John Cooper Works Mini R56 Air Conditioning Fix

Published on 11 July 2023 at 08:34

When I went for a test drive in my mini I noted that the air conditioning wasn't working, the seller said he knew nothing about it but thought it was ok. Well sorry matey but you knew damn well it didn't work because it was you that ballsed it up. It appears that when the front mount intercooler was fitted - which was pretty badly bodged itself - the ac pipes were undone, the gas released and then the pipes not put back. One bolt was sort of half in but cross threaded, others were left out altogether. I didn't know any of this until I took it in for a regas. They guy first put nitrogen in but it came out as fast as it went in, he thought he had found the leak - a very large one - which he had but it wasn't the end of the story. At the compressor end somebody had used a screwdriver to try and release one of the pipes and had snapped the end of the pipe off. This caused a significant problem as to get to the compressor the whole front of the car has to come off - that's both headlights, the upper grille, the bumper, the mounting frame and the radiator / condensor/ intercooler assembly.

we didn't know the state of the compressor but as it had been open to the atmosphere for some time I decided by best option was to get a good used one and a replacement pipe so if mine proved to be unserviceable I had the required parts on hand. Last thing I wanted was having to do the job twice.

This was clearly not a job to be done on the drive and Malcolm's lifts were both in use so I asked Garry and Graeme at Judd's Autos in Fishtoft to do the job for me. I trust them, they are good old fashioned mechanics with years of experience and they don't take the mickey with their prices.

While they had the car in bits I took the bumper home and fitted new fog lights to it - a job I had been trying to get to for ages.


The old lights were totally destroyed with corrosion, the nearside one had a broken off bulb in it, a pair of new ones was only about 50 quid. I don't expect them to last long though, cheap Chinese crap, but 1/6th of the price of a pair from BMW. With the bumper off it takes under 5 minutes to replace the pair -- each lamp being held in by 3 t15 torx bolts. Easy life.

I took the complete bumper back, it was fitted back on, no dramas everything is now back in one piece.


I had an old can of a/c recharge gas so I thought it would be a good idea to see if the system now held pressure. I put in enough gas to bring it up to about 10 psi. I left it for a few minutes and the pressure stayed where it was so I added a bit more. All seemed good so I took it up to 45psi, which is at the low end of normal pressure and left it for about 15 minutes, it was still there when I came back so it looks like it is at least holding pressure now.

I don't have enough gas to fully charge the system and it needs vacuuming first to remove all the air before putting in the gas and oil to do the job properly but at least now I have a reasonable level of confidence that I won't be wasting my money getting it done. I'm not sure if the compressor clutch was cutting in, it got too late and I ran out of day. I will check all that before taking it for it's regas.

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