Mass Mini recall after engine fires

Posted on 17 Jan 2012

The BMW owned carmaker, which manufactures all of its vehicles in Cowley, Oxfordshire, may recall up to 235,000 cars after an electrical fault was found to cause some cars to catch fire.

The recall is believe to include 30,000 Minis in Britain, with up to 88,911 affected worldwide. Owners of the Mini Cooper Clubman S 2007 and 2008, Mini Cooper S 2007 and Mini Cooper S Convertible 2007 will receive a letter from the company over the next two weeks to make them aware of the fault.

BMW, which owns the marque, said there was a “very low incidence” of the problem and the vehicles remained safe to drive.

The fault is believed to involve an electronic circuit board that controls the water pump. When this fails, the pump malfunctions, overheats and eventually can catch alight.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a statement which said: “The electric auxiliary water pump that cools the turbocharger has an electronic circuit board that can malfunction and overheat. The circuit board may smoulder which could result in a fire.”

An investigation is underway after the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI in the US received 12 complaints of engine compartment fire in model years 2007 and 2008 Mini Cooper S vehicles, including five cases alleging fires that resulted in total loss of the vehicle.

Eight complaints alleged fires had occurred while the vehicles were parked with the ignition off. The level of complaints had increased, with most of the registered incidents taking place within the last 12-months.

The Daily Mail reports that there are seven known cases in the UK but only two are being investigation by motoring watchdog the Vehicle Operators and Services Agency, VOSA.

In addition, the ODI has reviewed field reports submitted as part of early warning reporting data that relate to the alleged defect. A preliminary evaluation has been opened to assess the cause, scope and frequency of the alleged defect.

Mini dealerships will replace the water pump free of charge in an upgrade that will take up to an hour.

The company said that there is a very low incidence of the fault and there are no incidents that have caused drivers any accidents of injuries. Mini’s plant in Cowley manufacturers 250,000 vehicles a year.

“We are not aware of any accidents or injuries connected with this,” a BMW Mini spokesperson told the BBC. “The important thing is that people simply go to their dealer and get a new water pump fitted if there is a problem.”

BMW Mini in Cowley manufactures about 200,000 cars a year. In 2011, the two millionth vehicle rolled off the production line.