What are the Reasons for VVT issues in Your Mini?

Mini Coopers have recently been a popular choice amongst auto buyers looking for a stylish and affordable car. Owned by BMW since 2000 and founded in Great Britain, Minis are known for being very compact and unique-looking, offering drivers the thrill of feeling like they are in a racecar without the risk danger. They are affordable and do very well on the resale market, as well as clocking good gas mileage. Mini offers many customization options to make your car feel uniquely yours, and they typically require less frequent maintenance than most vehicles—if you are using the vehicle a normal amount, the first oil change isn’t required for two years.

While Minis require less frequent maintenance than some makes and models, this can also mean that when something goes wrong, it can be costly and complicated to fix. Some typical issues that arise in Minis are issues with the front radiator support and coolant hose, movement in the timing chain, creating noise and vibrations, trouble with the electric power steering pump, water pump and thermostat housing leaks, clutch failure, transmission problems and failure, and variable valve timing (VVT) issues.

Many car owners are not aware of what VVT issues mean, so let’s take a look at how they are defined and what to do if you encounter this problem in your Mini.

What are VVT issues?

By the early 1990s, almost all manufactured cars featured a variable valve timing (VVT) system. This is the process of changing the timing of a valve lift event, and is typically used to improve overall vehicle performance, increase fuel economy, and decrease emissions. Valve lift allows the engine to speed up or slow down the valve timing using oil pressure. This enables more control over how much air-fuel mixture is in the car’s cylinder, adjust for less when a car is moving more slowly and carrying a light load, and more when a car is going more faster and needs more power. This is how healthy temperature and emissions are maintained.

The most important component of the variable valve timing system is the timing control solenoid. The VVT control solenoid engages and disengages as needed, electrically controlled by the power management computer or the electronic control unit.

The good news is, if the VVT solenoid malfunctions, the car can still be driven. Cars existed without such a system for many years. While your engine will suffer from performance issues, it will not usually fail entirely.

What are the signs of VVT issues?

The biggest sign of VVT issues is if a car has difficulty starting, or fails to start at all. Of course, this can be caused by many things, and it will likely take a licensed mechanic to diagnose properly. The check engine light will come on if there is a problem with the VVT solenoid, and the car could lose power. The driver may feel like the car is struggling to gain power and speed on the road the way it once did. You will also notice a decrease in fuel economy because the engine is no longer adjusting properly.

In a Mini, the VVT system requires ample oil to perform ideally. A lack of oil leads to increased friction, which can damage the system. Make sure to get your oil checked and change regularly, as recommended in the car manual.

How should you address VVT issues in your Mini?

If you suspect VVT issues in your Mini, the best thing to do is bring it in to a dealership or licensed service to be checked out. If your VVT solenoid needs to be replaced, this repair typically costs in the neighborhood of $400 to $600, including labor. Of course, this can vary based on the specific make of the car, and any other issues the engine may have.

Red Mini Cooper

Automotive Imports has been servicing the areas of Boulder, Lakewood, Centennial, Westminster, Littleton, and Denver, Colorado for years. We offer a variety of services for Mini Coopers, and specialize in the German type of engineering around which the cars are designed. They can help keep your Mini in the best condition possible, helping with routine maintenance as well as repairs.

* Red Mini Cooper image credit goes to: bruev.