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NHTSA investigating 2007 and 2008 Mini Cooper S for fire risks

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into the 2007 and 2008 Mini Cooper S models over concerns that the vehicle could catch fire – even when the vehicle is parked with the engine off.

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.

Other BMW News:
The bigger, badder 2012 BMW 3 Series meets the world
The 2012 MINI Coupe configurator is live
2012 Mini Cooper Coupe to make first appearance at 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show
Introducing the new BMW ActiveHybrid 5 Series


Anonymous (not verified)    August 1, 2012 - 8:39PM

I have a 2007 s bought it brand new I have 47,900 miles on it and was just informed by the dealer that I may have an oil leak somewhere. In the mean time my car for the past 2 years has been eating oil like no tomorrow. The oil light never goes on and it took several visits and questions before I got a straight answer from the dealer. I guess I have been lucky so far interesting that now that my car is out of warranty they have discovered this problem. I am really disappointed in this company!

Jonesy (not verified)    November 8, 2014 - 12:43PM

The issue is the crappy o-ringed oil feed lines which start leaking oil onto the hot turbo. Dealership fix is to replace with the same defective line for $1000+

Should be a forced free recall with a better designed line. Fyi also includes 2009 for sure and likely to 2011.

Nevin Benedict (not verified)    December 1, 2014 - 5:14PM

i recently bought a used 08 Mini Cooper S. It has an oil leak dripping on the exhaust in the front of the engine compartment. What are some reasons, the crank seal, turbo, oil lines feeding the turbo?

Jonesy (not verified)    December 1, 2014 - 9:07PM

In my case (and it looks like a lot of others) it was both the turbo oil line failed and the oil filter housing to engine block gasket failed. It appears to be so common a company called "Detroit tuned" sells a Mini Cooper oil leak fix kit with a better designed line and the gasket. I bought and installed it 2 weeks ago and it is defiantly the fix. Not an easy job (even with a hoist it took like 4 hours) but better then $1000+ at the dealer to install the same crappy line.

Lisa Morgan (not verified)    January 28, 2016 - 2:23PM

So 2009 mini cooper s is leaking, went to the dealer and its the oil feed line plus oil pan gasket also my side axle.They are gonna charge me about 2300 to fix. I got my warranty company to approve the oil feed line but dealer isnt working with me on the cost. Is it a part the dealer should do if there has been alot of problems with the turbos?? also discontinued