Mini Timing Chain / Mini Cam Chain Guarantee – Mini Death Rattle!


 Mini death rattle MINI Timing Chain

Mini R56 Timing Chain – The Mini R56 ‘Death Rattle’

Mini camchain (or Mini timing chains, same thing) can cause problems on MINIs fitted with the Prince N12, N14, N16 and N18 Engine.  Unless it actually snaps it will not be covered by any warranty.  They rarely if ever snap.

So – if you buy a MINI from us – one with the Prince N12, N14, N16 or N18 engine and within 1 year of purchase the chain needs chainging (as diagnosed by ourselves) we will change the chain for free – terms apply.  Please see below.

Simply a name given to this problem by petrol heads like us.  Not very imaginative – sorry.   The Mini timing chain rattles when worn – that’s pretty much it.
A timing chain, or camchain is a part of an internal combustion engine that synchronises the rotation of the crankshaft (bottom rotating part of the engine) and the camshafts (which are on top of the engine and operate the valves) so that the engine’s valves open and close at the proper times during each cylinder’s intake and exhaust strokes.

Many cars have timing belts that do the same job and these should be replaced at a periodic interval defined by the manufacturer.  Chains are supposed to last the life of the car – but in the Prince N series engine (developed by PSA Peugeot Citroën and BMW) has Variable Valve Timing which depends on the chain length being within tollerance.  When it ‘stretches’ and goes out of tollerance it causes problems with the smooth running of the engine.

This unfortunately means the chain in cars fitted with this engine will usually need replacing at some point – and expensive job.

It’s called Cam-Chain Stretch (aka Mini Death Rattle) – actually each link wears and the accumulative wear makes the chain longer.  This happens to all chains over time – if you have used a chainsaw or had a motorbike then you will know this.

When the chain becomes too long the variable cam timing can no longer operate as intended.  Symtoms include:

  • A rattle on the left side of the engine as you look at it.
  • Fault codes related to Vanos Exhaust movement
  • Engine management light,
  • Misfires,
  • The vehicle entering “limp mode”
  • Loss of power
  • Lumpy tickover

There is no simple answer to this.  Here at TMS we have changed chains in cars covering only 50k miles and ones that have covered over 110k miles.  The main contributing factor to excessive chain wear is essentially maintenance – or lack thereof…

Engines burn oil.  Period.  Full Stop.  End of story.

So if your engine runs low on oil it will experience accelerated wear.  The grade of oil matters too – these engines should have 100% synthetic oil with complying with the BMW standard ‘LL04’ (Long Life 04)

Turbo charged cars are more prone to accelerated cam chain wear – perhaps because they are driven more ‘enthusiastically’ than non-turbo cars – but certainly because they burn more oil.

Can you hear the Mini Death Rattle?

Replacing the chain takes about 6 hours – this is a summary of the work

  • Remove OSF Road wheel
  • Remove wheel arch lining
  • Remove camshaft/valve cover & gasket
  • Remove intake manifold
  • Lock Mini Cam Chain timing with timing tool
  • Remove RH engine mount
  • Pin crankshaft
  • Remove serpentine belt
  • Remove water pump tensioner assembly
  • Remove Mini Cam Chain camchain tensioner
  • Remove bottom pulley
  • Remove both Mini Cam Chain camshaft pulleys
  • Remove  guide pins
  • Remove dipstick
  • Remove and replace Mini Timing Chain
  • Replace camchain tensioner
  • Replace crank seal
  • Reassemble and tighten all bolts to manufactures specifications
  • Replace oil filter and sump plug
  • Refill engine with 4.2 lites of Synthetic BMW grade oil


So – if you buy a MINI from us – one with the Prince N12, N14, N16 or N18 engine and within 1 year of purchase and it develops the Mini Death Rattle – i.e. the chain needs replacing (as diagnosed by ourselves) we will change the chain for free – providing:

  • The car has been maintained according to the manufactures recommendations.
  • The car is still owned and registered by you the person who purcased the car from ourselves.  This guarantee is non-transferrable.  We will ask to see the V5C for confirmation.
  • The work is carried out by ourselves at our premises at a time agreed to by ourselves.
  • We will only carry out the work if we deem it necessary.
  • Our decision is final.



If we carry out work under this guarantee only covers the:

  • camchain,
  • camchain tensioner,
  • guides,
  • bottom cog
  • locating pins
  • Oil change


It does not cover:

  • Varable valve timing cam sprocket(s)
  • Vanos solonoid(s)
  • Camshafts
  • Cylinder head
  • water pump
  • thermostat
  • throttle body
  • or any other component.


Should these, or any other items require attention or replacement this will be chargable – we will always quote and ask for authorisation before work is carried out.


 Mini death rattle

MINI Timing Chain

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