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Old Apr 29th, 2014, 03:08 PM
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Canada Mini Cooper S Seat Heater Fire

I own a 2005 Mini Cooper S that recently had itís seat heater catch the passenger seat on fire. I'm wondering if anyone else here has experienced this failure and what, if anything, Mini was willing to do to assist in the repair.

This is a bit of a long story, so please bear with me. In December of 2013 my seat heater faulted and within seconds caused the passenger seat to catch on fire - bad enough that I had to pat flames out with my gloves to stop them from spreading. There were no injuries but there was a big hole burned into my $800 John Varvatos messenger bag.

I dropped the car off to my local Mini dealer and asked them to check the fault and unhook the passenger heater. The car has been out of warranty for about a year now (out on time not mileage). I was told by my local Mini that this fault was now my responsibility as it is similar to ďrunning an engine with too low coolant and causing damage.Ē I was told the heater was unhooked and ďcompletely safe!Ē Turns out it wasn't unhooked at all and ended up catching on fire again that evening.

I was very disappointed that Mini gave me back my car, told me it was completely safe, and then it caught on fire again. Apparently the wrong wire was unhooked and no one bothered to test it before giving it back to me. It seems very irresponsible to not take the 2 seconds to test a car that mechanics saw flames coming from, and even worse to tell a customer an untested car was completely safe. Whatís a more serious and dangerous issue than fire? Mini St. Johnís didn't even apologize, let alone offer to refund the cost.

I also donít believe engine coolant is a valid comparison. I can inspect engine coolant, I canít see the inner workings of my seat heater inside my seat. And the proper fault should be the heater stops working, not shorts and catches the bloody car on fire!

Google searches revealed others that have had this issue, and others, after conversations with Mini, have been offered a complete out of warranty repair (some even appear to have received compensation).

The car was originally purchased in Florida and driven back to Canada in 2008. All US/Canada conversions were performed by Halifax Mini (St. Johnís Mini didnít exist at the time) and all the required paperwork was correctly completed.

I called Mini Canada and was put in touch with a rep, had a number of discussions and ended up getting an offer, after 4 months, to cover the costs of parts. No labour or replacement for damaged items were included in the offer. Upon asking why the labour was not included I was told that it was because the car was not properly imported into Canada. When I argued that fact I was asked to drop a copy of all the paperwork down to my local dealer and get them to forward it to Mini Canada (Why canít they access/confirm that themselves through Halifax Mini?). I was told I should hear something in 2 days - that was over a month ago. No one has been able to tell me why they say the car was not imported correctly. Originally I was told it was because it didnít have the proper gauges, but those have been replaced with Canadian versions in Halifax.

Upon calling my local Mini in St. Johnís last Friday I was told they have no updates and donít think anything will change. I was told by the manager that Mini looks at how long youíve been getting service from a local dealer as part of their decision making process and that I havenít been coming to the dealer very long. Well the car has been at the local dealer since they opened for every required repair save an oil change.

I have not been impressed with the 5 months this has all taken. I have not been impressed by constantly being told someone will call me and then never receive that call. I have not been impressed with calling my local dealer, leaving messages twice a week and no one calling back. I have not been impressed with the lack of answers to what seems to be a properly imported car. I have not been impressed with a seemly double standard in covering others repairs fully but not mine. And I have not been impressed with Mini St. Johnís returning my car in an untested state claiming it was completely safe.

This seat heater seems like an issue that should require a recall. I assuming this was not recalled since the occurrence rate is very low and it would in fact cost Mini more to do a recall on all the cars rather than pay off the small number of people who have had this occur. But for that to be successful the customer needs the repairs and damage to be covered.

Anyone out there have anything similar happen? Any advice? I think I'll post this to facebook today as well...
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