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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
47,578 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 BMW Z4 steering problems

steering problem

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2004 BMW Z4 Owner Comments (Page 6 of 15)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #193

May 092013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles


The steering is very sticky and jolts left and right. I have found through some research to be a common problem among 2003-2005 BMW Z4 owners. It is not safe to be cruising down the highway jolting back and forth.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #192

Mar 152013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 51,500 miles
Steering has a rubbing and scraping noise when car is barely moving, such as in driveway or parking lot. At speed, steering becomes sticky and jerky. I just bought the car in March 2013 and it has 50,000 miles on it. Does not seem to be caused or affected by temperature. I am too concerned about this issue to let my wife or daughter drive the car. I have had the steering shaft lubricated, but that did not help anything.

- Fort Mill, SC, USA

problem #191

May 032013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 58,800 miles
Steering became somewhat unresponsive while driving at highway speeds. It was as it the steering wheel was sticking. Reducing speed did not seem to help, temp outside was 71 degrees and sunny. Checking web forums, this is a problem with this car. Bought this used approx 4 weeks ago, concerned that if steering continues to function this way, could cause an accident as you try to over compensate for sticking issue.

- Wallkill, NY, USA

problem #190

Aug 112010

Z4 6-cyl

  • 17,000 miles


While driving on the freeway, it became difficult to make small adjustments to the steering wheel. Once this abnormally high resistance was overcome, the intended adjustment would become excessive and require immediate correction. This correction would in turn be excessive, resulting in zigzagging while simply trying to maintain a straight line. Also, the steering wheel would remain in its rotated position upon release when exiting a turn, rather than naturally returning to center, thus requiring deliberate effort to bring the car straight again. This behavior is unnerving under ordinary conditions and could be quite dangerous, particularly in situations involving skids or emergency manoeuvers. Soon after the initiation of the 2010 NHTSA investigation into this issue, I brought the car to a local BMW dealer who claimed to know nothing about this prevalent issue and who was reportedly unable to replicate the issue. Since then I figured out it can replicated simply by setting the heater to full blast and leaving the windows rolled up for 20-30 minutes to allow the heat to soak into the electric-assist steering column: This issue occurs if the steering column gets warm by any means: Park in direct sun on a hot day, park in shade on a very hot day, run the heater on high for a while, etc. I took the car to a different BMW dealer on a moderate day in March 2013 and replicated it using the heater while their service foreman drove it; he was astonished by its perverse handling characteristics and immediately made the diagnosis: Faulty steering column requiring complete replacement. BMW North America has declined to cover any of the cost to resolve this factory defec because the 4yr/50K mi warranty is expired. My Z4 still has under 40,000 miles and it is abundantly clear that this issue is not caused by "wear and tear".

- Carlsbad, CA, USA

problem #189

Jul 282012

Z4 6-cyl

  • 29,500 miles
My 2004 BMW Z4 exhibits severe steering issues when driven during warm (=> 75 degrees) temperatures. Under these conditions the ability to steer the vehicle can become very unpredictable to downright dangerous. During the summer of 2012 and as recently as this week I've experienced incidents where the inability to effectively steer this vehicle has led to several 'close calls' which nearly resulted in a collision with other vehicle. While this is a known issue that plagues hundreds if not thousands of BMW Z4S produced in the early to mid 2000S, BMW has never issued a recall. It also appears the while the NHTSA has investigated this problem they ruled that a 'safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further use of Agency resources does not appear to be warranted'. how can this be"! how can a manufacturer assume no responsibility for vehicles with a potentially life-threatening issue? has there ever been a more applicable case for a recall?! further, how can the NHTSA, an organization that's supposed to be 'dedicated to achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety' permit this to happen" this very well-known defect has rendered my Z4 unsafe to drive and I feel it's BMW's responsibility to correct the problem so that it no longer exists. I would also urge the NHTSA to reexamine this potentially life threatening issue based on the number of vehicles (and drivers) if effects.

- Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #188

Apr 052011

Z4 6-cyl

  • 49,500 miles
Loss of electrical assisted steering/steering wheel very sluggish.

- Tulare, CA, USA

problem #187

Aug 012012

Z4 6-cyl

  • 27,000 miles


At high ambient temperatures the steering sticks. It sometimes is just a distraction, when it is at its worse I believe it is dangerous, not so much on wide open roads, but very much so on narrow roads. When it is at it's worse the car may dart as much as two feet.

- Evanston, IN, USA

problem #186

Feb 252013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 66,450 miles
Steering wheel / response feels "sticky and notchy" when steering column is hot. Have to fight steering wheel when traveling at high speeds. Does not happen in cooler temps. I have read that this is an internal bearing issue with the steering column. Dangerous!

- Redwood City, CA, USA

problem #185

Jan 252013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 44,000 miles
Bought used 2004 BMW Z4 in Aug 2012, steering seemed fine, it had 39K miles on it. Now at 44K miles the steering has become notchy, wobbly feeling and the car darts around. Had alignment done in Jan 2013 but still a problem. Looking at the number of complaints filed already, I am not alone. I would be happy to pay out a small amount to fix this but it seems to be a 3K-4K fix from what I've read. BMW needs to recall or else come up with a fix that doesn't involve replacing the whole steering column. What do you say BMW?

- Bothell, WA, USA

problem #184

Feb 062006

Z4 6-cyl

  • 2,000 miles
Sticky steering problem, this was replaced in 2006 under warranty by BMW, at about 2000 miles. Now Feb,2013 I have the same problem. I have less than 12000 miles on vehicle. I feel this is unsafe because it will cause you to jerk the wheel think you need to steer hard.

- Osceola, IN, USA

problem #183

Jun 142012

Z4 6-cyl

  • 76,000 miles


The steering wheel gets stuck while driving and car doesn't stay in lane infact needs constant significant adjustments to keep it from accidentally getting into another lane. The issue has occurred multiple times and was an inconvenience so I didn't pay a lot of attention but it's more like a safety issue now with controlling the car becoming more and more difficult on freeways. NHTSA has identified this issue PE10020 as not significant and I sincerely hope they investigate it further and take some serious action before it causes irreparable loss. BMW needs to own up to a manufacturing defect as its not wear and tear and fix this.

- Foster City, CA, USA

problem #182

Nov 222012


  • 78,000 miles
While driving the steering light comes on and the steering locks in place. When U try to force it the car stalls out and the steering stays locked.. extremely dangerous!!!

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #181

Nov 142012

Z4 6-cyl

  • 49,125 miles
For some time my BMW Z4 2004 has been having a "notchy" feel to the steering. Today it came to a head as the steering completely locked on me. I was 2 blocks from home after just exiting a main high way I drive every day to and from work. I am so lucky I was already off the main road or a major accident would have happend. No steering, completely locked. I have done many internet searches and aparently I'm one of many that have had this issue. Fix the issue BMW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Watertown , SD, USA

problem #180

Nov 122012

Z4 6-cyl

  • 79,946 miles
I recently bought this car and the dealer talked about a steering issue with the Z4 models where they don't feel like the steering will center. I didn't have a chance to put miles on the car until today where I found out what he was talking about and had time to research it. This is a very well known issue and it looks like you have investigated it previously but it still is a very real problem and makes the car unsafe to drive. While driving after the car is warmed up the steering will feel as though it sticks as you try to drive a straight line. At around 40+mph the car will pull right or left with the steering nearly impossible to adjust to center. You can have the car pulling to one side, say traveling at 60mph, it will pull you to the right at a rate of 2 feet for every second. You have to nudge the steering wheel as it is not fluid (feels like it is stuck) back to the left and then it will pull left at the same rate. It is a battle of constant adjustment to fight in trying to center the car. If you have traffic around you it could be an accident waiting to happen. I request that this issue is re-opened as a safety recall. I have reviewed the information you received from BMW regarding steering warranty claims and with just over 12,000 BMW Z4's produced and nearly 10% (1,1xx) of them having a filed claim regarding steering issues, one would see that this is a major flaw. Warranty work is not always requested, thus why there are still more on the street that need high cost repairs and causing unsafe driving conditions for the driver/passenger as well as surrounding vehicles.

- Morehead City, NC, USA

problem #179

Apr 042011

Z4 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW Z4. The contact stated that the steering wheel seized without warning. The contact had to wiggle the steering wheel back and forth in order to correct the failure. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and was advised that the steering power assist for the steering needed to be replaced. The failure mileage was 20,000 and the current mileage was 31,000. Updated 12/11/12 updated 12/12/12

- Chattanoga, TN, USA

problem #178

Oct 132012


  • 59,990 miles
While driving at normal speed the steering became sticky and made it difficult to maintain control of the car. Minor steering adjustments are near impossible without jerking the car from side to side. This car is extremely unsafe to drive with this condition.

- Brownsburg, IN, USA

problem #177

Jul 122010

Z4 6-cyl

  • 39,000 miles
I have a 2004 Z4 that I purchased last August used. I rarely drove the car and kept it mainly for leisure until this past July. This July, on the drive from warner robins, ga to hilton head, SC, I noticed the steering would stick and I had to use force to get it back aligned with the road. Since that time each day when I leave work after the car has been parked all day in the heat it does the same thing. Its almost as if the car is tracking. Normally my speed does not exceed 40 mph. I have had the tires checked, they are new run flat tires, no problem, I have had it aligned and I am still having problems with steering when temperatures exceed 85 degrees. It does not do this in the morning when the temperature is below 80. It is sometimes so hard to steer that it creates a hazard as I have to fight to correct and than it pulls radically to the right to overcorrect. This has at times put me in a very hazardous and dangerous condition with traffic.

- Warner Robins , GA, USA

problem #176

Jul 312006

Z4 6-cyl

  • 3,700 miles
I bought this car brand new. It currently has only 39K miles on it right now (2012) so one can easily see that I drive the car only for leisure/pleasure. I live in upstate NY so can only drive the car seasonally. I initially thought the sticking/notching was due to the poor run-flat tires (which always seemed to set off the dashboard sensor that there was not enough air in them and then perhaps an alignment issue. This is my first BMW, so I thought that it might be attributed to being more difficult to control (even at lower speeds like 35-40mph) because it was a performance car. I complained to the dealer but they claimed they had "never heard of such a problem, " and it "wasn't happening" for them. So yet another year would pass and the car would be stored for the winter. With such limited time to drive the car, I overlooked the "notching" of the steering.... until this year when there were no more possible excuses! I replaced all 4 run flat tires with all-season radials, had the car completely aligned, convinced that this would solve my problem. I was very wrong! I was and am shocked that BMW would allow 14+ pages of complaints dating back to 2005 without doing a recall on this matter!! does a life or lives have to be destroyed due to something catastrophic happening with the steering before BMW takes action? this is the supposed "ultimate driving machine" that I dreamed of having for decades. I'm outraged to learn that the prestigious BMW company does not seem to care much about its customers safety and well being. I would like to be contacted by NHTSA as well as BMW and will continue to pursue this matter until I and all of us that are experiencing these problems are given the recall and resolution to the mechanical problem that we deserve.

- Webster, NY, USA

problem #175

Oct 262011

Z4 6-cyl

  • 42,000 miles
Ever since I bought my 04 BMW Z4 at 42,000 miles the steering I notchy, and sticky took back to dealer and they dont admit there is a problem. Have looked up on internet and it seems to be a common well known problem with the car.

- Morristown , TN, USA

problem #174

Sep 012012

Z4 6-cyl

  • 62,375 miles
As I backed out of parking space, power assisted steering failed. I managed to drive vehicle with much increased steering effort. It is doubtful that my wife could have managed to drive. Vehicle was towed to dealer where the steering column is being replaced.

- Orange Beach, AL, USA

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