Munich, Germany-based automaker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) is recalling 235,000 of its Mini Cooper cars worldwide over a possible fire risk associated with a water pump in the cooling system. About 89,000 of the cars affected in the recall are located in the U.S.
Water pump could overheat, leading to fire
The recall will effect the Mini Cooper S and Mini John Cooper Works models built between March 2006 and January 2011. U.S. safety regulators say that the problem stems from a circuit board in the turbocharger’s cooling system. If the circuit board fails, an auxiliary electrical water pump could overheat, potentially causing a fire in the engine.
Eight fires in parked cars
The NHTSA opened an investigation into the matter in October of 2011, following engine fires that totaled 12 Mini Coopers. In eight of those occurrences, the engine was off and the car was parked when the fire started.
‘Very low incidence’
In spite of the recall posting on the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, a BMW spokesman Monday insisted that the cars are still safe to drive. The unnamed spokesman citing a “very low incidence” of the problem said:
“In more extreme cases, it could create a heat build-up in the wiring and some smouldering. Potentially it could cause a fire. We are not aware of any accidents or injuries connected with this. The important thing is that when people receive the letter, they simply go to their dealer and get a new water pump fitted if there is a problem.”
The automaker said in a statement that the affected owners will receive a recall notice in the next few weeks.
The ‘classless car’
The Mini was launched in 1959 and quickly became known as the “classless car.” It has been a perennially popular model in Europe, attracting drivers from all socio-economic classes. Following organizational restructuring, the make was relaunched in 2001 as part of BMW’s lineup.