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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
5 / 28
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
80,215 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.

2003 Mini Cooper steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Mini Cooper Owner Comments (Page 12 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #24

Feb 072009


  • 65,000 miles


Failure of 2003 MINIcooper manual transmission. My car has been under regular maintenance. I first noticed the car losing power going uphill, then it became difficult to put the car in gear. Next morning I was unable to get into reverse, was extremely difficult to shift and some gears could not be engaged. At a stop light I began hearing a very loud grinding noise, like metal in a blender, the car would not engage in gear, I had to be pushed out of the intersection. The dealer offered nothing. My private mechanic found metal shreds throughout the transmission. Said a bearing had come loose and destroyed the interior of the transmission, all at 65K miles. He also said the engine could have failed while on the freeway at high speeds and this could have been life endangering. Also the power steering pump went at 30K miles. Both very costly repairs and the transmission locking up a very serious life threat. The replacement costs for the transmission were $3K and that was from a private mechanic. Online research shows a plethora of consumer complaints and information that MINIcooper knows about this. Neither the local dealer nor corporate office would offer any help in replacement costs.

- Solana Beach, CA, USA

problem #23

Nov 132009


  • 32 miles
Driving home as usual, when I turned to back-in to the driveway and the power steering went out. Very difficult to maneuver car into the driveway. Left car overnight and tried again next day. Fine the next day, but happened again the following day. 2003 mcs 31,700 miles. Looking into cause of failure.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #22

Nov 032009


  • 33,500 miles
Power steering goes out without warning leaving car difficult to control.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #21

May 312009


  • 87,000 miles


Took 2003 MINICooper S to performance driving school and had power steering pump catch on fire.

- Duluth, MN, USA

problem #20

Apr 022009


  • 60,500 miles
Spontaneous engine bay fire in 2003 MINICooper with 60,000 miles. Vehicle was driven normally to work, turned off, parked, locked and left. Unattended car caught fire several minutes later. Seattle city fire department responded to emergency call, but fire self-extinguished within 10 minutes. Soot covered engine bay and acrid smoke permeated vehicle. Inspection revealed melted connection between wiring harness and power steering pump, requiring replacement of pump, cooling fan, wiring and other parts. Internet communities of MINIowners contain numerous reports of sudden engine bay fires in 2002 and 2003 MINICoopers caused by electrical shorts linked to faulty power steering pumps or fans. Frequently these fires occur after the car has been switched off. They always result in moderate vehicle damage and major repair costs (mine is estimated @ $1,600). Occasionally they result in total vehicle loss and / or additional property damage. Had this fire occurred in my home garage at night the results could have been catastrophic; if this kind of incident (sudden power steering pump failure + electric fire) were to occur on a freeway at speed it could easily result in fatalities. BMW / MINIusa has reportedly quietly reimbursed individual owners who have suffered spontaneous fires, but has not acknowledged the widespread nature of the problem -- which is ridiculous. As I discovered while researching my incident, if you google "MINICooper fire" or "MINIpower steering pump failure" you get a rash of these reports. Apparently NHTSA investigated MINIengine bay fires in 2006-2008 and dismissed the problem, alluding only to the chance of some "localized smoldering." This is irresponsible -- my MINIwas billowing acrid black smoke and could easily have burned out, taking other cars on the parking deck with it. Shocking that this major, dangerous vehicle defect has been ignored. I am one of many victims. Please reopen this investigation into MINIfires. Thank you.

- Edmonds, WA, USA

problem #19

Mar 262009


  • 46,000 miles
Ironically, I first looked at this complaint site two days ago as I first learned about its existence from the April 2009 issue of consumer reports. I felt good that the two most frequently named complaints for my model and year had not occurred. So, today that good feeling ended, as one of the common occurrences happened to me - a coincidence" or the MINIgods revenge" to continue: I noticed that after I shut off the car, something was still running for a long time afterwards. Opening the hood, I realized that it was probably the power steering pump that was not turning off, and knew from reading this site, that it would lead to battery failure at a minimum, and a fire at worst case. So, I immediately drove to the dealer - herb chambers MINIof boston - and left it for repair. The call I received this afternoon that it was in fact the power steering pump which would not turn off and that it would cost $1100 to replace was devastating. The MINIhas about 46,000 miles on it and this is the first real repair necessary following the warranty period. Given that there already are 8 others with the same issue just on this complaint forum, I would expect that MINIwould do more about what is obviously a defective part.

- Boston, MA, USA

problem #18

Mar 152009


  • 51,586 miles


Power steering failed on a 2003 MINICooper S with 51,586 miles.

- Brookeville, MD, USA

problem #17

Dec 052008


  • 52,000 miles
I purchased my '03 MINIcopper S with 49K from a Honda in mechanicsburg, pa dealer in August. In December, I purchased tires and then went to a self-service carwash afterward. When I got home and before I put it in the garage, I took out the hose and washed off the wheels and under the car. During the process there was white smoke, which I thought was steam from the water hitting the manifold. I put the car in the garage and later when my wife came home she commented on the smoke and mist in the garage (it was quite cold that night.) the next day when I pulled the car out, the steering was very stiff and I only drove it out the driveway and on the road before I realized the power steering was completely out. I drove it about 15 miles to the dealer after checking fuses and determining that the problem was beyond my mechanical skills. The power steering pump, fan and harness were replaced along with the battery (shorted out). Insurance adjusters from hondacare (extended warranty), state farm insurance company (my comprehensive insurance) and the dealership determined that the power steering pump had caught fire. Their conjecture was that I had put out the fire with the hose when I sprayed under the car. Honda care paid $1999 from extended warranty for the power steering pump, battery, power steering harness and fan. A total of $2700 additional from state farm comprehensive insurance (hondacare extended warranty would not cover harness, towing and diagnostic work from the MINIdealer in Maryland, etc because they were the result of damage caused by the power steering pump fire); state farm insurance was exceptional and covered the difference with comprehensive covered. The parts are not available at this time but I was told that there are reports including pictures from adjusters at hondacare and from state farm insurance.

- Hershey, PA, USA

problem #16

Feb 022009


  • 42,260 miles
My 2003 MINICooper S has 41,000 miles. On 2/2/09, the power steering failed and I had a tough time keeping the car in control. I went home, re-started the car and the power steering was functional. I took it in for repair on 2/5/09, the power steering pump and lines were replaced.

- Burbank, CA, USA

problem #15

Sep 102008


  • 46,769 miles
The only events leading to this problem were normal, everyday driving and routine, factory recommended service. The failure appears to have initiated at the cooling fan for the electric power steering pump. When the fan seizes, the pump overheats causing an electrical short in the pump electronics. This condition causes the pump to run nonstop even with the ignition turned off and the key out. This in turn runs the battery down and can possibly lead to a fire. The dealer replaced the power steering pump, the power steering pump cooling fan as well as the battery since it's usable life was diminished from the excessive draw. Old part is not available and none of this was offered as a warranty item.

- Seatte, WA, USA

problem #14

Jul 182008


  • 133,460 miles


I've been following blogs about MINIcoopers going on fire since I owned one, and I never thought it would happen to me. Well, I had just gotten back home from school when I smell something like wiring burning in my car, so I killed the engine and opened the hood. Power steering still running and smoking, so I called my dad to help me. He disconnected the battery and stopped the eps pump from being consumed on fire. This should not be happening, the BMW-MINIfirm should take responsibility and not let their clients suffer the aftermath. This is surely a recall, no one has died yet, thanks god, but let's be serious folks. Since new pump at dealer is $650 called junk yards and part is not readily available and if available junk yards charge very close to a new one for a used one. I was not able to acquire one on my student status, so I don¿T have a vehicle to get to school; dad has to drop me off for now.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #13

Aug 092008


  • 60,000 miles
On Aug. 9, 2008, I noticed that the steering on my 2003 MINICooper was extremely tight when I started the car. As I drove it, it loosened up. The next day, Aug. 10, the situation worsened--every time the car was stopped, then started, the steering tightened. There was no loosening up at all. I brought the car to a local pep boys to see if anything could be done. They diagnosed a possible psp failure. They couldn't do anything as only MINIhas the schematics for this repair. I called the MINIdealership in peabody, MA first thing Monday and got an appt. For today, Aug. 14. since I have no other vehicle, I had to drive the car when necessary. Sometimes the steering was fine. Other times, it was very difficult to steer. The dealership replaced the faulty psp today. They acknowledged a complete failure. I've owned several cars with more mileage on them than this one (it currently has 60K and is five years old) and never experienced any psp problems, never mind an outright failure.

- Nashua, NH, USA

problem #12

Jul 252008


  • 75,600 miles
The power steering pump on my MINICooper caught on fire.

- Chino Hills, CA, USA

problem #11

Nov 012007


  • 46,000 miles
The power steering pump stopped working all of a sudden. I was driving to work when it went out, and I freaked out. I could hardly turn the steering wheel. I turned off the car and started it back up, and it started working again. This happened for about a week where it would kick on every once in a while, and then it went out for good. I have been quoted for around $1000 to get it repaired. I have been driving around with this issue for almost a year now. The only good thing, is that it has greatly strengthened my arm muscles...

- Hendersonville, NC, USA

problem #10

Jul 242008


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper S. while the contact's wife was driving 60 mph, the wheel and tire detached from the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and has not been diagnosed at this time. The contact was informed that the cost for the repair would range from $3,000 - $5,000. The affected components were the steering, brakes, suspension, and shocks. A police report was filed and the contact has pictures available. The VIN was unknown. The current and failure mileages were 30,000.

- Derwood, MD, USA

problem #9

Jul 202008


  • 32,240 miles
Complete and instant power steering failure with no warning of any kind. Required considerable arm strength to control vehicle.

- Buffalo, MO, USA

problem #8

Jun 262008


  • 75,808 miles
I bought this vehicle used in March 2008. Luckily in Massachusetts they have a law requiring warranties for all used cars for X number of miles/months depending on mileage at time of sale and all that. I have already had the muffler re-welded into place where its mounts failed. The only reason it didn't fall off is because MINIincluded a safety "catch" bar for when/if this happens. But my big problem now is that the power steering pump has gone out; it happened very suddenly. The repair could be done outside of the dealership but I'm afraid to take a german made machine of this quality to a chop-shop and hope they can get it done. I called a VW dealership where I bought it and they said they were unsure they knew how to do the repair. *shiver* MINIin boston wants $900-1000.00 to do the repair as the part is about $800 and the time involved will be about 2 hours at $125 per hour. Pray for me, please!

- Brockton , MA, USA

problem #7

Jun 272008


  • 50,000 miles
The power steering suddenly went out on Friday, June 27, 2008 causing difficulty in steering and nearly causing an accident. As I turned into my home driveway. Upon towing the vehicle to crevier auto in santa ana, California on Friday afternoon/evening, crevier was unable to locate the vehicle. On Monday, June 30, after much consternation, crevier finally located the vehicle as they had it on their premises since the previous Friday. Tuesday, July 1, a service technician notified me that the power steering pump had gone out on the 2003 MINICooper S. the vehicle has less than 50,000 miles on it and has been driven gently throughout its lifetime.

- Garden Grove, CA, USA

problem #6

Jun 192008


  • 70,000 miles
1. the malfunction happens spontaneously 2. the power steering pump malfunctions and causes the steering wheel to be stiff placing me or anyone else driving/on the road in danger due to the reluctance of the wheel to turn. 3. the dealership offered no monetary support but instead told me there was nothing I could do about it but to replace it and attempted to charge me $1000 dollars in cash. Instead I took the car to an independent mechanic and was charged $700. A ridiculous price to pay for my safety.

- Tujunga, CA, USA

problem #5

Jun 162008


  • 113,000 miles
Power steering failure.

- Little Egg Harbor, NJ, USA

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