I drove my Mini Cooper through 4" of water

I did it on Saturday late afternoon right after a major storm.

Well, it didn’t seem that deep to me. I thought it would be fine. But the car stalled. And was not to start again.

Now guess what? I have to get a new engine!! I’m not making this up!

I think this is totally bogus. Yes, before I turned onto the street with that water I was splashed in a major way by an SUV barrelling by me. (They don’t slow down much.) But really, I don’t think water would have been sucked into the engine through the air intake, whatever that is. I wonder where it is? It should be on top, in my opinion. I should not be where water can splash up into it.

Anyway, this is supposedly going to cost $7743. This is after I found out that to save money on premiums we have a deductible of $1000. So when I called the car place again on Wednesday (car was towed there on Sunday, by Wednesday mid-day they still hadn’t looked at it) he mentioned insurance and I said, “Oh, we have $1000 deductible so I’m sure we won’t be dealing with insurance.” He said, “Oh yes you will, it’s going to cost a lot more than that. You’re going to need a new engine.” I said, “But I drove through some water, I was submerged in it.” They hadn’t even looked at it yet!

So today he calls and says sure enough I need a new engine. I still think this is bogus.

At least it’s high enough that the insurance claims adjuster will really check into it. I’m sure they don’t want to pay out $6700.

I’m really bummed, and also tired of people (mainly my husband and daughter) making fun of me, and tired of people telling me no way I need a new engine, but they don’t give me any suggestions about how to deal with it. I don’t know anything about cars.

I do know what street I’m never driving on again if it’s raining.

Also, maybe next time my husband wants a particular food and it’s raining, he can go get it. Or maybe I’ll drive the old car that needs replacing that has 212,000 miles on it. Could that car have been messed up? NO. That car will last a lot longer, I guess.

I’m doomed.

Well, that sucks. It really doesn’t seem like 4 inches of water should do that much damage to your engine. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you, that it will turn out to be something not so serious.

That’s a ton of money for a four banger. Any chance of rebuilding your engine or finding a salvage?

Then again, that’s what insurance is for. Rebuilding or replacing with a salvage is for us poor folk with beaters. You pay $1,000 either way, so go for the new engine.

A large 2003 Denali SUV is one of my vehicles and even with it’s substantial ground clearance it had a heart attack about 2 years ago after going through 9 inches of water at 30 MPH. The car slowed to crawl and all warning lights came on.

Turns out the engineering geniuses at GMC (and I kid you not on this) put the main engine air intake *just over the right wheel well * where splashed water from the street could get sucked right into the air filter. No damage occurred to the engine as the air filter stopped the water. This was (apparently) a known problem and after replacing the filter, they ordered a air duct re-routing kit that took them 4 hours to install. Thank God it was in warranty.

Hmm…I have a MINI too, but haven’t driven through significant water with it. Have you tried posting on a MINI specific forum, like North American Motoring and see if anyone else has had that problem? I know driving through deep water is not recommended, but I have seen pictures of people driving their MINIs through water.

Wait, wait, wait. Why would stalling out because of water in your intake require a new engine?


It’s not like you drove it into a lake, the spray from the water came into your air intake, through your air filter and finally into your intake system. MOISTURE prevented the engine from running.

What exactly is wrong with the engine?

I drove my old Dodge Omni through a deep puddle once. Really deep. The engine stopped, and a passing pickup towed me out. After some cranking, I got it started again, but it always seemed to idle a bit rough after that.

Several years later, the engine blew a head gasket and had to be rebuilt. The mechanic showed me what they found inside: One of the connecting rods was bent, and the piston didn’t come up as far in the cylinder as the others. He said he didn’t think it was a result of the blow head gasket, since the damage looked old.

There’s no doubt in my mind that my puddle excursion caused the bent rod. I slurped some water into the carburetor, it got into the cylinder, and since water doesn’t compress fer diddley, the water-filled cylinder bent that con rod… No wonder it idled a bit rough.

I never never never drive through puddles any more.

My guess is that you’ve got a whole bunch of bent connecting rods.

Hydrolock is pretty much as Rocketeer explained it. Water gets sucked into the air intake into the pistons. It doesn’t compress and random stuff in the engine breaks instead. It’s a very common result of driving through puddles, particularly with low-slung cars. I’ve known people who have had it happen to them.

$7K is a lot for an engine, though.

Will your insurance cover this? This seems like an avoidable circumstance, and the owners manual probably warns against driving through standing water. Wouldn’t this fall under negligence, or some other out for the insurance company?

when I was in high school I lived in a small town and for fun we used to go mud boggen. So bascially for those who dont know that is finding the wettest place you can, get your car and have at er.

Well my friend had a small car (I dont remember the make) and saw a really nice looking puddle, all of the other ones in the area had been big but not deep, so she gunned it and went in. We ended up renaming the puddle a pondle, it was half pond. At the point where her car died was about knee high. We pushed the car out and sure enough it wouldnt start.

After a few failed attempts at a rolling start we found someone who knew what he was doing and dont ask me how but he fixed it with a pair of socks.

She didnt have a problem after that

Damn, 4" isn’t much water.

I’m no car expert, but it seems to me that the Mini Cooper is low to the ground so it might be affected by a shallow puddle more than other cars. Also, how do we know that the puddle was uniformly four inches deep? I doubt that Lillith Fair measured it, and even if she had done so, there might have been a deeper part of the puddle.

This is from my MINI’s (A 2005 Cooper S) manual:
Do not drive through water on the
road if it is deeper than 1 ft / 30 cm,
and then only at walking speed at the
most. Otherwise, the vehicle’s engine, the
electrical systems and the transmission
may be damaged.

However, I did some searches and it seems like earlier standard Coopers (not the S models) did have lower air intakes and there have been reports of these engines being damaged from water in the intake. Tough luck. Maybe get a second opinion?

Well, yes, it’s really hard to say exactly how deep everything was. I’m really not sure.

Did I say that right after I drove through it the firemen blocked off the road? Really, two minutes later and I wouldn’t have been allowed on that road. But the damage may have been done before I turned. It was pretty deep there, too. I’m sunk.

Negligence! Oh geez! I can handle the $1000, but over $7000 is a big problem!

As for rebuilt engines, how many Mini-Cooper engines are lying around waiting to be rebuilt? Probably not many.

I’ll check the Cooper website.

Thanks for the ideas and suggestions.

It’s not just the depth of the puddle, but how much splash is kicked up when going through it at speed, You can easily kick up a 2 foot tall + spray underneath the car just going 10 miles an hour.

Well, it depends. If you only have liability insurance, you’re screwed, but you should be okay if you have comprehensive.

The fact that it was avoidable doesn’t have anything to do with it. All accidents are avoidable for at least one of the people involved. Unless you made a very stupid decision and went only with the legally required minimum insurance coverage, your company can’t say “But it was your fault!” and deny the claim.

What they can do is raise your rates, or pay the claim but cancel your policy at the next renewal period. But I doubt that will happen.

I used to work at a movie theatre in Norman OK and the street in front of the theatre flooded with even a modest rainfall. I’ve seen many cars stall out and get stuck there.

A FIRE ENGINE once got stalled out. It got through the water but apparently a good quantity of water went into the tail pipe and it stalled just after the pond. It sat there for over an hour trying to start.

No, no. You could have them rebuild YOUR engine. You wouldn’t need another one. Although at $7K, I would VERY seriously consider getting on the ohone with salvage yards all over the US. There is gonna be a Mini out there that got T-boned, or seriously rearended that has a decent engine. Even with shipping from thousands of miles away, a used engine is going to cost WAY less than what they’re trying to sell you.

Barring that, an engine rebuild of your existing engine, even with all new rods and pistons, is going to be less than $7K.

My personal next step would be to find out of a normal Cooper engine could be swapped out with a Cooper S engine. If you’re going to pay that much money, I’d get a better engine. If the supercharger is the only difference, it’s possible that an S engine and an ECU reflash might do the trick.

Regardless, I’d definitely get a second opinion. I’m sure your engine is toast, but there are a lot of other options besides spending $7K on a brand new one.

Lilith: I know Toronto and a good deal of Europe’s been dumped on recently by a wicked weather front that went through about last week–we’re still cleaning up–but I didn’t know Ohio got it, too. Was the rain that bad?

Does the owners manual for the Mini tell you to avoid water? I mean you should expect your car to run properly in a freaking rain storm.