Installing Mini Cooper R53 Gauges
The Mini Cooper S comes from the factory with a few gauges: speedo, tach, fuel level, water temp (somewhat), and a few idiot lights…..but I’m not an idiot and like to know what is going on with the car. I decided to install boost and oil pressure gauges using the Craven mounting system on either side of the speedometer. I purchased an oil temp gauge as well with the AC vent mount but will wait until later to install that, maybe when I replace the oil pan and can get it tapped for the sender.
The ALTA boost gauge installation
instructions were VERY helpful in locating power, ground, ignition, and
boost sources. I had to feel my way through the oil pressure sender
installation but found a few threads on
Electric Boost Gauge Installation instructions are HERE.
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.
Oil Pressure Gauge Sender Installation:
First step is to source a gauge and an adapter. I went with the Cravenspeed Adapter (CRMC-0024, http://www.cravenspeed.com/products/Gauge-Sender-Adapters.html) and Autometer 4352 Full Sweep Electric 1-100 PSI gauge (http://www.autometer.com/cat_gaugedetail.aspx?gid=3781&sid=11). I had heard that mounting the electric sender to the engine would kill the sender quickly….and I found out it does so I ordered the AMS Remote Oil Pressure Sending Unit Line (http://www.amsperformance.com/cart/AMS-Remote-Oil-Pressure-Sending-Unit-Line.html) and remotely mounted the sender to the fender.
I had to remove some things to access the stock sender location under the oil filter: strut bar, oil catch can, M7 Aerogel, and the OE heat shield. The heat shield is removed by removing two bolts using a 13mm wrench; the other heat shield can be carefully bent up and out of the way:
If you look/feel to the right and slightly below the oil filter you will find the OE oil pressure sender. The plug can be removed after removing the red plastic locking clip pictured by pressing the release tab and pulling:
You will need a deep 27 mm socket, preferably a six point, to remove the OE sender. Since this large socket is commonly found for ½” wrenches, I used a 3/8” to 1/2" adapter and a short 3/8” wrench- there is not a lot of room to move (or take pictures):
I have used Teflon tape in the past but decided to use thread sealant for this project. Be careful to follow the directions and only apply after the first couple of threads- the adapter and sender/extension have to ground for the senders to work. Sealant was used on ALL connections:
Remote line with new electric gauge sender attached, the vendor I ordered from sent me the more expensive clutch line instead of the remote line I had ordered so I had to source a 1/8 NPT female>female adapter for the sender side of the line, again sealant used on all connections:
The same 27mm deep socket can be used to install the Cravenspeed adapter where the OE sender was removed. The OE sender is reinstalled on the end of the adapter, the remote line is installed on the side port of the adapter. Be sure to note where this side port is so as you tighten it will be indexed in a position that is optimal for your sender or remote line.
The remote line was run to the passenger side fender and zip tied to one of the OE lines. I used some rubber heater hose to prevent the line from rubbing any of the lines or mounts, make sure there is some slack to account for engine movement. The sender wiring was loomed and run through a hole drilled (and rubber grommet installed) in the bottom of the fresh air duct- not necessary to be here if you use the remote mount method, my hole was here when I originally mounted the sensor to the motor and the logistics made sense. This line was run over to the brake booster area so that it could be run into the car- that is covered later in this write-up after the boost gauge installation.
Boost Line Installation:
The ALTA boost gauge installation instructions were VERY helpful in locating power, ground, ignition, and boost sources.
While I had the OE intercooler out to install my new DOS intercooler, I installed the boost line. It can be done with the intercooler in place using the Alta instructions, but is SUPER easy when it’s out. Looking to the left/passenger side of the intercooler and towards the front, you will see where the fuel pressure regulator is connected (mine has already been disconnected in the pics below):
The provided line that came with your gauge (hopefully, if not kits are available) has a plastic T and a rubber adapter. The factory line is unplugged from the intake. A short piece of vacuum line is attached to one barb, the new line attached to one barb, and the OE line attached to one barb. I found the OE line to be a bit loose so I used a zip tie to clamp it down tight. After the T is connected to the boost lines it is reconnected to the intake. You may need to trim the length of the vacuum line used to minimize contact and rubbing of the two vacuum lines:
The boost line is carefully run under the intake manifold runners and air intake hose/tube and then up and out at the airbox. It was then run between the airbox and ECU, through an available hole, and underneath the brake fluid reservoir. I chose to slide vacuum line over the boost line for protection AND to keep it somewhat camouflaged:
Running Boost Line and Wiring into the Car:
The rubber grommet behind the brake booster is where the line and wires will be run into the car:
I used an awl to poke a hole through the grommet, be careful not to puncture anything other than the grommet:
Since the boost line more rigid than the wiring, I inserted that in the hole first. Wiring can be attached to the line using black electrical tape and they can be pulled through together. If you are not installing a boost gauge, baling wire or an old metal coat hanger can be used to feed the wiring in.
Back inside the car the firewall entry point can be accessed by dropping the under dash panel- put hands in space under steering column and push/pull down. It will unsnap from the dash and tilt down on hinges:
Find the place where the line is coming in and slowly pull it in, it is nice to have a helper on the outside let you know when there is no more line left to pull in:
Installing the Gauges (and Replacing the Mechanical Boost Gauge with an Electric Boost Gauge):
I am not going to provide a lot of additional detail here since it is covered by other existing sources and the manufacturer instructions. I will note that there is no easy way to route the AutoMeter gauge harness through the firewall with the connectors installed. My attempt to remove the pins was a problem so I just cut the wiring harness in half and ran it through that way, this also allowed me to adjust the length before crimping them back together. Using the right crimps and the right tool can result in a wire almost as good as a solid one.
The ALTA boost gauge installation instructions were VERY helpful in locating power, ground, ignition sources. Read these FIRST.
Electric Boost Gauge Installation instructions are HERE.
I chose to use the Craven Mounting System, keep in mind when ordering gauge cups that they are metric and some gauges (Autometer) are standard sized. 2 1/16” is 52.4mm and 2 5/8” is 66.7mm. My 2 1/16” gauges fit fine in the Craven 52mm gauge pods but the 2 5/8” boost gauge was TIGHT in the 66mm pod, even after lightly sanding both the inside of the pod and the gauge perimeter itself.
I also decided I didn’t like the 2 5/8” boost gauge so after a week it was replaced with the 2 1/16” electric boost gauge. It is smoother in operation, is symmetric with the other gauge, and requires less clearance when mounting. I also does not interfere with the stalk and can be angled the same as the other gauge.
I have the older style CravenSpeed gauge mounts with set-screws so removing the protruding threaded studs was easy- a pair of pliers and a die grinder with cutoff wheel were used to completely pull the studs out or cut them off. Picture below shows one removed:
Here is a better view of the ignition wiring source, the Alta instructions have good pics of the ground source:
This is the original config that lasted for a week with the 2 5/8” mechanical boost gauge (Autometer 4401); I had it rotated for max clearance of the boost line fittings since I did not want to use a right angle adapter or the pod spacers. A single small hole was made in the rubber accordion boot at the top rear of the steering column to run wires, be careful to route wires in a way that they do NOT interfere or make contact with the steering column or pedals. I also used wiring loom inside the car to make things neat, organized, and protected:
Installing the new Electric Boost Gauge was fairly easy. I just cut the boost line outside the car so I had a way to feed the new wires through. The MAP sensor was mounted to the inside of the fresh air duct using E6000 adhesive- I LOVE this stuff. If I ever decide to remove it I can just pull it off and peel off the adhesive. The boost line was fitted with a rubber adapter and connected to the map sensor. After the new wiring was pulled through the hole was sealed well with silicone sealant, be sure to get it in between the wires as well so capillary action doesn’t suck water in:
The newest and current setup- AutoMeter Boost Gauge 4377 and Oil Pressure Gauge 4352:
I did find that replacing the clear bulbs with some orange bulbs AND using the AutoMeter provided red covers was a close match to the OE gauge lighting. I have heard using a red Sharpie to color the orange bulbs is even better, maybe I will try that next time.