Mini Cooper

MINI Recalling 92k Vehicles Over Airbag Flaw

 

MINI Cooper

 An issue with the airbags on Mini Cooper hatchbacks and convertibles has prompted BMW of North America and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a recall for an estimated 91,800 vehicles.

The problem, according to the notice below, stems from the occupant detection mat for the front passenger seat, which may fail to detect a passenger present and therefor fail to deploy the airbag in the event of a crash.

The specific models affected by the recall are the Mini Cooper and Cooper S hardtops from the 2005 and 2006 model years and manufactured between January 5, 2005, and November 28, 2006, as well as the Mini Cooper Convertible and Cooper S Convertible from the 2005 to 2008 model years, manufactured between January 5, 2005, and July 31, 2008.

To address the issue, Mini dealers will be replacing the front passenger seat occupant detection mat, with recalls set to commence on May 1.

Here is a copy of the recall letter:

RECALL Subject : Front Passenger Seat Occupant Detection Mat
Report Receipt Date: APR 06, 2015
NHTSA Campaign Number: 15V205000
Component(s): AIR BAGS
Potential Number of Units Affected: 91,800
Manufacturer: BMW of North America, LLC

SUMMARY:
BMW of North America, LLC (BMW) is recalling certain model year 2005-2006 MINI Cooper and Cooper S vehicles manufactured January 5, 2005, to November 28, 2006, and 2005-2008 MINI Cooper Convertible and Cooper S Convertible vehicles manufactured January 5, 2005, to July 31, 2008. Due to manufacturing, installation, and exposure issues, the front passenger seat occupant detection mat may not function properly and, as a result, the front passenger air bag may not deploy in a crash.

CONSEQUENCE:
An improperly functioning mat may cause the passenger frontal air bag to be inactive when the seat is occupied, and in the event of a crash, the air bag will not deploy, increasing the passenger’s risk of injury.

REMEDY:
MINI will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front passenger seat occupant detection mat, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 1, 2015. Owners may contact MINI customer service at 1-866-825-1525.

NOTES:
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

If you have any questions please call Haus of MINIS & BMW in Sherman Oaks, California and we would be happy to assist.

If you need MINI Cooper Repair, Service or Diagnostics in Los Angeles, please call to schedule an appointment: 855.572.MINI (6464)

Understanding Extended Warranties

In life there are situations that start out great, but sometimes end in an unfortunate, premature way. This does not have to be the case when it comes to the relationship between you and your car. There is a solution, and it’s called an extended warranty, and it can help keep your car a prized possession rather than a cumbersome money pit. In essence an extended warranty is an insurance policy for your vehicle that covers vehicle repairs, instead of collision or accident damage. An extended warranty can safeguard against expensive, unforeseen repairs. Extended warranties are really service contracts, since they cost extra and are sold separately. With all extended warranties it is important that you maintain your vehicle per the manufacturers recommended service intervals. In all the years I have been in the automotive business the only time I have seen extended warranty companies deny coverage it is because the vehicle was not maintained properly, abused, or modified in someway that was detrimental to the vehicle (such as raised or lowered suspension).

An extended warranty may purchased at the time you buy your vehicle or much further along in your ownership experience, but realize if you purchase after the vehicle is out of the manufacturers warranty the cost can be significantly higher.

If you are the type of person that likes to prepared for all eventualities, bearing in mind the ever increasing cost of vehicle repairs, then a service contract can make a lot of sense.

There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing an extended warranty, such as:

Average repair costs for vehicle repairs
Average repair costs for vehicle repairs

What is the reliability record of the vehicle you are buying? Take a look at the reliability history for the vehicle you are considering purchasing. Unfortunately MINI and BMW, according to Consumer Reports are not the most reliable vehicles on the road, so a service contract is highly recommended. As an example the cost of replacement for a new transmission on a MINI or BMW can range between $6000-$8000, so you can see how a service contract can be beneficial to you.

Ask who is behind the warranty that you are considering? According to Consumer Reports the top 5 warranty companies are: Endurance, Carchex, Warranty Direct, Easy Care, and AA Auto Protection If possible stick with one of these companies. From our experience we have found found that Fidelity and MaxCare are also good companies to purchase an extended warranty from.

Can repairs be performed at any repair shop? Some extended warranties stipulate that repairs must be performed at the dealership where the warranty was purchased, this can prove limiting and inconvenient. We recommend purchasing an extended warranty that allows repairs at any certified automotive repair facility. You will definitely appreciate this if your vehicle breaks down or needs repairs while you are on a road trip.

Is the warranty transferable? Some service contracts end when the person who bought the warranty sells the car. A contract that allows you to transfer the warranty to a new buyer is preferable, and it’s a great selling point.

What exactly is covered? Know what is covered, and more importantly what’s not covered.

Is a cash layout required for repairs? Some warranty companies  require that you pay the bill, send in the invoice or receipt and wait for reimbursement. It can take weeks, even months to get reimbursed by the warranty company. You will want a warranty company that pays the dealership or repair facility directly with a credit card.

Remember to compare all of your options before making a decision. Utilize the internet, many companies sell directly online, cutting out the middle man (i.e. the dealership). Shop around, once you have decided on the which brand of vehicle you want to purchase get some quotes from other dealers, it will at least give you an idea of what an extended warranty, with the coverage you want should cost. If you are a member of a credit union, check with them as most offer inexpensive extended warranties that can be purchased directly from them.

In warranty buying, as in many other aspects of life, it helps to educate yourself.

Feel free to contact us at The Haus in Los Angeles, California if you have any questions about the warranty you are considering purchasing, we would be happy to give you our opinion.

High Pressure Fuel Pump Problems on R56 MINI Cooper S Models

MINI Cooper S: High Pressure Fuel Pump Failure Symptoms

If you are the owner of a 2007-2009 Mini Cooper S model you need to be aware of the problems Mini & BMW are having with their High Pressure Fuel Pumps (HPFP). This was a well known issue on the BMW N54 turbo engine and it affected thousands of BMW vehicles between 2007-2010, so much so that BMW issued a recall. Well the Mini customers are not getting the same love from BMW, and there is no such recall to replace these under warranty. Mini did however extend the warranty to 10 years or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first on the 2007-2009 S models only. So if you have a 2010 or newer vehicle or a vehicle over 120,000 miles you are not covered. It is important that you take your Mini to a specialty shop only, because if they are reputable and know these cars they would refer you to the dealer for warranty repairs. A lot of shops, especially general automotive repair shops are unaware of the extended warranty and might try and sell you one instead.

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So, how do you know if you are having the issue? Well that is a good question and it is not always easy one to answer. The HPFP does not always just die, it sometimes prolongs the issue making it confusing to diagnose unless the check engine light comes on. Some of the pumps have been reported to die all at once, with some even failing while driving at freeway speeds, causing the engine to die (very dangerous). The most common symptom that the HPFP is starting to fail is engine surging while driving. This is usually followed up by difficulty starting, and then when the engine finally does start, it runs poorly (feels like a diesel engine). When you get to this stage, usually the check engine light will come on and register misfire codes, thankfully making it easier to figure out.

Our recommendation is that if you are having any of these symptoms to get your vehicle to a certified Mini Cooper specialist and get your vehicle checked before it becomes dangerous, and so that possible warranty coverage may be verified.

Here is the text of the letter from MINI USA-

 

 

Checking for EVAP Leaks on BMW or MINI Cooper

How to Check for BMW or MINI Cooper EVAP Leaks

The Evaporative Emission Control System or EVAP system as it is most often called, was designed to prevent gasoline vapors from escaping from the fuel tank and fuel system. When the computer detects a leak in the system it will trigger the check engine light to come on and warn you. A loose gas cap can cause the light to come on because the system detects that there is pressure loss. The system is designed to detect leaks as small a pin hole. BMW and Mini Cooper are equipped with a Leak Detection Pump (DMTL) for this purpose.

The most common fault codes for EVAP leaks are a PO442- Small leak detected, and PO455- Large leak detected. The PO455 code is most often caused by a gas cap that was left loose after refueling. The PO442 can be a much harder one to diagnose as it virtually impossible to diagnose visually. To diagnose the small leaks a smoke machine is used to find the leaks by feeding a mineral oil based smoke into the system under light pressure. The smoke may also have ultraviolet dye added to make it easier to spot under a UV light. These codes are most typically a result of intake system vacuum leaks, with the most common being cracked or otherwise leaking intake boots. The intake boots are an especially common problem on the 2nd gen Mini Cooper S model with turbos. On late model BMW’s that have a crankcase ventilation valve (most 6 and 8 cylinder models from the mid 1990’s to present day, equatable to a PCV valve) the common problem is the rubber check valve diaphragm ruptures, creating an internal vacuum leak.

Fixing small EVAP leaks can be a big problem even for professional technicians, and if you get a code for a small leak you will most likely have to take it to your mechanic for diagnosis as special equipment is required. The smoke machine diagnostic tool costs between $1000-$1500 depending on the manufacturer and requires some training to use properly. With EVAP leaks it is recommended that you always take your BMW or Mini Cooper to a certified repair facility as these can be nearly impossible to diagnose at home. Please watch our short 2 minute video as we demonstrate a smoke test on a 2007 BMW X3.

Looking for MINI Cooper Service in Sherman Oaks? Call House of Minis & BMW Today! (855) 572-6464

7 Common Mini Cooper Problems

Mini Cooper repair in Los Angeles, California

MINI Cooper Problems: The 7 Most Common Issues

MINI Coopers are fun to drive and are generally quite reliable. But like most vehicles, they also have a few issues. If you own your MINI for a while, there’s a good chance you might run into one of the following common MINI Cooper problems.

1. Automatic Transmission Failure

There was a time when MINI Coopers were notorious for having automatic transmission problems. In fact, the 1st gen CVT (R50) was so bad that BMW and MINI were the subject of a class action lawsuit forcing MINI to cover the transmissions for the earlier of 8 years or 150,000 miles. Today, these are all out of warranty. The cost to replace the transmission exceeds the value of the vehicle, making this a model you’ll want to avoid.
The transmission in the MINI Cooper S and 2nd gen models is better than the CVT model but they also have an issue with harsh shifting, which has been attributed to the valve body. If you notice this particular MINI Cooper transmission problem and can catch the issue early, you may be able to get away with simply replacing the valve body. However, if you wait too long, you may find that your entire transmission needs to be replaced or rebuilt.

2. Water Pump and Thermostat Housing Leaks

Water pump issues are one of the more common MINI Cooper problems. If you have more than 50,000 miles on your MINI, you may want to consider proactively having it replaced. On the 2nd generation MINI, the thermostat housing is also completely composed of plastic, practically guaranteeing that it will eventually fail. Replacing this before finding a leak can save you a lot of money and hassle.

3. Clutch Failure

If you have a manual transmission MINI and frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, there’s a good chance that your clutch may fail prematurely. If this happens, you’ll need a clutch replacement.

4. Loose Timing Chain

When your MINI Cooper starts making strange sounds, it may be caused by a loose timing chain. If this is happening, you might notice a rattling noise under the hood, especially when you first start your car. This is an issue you definitely don’t want to ignore. If you fail to take care of it quickly enough, you may suffer massive engine damage, leading to an expensive repair job.

5. Power Steering Pump Failure

MINI Coopers are also known for power steering pump failures. One of the most obvious signs that you’re dealing with this issue occurs when it becomes difficult to steer your MINI, especially at low speeds. This is a time-consuming repair because the front of the car needs to be dismantled to access the power steering pump.
Often, electronic power steering pump failures are caused by low power steering fluid or a failure of the electric cooling fan. If you have a problem with your power steering hoses, the mechanics at The Haus can fix it for far less than you’ll spend if you take your MINI to the dealer.

6. Front Radiator Support

Unfortunately, MINI opted to make the front radiator support out of plastic, making it far less durable than if it had been constructed of other materials. This part holds the radiator, cooling fan, and condenser assembly. It sits very low under the front of the vehicle, so even a light impact on a high curb can cause a lot of damage. The lower radiator hose is also easily damaged by making contact with parking curbs. Since this sits even lower to the ground than the radiator support, it’s important to be extra careful when parking your MINI.

7. Vanos-Related Performance Issues

The Vanos system, which is BMW’s version of Variable Valve Timing, requires excellent oil flow to operate properly. If you fail to keep up with your oil changes, sludge can build up and block the small passages, creating issues.
When this occurs, the first thing we suggest is an oil change. Sometimes, the detergent in the fresh oil cleans out the tiny oil passages and resolves the problem. However, if the passages are blocked, you’ll need a skilled MINI Cooper Mechanic to repair the problem. The good news is that this problem is completely avoidable if you stay on top of your oil levels and keep up with your oil changes at the recommended intervals.

MINI Cooper Problems Often Require a Great Mechanic

While nobody wants to deal with car problems, now that you know what to look for, you can keep an eye out for these common MINI Cooper issues. Often, proactively taking care of problems can help you avoid more expensive repairs.
Whether you need basic MINI maintenance or any type of repair, the experienced auto repair technicians at The Haus will take care of it quickly and get you back on the road. Contact us today to schedule your VIP appointment.

Carbon Cleaning For MINI Cooper & BMW

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BMW and MINI Cooper Carbon Cleaning

As we move further into the 21st century, many auto manufacturers are turning to engine management systems that employ “direct injection” fuel injection systems. Direct injection systems inject the fuel directly into the combustion chamber at the precise timing for optimum power and/or economy under a specific operating condition, or parameters.

The gasoline is highly pressurized, and injected via a fuel rail/line directly into the combustion chamber of each cylinder. With multi-port fuel injection the fuel is injected into the intake tract, or cylinder port. The major drawback with direct port injections, is although is provides more power and fuel efficiency it causes carbon build up in the intake valves, and over time reduces airflow to the cylinders, and therefore reduces engine power. Most fuel contains various detergents that can keep the intake valves clean, but with direct injection the fuel never touches the intake valves, as it does with a multi-port injection system. When fuel is no longer sprayed into the intake valves, it allows dirt and carbon from intake air to cake/build up on intake walls, even when there are air filters that prevent most dirt from entering the cylinder. The build up can become severe enough to cause sporadic ignition failures.

In 2003 BMW introduced a low pressure gasoline direct injection N73 V-12 engine. This initial BMW setup could not enter lean-burn mode, BMW introduced it’s second generation High Pressure Injection (H.P.I.) system on the new turbo-charged N54 straight 6 engine in 2006. This system used high pressure injectors, and this system surpasses may others with a much wider envelope of lean fuel burn time which increases overall efficiency. BMW in conjunction with Peugeot designed a line of engines (BMW Prince Engine) that made it’s debut in the 2007 MINI Cooper S model. In 2008, BMW released the X6 equipped with a direct injected twin turbo N63 V-8 engine.

The N54 and N55 twin and single turbo engines seem to be the most susceptible to the heavy carbon build up (although it effects all models). BMW and MINI dealers are happy to perform the de-carbon service for fees in the $850-$1200 neighborhood (much, much higher if you have a twin turbo V-8). The carbon cleaning is not terribly complicated on the 4 & 6 cylinder models but it does require removal of the intake manifold and a media blaster to clean the intake ports and valves.

If your MINI cooper or BMW needs a carbon cleaning/de-carbon call The Haus we can save you a lot of time & money compared to the dealer and provide the same quality of repairs and customer service.

We have a beautiful, state of the art facility and we have all of the amenities that the dealerships do, and we also provide a FREE customer shuttle within a 10 mile radius.

We proudly serve Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Van Nuys, Encino,Burbank, Hollywood,  West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, all of Los Angeles, Culver City, and Santa Monica.

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Common Oil Leaks For MINI Cooper

If you own a first or second generation MINI there are several common oil leaks to both models.

MINI Cooper Oil Leaks and Oil Leak Repair – R50 & R53

On the R50 & R53 models the most common ones are the crankshaft position sensor o-ring and valve cover gasket. The valve cover gasket is a fairly easy repair as the valve cover sits on top of the engine which allows for easy removal and re-installation of valve cover. The crank sensor o-ring is on the side of the engine closest to the radiator (front of the vehicle). This o-ring is much harder to get to than the valve cover gasket and can be a much messier leak. It is necessary to remove the front bumper and support to be able to tilt the radiator forward and gain access to the o-ring. Once the o-ring is replaced we always recommend a good pressure wash of the engine for a couple of reasons. The first reason is to be able to tell if there are any additional oil leaks, and the second reason is to prevent any damage to other engine components. The lower engine mount is partly made of rubber, and if this rubber gets oil saturated it will need to be replaced.

R55,R56,& R57

On the 2nd generation MINI (R55,R56,& R57) there are also several common oil leaks. The valve cover gasket on these tend to leak, just like first gen MINI. If you have an S model the turbo oil feed pipe is a very common leak and can be dangerous if not repaired. The turbo charger is bolted to/part of the exhaust manifold, and here is where the danger part comes in, when the turbo pipe leaks it sprays oil on to the exhaust manifold. The exhaust can reach temperatures upwards of 1,000 degrees, and here is where the danger lies. There is potential for fire hazard if the oil that sprays on to the turbo/manifold is ignited. This is a very real hazard and cause cause serious damage to your vehicle. We recommend that if you have the turbo feed pipe leak, that you address it as soon as possible. Another common leak on 2nd gen MINI is brake booster vacuum pump which is located on left side top of engine (driver side of cylinder head). Both Cooper and Cooper S models are equipped with these. If you are lucky enough to have the S version the dealer will cover the vacuum pump under the California Emission Warranty which is 7 years or 70,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you have a base model it is only covered 4 years or 50,000 miles. Either way the dealer will charge you around $1000 to replace this part, at The Haus we can perform the same repair using original equipment manufacturer part for around 1/2 the price, and we give you the same 2 year/24,000 mile warranty on parts & labor as the local dealers. If you are looking for certified MINI technicians in Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, or Hollywood call The Haus and speak to one of our pros and schedule an appointment.
We perform a complete safety inspection of your vehicle on every visit to keep you in the know about upcoming repairs so there are fewer surprises. Check back soon for more advice to keep your MINI in tip top shape and save you money on repairs.

Timing Chain/Tensioner Replacement on 2nd generation Mini Cooper

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MINI Cooper Timing Chain Tensioner Replacement

Often referred to as the “Death Rattle Noise”, this audible sound coming from the engine bay is the timing chain in your R55, R56, or R57. When you first start your car you may experience a noise coming from the engine bay on a cold morning, once the engine warms up the noise may go away. If you lift your hood up that noise is coming from the front of the timing cover. One of the possible causes for this noise occurs when the timing chain support rail loses tension. This support rail is made of a durable plastic, but with heat and time, the plastic can become brittle and break. If you here this noise, you should call a certified Mini Cooper technician immediately as you do not want to hurt the valve train or further damage the timing system.

Unlike most cars, the Mini Cooper uses a metal timing chain rather than a belt made of composite materials. One of the features of the BMW Prince engine is that the timing chain and tensioner are located inside the engine; the major drawback of this design is that when the timing chain or tensioner fails it can cause catastrophic engine damage. The most common cause of timing chain tensioner/chain failure is low engine oil. If you follow the MINI/BMW maintenance intervals an oil change is only recommended once a year or every 15,000 miles. This interval is far too long for the BMW Prince engine, especially if you have the turbo charged version. These are high revving engines that put out a lot of power for their size, and these engines are notorious for burning/consuming oil. We recommend an oil change every 6 months or 5,000 miles, if you follow this maintenance schedule the timing chain can last the lifetime of the vehicle. Performing an oil change is far cheaper than timing chain replacement or engine repairs. Engine replacement can run between $5000-$8000 depending on what repairs are done. Performing 2-3 oil changes a year will cost you less than $200.

If you’re in the market to purchase a 2nd generation Cooper or Cooper S. Be sure to review all service records to see if the timing chain has ever been replaced and that the oil was changed regularly. If you are buying from a dealer ask the salesman if the warranty or extended warranty you were to purchase from them would cover this expense?

Customers often call our shop and ask us, “ What are some things to look out for when purchasing a MINI Cooper?” This is a great example of a common issue. Check back for more Mini Cooper buyer information in future posts. If you’re looking for a Certified Mini Cooper repair shop in Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, or Studio City, California please give us a call at (855) 572-MINI (6464).

 

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