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Mclaren power steering pump failure

We first came across some issues with the power steering pump 2 years ago, an owner commented on issues he was having with multiple canbus failure due to water ingress into the front compartment but as we never saw the car nor inspected the issue we put in in the ‘keep an eye our for it’ section for Mclaren and moved on, but this week we had two 12c Coupes both recovered/limped in with multiple ECU faults and on both cars a complete electrical break down.

First car was reported as complete electrical failure, multiple ECU faults, power steering, ABS, traction, suspension you name it, every light was on and the car was stuck – pretty much screams canbus failure and the fact it happened in the pouring rain meant we assumed water ingress of some kind. Initial inspection confirmed this, water in the footwell and carpet area so we started the process of chasing down the fault ECU by ECU. Having the full Mclaren wiring diagrams and diagnostic kit was essential and we eventually tracked it down to three ECU’s all in the front of the car, the main dash ECU, power steering ECU and suspension ECU.

After taking apart the whole front end section we found the issue – the power steering pump was heavily corroded and the lower case seal had failed allowing water into the pump unit itself causing it to ground out and as its part of the main canbus system caused a multiple cascade affect of ECU failures (think of it as a weak link in a chain, if the link goes the whole chain does).

Location of power steering pump


In UK spec cars the power steering pump is ‘protected’ by a plastic cover, which is designed to keep the noise in the cabin down from the pump.

Jacket opened out
power steering pump sat in its jacket

The problem is that this plastic cover (despite costing £85!) is a bit crap and it has split allowing water into the foam which acts like a sponge resulting in the power steering pump sitting in a pool of water, this has corroded the casing causing water ingress and ultimately the pump to fail.

Split in jacket, foam soaked with water

We can dry out the pump easily enough but if enough water has penetrated the mechanism it means the pump motor will fail so needs replacing at a cost of £1300 plus VAT. A lot of this water ingress comes from the washer pipes which split quite regularly resulting in washer fluid leaking directly onto the power steering pump cover which leads to the question of whether this is something that should be covered under warranty?

Significant outer casing corrosion from being sat in pool of water
Water inside the power steering pump circuit board

The answer is probably no, the water ingress is caused by a split pipe (wear and tear) but after that its a split in the cover that makes it worse (trim) and then corrosion on the pump itself, all of which one could argue is a design fault with the car though. For us, we will cover it as a goodwill issue for cars with our warranty but we dont imagine anyone else will for the above reasons. To help prevent the issue happening to your car – check your washer pipes regularly – they do split, often, but we are adding this to our list of checks to cars for warranty and purchase inspections. If you want to know you have an issue just try your windscreen washers, if its not on the screen from both arms then its going somewhere and is most likely going over your power steering pump.

Whilst its disappointing that a supercar has such an issue at least it is fixable.

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Callum Noble, Class B MSV Supercup Champion

Well, first full season in his E46 M3 and first class championship, cant say better than that.

Last round was at Brands Hatch, a track Callum knows well, he had a 5 point lead going into the last race but taking into account dropped rounds was a net 8 points behind in second place so he had to beat the Apple Cars Clio on the track to win.

Qualifying went pretty well, class pole and 9th overall ahead of the Clio so we were hopeful of a good race but Brands Indy can be a cruel place especially with lots of cars in lots of classes all vying for position and the track was very greasy so a simple off could drop us back badly and quickly. What made it more stressful was the eclectic scoring where as well as points for class position Callum also scored points for each higher class car he finished ahead as well so 30+ points was possible.

Well after all the build up the race itself (in terms of championship) was less stressful, the Apple Cars clio slid hit another car on lap two and coming in to check for damage meant they dropped two laps, pretty hard to come back from that so Callum got a (relatively) easy run to the line. However with the 8 point difference (and 7 points difference between 1st and 2nd) he really had to push for every overtake to ensure he got enough points to win.

Well first on the road lead to some nervous waiting whilst they added it all up and it was confirmed – Callum was Class B champion MSV Supercup. Well done Callum, very much deserved.

These end of season reports are all about thanking everyone involved and this is no exception, Callum and his family of supporters make the race weekends fun but Tom, his No1 mechanic and Keith (truckie) have been standfast and 100% in their support in making sure the car ran 100% all year allowing Callum to concentrate on driving. Thanks to the sponsors and partners; Badger Oak Stud, Silverstone Shooting Centre (well thats us, but we got some great publicity), Aimpoint, Wildcat Moderators and most of all to Callum, for reminding us that not all quick race car drivers are twats.

Roll on 2020, with a full power E46 M3 and Class S with the MSV Supercup.

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MSV Track day Championship Round 5 – Zandevorte

Well we like it wet (well Callum does) and after Donington Park we thought we’d be too lucky to get another race but blow me thats exactly what we got, only this time it was too wet.

With zero practice available and Callum having never sat foot in the place let alone race it we werent really sure how the race would go, but with pretty much everyone in the same boat we were hopeful. As it happens boat is about right, it chucked it down and pretty soon the paddock was swamped and there was talk of delayed starts.

At the lights out Callum got another great start getting to the front (almost a carbon copy of Donington Park) and as the race progressed we were convinced it was another win but sadly fate dealt us a hand we didnt expect, Callums windscreen was misting up and he couldnt see! Strange how in all the years of racing we’ve never really had the problem but this time the screen mists up and at the end of the Race Callum really was driving blind.

All in all a frustrating race as on the last lap Callum was overtaken by the main rival in his class to close his gap on his lead for the championship, oh well, thats racing. Despite that it was a great weekend for the team, we loved the track even even if we didnt love the long ferry ride back.

Last race will decide the Championship!

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MSV Track Day Championship Round 4 – Donington Park

Well a wet wet wet Donington Park was the scene for round 4 of the Championship and Callum likes it wet so we were hopeful of a good round. Last race we had some issues with he differential so that had been swapped and testing on Friday confirmed all was good so we were keen for a good race.

Callum didnt disappoint, a great start from 5th on the grid to first was the golden start and he went on to settle down to a great drive ahead of a lot of the higher class cars and we were looking at a class and overall win by the half way point. However a fantastically badly timed safety car, literally as Callum went past the pit entrance meant all the other teams could take their mandatory pitstop whilst the saftey car was out on track which meant we lost over 45 seconds.

Despite this Callum came into win his class and 5th overall so a great result and keeps him 10 points ahead in the championship with 2 races to go. Its getting tense now!


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Greystone Track Day Goodwood

Another great Greystone track day, this time at Goodwood where we again provide full technical support for everyone attending. As well as the Mclarens (12c, 720, 570, 650s) we also looked after a couple of Aston Matins, AMG mercs and a lovely 911 GT3RS.

No garages meant we made do!
Lovely P1 in attendance
Arty shot of the Lotus Cup car
Very early 12c
We even got a treat of the Spitfires, P51 and Hurricane


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Mclaren Owners Club Beaulieu Meet

Great time had again with the UK Mclaren owners club, 81 cars this time (second largest group of Mclarens together since our record breaking 100+ at Silverstone two years ago) and a great mix of new owners as well as long term owners still enjoying their cars.

81 cars, the largest marque present

Day started with a meet up at the new Harwoods Mclaren dealership
One member collected her new car
We brought Lyndhurst to a standstill
All models represented
Year 5 of ownership for us
Great club, great day, great cars

Thanks must go to Jeff and the team at the Mclaren owners club, growing all the time and a real support network for Mclaren owners everywhere.

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Track Day Championship, Oulton Park

Our first wet race of the year but another great result.

The Friday test didnt go so well, lots of red flags meant limited running and we picked up a whining noise from the rear diff that we diagnosed simply as worn bearings so would require a rebuild which isnt something we can do in a paddock so our hopes for the weekend were simply to run the car as usual and hope it held up.

Well the weather was on our side and race day greeted us with pouring rain which meant less stress on the diff and the opportunity for Callum to show off his wet driving skills.

Callum got another great start picking up a few places in the opening laps and settled down to a decent pace running 4th in class and 10th overall, in an eventful race Callum kept his nerve and ran without incident gaining on the top three cars in his class when with 10 minutes to a go the third place Golf slid off at turn one and clattered the tyre wall. The damage to the barrier was such that the race was red flagged giving Callum 3rd place in class and 9th overall.

Callums consistent driving (on the podium every race) bow means that he’s 5 points clear at the top of the overall Championship so we look forward to Donington Park with huge anticipation. Well done Callum.

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Greystone GT Track Support

Another great day supporting the attendees of the last Greystone GT track day at a very very wet Donington Park. Weather was awful but it didnt stop most of the attendees from getting out on track to enjoy their cars.


To be hnest we werent overly busy so we decided to shoot some new Youtube videos to show how to do a track inspection and change your brake pads on a Mclaren so will get those up soon.

There was some lovely cars there as well, an awesome Senna, the new Aston Martin GT4 and the new Brabham which to its credit rattled round all day without an issue.

Again, very few issues with the Mclarens, some again needed oil and a few niggles like loose undertrays but the only real issue all day was a Porsche Cayman that cracked a crank case cover dumping the entire contents of oil all over the floor so little we could do.

Next Greystone event is at Goodwood later this year hopefully see you there.

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Mclaren Engine Low Oil Advice

The Mclaren range all uses the same base engine known as the M838T. The 3800cc twin turbo charged engine was originally developed for Indy car racing and after work from a variety of operations including Mclaren, Walkinshaw and Ricardo is now the staple engine for every Mclaren road model from P1 to 12c.


Over the models a variety of changes have taken place mainly to the head from 12c to 650 and 675LT and more changes to the Sports series and then the 720 where the capacity was increased by 200cc by stroke with new pistons and crank. The engine is nothing short of an engineering master piece having won awards since inception but being dry sump it does have one achilles heel – oil level.


Yes, thats in caps, it needs to be as I’m afraid we are starting to see cars with top end engine wear due to either insuffucient oil or being revved hard when cold (which is essentially the same thing – lack of oil pressure to the top end as the oil is cold).

Worn rocker

Now of course no one with any mechanical sympathy will want to run a car hard when cold or run the car with low oil, indeed we and any other engineer would consider it abuse and hence not covered by any warranty but sadly it does happen and potentially could happen when the car was not in your control (if you’re the second or third owner) so it is important to understand the importance.

Snapped rocker

Lack of oil, ie a lack of lubrication to moving parts is easy to identify; excess wear on the rockers, followers and cams which can be seen by scoring and marking on the surfaces.

worn cam lobes

Given time the rockers can wear so thin that they snap which is as bad as it sounds – lots of bits of metal floating round the engine which can result in even more internal damage.

So, without opening up the engine what are you looking for?

The answer is a ticking noise, when the engine is warm and running it should be relatively silent, any loud tick which runs in time with engine rpm is something to be concerned about. Its important to note that this is only an indication of engine wear when the engine is warm, ticking when the engine is cold is perfectly acceptable, the dry sump oil system and unique rotation of the cams means it can take some time for the oil to get to pressure and lubricate the top end of the engine hence the secondary advice of not to run the car hard when cold so some top end ticking on start up is not something to be overly worried about – only when the engine oil is up to temperature is any noise an indicator of a potential issue.

If you go to a Mclaren dealer they only have one solution – a new head(s) which at £4600 plus VAT each for a 650 and a whopping £7600 plus VAT each for a 12c (just fit a 650 head, they fit the same) plus 10 hours of labour timing and 30 hours labour removing and installing the engine means a ticking engine for a 12c if repaired by a dealer could equate to a £30,000 bill.

All parts now available

However we are now able to offer a full engine rebuild service, working with the same people who designed and engineered the engines for Mclaren Automotive and using the same suppliers for engine parts we can now offer a complete turn key engine build service. For a comparison, a full rebuilt head with coated rockers, followers and cam regrinds can be as low as £4000 with labour to remove and install the engine for £3500.

However the point of this message is avoid all that by simply by checking your engine oil regularly (once a week and before and after any track work) and when the next door neighbours kid comes out and tells you ‘rev it mister’ ignore the little scrote, 30 seconds of his entertainment could cost you thousands of £££.

If you’re unsure how to check your oil level watch this short video how to for a 12c/650 (its the same process for all the models and we will update our Youtube site with those as and when we can.