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Seat Heater Fire

11730 Views 32 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  MiniLoverSinceBoyhood
My 8-year old daughter and I were in my 2004 MCS tonight when she switched her passenger seat heater on that within 20 seconds had burned a hole through the front of the silver cloth seat back. She wanted out of the car immediate and, when curbside, would not get back in for about 5 minutes. Is there a recall I’m unaware of? How much is this going to cost me? The car is 5000 miles out of the warranty.
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:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek: I think you will get this one sorted as a freebie!!!
I would complain until it was resolved by the dealer.
I'm sure that Mini will not want this going too public, I'd be surprised if you don't get it fixed free of charge and a few sweeteners added for goodwill.

Just go in firmly but fairly - and let the rest of us know how you are treated.
whats the weather like over there? if its hot then switching on a heated seat could cause it to do that...

good luck with getting it fixed :)
That happened to me but in a Mk4 Golf it burnt through my trousers too!!! It was a customers car as well and it was out of warranty but VW replaced the seat cover under goodwill gesture!!!
Your pants got burnt as well! That’s just not right. Most folks know that component failure/defects either limit performance or render the thing inoperative. Who would opt for seat heaters if it was reasonable to expect their failure resulted in ignition of interior finishes? I now have a self-destruct button (identified by a back-lit seat icon) ready to blister my passenger and, ultimately cook my Mini. I hope you weren’t burned. My car goes in tomorrow.
Update: Went to the dealer and shared the above which culminated in a hand-off of the service writer’s business card with 1-800- ASK MINI scrawled on the back, “Give them a call…it’s out of warrantee so corporate Mini is the one to call.” “Am I going to be shuffled around an automated service or speak to someone when I call?” “You will get an agent who will respond immediately either way regarding this. We get calls the same day from corporate for authorized out-of-warrantee repairs, that’s how quick they can respond”. “Oh, ever seen this before?” “No, never, that’s weird.” So I call from the dealership parking lot and….he’s right. ASK MINI opened an investigation and asked several times, “Was your daughter injured?” They wanted a detailed description of exactly what happened and we went over it a number of times. They said I should hear from the dealer in 48-hours so I can drop off the car and have it checked. The agent stressed their concern for safety issues and that they would want to know about this regardless how many miles were on the car. More to follow.
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Got a call from corporate Mini today confirming out-of-warrantee repairs for the front passenger seat are to be scheduled at my local dealer in the next few days. They’ve Faxed a disclaimer (which outlines repairs are covered by MINI) for any further liability from this specific incident of the seat heater's failure and once I notarized and FAX it back the appointment will follow. That works for me.
Great result. :) Thanks for letting us know.
The Plot Thickens

I left the car at the dealer this morning for a full seat heater diagnostic and finally spoke to the Service Rep at around 5:00 (I had old contact numbers on my customer profile so they couldn’t reach me). The Rep tells me that there isn't a heating element in the seat back…just the seat bottom, so you see, it can’t be the heater, $700.00 and they’ll fix it right up. Let’s pause a moment here and soak that in. Now, he says “It was burned from the outside, looks like a cigarette.” Imagine my horror in discovering my 8-year old daughter smokes! “Stop, just stop,” I say, I saw it burn from within the seat, it does have seat back heaters and I referenced the repair manual on that fact. Come to find out…the service technician never looked at the car, merely stated that “older models only have seat bottom heaters”, and so my February, 2004 build-date car sat all day without anything so much as a passing glance. What does it take for a dealer to be an advocate for customers? Corporate said no such thing about older models lacking seat back heaters, okayed a seat repair and now the dealer is playing defense? No one looked at the car? At 6:00pm I arrived to show the Service Rep the manual and before I say a word he blurts out that the seat will be dismantled tomorrow because I was so adamant. “Yeah,” he says, “the manual is confusing, it says the drivers side has a seat back heater, nothing about the passenger.” Right, I said, the right side is the drivers side nearly every where else and is wired identical to the left side.” I've got to call corporate tomorrow.
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You may be interested in this below from the MINI Technical faults Help section on the BBA-Reman website.............

Front seat heating too high or low.

Cars involved:
All vehicles having heated seats and liner (12/2001-03/2004), without liner (12/2001-12/2003).

The resistance of the seat heating element is too high or too low.

Attach adapter harness (part no:, hot and without liner or part no:, cold and with liner) with the seat harness already present and fasten harness to the seat frame using cable tie.

Mini Technical Help
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whats the weather like over there? if its hot then switching on a heated seat could cause it to do that...
??? Wow, I must have missed the part in the manual where it said "using the heated seats in temps above x degrees may result in a fire"!! Hope I don't ever drive my MINI on a day that's too hot, will it explode in flames too???

Come to find out…the service technician never looked at the car, merely stated that “older models only have seat bottom heaters”, and so my February, 2004 build-date car sat all day without anything so much as a passing glance.
Isn't it a wonderful thing when supposed "technical or product experts" don't actually know as much as they pretend to or indeed are too lazy to do the research..........good thing you were on the ball, but what about the less car savvy customer who would have not known any better in a similar situation.......:angry:

Sounds like MINI corporate have been good on this and rightly so to be honest - please keep us informed on the outcome of this and good luck with the service dept.
whats the weather like over there? if its hot then switching on a heated seat could cause it to do that...

good luck with getting it fixed :)
curious about this too ... i mean, it gets up to 40* here ... and if it catches fire if accidentally switched on at that temp :confused: :p

somehow, i think if it can handle butt heat from a person, it can handle temps like you'd find in the colonies, though ...
Thanks for all the posts. BTW, the outside temp was like 60-65F when this all started. Called corporate Mini this morning and relayed my last post. By 9:00am this morning the dealer called to say…they found a seat heater in the seat back of the passenger seat! Imagine that…an actual seat heating element where one was suspected, is referred to in the repair manual and wiring diagrams along with past sensory detection by my wife. Oh, to know that I’m not dreaming of a phantom heater that lit up the fabric, to now know it really did happen! Big thanks to the dealer for finally diagnosing the problem in about 45-minutes even though the car was ignored the previous day when it arrived for a look-see. “We just don’t see west coast cars with seat heaters in the passenger seat back, but when you said you bought this car as a demo that had been shipped from back east, that got us thinking.” Well, I also said my seat caught fire and that didn’t motivate an inspection, but because I mention the car is from back east, NOW you look into it? So I’ve stumbled across the golden phrase…power steering pump, transmission, yo-yoing, rattles, windshield trim, etc…remember to say the car came from back east. Parts will be here in 2 weeks.
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ooof! sounds like corporate gave them a talking-to and the dealer's just trying to save face. :p

hopefully their ability to refit the new part is better than their diagnostic skills. :)

Well, it’s done. Although it took awhile for the parts to arrive, the damaged seat has been repaired. I called yesterday to see if the parts were in…they were, I drove down and had it done in 2 hours. The fabric is a slightly puckered at the shoulder area of the seat, but that may be due to grippy fabric yet to settle on the padding. So in review: posted a comment at this site, had Corporate Mini respond to me from this site, had a disagreement with the dealer rep if passenger seat backs had heaters followed by them actually looking at the car to verify it does and waiting 2 months to have it repaired outside of the warranty period for free. “Thank you” to BMW/Mini and all who posted here…this site is indispensible!
Glad you got sorted but that's outrageous that it took so long to be dealt with! Is your daughter ok to go in the car now?!
Thanks for asking...she has no problem now, but if you ever what to see how fast a child can hustle out of a car, let them see a flame pop out of the seat just over their shoulder to get an idea.
Scary stuff! Sounds like a huge amount of uncompensated hassle for a manufacturing fault that could have seriously injured a child. :( Not Good....
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