Changed the transmission fluid on my 2013 Mini Cooper today, I thought I’d post a quick how-to for this job. This how-to applies to all R56 MINIs, from 2007-2013, and includes the MCS. The difference with the MCS is that it takes slightly more fluid (2.0qts vs 1.8 for base) and the torque spec is slightly higher (30ft lbs vs 20ftlbs).
First thing I can say is, definitely do NOT go to the dealership for this work. When I went to do this for my 2008 MINI, they claimed that they’d have to lower the subframe on the car and that it would probably be a $600-700 job. They also claimed the fluid was “lifetime” fluid anyway, which I never bought – especially for the kinds of abuse my transmission sees. This is a simple job as long as you’ve got the right tools.
- 8mm hex head tools (drain and fill plug on trans)
- Drain pan
- 3 quarts of GL4 transmission fluid (Redline 75w90 GL4)
- Hand pump
The transmission fluid I decided to go with was Redline 75w90 GL4. I’ve used a number of different transmission fluids in my life, including OEM and Amsoil’s 75w90 MTF, and I can say hands down in each car I’ve used Redline’s transmission fluid, the car shifts much, much smoother. The images below are used with Amsoil’s MTF, which I used prior to switch to Red Line.
Anyway, getting on with it:
Step 1. Get your fluid ready. The fluid shown here is Amsoil’s GL4 MTF – I’ve since moved on to Redline’s GL4 Trans fluid, which I believe shifts smoother and protects better. The manual transmission takes about 2 quarts, buy 3 quarts to be safe.
Step 2. Wheels up! It may help somewhat to remove the passenger side front wheel. Your call. You want all the wheels up (and not just the fronts) so the car will be level when you fill the transmission.
Step 3. Locate the Fill and Drain Plugs. They are located on the passenger’s side of the transmission. I’ve highlighted them in this picture. This is on the passenger side of the transmission. Both take an 8mm hex head, same as the engine oil drain plug.
Step 4. Open the Fill plug first. You do this just in case you can’t get it open somehow. If you open the drain and can’t open the fill, you’re screwed.
Step 5. Open the drain plug and let it drain. This is how dark it was after less than 10k miles – not a lifetime fluid.
Step 6. The simplest way I fill the transmission is with a hand pump.
Step 7. Pump away!
Step 8. After you’ve used the appropriate amount of oil, you should start seeing fluid dribble out of the transmission – this is how you know it’s full, and also why it’s important to have the car level when you do this. Once it does, close it back up, and you’re all done! I only tighten the fill and drain bolts to hand tight and have never had an issue with leakage.