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Project R53, Spark and Mounts

It’s been like Christmas around here, with all my individually boxed RockAuto parts arriving for the Mini.

The good thing about common cars like these, that were basically the same in all markets, is that parts can be had for cheap. RockAuto stocks heaps of R53 parts at really good prices, so I went to town ordering a bunch of things I knew the car needed.

The obvious things I needed was a replacement hydraulic engine mount, as the old one had dumped its guts, a torque mount as I noticed it was a bit thumpy when I picked the car up, and a full ignition system refresh due to misfires.

I started with the ignition system refresh first, as this was easy and should have a pretty noticeable difference.

Started with a pretty OK looking system

Don’t be fooled though, there be horrors lurking beneath.

Two cylinders had their leads wrapped in insulation tape (and rusty, despite being dry).

The spark plugs were well worn too. These are weird ones with a tiny little center electrode that is basically flush with the ceramic. Well, should be flush… a couple of mine were recessed, but all were looking very end of life.

The coil wasn’t doing much better either. These are well known for the terminals corroding, and mine was no different. One of the first things I did when I got the car home was to clean the corrosion of the terminals, and I noticed a big reduction in misfires, but the terminals still didn’t look good.

I decided to go with NGK BKR6E plugs gapped to 0.8mm as they are easy to get, easy to get to, and are cheap, so replacement in 10,000km isn’t too much of an issue. 27NM is the correct torque for the plugs.

The new leads and coil were fitted, and a quick test start showed everything was working as it should

A short test drive, in the rain, showed that I had oodles more torque than before, and the misfire/shuddering was gone. The engine was very punchy in the mid-range. Traction was now suddenly an issue.

Next on the list was the thumpy old engine mounts.

This is all pretty straight forward, with the only small catch being the need to support the engine when the RH engine mount is removed.

The car was jacked up and supported on an axle stand. it still amuses me that these are so rigid and short that both wheels are off the ground on this side

Off came the wheel, and the jack was repositioned under the engine, using a block of rubber to spread the load.

There are a few bolts to undo up the top. Obviously the big main nut on the top, but there is also a little nut and bolt holding the ground strap to the mount (this is not a captive bolt, once the nut is off the bolt will fall out too). I didn’t do anything with the black valve next to the ground strap bolt, this comes off once the mount bolt holding it on is removed.

There are two bolts at the front of the head

And two around the back

The last one up top is holding the mount to the body

Once they are all loose, the engine will no longer be supported, it will float around freely on the jack.

Now, move into the front RH wheel well, and remove a couple of clips from the liner. You don’t need to remove the whole thing, just free it up so you can get your arm behind it

The bolt you need to access is behind the liner, on the underside of the chassis rail. It’s an E12 E-Torx bolt, and located about here, going vertically up into the underside of the mount. I found cracking it with a bar and then using a cordless ratchet was the easiest, as its a very long bolt and quite tight. They can rust in place, and are torque to yield, so have a replacement ready. Be aware that if the mount is leaking, a bunch of smelly oil is going to decide it wants to pour out of the hole where the bolt is coming out of and all down you tools/arm.

With all the bolts out, the top mount bracket can be removed, as can the mount, leaving a whole bunch of mess to clean up.

Installing the new mount is basically the reverse of removal. Just leave everything finger tight until all the bolts are in place, and then torque them up together.

The four bolts that hold the bracket to the head are 74 ft-lbs
And the engine mount bracket to engine mount nut is 50 ft-lbs

Next was the lower engine torque mount.

Apparently you can get away with just undoing the two main bolts holding the mount in, but I couldn’t seem to slip it out, so had to also remove the 4 smaller bolts holding the bracket to the sump.

With it out it was easy to replace the mount, and bolt it all back together. A quick and easy job. The two large bolts are 74 ft-lbs, whilst the little ones are about 28 ft-lbs.

It’s clear to see why the old mount was due for replacement

With the major work done, I carried on with a couple of smaller things. I wanted to check the air filter since I wasn’t too confident on the rest of the servicing, and sure enough, it was absolutely packed with dirt. The good thing though, is its a reusable K&N filter, and I happen to have a cleaning kit, so that got a thorough clean and oil before refitting. Score.

I also fit a boot light with LED, since for some reason that was completely missing, as well as the storage tray that should live in front of the cup holders in the center console. No photos, they aren’t exciting, but are very useful.

The last thing I tinkered with was the headlights. They were yellow and cloudy, which ruined the projector beam and made the terrible blue bulbs work even worse.

Using a foam ball on my drill, and some PlastX polish, I went from this

To this

BIG difference. The other side got a polish too.

They look almost new. A great result from this little guy

After all this work I took the car for a good drive over some twisty roads. The thumping and banging is 90% gone, I suspect the only way to completely remove it is with poly bushes, but I’m not going down that track. The misfire is also completely gone, and the engine pulls smoothly, and strongly no matter the RPM. It’s now a fight with DSC when driving hard, trying to keep the wheels from spinning.

All in all, some good maintenance. I suspect it’s been a while since it last had anything more than an oil and filter change.

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