This article gives detailed instructions on replacing the oil filter housing gasket in a MINI R56/R57 vehicle. Even though we used a 2007 MINI Cooper to perform this repair, this article can be applied to any 2006-2013 MINI vehicle with minor modifications to the repair steps.
A MINI R56 oil filter housing leak repair is probably necessary if you see smoke rising from the engine compartment around the exhaust manifold.
Another weak link that has been well documented in MINI R56 and R57 engines is a leaking oil filter housing. The issue has become a serious point of contention among Second Generation MINI owners who have already endured a punishing amount of mechanical engine issues. This one just seams to be the icing on the cake.
The problem may just lie within the design of the oil filter housing. BMW and Peugeot constructed the part to actually serve two functions; the housing is connected to both the engine’s lubrication and coolant systems. The lubrication system pumps oil through the housing so it can be cleaned by the filter, while the coolant system circulates fluid through the housing to help dissipate heat. The part serves as both an oil filter and an oil cooler.
Further complicating matters is that the housing (vertically attached to the front of the engine and sealed by two small rubber gaskets) partially resides behind the exhaust manifold. As the rubber gaskets age they become brittle and crack, spewing oil and engine coolant onto the exhaust manifold which emits a plume of smoke. The gaskets can also become compromised internally, creating a potentially toxic brew as oil and coolant mix together.
If you see blue and/or white smoke rising from behind your exhaust manifold and have visual indications of fluid around the housing, then you most likely will need to perform a MINI R56 oil filter housing leak repair. Please note that this repair requires putting the MINI in it’s service position. There is absolutely no way to remove the exhaust manifold from the engine without putting the car in the service position, which must be done to replace the oil filter housing gasket. For more information on putting your MINI in its service position, please read our article MINI R56 Service Position – 2006-2013 Cooper.
1. Oil filter housing gaskets (required) – Required to perform a MINI R56 oil filter housing leak repair.
strong>2. Engine coolant (required) – You will lose some engine coolant (about 1/2 gallon) when you perform this repair. Make sure to only mix your coolant 50/50 with distilled water (purchase at your local grocery store).
3. Exhaust manifold copper mounting nuts (optional) – Replacing the copper hex nuts on your exhaust manifold is not required, but is highly recommended. Since you have to remove the exhaust manifold for this repair, now is a great time to replace these inexpensive hex nuts and prevent future exhaust leaks. You will need ten copper nuts for this repair.
4. Exhaust manifold gasket/heat shield (optional) – Once again, not a required part but highly recommended. Since you have to remove the exhaust manifold in this repair, now is a great time to install a fresh gasket and avoid future leaks.
As discussed at the beginning of this article, the vehicle must be put in its service position to perform a MINI R56 oil filter housing leak repair. The filter housing cannot be accessed unless the exhaust manifold is removed from the engine. Putting the MINI R56 in its service position is a relatively easy procedure that will become routine the more times you do it.
To put your MINI R56 in the service position, please refer to our article MINI R56 Service Position – 2006-2013 Cooper.
Once you have the MINI in its service position, you will need to remove the exhaust manifold from the engine. You will not be able to remove the filter housing until the manifold is removed from the engine compartment. Give extra care when removing the car’s O2 sensors…they are fragile and can malfunction if mishandled.
- Remove the upper heat shield off of the exhaust manifold. It is held in place with six 10mm bolts.
- Remove the 10mm bolts anchoring the lower heat shield to the engine. Pull the heat shield loose from the car. You must remove the bolts and pull the heat shield loose to remove the oxygen sensor in the next step.
- Unplug the top “pre-cat” oxygen sensor electrical connection. With the bottom heat shield now loose, remove the oxygen sensor with a standard 22mm oxygen sensor removal socket. The oxygen sensor must be extracted in order to complete the removal of the lower heat shield from the exhaust manifold.
- Remove the lower heat shield from the vehicle.
- Next, the exhaust manifold will need to be removed from the engine. Start by unplugging the bottom “post cat” oxygen sensor from its connector. This is done by pulling down the red plastic release, then unplugging the connection. Remove the oxygen sensor plug from its mounting bracket by pushing down on the tab behind the plug and pulling it free.
- Grasp the oxygen sensor wiring harness and pull it free from the mounting bracket. You can leave the mounting bracket attached to the oil filter housing.
- Using a deep 11mm socket, remove the 10 copper nuts anchoring the top of the exhaust manifold to the engine.
- Moving under the front of the car, remove the exhaust pipe clamp with a 16mm socket wrench. Using a pair of large needle nose pliers helps spread the clamp so it can be pulled off of the connection.
- Using a 13mm socket wrench, remove the two lower exhaust manifold mounting bolts.
- The exhaust manifold is now free. Grasp it from the engine compartment and remove from the vehicle.
- Remove the manifold gasket.
- You now have clear unobstructed access to the oil filter housing. Note the oil leaking out of the bottom of ours.
- Position a 5 gallon drain pan under the oil filter mount. Remove the cap off of the coolant reservoir. When you remove the mount, about ½ gallon of engine coolant will be released from the engine. Remember…the oil filter mount is also the oil cooler. That is why coolant flows through it.
- Use an 8mm socket wrench to remove the four oil filter housing mounting bolts. Let coolant thoroughly drain from the engine.
- Now is a great time to tidy up your engine. Use a mild cleaner like Goof Off Power Cleaner and Degreaser to remove oil, dirt and grime that has built up on the front of the engine over the years. Saturate the engine with degreaser and allow to sit while you change the gasket in the oil filter housing.
- Use a metal pick to remove the old gaskets from the oil filter housing.
- Used some compressed air to thoroughly blow out the gasket grooves in housing.
- Use a rag to thoroughly wipe out all of the gasket grooves.
- Use CRC Brakleen to thoroughly clean the gasket surface on the engine.
- Install the new gaskets in the oil filter housing. Make sure they are pushed into the grooves correctly.
- Carefully reinstall the filter housing on the engine block. Be extra careful not pinch or twist the rubber gasket during installation. Torque the four M6 mounting bolts to 10 Nm (7.5 ft-lb).
- Reinstall the exhaust manifold gasket and the exhaust manifold. Install the lower exhaust manifold bolts and torque to 25 Nm (18.4 ft-lb).
- Reinstall the ten copper nuts anchoring the exhaust manifold to engine head and torque to 25 Nm (18.4 ft-lb).
- Install the exhaust pipe clamp. Torque the bolt to 25 Nm (18.4 ft-lb).
- Reinstall the lower heat shield. DO NOT install the bolts yet (see next step).
- Reinstall the top pre-cat oxygen sensor. Remember…you will not be able to get the 22mm socket on the oxygen sensor with the lower heat shield bolted to the engine. Torque sensor to 50 Nm (37 ft-lb).
- Install the bolts in the lower heat shield and tighten.
- Reconnect both oxygen sensor wires.
- Before removing the vehicle from its service position, it is important to start the car and check the oil filter mount for any leaks. VERY IMPORTANT ***Remember that you will need to replace the engine coolant that drained out when the oil filter housing was removed. Remove the cap from the coolant reservoir. Start the engine and allow to run for one minute at idle speed. Check the vehicle for oil or coolant leaks while the engine is running. Adjust the coolant level while the engine is running with a 50/50 distilled water and Genuine BMW Coolant mix (see parts list at beginning of article) to the “max line” on the coolant reservoir. Turn the engine off and allow to cool. Recheck coolant level and adjust as necessary.
- Return vehicle to its normal configuration by removing it from its service position.