Tim­ing cover leaks solved

Mi­nis can leak oil from just about every­where, but the tim­ing chain cover is a com­mon cul­prit. Here’s how to sort it.

Mini Magazine - - Contents -

Mi­nis are renowned for ‘mark­ing their spot’ with drops of oil, but even the small­est leaks can get out of hand quickly. A main cul­prit is the stan­dard tim­ing cover, which can be prone to leaks be­tween its mount­ing flange and the en­gine front plate, and via the crank pul­ley to cover oil seal. Or, in many cases, both!

When an old steel cover is tight­ened up, the flange can dis­tort, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to achieve an oil-tight seal to the en­gine front plate with­out use of a qual­ity gas­ket sealer. Putting an al­ready dam­aged cover on will ac­cel­er­ate the is­sue, as will us­ing in­cor­rect bolts as they are of dif­fer­ent lengths de­pend­ing on their po­si­tion. It’s im­per­a­tive the cover is ar­row-straight and the gas­ket is cor­rectly po­si­tioned, or you’re wast­ing your time no mat­ter how much sealant or how many gas­kets you throw at it. New cov­ers can be pur­chased for the ten­sioner-type setup, but it’s worth check­ing for straight­ness.

As for the oil seal, that can also be a vic­tim of wear and/or poor in­stal­la­tion. It can leak as a re­sult of the seal lip go­ing hard, dis­tort­ing or a groove worn in to the crank­shaft pul­ley. Again, it’s vi­tal to make sure it’s in­stalled cor­rectly or it’ll leak in no time. The best way to en­sure the seal doesn’t leak is to fit the cover loose, fit the pul­ley, do up as many bolts as you can and then re­move the pul­ley to get to the re­main­ing bolts. This al­lows the seal to cen­tre on the pul­ley cor­rectly. With the gas­ket, put a thin bead of sealant on both sides, mak­ing sure you also put a bead around both flanges of the tim­ing cover and around each of the bolt holes.

While it’s much eas­ier to per­form this task with the en­gine out of the car, most will be work­ing with the en­gine in situ, as we are here. To gain ac­cess to the cover, you will need to drain the coolant and re­move the ra­di­a­tor on pre-MPi mod­els, and on all mod­els the near­side en­gine mount needs to be un­done and the bracket re­moved while the en­gine is safely sup­ported.

Fit­ment to a later MPi model is sim­i­lar, maybe eas­ier, as the header tank, ra­di­a­tor and coolant hoses can re­main in place. The most dif­fi­cult task is likely to be re­mov­ing the lock washer on the bot­tom pul­ley bolt, as space is tight with the en­gine in the car.

Over­all this is an achiev­able job for a rea­son­ably com­pe­tent home me­chanic, pro­vid­ing you have the right tools. Read on for the full process.

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