Mini problem - please help!!
Sorry if this is becomes a long post, I'm no car expert and am going crazy right now!!
I've owned a 2006 Mini One (R50) since 2008 at which point it had covered 8,000 miles. The car was originally purchased from Mini Oxford, and has always been serviced with Mini with no problems ever encountered.
It has now done 70,000 miles and whilst driving it suddenly started with loud banging noises coming from the engine. I had no warning lights on at all, but decided to stop immediately and had the car towed to Mini. This was on NYE (31.12.12) and the car is still with them.
Electrical diagnostics was carried out, revealing nothing.
They took apart the engine covers, and claimed the "timing change tensioner" was to fault, and could be fixed at a cost of around £200. They replaced this, but then claimed this hadn't fixed the problem, and a new engine would be required at a cost of £4,500.
Seeing as I just got a trade in value of £4k for the car, I was obviously shocked and demanded to know exactly what the fault was. However Mini were not able to tell me, and obviously I'm not prepared to pay £4.5k when the car is worth £4k and I don't even know if the problem is an inherent/recurring problem.
Mini then said they would apply to Mini UK for goodwill against the cost of repair as the car had always been serviced at Mini, etc. Mini UK then called to say "as the engine failed due to having no engine oil, they would not be contributing a penny to the cost of repair".
In the meantime, I have received a bill from Mini for £300 for the diagnosis and replacement of tensioner which did absolutely nothing and from which I still do not know the fault.
My issue is that I know 100% the car had oil in, as it was only topped up several days before (by Halfords - unfortunately threw away the receipt). Having had the car for almost 3 weeks, at no point have the dealer told me engine oil was the problem. From discussions with other garages, lack of engine oil is a problem which could/should be uncovered within 5 minutes of having the car. It is only Mini UK who are saying "no oil", and I can not see any way of proving it did have oil.
Is it up to the garage or me to prove this?
Additionally, surely I am not liable for the £300 bill unless they are able to definitively tell me the cause of the problem. Especially since the tensioner replacement was their idea and was wrong.
I am at wits end with this now, and spent many £100s on alternative transport, as well as loss of income from taking days off etc.
I am obviously aware the car is outside of warranty and they have no obligation to me, but how can any of this be right???? I've never experienced such problems with any car, and certainly won't be buying a Mini or BMW ever again. I just want to get this car sorted, and get rid of it!
Sorry for the long post, but if anyone could give me any advice on how to proceed I would most appreciate it!!