We have a 2006 R53 JCW - build date is 04/2006 with approx 121,000klms on it.
The vehicle has been fastidiously maintained and cared for all its life, and it's non-modified and unmolested.
All engine bay, bodywork & trim are still like new, and the vehicle is spotlessly clean throughout.
The car is used infrequently as we were intending to keep this car for the long term.
Took the car out yesterday for a short drive (approx. 20 mins round trip) - then returned home.
Ambient air temps were around 25degrees C and overall extremely pleasant - certainly no heatwave that day.
So, back into the garage it goes - engine off, handbrake on, keys out, doors closed, though the car was still unlocked as I intended to go out again a bit later that afternoon.
About 1 or 2 hours passed - I was in and out of the garage several times during that time doing some odd jobs around the house, and each time I was in the garage the car was sitting silently right beside me as I gathered tools from my workbench.
Absolutely nothing suspicious noted.
THEN "IT" HAPPENED!!
I had to go back into the garage again to get some hooks from my cupboard.
Yikes!! I immediately smelled something like burning wiring or burning plastic when entering the garage, and I could hear a strange whirring sound coming from the front of the vehicle, but there was no obvious source when I opened the bonnet.
Oddly, there seemed to be still an unusual amount of heat buildup under the bonnet which didn't make sense given the car hadn't been driven for an hour or two. Then I noted there was also smoke haze present around the car and within the garage and it was coming up at my face possibly (though not confirmed) emanating from behind the engine.
I jumped into the car and started it so I could park it outside and away from the garage in case it caught fire (which could have potentially burned the whole house down - and us with it!!).
Again after the engine was switched off, a strange whirring continued, and much heavier smoke was developing, so I raced back into the garage and grabbed a spanner to disconnect the battery.
The odd whirring stopped immediately the battery was disconnected and gradually the smoke around the car subsided.
When the battery was temporarily reconnected again, the strange whirring sound came back immediately, but this time the speed of the whirring kept changing as the source of it seemed to randomly spool itself down to a near stop, then back up again.
This was all happening with the engine off and the keys removed from the ignition.
I left the battery disconnected all night for safety.
Now here's the odd bit - I reconnected the battery again today with the intention of getting underneath the car to try to pinpoint the heat source or the whirring sound …. nothing happened!! No whirring sound!! Nothing!!! All seemed deceivingly well....!!!
No strange whirring, engine started ok, no fault lights or codes posted. Power steering working and all accessories working.
Everything I put my hand on under the bonnet felt deliciously cool.
What's going on here???? What am I missing?? Should I be narrowing the search and focussing on the electric power steering pump or the pump's cooling fan??
At the time of writing this post - the underlying cause is not known, but the possible outcomes had I not spotted the problem early are terrifying, and could have been potentially lethal.
Has anybody else in Australia had a similar spontaneous electrical problem like this??
My previous experiences with BMW MINI Dealers for repairs and service have been a disaster, usually involving lengthy delays in getting our MINI back, and the cost of their work is just prohibitive. God knows how they come up with their charges, but all they do is sting you to death and try to get you back for more. You'd think you just killed a close relative of theirs and this is their way of getting back at you.
I have logged an enquiry with BMW MINI Australia and await their return contact though I'm not optimistic they will do anything helpful except refer me to a dealer workshop which I will ultimately refuse to do.
I am wondering if this problem is widely known in Australia, and has there been any vehicle recall to address a problem like this.
I noted there are many similar experiences on the North American Motoring website here - most appear to be power steering related:
How can it be reasonable for any modern car built today that is parked, switched off, and otherwise unoccupied suddenly and spontaneously decide to electrically self destruct to the point where it can start a fire???
Due to the terrifying reality that our much loved MINI could have silently tried to kill us by burning the house down, we are now looking at whether to lodge a claim on our insurance, or just repair it and then trade it in.
Has any r53 MINI owner in Australia had something similar to this happen?
What was the cause of your smoke related incident?
What's been your experience dealing with BMW on this issue?
Would love to hear any constructive comments on what to do next.