Water damage to engine - air intake susceptible to sucking in water - MINI Cooper Forum

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post #1 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Water damage to engine - air intake susceptible to sucking in water

I drove my Mini Cooper through a 5 metre long puddle (4-6 inches deep) at no more than 20 mph. I followed a number of cars that made it through OK, even a Clio (that are renowned for taking in water). What happened? I totalled the engine within a matter of seconds! Air entered the air inlet and went straight into the ignition chamber. The water in the piston cylinder then bent the valves. Further damage has not yet been assessed as I am going to fight this with mini and won't pay for the engine to be opened until I have spoken with some experts in law and mechanics.

I am confident this is a design fault with the mini and would like to hear from anyone that has an opinion or direct experience of this.

This is why I believe there is a problem:

1. The air intake is located directly behind the front grill at the top.

2. The grill is angled upwards in the direction of the air intake for obvious reasons, but with potential problems when water splashes onto the front of the car. A head wind compounds this effect.

3. The air duct above the grill points down unlike most cars that point up, to act as an additional guard against water travelling through the intake to the engine.

The UK is a very wet country (you donít say) and I'm sure if I'm the 1st, I'm surely not going to be the last that this is going to happen to. Basically if you get water thrown up onto your grill while going forward, this could happen to you!!

Thanks to anyone who has views or a professional opinion.
Sorry for running on a bit but the BMW dealership has quoted £4-£5K, so I'm keen to get to the bottom of this. The BMW dealer, of course take no responsibility for this, and claims the intake needs to be where it is because the car is designed to be driven fast???

Steve
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post #2 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 02:24 PM
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I have absolutely no expertise in the areas of either law or mechanics, but I can say this does not sound good at all.

I hate to be negative, but why does it seem like as time goes on, MINIs problems don't seem to be diminishing, but getting worse! At first it was just niggles...squeaks, rattles, loose trim, etc. Not too long after, people started realizing their fuel tanks/gauges were a bit dodgy. Then the dead (flattened) batteries started popping up (supposedly now remedied, however), followed by the infamous left pull. Next came the "Christine" syndrome with the sporadic, unpredictable door locks and windows, and now we hear of an engine being completely destroyed by driving through a large puddle.

For a car that was in development for 4+ years, was designed by one of the most respected, prominent car manufacturers out there, and was supposedly rigorously tested, something seems to be terribly wrong here...

PigLick

PS Steve, so sorry to hear about this =( I think you join the ranks of Apial with a problem of this magnitude. Hope things go well for you in getting this sorted.
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post #3 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 03:40 PM
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Shocking news. Car designers have known how to make cars drive thru rain for decades already. I can't imagine how BMW was able to screw this up.

It seems pretty clear that the "Pentagon" engine is a massive failure. Low torque, bad gas mileage, and now we learn that it can't handle a puddle?

Is there any chance that your air intake was installed upside down or some such?

Good Luck!
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post #4 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 03:53 PM
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Post Sort of legal opinion...

Well - I have a law degree, but never did consumer law. However...
I doubt you have much of a chance on getting any money out of BMW on this one. They may as a good will gesture but the rules are (I think) pretty clear cut - fit for purpose is one of the phrases and the MINI is fit for use on road, but through water? I suspect the hand book will advise against it. BUT 4-6 inches deep? Really? Might be arguable a car should be reasonably expected to go through that - would have to ask a lawyer, but if I would you DON'T mention the cars in front going through before you, lest they suggest the 'bow wake' they made caused it.
My last piece of advice is based on experience - in Saab about a year ago - bloke had a two week old 9-3 Cabrio, and had done the same - Saab wouldn't pay.
My guess on this is that you won't get 'em to pay - certainly not without Court involvement, and most likely not at all - anyone else want to shoot the above down???
Sorry mate - hope you do sort it, for all our sakes...

Last edited by JV; Jan 28th, 2002 at 03:56 PM.
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post #5 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 04:16 PM
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I would love a definitive answer to this question as quickly as possible, since I was planning to order a MINI within the next two days as I'm taking my Alfa 147 back to the dealer tomorrow for valuation and possible sale. Where I live isn't prone to flooding, but other local areas are prone to flooding and I drove my Alfa through (up to) two inches or so of water only about two days ago (and it has been deeper in the past).

If it is a basic design flaw with the One/Cooper and one that isn't due to be rectified soon, then my only option is a Cooper S which has a bonnet air intake (would that be better?) but that is (a) a long way off and (b) a bit pricey for me. So I may have to buy a Peugeot 206 or Audi instead
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post #6 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 05:32 PM
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Stevesok - Sounds like one for your insurance company.

If the air intake was in the bottom (mesh) grille, I would agree it is poor design. But if it is at the top of the (chrome) grill and yet water got in could it be you were going too fast for that depth of water?

Clutch Cargo - "Pentagon engine can't handle a puddle" - no engine can handle significant water ingestion! And who says the engine has low torque? 149 Nm (110 lb/ft) is quite competitve for a 1.6 litre engine. Some journalists have criticised the gearing as being too high, but this is not the fault of the engine.

Minimayhem - don't be daft! Order your Cooper (but not in Silk Green )!

Last edited by Red & White Cooper 2; Jan 28th, 2002 at 05:49 PM.
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post #7 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 05:55 PM
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Sorry to say it but 20 MPH was a little too fast. A crawl would have been OK.
This comes from experience as I hydro-locked my parent's engine when I was a teenager.

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post #8 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 06:01 PM
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Re: Water damage to engine - air intake susceptible to sucking in water

I don't think from my experience (which was only just over a week, but covering over 1500 miles) that the MINI is particularly prone to being affected badly by water.

It rained heavily for a lot of the time I had the MINI (Cooper) and as you can see from some of the images here: http://www.mini2.com/news/news.php?id=71 I also spent a good part of one day messing about on country lanes, and in the water, with no problem what so ever.

When you see images like this: (click on thumbnail to view full size)... and some others in the MINI Cooper gallery, you will see what I mean.



I'm not saying there might not be a problem with your car, but on the balance of what I have heard your case seems very rare, if not unique, but none the less, very nasty.
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post #9 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 06:03 PM
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That said, the water was quite deep (relatively speaking) and the splash(es) were high, but the speed was kept very low.
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post #10 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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I think I just over cooked it!

Hi everyone,

Thanks. Your replies helped me realise that I pushed it a bit to far. 20mpg is kinda fast in 4-6 inches.

I think i was in a "I'm always right when I'm driving" mood when I posted the message. It was hard to drop it off @ the dealership on the back of a truck today :-(

I am fully insured so the whole thing won't cost me more than £300.

The miniís a top car it has to be said. I loved it, and still do in its sorry state.

I've had my fun, so what the hell. At least I didn't twist the chassis! This way I get a brand spanka engine..

Law dude - cheers for the legal advice, everyone - ta v. much for the comments. Also - nice photo puddle man.

Cheers all.
Steve
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post #11 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2002, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Clutch Cargo
Shocking news. Car designers have known how to make cars drive thru rain for decades already. I can't imagine how BMW was able to screw this up......
It seems pretty clear that the "Pentagon" engine is a massive failure. Low torque, bad gas mileage, and now we learn that it can't handle a puddle?....
I remember reading a story in a car magazine (AutoWeek?) a couple of years ago years about a BMW 7 series being driven through standing water about 12 inches deep (no idea how quickly it was moving). Apparently the air intake for the biggest BMW is mounted low near the radiator and, for a very short instant, that 740i became the world's most expensive wet/dry vacuum cleaner. If I remember correctly, BMW ruled the whole thing as pilot error and refused to pay up. So, if they engineered a 7 series and it was possible to injest water, it is no reflection on the MINIís engine.

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post #12 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 29th, 2002, 08:10 AM
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Re: I think I just over cooked it!

Quote:
Originally posted by stevesok
Hi everyone,

Thanks. Your replies helped me realise that I pushed it a bit to far. 20mpg is kinda fast in 4-6 inches.

I think i was in a "I'm always right when I'm driving" mood when I posted the message. It was hard to drop it off @ the dealership on the back of a truck today :-(

I am fully insured so the whole thing won't cost me more than £300.

The miniís a top car it has to be said. I loved it, and still do in its sorry state.

I've had my fun, so what the hell. At least I didn't twist the chassis! This way I get a brand spanka engine..

Law dude - cheers for the legal advice, everyone - ta v. much for the comments. Also - nice photo puddle man.

Cheers all.
Steve
This forum is amazing........ I'm stunned, yet again. Given your original post, your reply is so humble.

Oh by the way. I think it will cost you about 310 quid all up actually.........nudge nudge wink wink, and nod nod in the general direction of the "donation" button. No pressure of course....but 10 quid for such good advice must be considered a bargain......sure you'd agree.

This site may not be around for good sound advice next time you drive at 20mph through a "river".




Please don;t take offence, I'm just concerned this site may not be here next time I wake up.........we ALL need to start contributing more than just threads.



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post #13 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 29th, 2002, 08:27 AM
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My mother did the same thing a couple of years back in a Ford Scorpio, the insurance company paid up no quibble.

Watch out for electrical gremlins afterwards though, she had several weeks of problems before they were all found.

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post #14 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 29th, 2002, 08:40 AM
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Happy news. If this was only a freak incident, I am happy to retract the "massive" adjective from my earlier post
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post #15 of 84 (permalink) Old Jan 29th, 2002, 08:43 AM
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Stevesok - easy mate

I wonder how many engines Audi went through to make the ad with the A6 pulling the wakeboarder?

MAybe we shou'd try it a Pentney mate?


Cheers all

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