battery, I’m going to replace it (my first battery failed in 3.5 years). Texas summer heat takes a toll on batteries and rather than have it fail when I’m on vacation or when I’m 50 miles from home, I’d rather replace it when it is convenient for me. Yes… I might be replacing a battery a year before it would fail, but that loss of 1 year of service will cost me another $20 (1/5 of the cost of a $100 battery). I’d happily pay $20 to avoid getting stuck at the office at 6pm, calling my wife to come and get me.

    • INVESTING IN LONGEVITY - I flush the coolant more frequently than recommended and I always replace the thermostat and gasket when I do so. Every other flush, I replace the thermostat housing. My MINI sees some track time (and the trailer puts extra extended load on the engine while towing on the highway), so extra coolant flushes are my investment in engine longevity. The thermostat and housing replacements are much like the battery… these parts are known weak points in the cooling system and I’d rather replace them on my schedule than run a higher risk of having them cause issues at inopportune moments.

    • PERSONAL HISTORY - I have a preventative replacement of the clutch slave cylinder in my schedule. I’m sure that this isn’t on any maintenance list for MINI, but my personal history with my R53 shows that a clutch slave is lucky if it makes it 40k miles. If I ever have one that makes it that long, I’m going to replace it. So far, I haven’t made it that far… I’m on clutch slave #4 in 60k miles!

    • LOW IMPACT ITEMS - I don’t have an engine damper replacement on my list and neither does MINI. My personal history suggests that they last only 30k miles / 2 years, but when they fail on my car, it causes very little impact. I can still drive the car and might not even notice any difference until I go for a spirited drive or hit some very rough pavement. Since the risk is small to my time if this goes bad, I don’t worry about it (though I do replace it when it goes bad for best performance and ride quality).​

    How much maintenance is too much? That’s up to you to decide. If you take my methodology to an extreme, you might find yourself doing a preventative engine replacement every 10k miles to ensure that the car is always in tip-top shape. I guess if you have the $$$ and need a maximum-reliability MINI, this might be a way to go at it… there is a cost-benefit analysis that you have to do here.
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Administrator
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    Click the link to the Article to see the actual schedule.

    Great stuff Aaron. Thanks for posting.
     
  3. Justa Jim

    Justa Jim Well-Known Member
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    I've been thinking about this and will read you plan with great interest. I only wish you had a 2nd Gen car, but I'm sure it will give me food for thought. :Thumbsup:

    Jim
     
  4. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    For Gen 2 cars, you can ignore the supercharger stuff, but might need to add turbo maint (no clue) and maybe some sort of carbon build up preventative... SeaFoam, maybe. I haven't done research for the R56, but know that some have suffered from that issue.
     
  5. lotsie

    lotsie Club Coordinator

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    Good stuff:Thumbsup:

    Mark
     
  6. grodenglaive

    grodenglaive New Member

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    Looks like a reasonable schedule for fluid/filter changes for a car that sees track time.
    Surprisingly, I have never needed to change a car battery in 25 years of driving. I made up for that with my garden tractor though - 4 batteries in 7 years.
    Windshield wipers twice a year for me - the winter salt is hard on them and maybe I'm fussy too. :)
     
  7. ScottinBend

    ScottinBend Space Cowboy
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    You might want to consider getting the Silblade wipers. They have a five year warranty. I have had a set on my car for a bit over 5 years now and they still perform like new.
     
  8. BThayer23

    BThayer23 Well-Known Member

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    Good article. I like where you're going with this.

    Some thoughts:

    What's an intercooler oil swap?
    30k on belts is aggressive. I think 60k is fine on a modern ribbed belt.
    I don't plan on changing my O2 sensors till 150k.
    Water pump? (100k or failure) Supercharger oil? (40k if DIY) Supercharger rebuild? (100k or failure) <- high labor costs, tough to recommend prior to failure for non-DIYers
    I change my cabin air filter when the maintenance interval counts down to 0.
    Is there a different MINI-recommended interval on the JCW spark plugs?
    Coolant hoses? I suggest 150k, inspect yearly
    Also inspect yearly for leaks/tears/failure: oil pan gasket, crank sensor gasket, crankshaft seal (behind pulley), lower engine mount, power steering fan, power steering rack, shocks, front strut upper mounting plates
     
  9. Steve

    Steve Administrator
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    #9 Steve, Aug 5, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011
    Wiper blades to me are in a different category, like tires and brake pads. Unlike most things on the list they're easy to see and easy to test. No fluids to send away for testing, no dismantling of engine, trans, etc, to get to them. Visual observation is simple and 100% reliable and replacement, at least for the wipers, is easy.

    Your recommendation for the OEM blades comes close to my actual replacement timing based on failure back when I still used them. I think they actually lasted less than a year for me.

    I switched to PIAA Super Silicone and they've been working just like new for something like six or seven years now. In fact the silicone is still so good I've left the blades on even though they're starting to rust. It's almost like a science experiment I can't walk away from, I must know how long these things will keep performing like this. Ever keep the blades and replace just the rubber inserts? I feel like doing the opposite...
     
  10. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I do that swap when I change the turn signal fluid. :eek:

    Good catch. I meant supercharger oil.
     
  11. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I'm not a JCW guy, but I thought I heard a story on White Roof Radio about Todd finding a MINI service bulletin that says that JCWs (R53 JCWs, at least) get new plugs with every oil change!
     
  12. DneprDave

    DneprDave Well-Known Member
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    I would only change spark plugs after they failed a visual inspection, not after a set number of miles.

    With every oil change seems like way too much to me!

    Dave
     
  13. SNEEEZY - Erika

    SNEEEZY - Erika M/A Wrenchin' Babe!
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    DAMN!

    Here I thought I've been doing a pretty good job of checking oils, fluids, etc. and somehow I seemed to have overlooked the turn signal fluid!

    Where is the reservoir?























































    :postcount
     
  14. BThayer23

    BThayer23 Well-Known Member

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    Found this on Motoringfile.

    MotoringFile » Archive » Ask MF: R53 JCW Spark Plug Bulletin

    "Every service interval" comes out to about 15,000 miles.
     
  15. 1momini

    1momini New Member

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    ? Mini lifetime fluids how long do they consider lifetime?
     
  16. Crashton

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    I change my plugs out at about 40,000 miles. They look worn, but serviceable at the mileage. At that mileage I also change out the ignition wires.

    As far as lifetime fluids, trans fluid is changed on my MINI at 50,000 miles. Fluid is cheaper that gearboxes.

    These are just what I do. Doing these things more often will not hurt a thing.
     
  17. BThayer23

    BThayer23 Well-Known Member

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    About 100k or when the part fails. A good example is a clutch: you wouldn't replace a clutch until it fails because it's so much work and money to replace, even though you know it's going to wear out some day. So whenever they had a part that was difficult to replace (like a supercharger or automatic transmission), they just declared the fluid "lifetime." Most parts these days are designed for about 100k miles or 10 years.
     
  18. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    Until you are out of warranty and they don't have to pay for the fix! :D
     
  19. 1momini

    1momini New Member

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    16 year old daughter will be driving this car. I figure a clutch sooner than later :(
    I figure I will do the trans fluid then. PS and Brakes now.
    I've been noticing a top engine knock/ping at start up. I search this forum and found Service bulletin about carbon build up on cylinder walls. There was a picture of a tool that looked like a pipe with a chain attached in. 2 places. I gathered it was to slip down into the cylinder and spin it to break up the carbon while flushing with a cleaner. Craziest thing I ever saw. Have any of you had experience with such a thing.
     
  20. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I think that is the 'walnut blaster' (good for a search term). The carbon build-up is primarily a R56 issue... with some of the years more than others.
     

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