Mini oil change and MOT failure
Click on the images to enlarge
Not long after I bought the Mini I had given it an oil change as well as an oil and air filter change. The oil I put in was only meant to be in there a month because when I did change the oil already in the engine I found it was thick and black. So I wanted to run this oil through the engine to collect all the crap in there and then I'd do another change.
Three months later and I remembered that I was supposed to change the oil so I put some time aside and jacked up the front of the car so I could get a bowl underneath.
Changing the oil in your Mini is one of the easier jobs right after checking the tyres, wipers and wiper fluid level and topping up the radiator. Yet you'd be amazed how many people pay garages to change their oil in their Mini even when their car is very old.
Jack the car up, unscrew the drain bolt on the side of the sump and make sure you have a bowl underneath to catch the oil. It helps if the engine has been running recently and is a bit warm so that the oil will run out faster.
When the oil is flowing out of the sump drain hole, unscrew the oil filler cap on top of the engine and the oil will flow faster. Then just leave the car alone and get on with something else. Eventually the oil will trickle to a few drips a minute.
What I like to do next is pour in a bit of new oil and let that drain through the engine. It will come out black at first as it collects gunk along the way. When it starts coming out like it went in, clean the drain plug of all oil and metal filings with a clean rag. Use the rag to clean the grooves of the drain hole as well so it is also free of metal filings. If you want you can pour some new oil onto a clean rag and smooth it into the drain hole and over the drain plug. Then screw the drain plug back in until tight but don't go mad and try to over tighten it. It's tight enough if no oil drips out when you fill it back up.
If you want you can change the Mini's oil filter at this point. I tend to change it as per the intervals specified in the Haynes manual rather than every oil change as I tend to do them more often.
The standard Mini engine is pretty tough so you can get away with using cheap engine oil. Each person will have their own preference to whose oil they use but for an old non-modified single carb engine, I find that the cheap stuff works just as well (I use 15W 40 motor oil for petrol engines). Plus I tend to carry out an oil change on my Mini more regularly if I buy the cheaper stuff which I find improves performance.
Mini oil filters are a bugger to get off and therefore you can buy lots of fancy tools to remove them. I find that hammering a big flat headed screwdriver through them, turning it half way and then making another hole works well. With four holes through the filter you can insert the screwdriver and turn the filter a quarter, then repeat until you can unscrew it with your hand. Use a rag though to turn it if you use this technique as a holy filter can be sharp! You have to remove the front grill to get at the oil filter.
With the old Mini oil filter off, clean the filter seal on the engine with new oil and smooth new oil onto the seal of the new filter and screw it on. Make sure your hands and the filter are not too oily so you can tighten it pretty good.
When the drain plug and filter are back on, pour the oil into the engine through the filler hole and let it settle. Top it up until the dipstick reads max. Then take the car for a little drive around the corner and then park it for a while to cool down. Once cool you will find that the oil level has dropped below max so top it up.
You will find that the car runs a lot better after an oil change. I could not believe the difference in performance and how smooth it was to drive after only an oil change!
If the oil in your Mini is this colour then it's time for an oil change.
The Mini's MOT is due in a couple of weeks so I booked it in and had it tested. The guys carrying out the MOT were impressed with the state of the car especially considering its age and mileage (well it does travel all over Great Britain!). However it failed due to a corroded rear subframe and a small hole too near to a rear subframe mounting point. It was pronounced safe to drive but it had to be fixed in two weeks for a re-test (which are no longer free).
After getting a few quotes to have the work done I have decided to take the Mini off the road and to do it myself. I was quoted quite a few hundred just for labour. I was planning to work on the subframes myself at some point so now is as good a time as any. I'll miss driving Lucy (all Mini's have a name and the original owner named mine Lucy). Hopefully it will be back on the road within a few months. It will be a learning experience and one I intend to take my time over so I don't botch the job.