Car Doctor Q&A: Mini Cooper Check Engine Light, and “Sometimes It’s So Simple”

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This week, AAA Car Doctor John Paul takes on a Mini Cooper with a check engine light, and uncovers a simple solution to a complex problem.

Q: I have a 2007 Mini Cooper with nearly 150,000 miles on it and it has a check engine light on. I have cleared the codes and they return very quickly. The codes indicate a misfire and camshaft/valve timing issues. I have checked the spark plugs and they look fine. Do you have any guess what this could be? Overall the car actually runs pretty well.


A: Certainly you need to do some additional testing. Based on the information you provided, one area to look at is the timing chain. As the chain starts to stretch and gets loose, it will cause a slight engine misfire. If it is the timing chain that needs replacement the repair isn’t cheap, it will take about 8 hours to replace the timing chain and guides.

Funny thing happened at work. A co-worker has been mentioning that the keyless remote and proximity key on her 2009 Mazda 6 wasn’t working. She went to the dealer where they tested and replaced the battery in the remote. It still didn’t work and they suggested that she bring her car in for additional testing and repairs. She asked me if I knew if there was a known problem with this system. I did a little research and sure enough key fobs made before 10/08 had a problem. I opened the remote to check the date and it was manufactured in March of 2008, but I also noticed something else. The new battery was installed upside down. I installed the battery correctly and the remote key-fob and proximity key work fine. Lesson learned-don’t overlook the obvious.

John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.