Engine Failure

In March, 2010, at 36,814 miles on my MINI’s odometer, I was driving southbound on I-91 just south of Hartford when I heard a loud thump and the engine “died” and would not restart.  The next morning MINI road assistance drove the car to New Country MINI.

According to New Country MINI there was a “Vacuum pump permanent failure”.  As documented on the engine repair Invoice (MINI 36.8K Vacuum Pump Engine Failure):

  • vacuum pump on camshaft frozen
  • exhaust camshaft sprocket bolt was broken off
  • a “couple” of bent valves were found when the head was removed
  • head was sent to machine shop for rebuild
  • engine was reassembled with new head gasket set, timing chain kit, sprocket and vacuum pump;

Except for an oil leak (traced to a leak coming from the rear main seal) that was found at 48,363 miles (March 31, 2011 – invoice here:  MINI 48.3K 3.31.2011 Seal Leak ), my MINI has performed satisfactorily since the engine failure/repair.

Now at 52, 784 miles (15,970 miles and about 16 months later) the engine has consumed it’s fourth quart of oil since it’s last oil change at 49,312 (3,472 miles divided by 4 quarts = one quart of oil per 868 miles).  There does not appear to be an oil leak around the engine bay or underneath the car (after sitting overnight and on occasion for several days), indicating an internal engine problem.

During this time I have made a particular effort to keep the oil “topped up”, also making sure not to exceed the last ring on the dipstick (i.e., perfectly filled – not more – not less). I started recording (on my iPhone notepad) the oil checks (I check at every gas fill-up, and now every morning that I drive the car) on May 27, 2011 – here is a copy of the notes:  Oil Consumption Log – Tim Bacon MINI 2007 MCS .

In addition to the notes, once I detected a problem with the engine I have also started to document the oil levels with my iPhone video (some, not all of them, are posted below and also to a YouTube Channel and Twitter account for easy access).

The YouTube Channel link is:  MCSEngine and the Twitter Account link is:  @mcsengine.

Earlier this week, I noticed that the “engine” icon was displaying briefly at start-up – and today (August 7, 2011) the car would not stop shuddering at start upon (see video below).  After three attempts to start the car, the “engine” icon came on and I turned off the car and have left it sitting at a parking meter outside of my house.

Since the high oil consumption (made particularly noticeable by two trips, one to Montreal (about 500-600 miles) and the other to Toronto (about 800-900 miles), the engine has also started to shudder at start up – culminating in the “turning off of the car” described in the above paragraph.  Similar high oil consumption and engine failure issues have been documented on the North American Motoring MINI Board – here is an example thread (there are many more).

The MINI invoice I received on March 11, 2010 states:  “the warranty on labor is 24 months or unlimited miles, whichever occurs first”.


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