Who's responsible? Mini with an international history

Feb 2006 Bought a brand new Mini Cooper S in Germany.

Dec 2007 Clutch got replaced under warranty

May 2009 Get a regular oil service, and ask them to check the clutch, since there was some noise and the clutch is “hard”. Problem #1: The service rep says I need a new clutch, and tried to blame it on my driving, (I’ve driven manuals all my life, learned to drive on one).

Problem #2. During the week after the service, I notice the fan continue running after parking the car. This happens a few times, and so I check the Antifreeze, and the reservoir is completely drained. I fill up the antifreeze and contact BMW/Mini HQ in Munich.

I don’t hear from them until August, after numerous emails and certified letter. A rep calls me and vaguely states that I should have it checked out, and that it has to be proven that it really is the dealers fault.

Sep 2009 I take it to a different dealer, who tells me everything is fine, there’s nothing wrong with it. I ask him for documentation, but he refuses saying that the don’t release workshop reports and that the check up was free.

Nov 2009 we relocate to the States so the Mini is on a boat for about 6 weeks.

Jan 2010 Backing out of an unfamiliar driveway, the Mini goes off the pavement and the underside scrapes on a curb. So we take it in to a dealer to have it checked out, also because it was dripping antifreeze. Dealer replaces Thermostat with gasket, and removed and replaced the T-stat and a rubber mounting.

My questions: 1. How does the thermostat relate to the undercarriage being scraped, or is this due to the pre-existing condition where the dealer drained, but didn’t replace the antifreeze?

2. What is the T-stat and mount, were these necessary to replace?

3. Did the dealer wait for me to pass the 50,000 mile mark to charge me for their mistake while logging my visits in their centralized database?

I appreciate any responses or help with these issues.

The first thing that comes to mind is that the warranty on a car purchased in Germany is likely not valid in the US if BMW/Mini uses a different corporate entity in the US. Most foreign car companies do this, and as a result, warranties on “foreign” cars bought in the US are backed by the importer (Honda of America, Subaru of America, etc.) rather than by the corporation in the home country.

Does BMW/Mini use this type of legal arrangement? I don’t know, but this is something for you to look into.
If they do use a different corporate entity, any remaining warranty coverage is likely void in the US.

Anyway, scraping the undercarriage of the car has nothing to do with failure or the replacement of the thermostat. This part, and its mounting, and its gasket, are found on the top side of the engine, so clearly there is no connection.

As to the life of a Mini’s clutch, I have to plead ignorance. However, you need to consider some possibilities. Even though you may be skilled in the proper use of the clutch, if the car was ever driven by a parking lot attendant or other person besides yourself, that brief exposure to an unskilled or malicious person could have caused excessive wear to the clutch. Trust me–I have seen people ruin a clutch within a very short space of time if they were abusing it or were not skilled in driving a manual shift.

It is possible that you were not treated well by either of those dealerships or by BMW/Mini Corporate in Germany, but nobody else can really comment on this accurately without knowing everything involved in the situation.

This must have been a U.S. model car, probably MADE in the U.S. or you would not have been able to import it…It’s a 2006 model, it’s YOURS, YOU are responsible for any repairs now. If you want to fight BMW, go for it, but your legal costs will exceed the value of your car…BMW and all the other manufacturers know that…

It may well have been made FOR the US market, but it was not made in the US.
As far as I know, all of these cars are made in the town of Cowley, Oxfordshire, UK.

Yes indeed, Cowley it is…

Thanks for the replies. The car is US specs, bought it through the military, and it was built in Oxford, UK.
I still think BMW/Mini is responsible, because the antifreeze was drained during regular service in the shop, and the symptoms ie. fan running were the result, upon which I contacted customer service. The service was done at ~45,000 miles, and now at just past 50,000 miles, 5000 miles later, it all of a sudden needs a thermostat? Sounds fishy to me. I don’t mind paying for stuff that’s my responsibility, or regular wear and tear…, but this just doesn’t seem right!

“I still think BMW/Mini is responsible, because the antifreeze was drained during regular service in the shop”

You may well be correct, but the problem will be proving this after the fact.
How would you prove that the shop drained the coolant and failed to refill it?

First let me offer my sincere thanks for your military service. It is appreciated more than you might realize.

I think you got poorly treated by the German shop. This is not the first time I’ve heard of this happening to service personnel.

The T-stat is the thermostat, the part that regulates the flow of coolant. My money says the cause of it failing is driving around with no coolant.

I have on doubt that BMW is responsible, but getting justice may not be possible, especially in this case where a shop on foreign soil was involved. If the car is now fixed, I’d suggest you just accept that sometimes the world is unfair and there’s just nothing we can do about it. Move past it and enjoy the Mini. Believe me, I too have had to do this on occasion. It’s difficult, but much more healthy than carryng the anger.

Sincere best.

Thank you for the encouragement. I think I’ll cut my losses. It is indeed a fun car to drive. Kudos.