NHTSA investigating 2007 and 2008 Mini Cooper S for fire risks
The NHTSA announced this investigation of the 2007-2008 Mini Cooper S, explaining that the government agency has received 12 complaints of these cars bursting into flames; with 5 of these fires resulting in the vehicles being a total loss. Also, in 8 of these 12 complaints the cars caught fire were left unattended, parked and not running. In total, this investigation current affects around 36,000 Mini Cooper S models but it is interesting that the 2009 Cooper S models are not included, considering that they have the same turbocharged engine as the 2007 and 2008 models.
The NHTSA has given no indication as to what might be starting the fire in the 2007 and 2008 Mini Cooper S models under investigation but we can make some guesses based on what we know. Again, this could be completely off base but it is something to think about. The 2007 and 2008 Cooper S is powered by a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder engine so while this car could be dealing with something like a fuel leak or an electrical issue, there is also the possibility that it could be related to the oiling system for the turbocharger. Turbocharged engines have oil lines running from the engine to the turbocharger housing and in the presence of an oil leak around the super-heated turbocharger there is a great chance of fire. This could explain why these fires are happening when the car is parked as if the car developed an oil leak that got worse while driving and then they parked the car, the turbo housing and exhaust system around it would remain incredibly hot – easily hot enough to set dripping oil on fire. Suppose that the oil leak is severe enough to keep the fire running long enough to spread to the electric and fuel system under the hood, you can easily imagine how the fire could get out of hand very quickly.
That being said, there has been no indication as to what might be causing the spontaneous fires in Mini Cooper S models from the 2007 and 2008 model years but with the NHTSA on the case, we should soon have an idea as to what the cause is – and whether the automaker will be required to issue a recall. There is also the possibility that Mini and parent company BMW issue a recall before the NHTSA comes to a conclusion of their own.
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