I drove my Mini Cooper through 4" of water

I don’t get why everyone is so surprised. Cars aren’t meant to drive through standing water. The suspected depth is not an issue, since any water you can’t measure should be assumed to be too deep for your vehicle (Jeeps with snorkels aside).

It wasn’t a spray that Lillith encountered. It was certainly more akin to sticking the end of a Shop-Vac hose in a bucket of water. Except Shop-Vacs are meant to handle water ingestion. Internal combustion engines aren’t.

It wasn’t the fact that water is wet that killed the engine. It’s that water is incompressible. You could submerge the intake in motor oil or gasoline–things normally found in the engine–and the same thing would have happened. (Although the gasoline might cause other, secondary, issues.)

Some cars lend themselves to this kind of damage through their very design. Ten years ago, I had an older (mid-80s) Audi with a very poor intake location. The end of the hose was at axle level right behind the bumper. My dad (an Audi mechanic), cautioned me to avoid deep (and not-so-deep) water befcause he had seen quite a few 4000’s get hydrolocked. The OP’s Mini appears to share this very same design flaw.

Cars are often a lot tougher than people give them credit for. Cars are also sometimes a lot more fragile than people give them credit for. The problem is that the average driver usually doesn’t realize which is likely to be the case at the moment.

I am sorry for your car troubles.

Is there any way you can have the car towed to another garage for a second opinion? 7K sounds really steep to me.

Get an opinion from a second mechanic.:dubious:

There are some very…dubious… people in the auto repair business.

And being a dealer doesn’t rule that possibility out, either.

Are you sure you have a real mini cooper and not one of those counterfeits with an inferior performance?

Seriously though, my friend drove his dad’s car into a retention basin in someone’s backyard about a month or two ago. I know the feeling of having your car messed up, but just be thankful that you weren’t hurt and that you have insurance to cover your losses (for the most part).

Also, 7k does seem like a lot of an engine.

I don’t know enough to say whether the $7K is reasonable in the OP’s case. But I do know enough not to be surprised at that figure.

Keep in mind that this is a BMW we’re talking about. And modern, sohpisticated European engines can be quite expensive, even if they’re “just a four-banger.” Labor for an engine install can be devastating to your wallet, too. Just 20 hours of shop labor is going to cost you well over $1000 anywhere. I don’t know how much might be required for the MINI, but you can count on at least that 20 hours.

The world of foreign cars is full of stories of $12K transmissions, $2K headlight assemblies, and $500 rearview mirrors. So the $7K figure isn’t surprising at all to me. Cars can be expensive…especially European ones. Getting a new engine swapped into your Chevy Cavalier might cost less than half as much…but there are some obvious differences there.

Okay, I’ll share my British car vs. water story.

I drove my '66 MGB to the drive-in movies once, in the desert after a rain. There was a puddle of water just a few (three or four) inches deep. I drove slowly through it and the car stalled. The MGB had a low-mounted distributor, and the water splashed up onto it. It was find after I took the distributor cap off and wiped the water out of it.

But I never drove through another puddle.

Other (M 3) BMW enginescost 15K-18K to replace after water damage. 7K doesn’t sound all that much out of line if this car is in the BMW family.

You definitely have my sympathy. A unplanned $1000 bill is certainly a huge bummer. My only car-vs-puddle experience occurred years ago, when I was driving an '87 Chevy Nova. I was driving on the Michigan State University campus after a heavy rain, and I came upon a big puddle. I foolishly tried to drive through it, and sure enough the car stalled. Fortunately, the guy behind me was driving a full-sized sedan (something like a Ford Crown Victoria) and he pushed me out. After a bit of cranking, the car started fine, and I was only my way. I don’t think I caused any damage to the car, but I’ve avoided big puddles since then.

It’s always a good idea to avoid standing water if you can, you never know what the road’s like underneath! I drove through a small puddle once that turned out to be hiding a pothole. Fortunately, I was making a turn at the time so I wasn’t going very fast.

What you may not realize about Mini Coopers is—there aren’t very many dealers. The repairs are done there or across the street at the BMW dealer, as Mini Cooper is owned by BMW. The nearest other dealers are in Pittsburgh and Columbus–I’m in Cleveland. You can’t even take Mini Coopers to other BMW repair shops at this point. When we bought it they told us that in about three years other BMW places would be doing repairs. I don’t think that is happening yet.

I supposed I could take it to a foreign car mechanic, but wouldn’t the warranty be voided if I took it somewhere else?

Also, I’d have to have it towed.

Since I’m paying $1000, no matter what, I guess it’s really up to the insurance company what happens next.

I called them back to reiterate that I don’t think I need a new engine, but what do I know? Nothing about engines.

But now I know what a rebuilt engine is!

I’m wondering–maybe the high cost quoted included everything–engine, labor, etc., and any other problems. For instance, when I was watching the car being loaded onto the tow truck, I could see that the brakes were rusty.

The car is just under 2.5 years old. I bought the full warranty.

One friend told me something about the re-sale value being horrible now because of the engine thing, but I have no intention of selling it. I love my Mini Cooper and I’m keeping it until who knows when.

Where Lillith was driving last week was just two blocks from where I was, and that area got about 5.5 inches of rain in about an hour. I drove through a ton of deep water that afternoon, and when I got to work at the mall at 6 pm, the lower level of the parking lot and the entire lower floor of the Kaufmann’s department store was flooded. I got pictures of the thirty or so cars that were submerged. The storm sewers just couldn’t handle that much rain that fast.

I feel so bad about your car! I think I love that car almost as much as you do! Maybe I’ll have to shelve my dream of getting my own, blue Mini someday…my Sable had no problem with the water I had to go through, but then I wasn’t trying to get to Chipotle! But at least the interior didn’t get flooded.

In fact, it just stopped raining again after two torrential downpours today. And of course I had left the umbrella in the car, so I’m going to get out of these wet clothes and get some sleep.

Brake rotors will always look rusty if they’ve been within half a mile of water recently. They’re bare metal, and always being scrubbed to a fresh, oxide-free surface when the car is moving. But, when you aren’t applying the brakes, the shiny metal has an opportunity to rust. Even in a dry environment, rotors will get a coating of rust on them after a short while. But when they get wet, they’ll often rust over in a matter of minutes. It’s actually amazing how fast they’ll turn orange.

In fact, you should notice this every time you wash your car. That is assuming you wash it in a place where you don’t move it before you notice. If you use the drive-thru, you won’t have a chance to see it, since the rotors will be clean by the time you get home. They’ll be clean at the first stop sign, in fact. But if you use the drive-thru, shame on you!

Anyway, the rust is scrubbed off within a split second of applying the brakes the next time. By the time the rotor makes a couple revolutions, the brake pads have polished the rotors back to a clean, shiny surface.

The short story: rusty rotors are 100% normal. Every car does it every time the brakes get wet (ceramic rotors excluded). It’s a complete non-issue. It’s just something you haven’t noticed before.

I think what you may have experienced is backflow through your tailpipe. When driving through a large puddle of water, one should try to avoid letting up off the gas. The engine can actually suck water back up through the tailpipe and into the engine, directly into the cylinders via the exhaust valves. This doesn’t happen very often, usually the water stops in the muffler or tailpipe, but occasionally the water goes all the way in. Once water is in your engine block, you’re screwed.

7k does sound pretty high for a four cylinder engine though.

I don’t know where to start…except to say that you must be trying to whoosh us.

There’s a lot of pipe between the rear bumper and the exhaust manifold, and it would take quite a whilte to suck water all the way up that length. That’s completely ignoring the fact that the pressure in the exhaust is almost never going to drop below ambient, and certainly not for a sunstantial period. Unless your car has spectacularly screwed up valve timing (and is therefore not running), it’s not going to suck anything up the tailpipe.

Why do you find it so hard to believe that water might make it through the intake? It’s a considerably shorter length than the exhaust, and is a part of the flowpath that is nearly always at a significant vacuum. Do you think the intake can’t possibly be that low? On a lot of cars (some Minis appear to qualify) the intake is certainly low enough to ingest not-so-deep water.

Many independent car mechanics do service Minis, now. Especially those that specialize in European cars. Your warranty won’t be void - it is illegal for a manufacturer to void the warranty because you went to an independent shop, unless they can prove that the shop did something wrong.

However, depending on how your insurance wants to pay, you might not have a choice. I’m sure they’ll decide where they want the car going.

If anything, I think the car’s resale value will increase. The two things that really kill resale value are paintwork and severe accidents. All that’s happening to your car is the engine being replaced, and any buyer with an ounce of common sense will consider that a good thing. Especially if you get a brand-new one, and not a rebuild.

I have a flood story too, as long as we’re telling them.

I had a “cute” Datsun (that’s Nissan to you) 4-door 510 wagon. Heavy rains had ended, but there was flooding, as I was on my way to work. The back-road street leading to my work’s parking garage was flooded - it was a somewhat residentialish area (no culverts or ditches) so I decided to chance it.

Though the water was basically standing - not moving with any appreciable speed, it was much, much deeper than it looked, and I found myself stalled out. My feet were getting wet - water was seeping in the door seals. The level of the water was high enough so that if I stretched my left arm horizontally straight out the window I could have wiggled my fingers in the water.

Nowadays, in manual transmission cars you can’t crank the starter without depressing the clutch. But you could in this Datsun. I put it in 1[sup]st[/sup] and cranked out of the water. Got it to a parking place and went in to work.

When I left work, it started right up. No apparent damage, other than musty carpeting.

I truly appreciate this thread. With all the standing water left over from Hurricane Katrina, I haven’t thought twice about splashing through puddles. Now I know why everybody seems so bent on avoiding them. Until now I just thought people were being wussies.

Learn sumpin’ new every day!

A human can drown in 2" of water and IMO that is an apt analogy.

Last month we sat in a restaurant though a thunderstorm in Phoenix. After 30 minutes the water was at least ten inches deep in the parking lot. It wasn’t an enormous amount of rain by normal standards but Phoenix is so flat that water has nowhere to drain downhill. Some of the central phoenix streets have water at least that deep. Times like that I’m glad we both drive trucks with high clearance.

Don’t know where you got this, but it is 100% incorrect. When parked in a puddle the exhaust will blow bubbles, the intake will suck up water, jus like a straw.
From my automotive experience I can tell you this. You cannot tell the depth of a puddle from the top.
7K is not out of line for a new engine with labor. I have seen engine replacements run out at over 10K, for other European cars. As far as rebuilding goes, it is going to cost the OP $1,000 no matter what the final cost is. For $1,000 would you rather have
A) junkyard engine of unknown history (may take time to ship)
B) A rebuilt engine (additonal time requried to rebuild)
C) A new factory engine with a full factory warrenty?
Me, I will take door C.

I love when people do my reiteration for me. :slight_smile: