BMW named in class action lawsuit over defective timing chain tensioners in Mini Cooper vehicles

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The class action complaint is brought against BMW and pertains to the following Mini Cooper vehicles: 2007 through 2010 Hardtop (R56), 2008 through 2010 Clubman (R55), and 2009 through 2010 Convertible (R57) (collectively, the “Defective Vehicles”). The Defective Vehicles have a defect within their timing chain tensioners that cost, at minimum, hundreds of dollars to fix and that can cause extensive engine damage (the “Defect”).

As alleged, the Mini Cooper is a distinctive vehicle containing the Price engine. Unlike most engines made for the consumer market, the Prince engine uses a metal timing chain rather than a “belt” made of composite materials. When the Prince engine was first introduced in 2004, Defendant touted the timing chain’s durability compared to a timing belt, and indicated that the timing chain would remain maintenance-free throughout the full running life of the engine. One of the features of the Prince engine Defendant has promoted is that the timing chain and tensioner are located inside the engine block. However, actual road use has shown a significant drawback to this design: if the chain fails, damage to the engine can be catastrophic.

According to Defendant’s warranties and maintenance program, the chain and tensioner do not require service, and the on-board computer does not monitor chain condition. Accordingly, problems with the timing chain tensioner can easily go unnoticed and cause serious damage to the vehicle.  A defective timing chain can cause damage to the engine and present serious safety concerns. When a chain tensioner fails, the vehicle will lose all power, even while it is in motion.

As further alleged, despite numerous customer complaints related to the Defect, including catastrophic engine failure, Defendant has systematically denied the existence of the Defect, and thus refused to honor any applicable warranties. As a consequence, Defendant has failed to reimburse vehicle owners for the costs they incur resulting from damages related to the failures of the timing chain tensioner, and/or refuses to provide repairs free of charge.