Replacing Mini Cooper (R50/53) Fuel Filter
According to Mini the fuel filter is a lifetime item that does not need to be replaced…..but we all know “lifetime” to the manufacturer is lifetime of the warranty or free service period. After reviewing forum write-ups, I purchased the Mini filter kit (P/N 16146757196) from Way Motor Works and decided to spend an afternoon on the replacement. The kit consists of the fuel filter, two small o-ring seals, one large o-ring seal, and two tank seals (only one will be used for the fuel filter replacement, the other is for the driver side access port/fuel pump which we will not be removing)
I reviewed the following write-ups prior and found them to be very helpful, my write-up hopefully serves to supplement the existing knowledge base and is in no way a replacement:
Standard Disclaimer: ANY USE OF THIS INFORMATION BY YOU IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. I ASSUME NO LIABILITY FOR YOUR USE OF THE BELOW INFORMATION.
NOTE: TIS Instructions and torque specs at bottom of write-up for reference.
Rear Seat Base Removal:
tank access port to get to the fuel filter is on the passenger side (
First step is to tilt and slide forward both front seats as far as they can go- room is a premium in the back seat area. The rear seat is removed by lifting up on each side to unclip front of seat base, removing the anchor point covers by pulling them to unclip, and then removing the seat base:
Fuel Filter Removal/Installation:
NOTE: It is a GOOD idea to have at least ¼ tank of gas, you will need to reprime the fuel pump when the filter is replaced.
Remove the 5 nuts holding the access port cover to the body using a 10mm socket driver:
I found a large putty knife helpful to convince the cover it can be removed, I worked around the cover until it was free enough to remove by hand. A smaller putty knife or flat blade screw driver might also be used to accomplish this, the foam weather strip can be pretty stubborn after years and mileage:
The filter canister cover might look pretty dirty, you can use an air compressor to blow the dirt out OR a vacuum cleaner and rag if you want to keep your car dust free- I chose the vacuum cleaner/rag method. If you look closely through the dirt you will see the unbroken seal at the back, it appears my filter has NEVER been changed. It does not need to be sterile but you don’t want loose dirt falling into the tank:
You might want to use duct tape/plastic around the access port to keep potential gas leaks and spray off of the carpet and under-seat insulation. You might also want to have plenty of shop towels on hand and close by…..and if you like gloves you will need some that are gas resistant, I'm not a fan and choose not to use them.
If you have just driven your car, it might be advisable to remove the fuel pump relay from the driver side fuse box and crank the car a few times to relieve fuel pressure. My car sat overnight and I guess this was long enough for the fuel pressure to bleed off, removing the fuel line was uneventful. Push the two retaining clips on either side in and pull the fuel line out, covering with a rag to be safe from any spray. Once unplugged you will want to tape the fuel line out of the way:
To remove the retaining ring, I used the same screwdriver/rubber mallet as others did, once the ring is loosened a bit with this method it can be unscrewed by hand and removed (NOTE the words around the perimeter of the ring first and how they are oriented in relation to the canister lid- or better yet take a picture, this is how I re-torqued the retaining ring without the BMW removal/installation tool that could be used with a torque wrench):
A screwdriver can be used to start coaxing the fuel filter canister out of the tank, the seal will most likely come with it:
You will need to hold the bottom part of the canister with one hand while unscrewing the lid with the other, be careful not to allow the base to twist since it is attached to other plastic parts, wiring, etc. that could break. Other guides say not to lift the canister more than 3-4 inches since the fuel pump hoses, wiring, and float are attached to the bottom- however, you can lift it a bit higher before you get into trouble, maybe until you can at least get your hand around the base and lid at the same time. I could not get a good enough grip to break the lid loose until I mistakenly removed the holder for the fuel pickup(?) and had to lift the canister out of the tank a bit more, no more fear of breaking something. The fuel pickup holder(?) is clipped to the side of the canister with one clip and sits in a track, in my effort to separate the lid I had hooked the clip and released it and it fell into the tank- it didn’t go far since it is attached. Easily reconnected before installing the new seal at reassembly, I was careful to make sure it did not interfere with the wiring and float before re-attaching to the canister. I don’t advise you to do this, but if you make the same mistake I made the info is here- I also found a pic of the removed assembly so you know what you are working with:
If you still think fuel filters are a lifetime item after looking at the photo below, raise your hand J Be careful with the filter, it is nasty and the black grunge will get on anything it touches, I had my helper standing by with some plastic bags to place it in for disposal:
The standing gas in the filter canister is removed, a turkey baster retired from kitchen use can be used to extract it into a container, I used my topsider for one shot removal. I used a pick to remove the small canister o-rings, there is one in the base and one in the lid. The large o-ring from the canister lid was floating in the dirty gas. I used shop towels and q-tips to clean the grunge out of the canister:
The small o-rings were replaced where they had been removed, the large o-ring slides on the canister lid up to the lip, Vaseline was used on ALL seals for ease of assembly:
Another thought about the lifetime fuel filter before installing in canister…….
The filter was placed into the canister, it slides onto the post and over the new o-ring until it bottoms out. The new tank seal is also vaselined (is that a word?) and placed over the canister- Note the seal has verbiage imprinted on one side “THIS SIDE DOWN” and it means just what it says, that side of the seal faces down towards the tank when installed:
I chose to reinstall the lid before pressing the seal down into the tank, no fears of dropping the canister in to the tank with the lid in place. The lid can be installed incorrectly, note the fuel line connector location before installing. The seal has a lip on the bottom and top to wrap around the tank receiver, I started the seal in one spot and carefully worked around the perimeter until it was fully seated. It will be flat when seated correctly, it does take a little work since it is a confined space and the lower lip has to be maneuvered down and around, but perseverance pays off:
Carefully press the canister down into the seal and make sure that the canister tab aligns with the tank receiver before reinstalling the metal retaining ring (since I had no way to torque the metal ring, I just made sure the words around the perimeter were in the same place as they were before I removed the ring when reinstalling/tightening) - DONE J
Almost. Before starting the car to check for leaks and operation, turn the key to position 2 a few times (the position right before starting where the idiot lights come on) letting the fuel pump cycle to prime the fuel pump. Start the car and check for leaks. If all is well, install the seat and clean up.
TIS Instructions and Torque Specs: