A potentially faulty electric pump, which circulates coolant to the turbocharger after the engine is stopped, is behind a worldwide recall of 235,535 BMW Mini models. Seven versions from the 2007 to 2011 model years, including Cooper S and John Cooper Works variants, are being called back to receive a replacement pump.

BMW GB corporate communications manager Wieland Bruch told just-auto there was an "electrical issue" which could result in pump failure, some smouldering of electrical parts and, in a worse case scenario, an engine fire. Letters will start going out to UK owners in the next few weeks; dealers will install a replacement pump free of charge.

Bruch said the recall included 29,000 cars in the the UK, where the Mini is made, and 22,000 in Germany.

The Los Angeles Times reported that almost 89,000 cars are affected in the US.

The paper said the US recall came about three months after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a defects investigation, citing 12 reports of fires in Mini vehicles.

Five of the fires reportedly destroyed the cars, according to an NHTSA document. BMW's US unit said it was unaware of any injuries or accidents caused by pump malfunctions.

BMW US spokeswoman Nathalie Bauters told the paper BMW would notify Mini owners by mail in February.

BMW US, in a letter to NHTSA, has said the pump's electronic circuit board can malfunction because of "certain design features" and in some cases overheat.

This can lead to the "smoldering of the water pump," BMW said. "It cannot be excluded that this may also lead to an engine compartment or vehicle fire."