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Mini Coolant Problem

Discussion in 'R50 Cooper (2001-2006), R52 convertible (2004-2008' started by rboonstra, Nov 8, 2010.

    rboonstra guest

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    My daughter has a 2006 Mini Cooper and has a recurring coolant problem. The car consumes coolant. The car has been to the dealer three times before today and now a 4th time today. The 1st time at 32,000 miles the dealer replaced the thermostat. The 2nd time at 38,000 the dealer did nothing! the 3rd time at 53,000 miles (out of warranty) the dealer recommended a new thermostat for $600 and a new cooling fan for $600. I replaced both myself. Now 2,000 miles later it still consumes coolant and today she had to visit the dealer and got the thermostat changed for $350. I'm concerned there may be a head gasket leaking and the coolant is being burned. Thought/help?
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    bcweir

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    If replacing the thermostat ONCE didn't fix the problem....

    ....then likely the thermostat is not the problem.

    Usually the symptom of a bad thermostat is frequent overheating. The only time a thermostat causes a leak is if there is damage to the thermostat itself, or more likely, a bad or improperly installed thermostat seal.

    Whatever got replaced before was obviously not the cause of the problem.

    Leaks can be very tricky to trace, but I seem to recall that one way of tracing leaks is to place a harmless blue dye in the cooling system and see where the blue dye emerges from.

    Do an internet search for leak detection dye. Make sure it's compatible with automotive cooling systems. You can probably purchase this from any auto parts store.
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    tiFreak

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    you can have the coolant system pressure tested, there's a tool that pumps the coolant system up with air to force coolant out of any available cracks, most shops should have one
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    Pyewacket1

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    I suspect your problem is a leaking temperature sending unit. The ones on this year range of MINI's is made of plastic components, and it isn't unusual for them to start leaking in the 30-35K mile range. My wife's 2005 MINI experienced the very same thing.... Extremely slow leak-down of coolant. I actually figured out what was happening by noticing small spots on the carport floor.

    My suggestion...Return to the dealer or a decent mechanic and have him examine the sending unit. It will be obvious if it is leaking. If so, have the dealer replace it, and tell him you expect him to cover the entire cost, as you already have had it in multiple times while under warranty for the very same issue.

    Then, find a new dealer for service. This isn't rocket science....
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    bcweir

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    Plus one on the "find a new dealer" tip

    +1

    This dealer either needs to fire their entire service department and start the hiring all over again, or just simply go into another business. I would have suggested making this dealership a showroom-only store, but think about it -- do you really want to buy a car from a dealership that doesn't know how to service them?

    I hate to sound hard-line, but IMHO, there's too many quality businesses that will offer you better service to bother with clueless places like this that are around simply to waste your time and money.

    I might also add that if your car is out of warranty, you can find a competent independent shop that will treat you fairly, and price their services both reasonably and honestly.

    Just a reminder -- a MINI is a BMW-manufactured product. So if the independent is familiar with BMW's, most likely they know MINI's also -- and should say so in their signage.

    Good luck!

    http://www.bimrs.org
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    jsunma

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    As a former MINI owner (2002 MCS), I know that coolant leaks are one of the (sadly many) problems these cars are prone to. Fortunately, there are a relatively small number of possible causes. One is the temp sending unit mentioned above. The other is the thermostat housing (which is plastic and can leak). Another is the expansion tank (this is a particular problem on earlier MINIs...I had mine replaced 3 times under warranty :( ). I'd agree that a pressure test with dye is really the best way to diagnose the problem.

    MINI dealers are notorious for over-priced lackluster (i.e., bad) service....so since your daughter's car is out of warranty, I'd suggest finding a good independent mechanic. As MINIs become more common, there are an increasing number of independent service options out there, depending on where you live.

    I'd also suggest hooking up with one of the MINI-specific forums. The one I like is North American Motoring.com. But there are several, so poke around and see. NAM is very very active.

    Here's a thread from over there that addresses coolant issues....

    http://www.northamericanmotoring.com/forums/coupe-talk-2002-2006/176753-coolant-problems.html

    Good luck!
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    onebadm

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    I've just encountered this same problem. In my 05 Cooper S the thermostat has been replaced a couple of times since I've had it (currently 54k miles) and also the water pump, now after the last thermo replacement I now have a blown head gasket. The unfortunate thing is that this all came to pass very quickly. The temperature gauge never even registered anything was getting hot and the car seemed to motor along smoothly till this morning. C'est la vie.

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