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Old 10-02-2018, 05:45 PM   #10
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Part 20 - ABS Fix and Leak Chasing

Hi all,

I believe we have a resolution to the ABS issue!

Usual chap had the MINI down in his workshop the weekend before last. I provided him with a wiring diagram for the ABS system, a pack of scrivets for the front inner arches and a new Delphi ABS sensor which I had bought but not fitted - as the issue didn't seem sensor related at the time.

He always says he feels bad that my cars are so clean, as he gets mucky hand marks on stuff. So I put a bit of protection on some surfaces for him!

He removed the inner arches and checked all the wiring for the front ABS sensors but found no problems. However, after much testing - he decided to put the new Delphi sensor on the offside front. That immediately stopped the crazy readings for that wheel. He called me to say that he couldn't find any problems, but inexplicably - that new sensor seemed to have solved the problem on the offside front. So the only thing we thought was left to try, was to order a Delphi branded sensor for the nearside too.

When I picked the car up from him and drove it home, the ABS related lights all illuminated just as before (as expected, because the nearside sensor was still giving silly readings). However when I drove the car again later that day - no lights came on and it worked as normal! Keen readers will remember that this is the exact situation I was experiencing before I replaced the sensors for a second time.

Spurred on by this slight development, I ordered a Delphi branded sensor to fit to the nearside just out of sheer curiosity!

Rare to have the cars side by side

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I gave the car a wash the next day, as it was looking particularly sorry for itself!

I also sold my old door cards via eBay, the buyer was keen to get some in really good condition - which mine were! Except for the arm rest pad that I butchered in my last update

Thoroughly nice chap, drove from near Humberside Airport which is the best part of 100 miles!

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I didn't move the MINI for a couple of days. When I next got into it - I noticed the whole gauge cluster was dead. No warning lights, trip computer screens, speedo or rev counter! The centre dial was working fine though. On most MINI's, this would be the speedo, but as my car has the chrono pack - the centre dial has oil temperature and pressure gauges etc, whereas the speedo is placed infront of the driver.

My immediate thought was that it was probably linked to water getting in somewhere, as I had washed it and let it sit. A quick google revealed an issue with water getting into the BC1 unit, which is a body control unit (a box with a big circuit board in it which controls basically everything!).

In a bit of a panic, I stripped off the trim in the driver's footwell and found the unit. It has 4 large connectors with many wires going to each. The area below the BC1 was soaking! I tried wiggling all the wires and connectors in the area, but nothing I messed with would generate even a flicker from the gauge cluster. I then disconnected the battery and removed the BC1 unit and opened it up - it was totally dry inside, which was at least some relief.

I then put the BC1 back in the car, but left the trim off so that I could dry the area out and reconnected the battery.

By chance, I rested my hand on the gauge cluster as I stood up - and the whole thing flashed into life briefly! A few more test punches and it would flash. Turns out I had been hasty in assuming the problem was water related, rather than checking the dials themselves. Although this luckily led to me finding the leak in the driver's footwell which is something I could address before it damaged anything.

So I set about removing the gauge cluster - the connector was fully locked into place, and wiggling the wires didn't seem to do anything, however bashing or twisting the cluster would make it flicker a little. The connector on the back seemed perfectly clean too, so I decided to remove the cluster and take it indoors - I then dismantled it.

There wasn't anything obviously wrong or damaged inside it, except from some sticky residue covering all the pins which went from the connector on the rear to the main circuit board. I sprayed the area with contact cleaner, dried it by the fire for a bit and reinstalled. The gauges were working fine, so I locked the car and left it over night.

When I returned the next morning, the gauges were totally dead again (maybe the heat from drying them by the fire somehow helped a dodgy connection internally?). By this point, my patience had worn very thin - as the ABS issue was still outstanding and now I had no dials or anything!!!

Luckily, the gauge cluster is only a 'satellite' part, and doesn't actually store such things as the vehicle mileage, so I was able to buy a new cluster from eBay and just plug it in for £50. I'm glad to report that the new cluster has fixed the problem completely - I presume the old one had an internal issue. It doesn't seem to be totally unheardof with these cars. The new one actually has a chrome surround which I rather like! Although I will paint the silver surround from my old cluster in anthracite to match the rest of the interior at some point.

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With that issue out of the way, I was able to focus back on the ABS problem! The Delphi sensor had now arrived, luckily I'm quite experienced in changing these sensors now!! So the change only took about 15 minutes max.

This was last Thursday - and the lights haven't been back on since! I think we finally have a resolution to the problem!

So to summarise -

I first started driving the car in August with an intermitted ABS fault which occured when going over bumps in the road.

I replaced the front sensors with cheap eBay items which was initially fine, but gradually manifested into an intermittent fault on cold mornings which would clear when warmed up.

I replaced the front sensors again with (what I was told were) quality items from BuyCarParts, which caused a constant fault which would not clear.

After 'ruling out' the front sensors, I investigated every other possiblity for the cause at some considerable expense.

I then replaced the front sensors for a THIRD time, with actual quality boxed and branded parts, and the issue was fixed.

So I would say the moral of the story is to use quality parts - but in my defence, I thought I had done that when I bought the second set! I therefore have to apportion a lot of the blame towards the people who supplied me the sensors which claimed to be made by TRW (an OEM supplier of a lot of ABS parts) although I have my doubts, as BOTH were faulty! - Please never use them. Their customer service and delivery times are dreadful.

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My last task was to fix the wet driver's footwell. I did what I could to dry it out - with the trim left off, I parked the car in the sun and also drove it with the heat on full, blowing into the footwells. That dried it out pretty much entirely over the space of a few days, so I reassembled the trim once again.

Having put so much time into trying to fix the car, I wasn't going to spend ages trying to trace the leak at this stage, as it was getting on my nerves - so I checked the MINI forums and found it is common for there to be a leak behind the driver's side outer A-pillar trim (the glossy black piece between the windscreen and driver's window.

I removed the trim by peeling back the door sill rubber (which was gross, so I cleaned it - another possible leak source) and then removing 4 screws to get the trim piece off. It has a foam backing seal behind it. The whole thing was very wet and mucky. I cleaned everything up and dried it off, then applied a tonne of black flexible roof & gutter sealant.

I use this product on my Land Rover where the external window seals crack and let water in. It is black and dries fairly hard, but doesn't stick things together too much. So my thinking was that if I remove the trim piece on the MINI again, it won't be welded in place! I applied it to the trim piece, the foam backing and the a-pillar on the car itself. So hopefully this will stop my leak. Time will tell on that one!

I don't particularly trust the door seals on these cars, as the doors are pillarless, so the window pressing against the door seal and it electrically hotching itself up when you close the door is all that keeps the water out.

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Whilst I had the car in the garage, I decided to address the leak inside the tailgate . On a couple of occasions, the tailgate release would go crazy and repeatedly try to operate. In addition to this, after washing the car and opening the tailgate - water would sometimes rush out of the trim panel!

The centre brake light is a common place for water to get in - so I removed it, cleaned it up and ran a bead of silicone around the edge. I had also noted that the seal between the boot lid and reg plate light trim wasn't in great condition, so tidied that up with a bit of the black sealant used above.

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Also, my grandparents recently traded in their MINI One Hatch for a Cooper Countryman due to it being a lot easier to get in and out of. I advised them against the dealer's £500 Autoglym paint protection (worth mentioning that they were very vague about what sort of process it involved!) I really couldn't see any value in it, especially on a 4 year old car. The dealer also claimed that the protection would last "for ever", even if you used automated car washes - which seems unlikely, even if it were a ceramic coating or similar.

Instead, I offered to sort it out myself with the DA, then follow it up with a couple of coats of FK1000P to at least give it a bit of protection for a starter. It's actually a metallic red (Blazing Red) as opposed to the usual Chilli red. I'm not a big fan of the Countryman's looks - but I can't deny how much bigger it is inside!

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So plenty of progress lately and hopefully the ABS issue is behind me.

My next task will be to get the front end off the car again and sort out the auxiliary belt which squeals under hard acceleration above 4500 rpm. If you gently rev it beyond that, there is no squealing though.

Having a supercharger reduction pulley fitted puts extra strain on the system, so I intend to replace the belt tensioner and idler (both are already in stock), then get the alternator refurbished - it is charging ok, but I would rather get it back to 'as new', rather than have to go in there again in the future if I can avoid it.

It's not a massively difficult job, but quite time consuming as the front bumper, crash bar and radiator have to come off. So I'll enjoy the car for a little while before opening that can of worms! For now, I just don't rev it high.

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