Loss of power leads to £4,000+ bill for removing head! - MINI Cooper Forum
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Old Dec 13th, 2013, 09:07 AM
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Loss of power leads to £4,000+ bill for removing head!

I recently got a warning flashed up on the screen stating 'power loss' - it started misfiring at same time - and the warning suggested I reduce power but OK to continue driving. Since I was 40 miles from home, I gently nursed it back and booked it into the dealer (HR Owen, London) the next day. The dealer has had it for 2 weeks now (!) and have finally advised me that the bill will be over £4,000, most of which is to remove the head, so they can de-coke it and also skim the head.

For a so-called 'quaility' car registered in 2007, that strikes me as unusual - or is it? Anyone else had this?

They're suggesting that it has overheated, yet I received no warning of over-heating.

They also told me it would need a new thermostat housing. When I pointed out that they put a thermostat housing on the vehicle in September (only 4 months ago), they said they wouldn't charge me for that.

But why would it fail after only 4 months??? And has this failure caused the problems with the head/de-coking, perhaps? Anyone know?
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Old Dec 13th, 2013, 11:26 AM
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£4000 for a de-coke, skim and head removal seems very expensive!
Makes me wonder if they kept it so long to help justify the excessive bill.
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Old Dec 14th, 2013, 11:16 PM
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£4000?????????? Did you go to Mclaren or something? How much of that is for parts?
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Old Dec 16th, 2013, 03:03 AM
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If yours is an 'S' they should be doing the walnut shell blasting as its much cheaper!
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Old Dec 16th, 2013, 11:46 AM
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To me this sounds well dodgy...

Seems like they've replaced the thermostat housing, which has failed and probably lost some/most/all of the coolant and caused the car to overheat, warping the head - hence why it needs a skim. Odd that it would fail so soon - this would make me wonder whether they actually changed it before... if they did and you paid for the work then you will be covered by the standard parts warranty. This may also cover damage to any other components as a result of the failure ie the cost to remove the head and get it skimmed as it has warped.... all as a result of the thermostat housing failure....

It will probably need a decoke as its an r56 and they all end up needing this to be done - this was probably causing the misfire.

The above two problems aren't the cause for one or the other, they are separate.

£4000 to remove just the head is ridiculous - that should be the sort of total cost for a full head removal decoke not JUST to remove the head. Full head removal decoke is around £4k at BMW - luckily mine was done under warranty.

Worth noting that if you have not authorised them to undertake work, they cannot bill you for it - they need authorisation. What exactly is the bill for?

If the standard mini parts warranty covers other parts when they fail then this may cover all costs to remove the head, replace the thermostat housing, skim the head and reassemble - it is worth checking through the terms and conditions to check this out for yourself. The decoke is a separate issue in my view. It may well need a decoke but this hasn't caused the overheat IMO.

Running 211whp

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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 01:54 PM
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Thanks for this - all good points. But I'm surprised that if the coolant leaked because of a faulty or badly installed thermostat housing, why didn't i get a temperature warning? The only warning I got was regarding power loss, advising to slow down if I needed to continue (can't remember the exact warning).
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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 03:11 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by tallon (original)
Thanks for this - all good points. But I'm surprised that if the coolant leaked because of a faulty or badly installed thermostat housing, why didn't i get a temperature warning? The only warning I got was regarding power loss, advising to slow down if I needed to continue (can't remember the exact warning).

Yeah, I don't know tbh as I got an amber warning when it was a bit too high and I understand it would have gone red if it got a lot too high ...

Perhaps the power loss warning was the more serious fault and so the car prioritises whichever is the more significant fault when showing a warning? ie you could have a number of issues but it only displays the most dangerous/significant error/warning??? Im not sure how the car works in this regard....

The amber warning for overheating is a slow down but you can continue warning btw - have you checked the symbols in the manual to check what exactly the display was and what that means?

Running 211whp

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Old Dec 20th, 2013, 05:27 PM
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I've got the MINI sat nav so the warnings come up on the screen as text.

I do get the symbols coming up on the rev counter as well and if I ever see anything I don't recognise, I pull over and consult the MINI Lights app on my phone, but had nothing about temperature or overheating on either.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 02:04 AM
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if that was a direct injected engine carbon issues are TYPICAL! manufacturers are not saying much, Audi added warranty time for some. seems some engines are worse than others, new technology not quite perfected yet!!!! many benefits but this one BAD issue since gas does NOT clean the valve stems being directly injected into the cylinders bypassing the intake track
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 03:23 PM
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I think you could have got a new engine for that price!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2014, 09:31 PM
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I've read of similar scenarios on other car forums and quite often a common factor is that the car had previously been to a main dealer for either a water pump or thermostat to be replaced. In those cases it was similar symptoms and attributable to an air lock.

Sounds like another case of it to me!

Convertibles are cool
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Old Feb 26th, 2014, 10:49 AM
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Situation has now deteriorated further:

- Finally picked the car up on 30th Dec (they had promised it would be ready before xmas, but then wouldn't return my calls on 23/24th Dec - all the time charging me £15/day for a so called 'courtesy' car). Original invoice of £4,200 was reduced to £3,800 when I complained about time taken: 2 weeks to diagnose a fault, 5 weeks in total before I got the car back
- Engine was warm when I collected it, and drove 70 miles with no problem, but next day it started missing on cold start-up, and the following day it was missing VERY badly on start-up and I got the same warnings again (engine warning light on plus 'Full power not available....'' on sat nav screen).
- Later that day tried to start it again and it wouldn't start at all - and all the same warning came on again
- in other words, the same problem was still there, and they had taken 5 weeks and charged me £3,800 and FAILED to solve it - plus I was stranded 200+ miles from home
- HR Owen had the car 'recovered' on a trailer to a local dealer, BlueBell BMW in Wilmslow, who diagnosed the problem as a defective high pressure pump and fixed it the same day. I asked them to hold it overnight to do a proper cold start and it was fine. I have since done 400+ miles and the car has been starting and running perfectly

The cost of this high pressure pump replacement was approx £600 (which HR Owen paid after a LOT of arguing) - as against the £3,800 HR Owen charged me. Since then I have advised them that this is not acceptable - their technicians were obviously clueless and were just guessing, and in the end incorrectly diagnosed it and massively overcharged for unnecessary work.
After several emails, we had a meeting with the head technician, head of service dept and the service exec, at which they defended their diagnosis and charges, only offering to 'look further at' the courtesy car charges.
They claimed that the fact that the high pressure pump needed replacing 'was a coincidence' and it was fine when they had the car.
- Re failing to start with the EXACT same symptoms? - another 'coincidence', they claim
- Re having to replace (FOC) the thermostat housing again - it had been replaced in September - they claim it was because the engine over-heated.
- Re their claim that the engine had overheated, I asked them why I received no over-heating warnings on the warning panel or the satnav screen - no answer.
- Re taking 2 whole weeks to diagnose the issue - no answer.

I then took the issue up with BMW who discussed it with HR Owen, but pointed out that ultimately it was not in their remit to force HROwen to do anything - which is fair enough. Since then, because BMW talked to them, HR Owen offered to refund all the courtesy car charges - £266, plus a further £234 to make a total of £500.
If I accepted this it would still mean I've paid out around £3,300 for a fault that should have cost around £600 if diagnosed properly so I've declined their offer. My brother's wife is a solicitor and she's advised that I take them to the local Small Claims Court, which costs very little, and where they are apparently well used to incompetent and greedy car dealers, so watch this space....

(car is a 2007 model Cooper S and has done 61,000 miles, which I believe is average for it's age)
(A small but interesting dealer insight: despite having the car for 5 weeks, HR Owen completely failed to also order and repair some of the waistline trim that they had failed to do when they did some accident bodywork repairs some time earlier. Whilst they had the car they also did a service, but failed to turn off the 'service indicator' light which they have to reset. I'm now having to organise them to fix both issues. In a total contrast, whilst the car was at Blue Bell BMW, they fixed the drivers side windscreen squirter which was blocked and also re-attached the filler cap tether without being asked - both small things I had meant to do, but kept forgetting. It reminded me of the excellent service I used to get when I previously owned BMW's.....)
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Old Feb 26th, 2014, 06:42 PM
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Great update Tallon, keep us posted ... Go after them!
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Old Feb 28th, 2014, 10:16 PM
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All too common these days. Very little skill, a lot of guess work and an outrageous bill.

Convertibles are cool
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