DIY Oil Change on a 2005 Mini Cooper

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It was anarchy in the UK in 2001, when BMW, having acquired Mini through its purchase of the Rover Group, introduced an all-new Mini created in large part by Das Germans. In large part, but not entirely. BMW might have done the mechanical engineering, but the body was designed by American Frank Stephenson, and built in Oxford, England. So, engineered by Germans, styled by an American and built by Britain; talk about the best of all worlds. Anarchy aside, it was almost impossible for the new Mini to go wrong in any Western market.

Things You'll Need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Oil drain pan
  • Ratchet
  • 13 mm socket
  • 36 mm socket
  • 5 quarts synthetic oil
  • Oil filter cartridge with O-ring
  • Small flat-blade screwdriver
  • New oil drain plug
  • Torque wrench
  • Allow the car to idle up to operating temperature, and then park it on level ground. Shut the engine down. Lift the front end of the Mini with a floor jack far enough that you can slide underneath, and secure it on jack stands. Pop the hood and open the oil filler cap on top of the engine.

  • Crawl under the passenger side of the car and locate the oil drain plug; make sure you're looking at the engine oil drain, and not the transmission drain plug. Place a drain pan under the plug, and use a ratchet and 13 mm socket to open it. Allow the oil to drain completely while you work on the filter.

  • On this engine, the filter is easily visible from the top, between the back of the engine and the firewall. You can recognize the oil filter housing by the large, plastic, hex-shaped cap on top. Use a 36 mm socket to unscrew the cap, being careful not to crack the plastic. You can also use a pair of adjustable slip joint pliers if you don't have a socket large enough.

  • Remove the filter cap; the filter element comes out with it. Remove the element from the cap, and then the old O-ring from above the cap threads. A small screwdriver can be helpful here. Clean the cap with lint-free towels. Lightly lubricate the new O-ring included with your filter, install it on the cap, and make sure it's evenly seated in the groove. Lightly lubricate the rubber ends on the top and bottom of the cartridge, and push it into the filter cap. Screw the cap back town, tightening it just snug.

  • Remove the oil drain pan, and clean the plug threads off with a lint-free towel. BMW actually designed this engine to have the oil sucked out with a vacuum tube stuck down through the oil dipstick tube, so the oil drain plug is just a back-up plan, and only designed to be used once. You'll need a new bolt with a new gasket, which will add about $5 to the cost of your oil change. You can re-use the old bolt and gasket, but don't be surprised if it leaks.

  • Tighten the bolt to 18 foot-pounds with a torque wrench. Lower the car, and refill it with 5 quarts of full synthetic oil. Mini recommends 0W-50 oil, but owner preferences run from 10W-40 to 20W-50 depending on the climate and driving conditions. Start the car, and allow it to idle for a minute. Turn the engine off and check for leaks while you wait two minutes. Check the oil level with the dipstick, and top up as necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Newer Minis, 2007 and later, use a different engine with a 27 mm oil filter housing accessible from the driver-side front, and an 8 mm hex head oil drain pan plug.
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