Car starts, runs for a short period and begins to sputter out, then stalls. Ideas?? - MINI Cooper Forum

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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old Oct 12th, 2012, 05:11 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Car starts, runs for a short period and begins to sputter out, then stalls. Ideas??

OK guys, I need some help on this one. I have a 2010 Mini Cooper with about 46,600 miles. It's an R56 model with automatic transmission.

Here's the problem:

Last night, I'm driving along on the freeway in traffic going about 10mph. Suddenly my lane opens up, so I start going a little faster. About 30 seconds later, I'm pushing the gas pedal and I'm going nowhere. I had some music playing so I didn't even notice the engine had cut off. I managed to coast over to the shoulder and come to a stop. I should also point out that there were no indicator lights that came on at any time during this.

I put the car in park, removed and replaced the key and tried to start the car again. All I got was the sound of it trying to start, but the engine never turned over. One way to describe it would be to say that it sounded like I was trying to start the car on an empty tank of gas. However, I had just filled up the other day and had an estimated 300 miles left until empty.

So there I sit on the side of the freeway working out the next step in my plan. I waited about 10 minutes and tried to start it again. This time, I tapped the gas a little and it sounded like it was going to go a few times, but ultimately, it didn't. At this point, it began to sound like a flooded engine. I'm no car expert, so I'm not even sure if this is a possibilty on a Mini Cooper. I'm comparing this experience to the struggling sound of trying to start an old lawn mower that has a flooded engine.

By the time I get a AAA tow truck on the way to me, I had been sitting there for about 45 minutes. I decided to try starting it again and to my suprise, the car starts right back up without having to hit the gas. I decided to wait there for a few minutes to see if it would stall, but it didn't. In fact, it sounded perfectly normal and once again, no indicator lights of any kind.

I decided that the problem was a fluke of some sort and opted to drive my way out of there. So instead of going to where I was headed, I chose to get off the freeway and go back home. About 2 minutes into this drive, I noticed that when I let go of the gas, the engine would begin to sputter. Figuring it would stall if I didn't keep pressing the gas, I dropped the car into neutral and starting revving the engine. Again, things sounded like they were back to normal...until I got to a red light. Once I stopped, so did the engine. And now we're back to where I started...a car that won't start unless I let it sit for 20+ minutes.

This time, I gave up trying to drive home and decided to wait for another tow truck. So here's where I'm at. I had the car towed to my parent's house since all the local dealers were closed and apparently none of them have drop boxes for my car is out of warranty and my family knows a bit about cars, so I figured before I drop hundreds on the dealer fixing it, we could take a look at it first.

Now I'm here to reach out to the Mini community in hopes that this issue is minor and easily fixed!! My dad who owned a Mini before me and has knowledge in fixing cars thinks it might be a fuel pump issue. From everything I've described, it does sound a lot like the fuel isn't getting to the engine. But then again, why would this only be a problem after driving it a few miles or so?

As a recap, here's what we know so far:
  • It's not a dead battery (all lights, accessories, etc. still work and the starter is trying to start the car)
  • It's not a lack of fuel in the tank
  • The car starts after about 20 minutes of it being off
  • It sputters out and stalls when the gas pedal is not being pushed
  • There are no indicator lights telling me there's an issue somewhere

Like I said, I'm really hoping that this problem is super easy and won't cost me thousands of dollars to fix. What do you guys think??
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old Oct 12th, 2012, 06:13 PM
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My instinctive reaction to your description was ignition coil - but then the Mini has separate coil packs for each plug so it's not likely all four would fail.

But the starting-working-again-once-cooled-down but failing once heated up is a real favourite of coils.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old Oct 12th, 2012, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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I'll look into the ignition coil. I've seen some people with Cooper S models upgrading their ignition coils for performance purposes, so if they work on the non-S model, maybe I'll do it as well...if not to fix this issue, at least to gain some performance.

Another thought I had was could it be the fuel filter? I know it doesn't really sound like it just because my guess would be that if the fuel filter was clogged that bad, it just wouldn't start at all regardless of how long it's been off.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 2012, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Oil in the coolant and coolant in the oil!!

Here's an update to my issue. I discovered that the coolant was super low and decided to fill it up only to discover that it was requiring way more liquid than it should have and after starting it up again and running it for a few minutes, we noticed a slight "choking" sound and then there was oil in the coolant overflow tank.

We pulled out the oil dipstick and sure enough, the oil looked like it was all gooey (kind of like melted chocolate). It appeared to have antifreeze and water mixed in with it.

I'm talked to a few people about this and it looks like we're down to either a broken head gasket, a cracked engine block or a broken oil cooler (or whatever that's called).

These people say that a broken head gasket would have been noticeable white smoke pouring out the back...this never happened.

Anyway, I'm taking it in as soon as I can get some free time, but I thought I'd run this by you guys to see some more advice. More so, what kind of costs might I be looking at for something like this?
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2012, 03:33 PM
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Usually is the oil cooler on minis r53
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