Mini is recalling more than 97,000 cars to address a potential fire risk. The recall covers the 2008-2014 Mini Clubman (including Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works models) and the 2007-2013 Mini Hardtop 2 Door (again encompassing Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works variants). In both models, a control module beneath the driver-side A-pillar is susceptible to water intrusion under certain circumstances. If the electronics inside are exposed to water, a short circuit may occur, which Mini says could lead to a “thermal event” — engineer speak for “fire.”
While Mini says there are multiple circumstances under which the module can become compromised, the recall is currently limited to models sold in climates where the use of road salt is prevalent. In this environment, road salt entering the cabin via normal means (read: your boots) can accelerate corrosion if water is getting into the cabin. How might that happen? Mini says a common culprit is its own sunroof drain. Here’s the full explanation, lifted directly from Mini’s defect report:
This safety recall involves the Footwell Control Module (FRM), an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) which controls various lighting and power window functions, and is installed near the bottom of the driver’s side A-pillar behind an interior trim panel. Due to several contributing factors (environmental, certain US States’ wintertime road treatment, vehicle design configuration and age), over time, the FRM could become susceptible to corrosion.
For vehicles equipped with a sunroof, after a multi-year period involving large temperature changes, multiple freeze/thaw cycles can cause the vehicle’s sunroof drain hose to become damaged, loosen and eventually detach from the drain pipe within the A-pillar, which could allow water to enter the vehicle interior. In certain US states, large amounts of road salt may be utilized during their wintertime road treatment activities. If water were to enter the interior, then in combination with road salt that may be present in the footwell, this could create an electrolyte solution. If this solution were to contact the FRM then, over time, this could lead to corrosion, possibly resulting in a short circuit. In rare cases, this could lead to a thermal event.
Since salt is a potentially serious contributor to the issue, Mini is focusing this recall on vehicles sold, or ever registered, in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C., and Wisconsin.
A fix is currently in the works. Mini will begin sending recall notices to customers by early July.