Mini Cooper Sunroof Motor Repair by ZippeeShade

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On February 11, 2011, Posted by , In Instructions, With 4 Comments

During the design process of our “ZippeeShade” which have designed exclusively for the Mini Cooper, I encountered a slight problem on my test vehicle, a 2003 Mini Cooper S. The problem I was facing was what seemed to be some kind of short circuit. The sunroof was working fine until one day without warning it opened half way and when I tried to close it, nothing happened, it would not close. When I depressed the switch to close the sunroof, all you can hear was a clicking noise from the relay. I located the fuse to see if it was blown, and to my surprise it wasn’t. Now I was confused and even worse I was concerned that I would have to drive around with the sunroof stuck half way open. Luckily I went on Google to do some research and found tips on closing the sunroof manually. At the rear of your car there should be a Mini Cooper Tool Bag, which will contain an Allen wrench hand crank used to connect directly to the sunroof motor to manually close your sunroof. You can access your sunroof motor by removing the clock from the headliner and you will see the Allen wrench screw used to manually open and close the sunroof.


After many hours of troubleshooting I found the cause of my sunroof failure. It was due to a short circuit in the diode, located inside the motor housing. This diode was causing the motor to short out, rendering the motor inoperable. The fix was very simple, all I did was open the motor and use a pair of wire cutters to snip the diode wire disconnecting it and instantly the motor worked again. This was actually a really easy fix. Here are my step by step instructions along with photographs of what I had documented.


– Digital Volt Ohm Meter
– #25 Torx Star Driver
– Flathead & Phillips Screwdrivers
– Pair of Pliers
– Wire Cutters
– Teflon White Lithium Grease or Some kind of Lubricant like WD40

STEP 1: Remove the following plastic trim rings on both front and back sunroof, by pulling on the trim ring inward towards the center of the sunroof. This trim ring is held in place by pressure clips. Be sure to disconnect any wires attached to the trim ring located on the front sunroof, after you have removed it from the headliner.

STEP 2: Remove both sun visors from the headliner. Start by removing the clip for the sun visor by using a thin small flathead screwdriver to pry open the plastic cover in order to access the Phillips head screw. Use a flathead screwdriver to do the same for the round plugs located on the sun visor hinge. Once you have unscrewed the sun visor, unclip the wiring harness.

STEP 3: Remove the clock from the headliner. Just wiggle from front to back and you should be able to pull it down from the headliner. Unplug it from the wire harness.

STEP 4: Remove the rear view mirror from the headliner. In order to do this you have to rotate the base of this mirror 90deg in either direction and it will unclip from the solid steel base located underneath the headliner. Unplug it from the wire harness.

STEP 5: With the rear view mirror off, it is very important that you remove the small black plastic rivet from the headliner using a small thin flathead screwdriver, located directly underneath where the mirror was located. Note: if you forget to remove this you cannot remove the headliner.

STEP 6: Remove the dome light housing from the headliner. In order to do this you have to pry the clear lens from the housing. Underneath you will find the Phillips screw to remove the housing. Unplug it from the wire harness.

STEP 7: Remove the “@h Sh!t Handles” from the headliner. In order to do this you have to pry the plastic covers from the sides of the handles. Underneath you will find the Phillips screw to remove it.

STEP 8: Remove the rear vent cover from the headliner. You will find this cover located at the rear of your car. To remove this just pry it from the headliner.

STEP 9: After you removed the cover, you will find a white trim ring in which it was connected to. To remove this you will notice that there are two clips on each side, that will need to be separated. Use a flathead screwdriver and some light pressure and separate both top and bottom halves.

STEP 10: Remove the weather stripping from both rear hatch and from the drivers/passengers door jamb.

STEP 11: Remove the seatbelt cover located on both center pillars. With the weather stripping removed, you can separate the plastic panel directly underneath the seatbelt cover. Just apply medium pressure by pulling this panel away from the door jamb. Behind this plastic panel you will find a Phillips Screw, remove it and the cover should slide down.

STEP 12: Located at the back of the car you will see the plastic covers holding up the headliner. To remove, all you have to do is pry them from the top separating them from the pressure clips. It won’t be necessary to remove them completely, just pull them down enough to get the headliner to drop down.

STEP 13: Located at the front of the car you will see the plastic covers holding up the headliner near the windshield. It won’t be necessary to remove these covers. Just slide the headliner back towards the rear of the car and the headliner should drop down.

STEP 14: Slide the headliner out of the car by bending it slightly and pulling it out of either door, as shown in the photos.Note: you will need to remove the headrest from both seats.

STEP 15: **Very Important** Before attempting to remove the motor from the sunroof, you must close the sunroof completely using an allen wrench and manually turning the center screw, located in the center of the motor housing.**IMPORTANT DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP**

STEP 16: Remove the motor by using your #25 Torx Screwdriver to loosen the 3 screws on the motor housing. Disconnect from the wiring harness.

STEP 17: With the motor removed from the car, you can pry off the plastic housing by separating the pressure clips as seen in the photos.

STEP 18: If you look at the end cap of the motor housing, you will see (4) metal corners bent at an angle to hold the end cap on. All you have to do is take your pliers and bend them in the opposite direction so that you can remove the end cap. Then use a flathead screwdriver to pry the end cap off.

STEP 19: Pull the center shaft out from the motor case.

STEP 20: With the end cap removed and separated from the shaft, use your Digital Ohm Meter to test both outside terminals to see if there is any resistance. If you find that there is Zero resistance at the terminals, then that would indicate that your circuit is closed when it should be open, this means your capacitor has a short in it. Locate the capacitor on the end cap. Use a pair of wire cutters to separate the connection, as shown in the photos. Be sure to position it so that it doesn’t reconnect on accident. Use your Ohm Meter to retest both outside terminals again, and you should see that the circuit is now open, and indicates full resistance. This will confirm that you have corrected the problem with the motor.

STEP 21: Now in order to put the shaft back into the motor case, you will need to reconnect the shaft back into the end cap.In order to do so, you will need to use your thin flat screwdriver to move the (2) two spring loaded brushes out of the way, so that the end cap can fit back over the shaft.

STEP 22: Now with both pieces connected, carefully hold them together while you slowly insert the shaft back into the motor case. **Tip: You should place something on the opposite side of the motor case to prevent the gear drive, from the shaft, from sliding through the motor case too quickly. The shaft and motor case are both highly magnetized and will have the tendency to pull the shaft quickly through the motor case. If you allow the shaft to slide too quickly through the motor case, your end cap will become separated from the shaft, and you will have to repeat this step over again.** Don’t forget to seal the end cap properly, before putting the rest of the motor housing back together.

STEP 23: Take some White Lithium Grease and/or WD40 to lube the gear drive on the motor, as well as the rails of the sunroof track, once you get the sunroof working again.

It’s that easy!!! Now just follow all your steps in reverse to reassemble your Mini Cooper and enjoy. I hope this step by step DIY tip helps you to save a small fortune.

God Bless, All Rights Reserved Copyright 2008

4 Comments so far:

  1. Chris says:

    what function does the capacitor perform in the motor?

    • zippeegear says:

      As I understand it, the capacitor prevents voltage from feeding back, however in this case I’m not sure. It just turns out that removing it seemed to solve the problem I was having. I figured if it didn’t work, I could always solder it back on. I hope this helps.

      Ari Lee

  2. Kyra says:

    Hi, do you think these instructions could be followed to fix a motor on an R56 (2007) Mini Cooper? Mainly regarding dismantling the interior.

    I haven’t been able to find any form of tutorial for this job for a 2nd Gen model anywhere, let alone one as detailed and clear as this one.

    Thanks in advance.

    • zippeegear says:

      I cannot say for certain, however the headliner is very similar. I’m sure fundamentally it would be the same taking it apart as the R53. I’d say go for it and take your time. If certain areas feel hard to pry apart, try looking for hidden screws, so you don’t accidentally break anything. Good Luck!!!


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