In mid-January, BMW began a recall of 89,000 Mini Coopers in the United States for the same sort of problem that led to earlier recalls of BMW and Rolls-Royce luxury cars.
The problem, in all the recalls, is that a computer circuit board controlling a turbocharger cooling system can fail. The result: an overheating and smoldering water pump and, in some cases, a fire in the engine compartment.
The turbo cooling system in the Mini Coopers operates differently from that in the BMW and Rolls-Royce cars, according to a letter BMW sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nevertheless, some turbocharged Mini cars have caught fire in the same way the larger cars did.
BMW is still investigating whether the cause of the problem is related or just coincidental. Germany’s BMW AG owns and operates all three car brands.
Worldwide, the Mini recall covers a total of 235,535 cars. Cars being recalled include some model year 2007 through 2011 Mini Cooper S hatchbacks and convertibles; Mini Cooper Clubman S (the longer three-door Mini); and Mini Cooper Countryman S (the larger, four-door SUV Mini); as well as John Cooper Works high-performance versions of the Mini Cooper.
Mini Cooper dealers will replace auxiliary water pumps on the recalled cars. Non-turbocharged Minis are not involved in the recall.
There have been 81 cases of water pump failure in turbocharged Mini Coopers globally so far, including four engine compartment fires. No accidents or injuries have been reported as a result of this issue, however.
Nonetheless, the lesson that people should take from this news is that cars burn quickly because are made up of many flammable parts and hold combustible fluids. And because of this, when they malfunction it is possible that they produce fire and smoke conditions that can quickly overcome the occupants of the car, resulting in severe burns or smoke inhalation. In fact, several people die in car fires each year because they are unable to simply open the door and get out of the car in time!
So if you see or smell smoke coming from your car, do not wait to get to a gas station or a repair shop. Instead, stop the car and turn it off immediately–and then call for help.
If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.