Nearly 90,000 BMW Mini Coopers sold in the United States have been recalled due to a risk of engine fire.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced a Mini Cooper recall (PDF) for certain model year 2007-2011 Mini Cooper, Mini Cooper S Clubman, Mini Cooper S Convertible, Mini Cooper JCW, Mini Cooper JCW Clubman, Cooper JCW Convertible and Cooper S Countryman passenger vehicles manufactured from 2006 through 2011.
The recall was issued after an analysis of dozens of cases involving overheating in the circuit board of an auxiliary water pump. At least four of those cases resulted in engine fires.
BMW first became aware of a potential Mini Cooper engine problem in June 2009, when they noticed electric auxiliary water pump failures on test vehicles with BMW 8-cylinder engines. The problem was first noticed among cars on the road in September 2009.
In November 2010, the company identified that electro-migration was causing circuit board and water pump overheating failures, by which time the first two reports of engine fires came in; one from the United Kingdom and another from Japan.
By November of last year there were 81 cases of known pump failures worldwide and four of them included burned engine compartments.
The NHTSA stepped in to investigate in October 2011. NHTSA investigators have concluded that the electric auxiliary water pump that cools the turbocharger has an electronic circuit board that can malfunction and overheat. The circuit board may smolder, which could cause a vehicle fire.
The recall is expected to affect 88,911 vehicles in the U.S. and nearly 300,000 around the world. They include some model year 2007-2011 Mini Cooper S, 2008-2011 Mini Cooper S Clubman, 2009-2011 Mini Cooper S Convertible, 2009-2011 Mini Cooper JCW, 2009-2011 Mini Cooper JCW Clubman, 2009-2011 Cooper JCW Convertible, and 2009-2011 Cooper S Country passenger cars.
BMW intends to begin notifying affected owners in February. Customers with vehicles included in the recall will be able to take the vehicle to a BMW dealer to have the water pump replaced free of charge. Owners with questions can contact BMW at (866) 275-6464.