CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Problems with 2009 Mini Cooper: Can I return it?

A few hours after I purchased a brand-new 2009 MINI Cooper ClubmanS, the high-pressure fuel-pump failed and needed to be replaced. Seven days later, that new pump failed. This time MINI replaced the pump, inlet pipe and pressure hose assembly. The next day there was a rattling/vibration noise coming from the dash on the driver?s side when accelerating, so I dropped it off with MINI again.



When I picked up the car, I was shocked - the dash was crooked and the headliner had been removed and reassembled but was scratched irreparably and badly stained with grease. The dome light was noticeably loose, the sunroof console was drooping, vanity mirror light wouldn?t turn off, sunroof lining was uneven, and there were huge gaps in areas around the doors and trunk. As of today, the car has been un-drivable/with MINI for repairs for 14 of the 22 days I?ve owned it.



My question is if it’s possible to get my money back (I bought the car from a dealer in Florida and live in Maryland). I’m getting mixed messages about Mini standing behind their brand and not wanting to go through lemon law, but then no real solutions.



If a refund isn’t possible, what do I have to do to get Mini to give me a replacement car? I’ve already spent hours on the phone with the dealer I bought it from, the one where it is being serviced now, and BMW/Mini Corporate. Thanks for any and all advice!

Check out the “Lemon Law” for the state you live in and the car is registered in. It sounds like a completely botched repair job that is totally unacceptable. I’m not sure if the is a mfg issue or an incompetent dealer service department.

Complain to the owner or highest manager you can at the dealer. Let the dealer know you are going to take this to the zone rep for mini. Dealer’s are “graded” on how the handle repairs and customers. In this case they have totally failed you. Several complaints like yours and I wonder if mini would pull his franchise.

You should check the lemon laws. However, I am not sure whether you would use the lemon laws in the state where you bought the car or where you live.

Lemon law information:

http://www.jdpower.com/cc/auto/bbb/lemon_law.jsp

http://www.lemonlawamerica.com/

BTW I doubt if you have a right, other than might be in your states lemon law to return it. Once it leaves the dealer parking lot, it is yours.

Thank you! From the research I’ve done on the Lemon Law, the car doesn’t qualify (yet). It needs to have the same problem/issue repaired 3 times and it has to have been in the shop for the same repair for more than a certain amount of days, but since MINI is saying the rattling/vibrating noise is not related to the fuel pump, I’m kinda stuck.

I’ve been getting mixed messages from different MINI/BMW people (Service Manager/BMW Customer Relations) as well - they basically say they want me to be happy, that they have had to replace cars before so it’s not out of the question, but then they come back with a final answer of something like “wait and see what goes wrong next, and then we’ll consider a replacement, but not at this time.”

Thanks for your help - it’s much appreciated!

The state I bought it in and the state I live in, where it’s being “fixed” now have pretty much the same regulations/requirements as far as number of times it needs to be in for service and for how many days. BMW/Mini says they don’t want to go through Lemon Law, so would replace the car before I went that route, but at this point I’m so soured about the whole thing that I don’t want any MINI.

Thank you so much for your help!

Thanks for the resources!

It appears that you are approximately half-way toward a Lemon Law settlement in either Florida or Maryland. In both states, if the vehicle is out of service for 30 days cumulatively, within a set period of time (typically 12-15 months), you qualify for a settlement. However, the terms of the settlement may or may not satisfy you.

In some states (my state, NJ comes to mind), the consumer has his choice between a comparable replacement vehicle or full refund–including things like registation fees. Other states only provide for a replacement vehicle. Since you no longer want a Mini (and, who could blame you with that number of early problems and sloppy repair attempts), I hope that your states’ statutues allow a full refund. You will have to slog through a lot of legal verbiage to see the exact details in those statutes.

This should be a lesson to anyone contemplating buying a car from an out of state dealer thinking they were “saving” a few bucks…It’s pretty obvious the dealer you dumped the repair work on is not too enthusiastic about doing it and his “factory trained mechanics” look more like a Jiffy Lube crew…

Thank you! I’m not looking forward to it and hope they settle it internally so I don’t have to get to the point of legal action, but I wanted to be prepared for whatever answer they come back with. Thanks for the great suggestion - I will track down whether I have legal right for full refund (and not just replacement), in both states just to be safe. Thank you!

Agreed! The money I saved by buying out of state was not worth this hassle. I would never do that again. We move a lot and needed a car at that time so didn’t have much flexibility, but you are so right! I would suggest to anyone buying a new car to buy it where you live/think you’ll be living for at least the first few months of owning the car. Thanks for your help!

I can tell you that the threat of an imminent Lemon Law claim resulted in Toyota finally resolving a problem with my friend’s '08 RAV-4.

My letter, liberally sprinkled with quotations from the Lemon Law statute and appropriate legalese, resulted in Toyota sending both their regional service rep AND a Japanese engineer to the dealership to diagnose and fix the vehicle. If you compose a similar letter, be sure to send it via Certified Mail to the address listed in your Owner’s Manual.

Once they know that you will press a Lemon Law case, most manufacturers will literally do almost anything to satisfy the customer. Settle for nothing less than replacing the stained headliner, and fixing all of the botched interior panels that they screwed up, in addition to any mechanical or electronic issues. In reality, it might actually be easier for them to replace the vehicle or to refund your money.

Persevere, and you should wind up being satisfied.

So helpful! can you write me a letter?! :slight_smile: Just kidding. Thank you so much for the excellent advice, examples and encouragement!

I’m not convinced the problem is the car so much as it is the dealer working on it.
To have a high pressure fuel pump fail on a new car would be extremely rare. To have it occur again (allegedly) a week later starts to shift things into the “dubious” category.

There are a number of reasons why a fuel pump may not work and it could be an intermittent problem that may crop up again in the future.
Let me throw this out there. It’s possible that the pump may never have been replaced and you were simply fed a line of BS. The car may have started up, ran fine, so they simply brushed it off.

If this pump was replaced under warranty then the Mini regional office should have a record of this. The sticky part here is that this was allegedly done twice (under warranty I assume) and I can tell you that there are going to be some serious questions asked of the dealer if they try to pull this twice.
Corporate is not in the habit of paying for repeated warranty claims of the same item.

If the regional office says they have no claims on this car then the dealer has obviously laid the BS on a bit thick and you should ask for copies of these submitted claims.

Just a question or two. This is a new '09 car from another state.
Was this car delivered to you brand new; and I mean as in only a few miles on it? (4 or 5 miles)
Or did this car have 50 miles, 100, etc?

Just trying to determine based on the body/interior problems if you may have gotten a rebuilder or one that was batted around by a hurricane or something.

Good points. So I bought the new '09 car with 7 miles on it from a MINI dealer in Florida, I drove it off the lot and then drove it up to Maryland, where it’s with a MINI dealer now. The records say the car was “born” in June.

I have service records from both pump replacements - the 1st time (in Fla) they just replaced the pump and the 2nd time (in MD) they replaced the pump/inlet pipe/assembly and the records state that the line was threaded poorly into the pump (poor workmanship from the 1st repair), all under warranty. Do you mean that I could have service records that are BS? Can they do that? How do I find out the contact info for the MINI regional office?

I finally got through to MINI Corporate last night and they said the Regional Engineer and Rep were test driving/inspecting the car this Monday but that the techs there couldn’t reproduce the rattling noise the entire week it was there. It only rattles when you accelerate (between about 20 and 50 and then especially between 60 and 70 mph), right before the engine starts making the “vroom” noise, and only after driving the car for 5 minutes or so, until it’s warmed up. Is there anyway that could still be related to the fuel pump?

Thanks so much!

Does the rattle sound like it is coming from the engine itself? Does it sound like marbles or ball bearings being shaken around inside a coffee can? If so, ypur engine is probably pinging - which may or may not be typical for the car.

Not really, no. It sounds more like a loose screw vibrating on top of plastic and it’s definetely coming from the dash.

Yes, I’d return it, but read the lemon-law for your state. But it sounds like your car would qualify. You didn’t mention who it was financed by, that makes a difference what is said. Also try calling the local TV stations, might make a good story, and dealers/car corporations try to avoid bad press.

Oh, and document everything. Service calls, and for what problems, and whether they were fixed, phone calls, to whom and when, and summing up what was said.

Helpful — thanks! I financed with BMW Bank. Will try newspapers and tv if the Regional Rep comes back today and says they won’t replace/refund. Thank you!