The MINI Cooper has been a cult phenomenon since its introduction decades ago. When it was reborn in the new millennium, it was given a retro-styled look with modern performance capabilities. That is especially true in the Cooper S and JCW models, which offer more power from their forced induction engine options and better overall handling characteristics. They were not, however, without their minor issues. Chief among MINI problems are their notorious oil consumption woes that can have you popping your hood as frequently as every 500 miles to top it off with oil. This simply won’t do. That’s why we’re here to inform you and offer the correct solution to tackle that CEL and oil consumption once and for all.
Whether you bought your MINI new or second hand, chances are you will need to perform this service at some point. We are talking, of course, about the valve cover and PCV diaphragm that combine to be the bane of a MINI owner’s existence. While you may think the oil consumption culprit is the turbocharger or the piston rings, the likely issue is a stuck PCV diaphragm and/or a cracked valve cover. But how do you know for sure?
The issue: Oil Consumption/Blow By/CEL for a vacuum leak
What to check: Inspect the area around the valve cover for seepage. Remove the intake filter and inspect the intake tube.
The signs: Oil around the edges of the cover, around the plug wells, and oil inside the intake tube.
The N14 engine particularly suffers from these problems, as its PCV diaphragm is prone to sticking open. There might not be a CEL or way to know if that is the case, however, without monitoring your oil consumption. A safe bet is that if you are experiencing absurd oil consumption, this is your likely cause. Unfortunately, that means replacing the whole valve cover as the PCV diaphragm is not technically serviceable, though it can be done. However, for the easiest solution with the highest chance of success, we suggest replacing the cover itself. It should be noted that the N18 has a similar issue, though it usually does not happen as early in the car’s life as the N14. In either case, our updated covers will offer a longer service life and correct your consumption issues. If you have the N18, they’re here. For the W10/W11, check these out.
If the valve cover has faults, then a new one will eventually have the same problems, right? Yes, but, we have that covered, too. We have compiled here the updated valve covers with all the necessary hardware to tackle that oil consumption issue while ensuring your MINI won’t have the problem ever again.
Similarly, for the W10/W11 engines, there is also a different oil issue not related to the PCV system. The valve cover on those engines is prone to cracking, either from heat cycling/age or from improper installation. If you have a vacuum leak or oil seepage from your cover, it is probably cracked in one or more places. The only solution is to replace the cover itself. We have you covered there, too.
Fortunately, the valve cover is easily replaced, even at home with basic tools. This job should take you about an hour to two hours, depending on your pace, and should resolve your oil consumption issue permanently. It would also be a smart idea at this time to install an oil catch can help keep the PCV system cleaner, which should help extend the overall life of your N14, N18, W10, or W11 engine by capturing blow-by and other contaminates for additional peace of mind. For a complete run-down on how a catch can will help you, check out our in-depth guide on what catch cans do here.
Don’t keep feeding your MINI oil, solve the problem permanently with a little help from your friends at ECS!