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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 8 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #104

Jun 062011


  • 97,000 miles


Several months ago, the power steering failed on my 2003 MINICooper at the beginning of a 40 minute drive home. The next day, all was fine and continued to be so until this afternoon. Briefly this afternoon, the power steering failed again, but returned when the car was shut off and turned back on. However, once the engine was turned off again, the fan in the power steering column continued to run for at least 2 hours. The car started and drove fine, and again upon returning home, the fan continued to run. When the car was turned back on, the power steering again did not work, and now the fan is not running. I have read message boards detailing almost the same phenomenon and describing upwards of $1000 to fix this problem. The MINIwas just in for it's 100,000 mile service three weeks ago at the cost of $1700 and no mention was made of any issue with the power steering.

- Dalton, PA, USA

problem #103

Jun 152011


  • 145,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. The contact was driving approximately 30 mph and attempting a right turn when the steering wheel became resistant. The contact turned the vehicle off but the failure continued as the vehicle was restarted. The vehicle was not inspected by the dealer nor repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and advised him to take the vehicle to a dealer for diagnostic testing. The failure mileage was approximately 145,000.

- Poynette, WI, USA

problem #102

Jun 162011


  • 22,800 miles
Power steering has become intermittent. When the car is started, sometimes the power steering is functioning and sometimes it is not.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #101

Feb 102011


  • 106,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper S. when the contact started the ignition, the power steering warning indicator illuminated with a sudden loss of power steering. A strong electrical burning odor emitted inside of the vehicle. The failure occurred six times when the vehicle was in motion. An authorized dealer was notified and advised the contact to have the failure diagnosed to determine the cause. The will schedule an appointment for diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was not aware of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 106,000.

- Martindale, TX, USA

problem #100

Jun 232011


  • 50,512 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW MINICooper. While driving 60 mph, the contact stated that the vehicle suddenly lost all power steering without warning. The dealer advised the contact to bring the vehicle in for diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure and the vehicle was not repaired. The current and failure mileage was 50,512.

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #99

Jun 022011


  • 78,551 miles
While driving at a speed of approximately 35-40, the power steering assist failed completely. The car became almost impossible to steer and created a very unsafe moment as I made a 90 degree turn. I was able to get the car home with great physical effort involved. The problem seems exactly as described in on-line descriptions from other MINIowners. It is a very dangerous condition.... it is also very expensive to repair. I am surprised that a recall has not been required due to the obvious safety issue!

- Chula Vista, CA, USA

problem #98

May 312011


  • 82,500 miles


The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. The contact was driving approximately 55-60 mph when the power steering failed without warning and the steering wheel would not turn. The vehicle was not been inspected or repaired and the manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The current and failure mileages were 82,500. Updated 06/13/11 updated 2/15/2012

- Yorem, UT, USA

problem #97

Feb 202011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
Power steering pump failure. The failure happened on a snow covered curvy road, lost control and went into the ditch. No damage, was able to get the car slowed enough before crashing. Thankful no other cars were in the other lane. Was able to drive the car out under its own power. Will not drive the car now.

- London, KY, USA

problem #96

May 052011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 77,000 miles
Hi, I'm the third owner of a 2003 MINICooper S since February 2010, located in montreal, quebec, Canada. In the begining of May 2011 my car started to have big issues with the power steering. The power steering pump is running discontinous, all the lights (front, back and dashboard) are dimming and after just afew miles of driving the steering wheel becomes stiff and hard to turn. I have this problem now everyday when I try to drive the car. I've checked the power steering pump fan and it spins free. No blow of the F5 fuse (as other people reported). It happend to me in the last year for 3 times, but only for a short time. The power steering pump went out, but few hours after I turned off the engine and didn't drive the car, the pump came back normally (excepting the continous whining noise of it). Didn't take it to the dealer yet for a pump replacement. I know the power steering pump failure is a common problem on minis 2002-2006 and I want to claim this problem on my car too. Hope this problem to become a recall soon for MINIBMW. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Montreal, 00, USA

problem #95

May 112011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
I own a 2003 MINICooper. I am experiencing unexpected power steering loss that is currently a temporary condition. It often occurs while exiting onto hwy 10/61 cloverleaf in woodbury, minnnesota. On a couple occasions I have nearly driven off of the roadway down an embankment. It is an exit that is taken at 45-50 mph and an hill downward. When it occurs the car veers hard left as the power steering fails. The steering requires a heavy driver input in order to maintain direction of travel. The first time it occurred I was off the roadway briefly until I could muscle it back onto the roadway. A very scary experience. I am sure if this occurred with my wife or daughter behind the wheel, an accident would have occurred. I am trying to figure out what the issue is, so I conducted an internet search and found many complaints from other owners. Seems clearly to be a problem that is more an issue of design that wear and tear. What should I do?

- Shakopee , MN, USA

problem #94

May 052011


  • 55,868 miles


Power steering pump and fan failed at 55,000 miles. While it happened in my case while I was trying to park, it could easily happen at highway speeds and created a serious hazard.

- Greenwich, CT, USA

problem #93

May 062011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 50,975 miles
2003 MINICooper S power steering pump failure. Sudden loss of steering assist and nearly wrecked the car if my wife was driving I doubt she could have saved it. Google search turns up hundreds of like posts. On another quick search, as of 2006, 50 pump failures resulted in the total loss of the car because of fire. And these are people that post. Maybe 10% of the MINIdrivers post online. This is a disgrace!

- Stow, MA, USA

problem #92

Apr 222011


  • 67,345 miles
Power steering failed as car was moving. No apparent reason for failure. It was very difficult to control car without the steering. I was not going too fast but if it had happened at a higher rate of speed it would have been a disaster. Steering remained unusuable until car was turned off and cooled slightly. When I started it, it was fine. It has happened several times since then after the car has been running about a half an hour or so.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #91

Jan 152011


  • 79,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINIcopper. While the vehicle was parked with the engine on the contact heard a loud whining noise. The noise was coming from the front end of the vehicle. The failure occurred continuously. The last time the contact experienced the failure the vehicle was parked with the engine shut off and the power steering pump continued to run and drained the battery. The contact had to jump start the vehicle in order to start it. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer. The technicians stated that the power steering pump needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 79,000.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #90

Apr 182011


  • 104,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. While driving approximately 40 mph, the power steering failed making it impossible to control the steering wheel. The vehicle then jerked violently followed by an independent reset of the power steering. The contact barely missed crashing into another vehicle as a result of the failure. The contact did not inform the dealer or manufacturer nor was the vehicle diagnosed or repaired. The current and failure mileage was 104,000.

- Wichita Falls, TX, USA

problem #89

Apr 112011


  • 70,616 miles
While backing out of a parking spot I noticed that the steering was stiff and it was soon evident that the power steering was not working at all. There was no prior warning that the power steering was starting to fail. The failure was sudden. After pulling back into the parking spot, shutting the car off and then restarting, the power steering became functional. After a few minutes of driving the power steering failed again without any warning which made it difficult to steer. Luckily no accident occurred. Power steering now appears to be completely non-functioning. Coincidentally, this car has already had a steering pump replacement in December 2004 with 23070 miles on it. The first power steering pump failure was gradual, but alarming for such a low-mileage vehicle. This most recent failure occurred with less than 48000 miles on the new pump and suggests a faulty part/design which has the potential to cause more serious incidents.

- Centerville, UT, USA

problem #88

Apr 012011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. The contact was driving approximately 55 mph when the battery warning light illuminated and the steering wheel became stiff and failed. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the technician stated that the power steering pump and harness was melted and would need to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 98,000. Updated 5/24/11 the power steering pump and wiring harness had to be replaced. Updated 06/10/11

- Roanoke, AL, USA

problem #87

Apr 052011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • miles
Yesterday I was driving home normally. When I slowed to turn into the alley where I park my car my power steering failed. I missed slamming into the corner of the building by a couple inches and was able to park. I checked the fluid level and even put a little in. Since the then the power steering is almost completely gone, but "catches" every now and then. This makes it extremely hard to drive. After reading of numerous others having this issue, I called BMW today. They recorded my information and said I would be informed if there was a recall by NHTSA, but that nothing was being done at this time.

- Watertown, WI, USA

problem #86

Mar 292011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
There were no warnings or events leading up to the power steering failure. Fortunately, in my case there were no accidents or injuries resulting from the failure. My wife was driving when the power steering failed as she was close to home. She does not have enough strength to make the turn without the power steering so had it occurred on her way to work around a curve, there would have been a crash for sure. A couple of turns she needs to make have steep drop offs and oncoming traffic that may have resulted in death. I don't know if any deaths have been reported due to this, but I can see where it could easily happen and not be pinpointed as the cause since the failure was immediate and while she was driving, not after being stopped.

- Milwaukie, OR, USA

problem #85

Mar 252011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 170,000 miles
Have had the car for 7 years and it has never done this before. I was taking a right turn into my work when my power steering failed with no warning. This caused me apply the brakes hard and turn the wheel with a good amount of force to make the turn. It was lucky there wasn't anything on the other side of the road or I would have hit them. It happened at the end of a 50 mile drive, no issues until then. I stopped the car and restarted it an hour later and I worked fine. I drove it back home the next morning 50 miles with no issues. My main concern is having had the car for this amount of time it caught me by surprise, and my worry now is when will it happen again.

- Paris, TX, USA

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