This article gives detailed instructions on replacing the water pump in a MINI R56 vehicle. Even though we used a 2007 MINI Cooper to perform this repair, this article can be applied to any 2006-2013 MINI vehicles with minor modifications to the repair steps.
A MINI R56 water pump replacement is an inexpensive repair that can help prevent engine overheating.
The MINI R56/R57 series of cars (also known as “Generation 2”) were produced from 2006-2013 and were powered by the notorious N12/N14 Prince engines. The Prince engine, a collaboration between Peugeot and BMW, has had a long list of mechanical issues that have plagued MINI owners…one of which is a failing or leaking water pump.
The MINI R56 water pump is mounted to the right side of the engine and is driven by the motor’s accessory belt. It’s main function is to cool the MINI’s motor – it achieves this by drawing coolant from the radiator and pumping it to the thermostat via a water pipe located on the back of the engine. A MINI water pump failure will shut down this vital circulation of coolant, causing the engine to quickly overheat.
A MINI R56 water pump will usually become “noisy” prior to failure (note that it could also be your friction wheel – see our article on MINI friction wheel replacement). But with all of the other ambient sounds emanating from the engine compartment, tracking down a strange noise from the right side of the motor is not always a reliable diagnosis. Usually MINI owners do not find out their water pump has failed until the car overheats or a puddle of coolant is found under the right side of the vehicle. Either way the water pump should be immediately replaced to avoid more catastrophic damage to the engine.
Like all other accessory driven components on the MINI R56, replacing the water pump can be tedious. Access to the water pump must be done through the right fender well, requiring the right wheel to be removed. Since the water pump is unfortunately located behind the body of the vehicle, the upper engine mount will also need to be removed and the engine lowered with a floor jack.
The good news is MINI replacement water pumps are inexpensive any “do it yourselfer” with a decent set of tools and an average mechanical ability can easily perform this repair. And best of all, it saves a very expensive trip to the dealership. We have provided detailed step by step instructions and a complete parts list for your convenience.
1. Water pump (required) – Like we mentioned above, there are many affordable OEM quality water pumps on the market…usually for under $50. We offer you a couple excellent water pumps that we consider the best value on the market; they both come with the updated metal impeller and sealing gasket.
2. Water pump drive wheel (optional) – If the rubber on your water pump drive wheel looks like its starting to wear, then now is the time to replace it. Replacing your drive wheel now is cheap insurance against future water pump issues.
3. Friction wheel (optional) – The friction wheel is the link between the engine’s accessory belt and the water pump pulley. Simply put, it is in charge of spinning the water pump pulley. When it starts to fail, it will make a “squeaking” sound from its bearings. Now is the time to replace your MINI’s friction wheel since it will have to be removed for this repair.
The right fender liner on all MINI R56/R57 models must be removed to perform repairs and maintenance to the right side of the engine.
- While the vehicle is on the ground, use a 17mm socket wrench to slightly loosen the four lug nuts on the right wheel. DO NOT remove the lug nuts…you are just loosening them so they can be removed after you raise the vehicle.
- Jack and support the front of your vehicle using the jack stand method as shown in our article BMW Jacking and Supporting for Repairs and Maintenance.
- Using a 17mm socket wrench, remove the front right wheel from the vehicle.
- Use a phillips head screwdriver to remove the four phillips head plastic rivets securing the front of the fender well liner to the body of the car. You do not need to remove the rear phillips head rivet.
- Next, use a T30 torx bit to remove the front torx screw anchoring the fender liner to the body of the car. You do not need to remove the rear torx screw.
- Grab the wheel well liner and fold back behind the brake rotor out of the way. You can now access the engine pulleys on the right side of the engine.
Since access to the MINI’s water pump is blocked by the right side fender, the engine will need to be lowered. This is a relatively easy procedure and should not be intimidating. It simply requires supporting the engine with a floor jack, then loosening the upper engine mount bracket and lowering the motor.
- Position a floor jack with a scrap piece of wood underneath the oil pan as shown below. Slowly raise the jack until it just barely lifts the engine. The goal here is to take pressure off of the upper engine mount so it can be safely removed.
- Locate the upper engine mount bracket. It is held in place with four 13mm bolts and one 18mm nut.
- Begin by removing the four 13mm bolts securing the bracket to the engine. Since several bolts are difficult to access with the radiator frame in the way you may have to get creative with socket extensions, open end wrenches, and even just your hands. The front two bolts are difficult to fully remove…you can remove them with the bracket.
- Next, use an 18mm socket wrench to remove the nut securing the bracket to the engine mount. Once again clearance issues make this nut difficult to loosen…we used a low profile socket and wrench as shown below.
- Finally, remove the ground strap nut with a 13mm open end wrench.
- Pinch the crankcase breather hose connection and remove it from the valve cover (a pair of thin nose pliers helps). This will give you enough clearance to remove the bracket.
- Grasp the engine mount bracket and remove from the vehicle. Note that we left the front two mounting bolts in the bracket.
- Next, the rear of the alternator wiring harness must be loosened. Remove the rear 10mm bolt so the wiring harness can be moved up and down. The reason why is because the upper water pump mounting bolt is located behind it – it is nearly impossible to remove the upper water pump bolt unless the harness is loose and can be pushed out of the way. This will make perfect sense when you get to step 19 below.
- Before the water pump can be removed, you must first remove the friction pulley. The friction pulley is held in place by three 10mm bolts. Because of clearance issues with the frame of the car, the upper two friction wheel bolts must be removed from the top of the engine, an the third from the bottom.
- Start by disengaging the friction pulley from the water pump by pulling on its release as shown below.
- Next, raise the engine until the top two friction wheel bolts can be accessed with a 10mm socket or open end wrench. Since you are simply loosening the bolts, an open end wrench is perfectly acceptable (and probably easier).
- Loosen the two upper friction pulley mounting bolts. You don’t have to remove them yet…it is easier to remove them after you lower the engine down in step 14 below.
- Lower the engine as far as it will go.
- You can now easily remove the top two bolts from the friction wheel, as well as the third lower 10mm mounting bolt.
- Grasp the friction wheel and remove from the vehicle.
- Use a 10mm socket wrench to remove the water pump drive wheel bolts. They are at a very low torque…you can simply hold the drive wheel with one hand as you loosen the bolts with the other.
- Remove the water pump drive wheel from the engine.
- The water pump is mounted to the engine block with five 10mm bolts.
- Using a 10mm socket wrench, remove the five mounting bolts. Space is very tight around the water pump, so take your time and use patience while removing the bolts. We find it very handy to use a low profile 12” ratchet….especially when removing the top bolt. Push the wiring harness (loosened in step 8 above) up and out of way to remove the top mounting bolt.
- Position a five gallon drain pan under the water pump. It still contains a small amount of coolant that will drain out when removed.
- The water pump is now ready to be removed from the engine. Be aware that it may be stuck…if it will not come free by pulling on it, strike it gently several times with a rubber mallet.
Installing the new water pump in your MINI is basically the reverse of the above steps except you will need to torque all of the bolts to spec during assembly. It is very important that the proper torque values are followed to avoid coolant leaks or stripped bolts during reassembly.
- Before installing your new water pump, use some CRC Brakleen and a rag to thoroughly clean the engine where the water pump mounts to. Be sure to remove any grease and grime that may affect the pump’s rubber gasket from sealing.
- Install the new water pump gasket. Make sure it is properly seated in the groove.
- Install the new water pump into the engine.
- Install the water pump mounting bolts and hand tighten. Use patience…the upper bolts can be difficult to tighten. Torque all of the mounting bolts to 10 Nm (7 ft-lb).
- Reinstall the water pump drive wheel and torque the bolts to 10 Nm (7 ft-lb). Remember….this is a low torque. You can easily hold the wheel with one hand to keep it from spinning.
- Reinstall the friction wheel. Install all three bolts and hand tighten. It is easier to install the two upper bolts while the engine is down, even though you won’t torque them until step 8 below.
- Torque the lower friction wheel bolt to 10 Nm (7 ft-lb.). You will not be able to get a torque wrench on the top two bolts until you raise the engine in the next step.
- Raise the engine up until you can access the two upper friction wheel bolts. You will need to use a 10mm open end wrench (or pair of long nose pliers) to turn the bolts until they are snug. It is not feasible get a ¼” low torque wrench on the bolts until they are all the way into the friction wheel as far as they will go.
- Once the top two bolts are turned all the way in and snug, torque them to 10 Nm (7 ft-lb).
- Reinstall the rear alternator wiring harness bracket mounting bolt.
- Reinstalling the engine mount bracket can be challenging…but if you follow our instructions and use patience it will go a lot smoother. First, lower the engine so it is close to level.
- Install the engine mount bracket. It is best to start at an angle as shown in the first image below, then flip it over into its proper position. If the MINI is not in its “service position”, make sure the front two mounting bolts are installed in the bracket or you will not be able to get them in.
- Before tightening the mounting bolts, reinstall the grounding strap now. It is very difficult to install after the bracket is tightened down.
- Next, install the front and rear mounting bolts into the engine. You may need to “manhandle” the engine a little by moving it back and forth, then up and down, until the holes line up with the bolts. Hand tighten the front and rear mounting bolts as far as you can.
- Install the two inner mounting bolts and hand tighten.
- Tighten all four mounting bolts and torque to 47 Nm (35.6 ft-lb). It is helpful to use a universal joint with a low profile 13mm socket to torque the front bolts (see image below).
- Reconnect the crankcase breather hose. Make sure that you hear it “click” when you press it onto the valve cover fitting.
- Lower the floor jack so all of the weight is now on the engine mount.
- Reinstall the engine mount nut and torque to 47 Nm (34.5 ft-lb).
- Reassemble the right fender well trim.
- Reinstall the right wheel and torque the lug nuts to 140 Nm (103 ft-lb).
You will need to refill and bleed your coolant system before starting the vehicle to test the pump. Remember to only use Genuine BMW (MINI) Coolant/Antifreeze mixed 50/50 with distilled water in your MINI vehicle.
- Before refilling the coolant reservoir, switch the ignition to ON (position 2). DO NOT START THE ENGINE.
- Set the temperature level on the vehicle’s climate control system to full warm (turn the heat on all the way).
- Set the climate control fan speed to low.
- Using a mixture of Genuine BMW Antifreeze/Coolant mixed 50/50 with distilled water, slowly fill the expansion tank to its maximum level.
- Leave the cap off of the coolant expansion tank. Start the engine and run at idle for one minute. Check the coolant level and top off if necessary.
- Replace the coolant reservoir cap. Start the engine and run until it reaches operating temperature.
- Turn the engine off and let cool. Recheck the coolant level again in the expansion tank and top off if necessary.