really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
48,495 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 BMW Z4 steering problems

steering problem

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2003 BMW Z4 Owner Comments (Page 13 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #24

Aug 072009


  • miles


2003 BMW Z4 has a glitch in the steering that our dealership does not know what is causing. On hot days especially the steering becomes so jerky it is hard to drive the car. You can turn the steering wheel and there will be a pause before the steering catches and turns the car. We took the car into the BMW dealership and they had two other cars, same model and year with the same complaint. If you google it, you receive many pages of people having the problem so BMW is definitely aware of it but to this point has done nothing. These cars have low mileage, 15,000 to 20,000 range so it is not something that has worn out; it is design flaw that has caused on going problems that BMW has chosen to ignore to this point. We have not been in any accident, we have quit driving in hot weather, but, I am sure the steering has caused some accidents for others. I assume BMW figures it is cheaper to pay the law suits since there are not that many Z4S made than to have a recall and fix the problem. It is an ongoing problem that affects not only the drivers of the cars involved but everyone sharing the road with a car with steering problems.

- Grain Valley, MO, USA

problem #23

Jul 012008


  • 29,000 miles
I have finally decided to file my complaint after experiencing this problem for two consecutive summers. I have put off filing a complaint in hopes that the numerous complaints on this very same issue by other Z4 owners would result in some remedial action on the part of BMW. This does not appear to be happening. When the outdoor temps hit the high 80's the steering in my 03 Z4 begins to "stick" under normal driving conditions. This has caused me to come close to over-correcting on several occasions when turning the steering wheel to "unstick" il. It is extremely dangerous on interstate highways where there is little margin for error. This sticking problem is not only unsafe but it detracts from what otherwise is a beautiful piece of machinery. The vehicle is out of warranty and I can't see where Z4 owners should be responsible for covering the cost of repairing a manufacturing defect which, surprisingly, has not resulted in any fatalities.

- Chambersburg, PA, USA

problem #22

Jul 292009


  • 31,350 miles
When the weather gets hot or the car gets hot just sitting in the sun the steering gets sticky and difficult to turn. It feels like there is a notch in the steering on both sides of dead center and it is difficult to steer to the right or the left. This is not a new problem with these cars as documented in puma case number 5387507 and others.

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #21

Jul 162009


  • miles


Steering is sticking on my BMW Z4 when the weather is warm. I live in the mountains of North Georgia and do not feel safe driving under these conditions. Based on looking at the online information into this problem this seems to be a defect in the Z4. Why would this not be recalled? the dealership immediately asked at what temperature this occurs. The dealership has quoted $3200 to fix the problem. This is not acceptable when it looks as if there are alot of Z4 owners with the same problem. The car is out of warranty and the mileage is low. Please help us who own these cars to get something done before someone gets seriously hurt or even killed.

- Big Canoe, GA, USA

problem #20

May 012009


  • 38,500 miles
Car is 2003 BMW Z4 3.0 litre engine. At temperatures above approximately 78 degrees, the electronic steering feels as if it is binding, and feels disconnected from the car. When you return the wheel to center position it feels as if there is a lag before the car responds. This affects the cars handling in traffic, as the car will not handle as it should. This effect is not evident at lower temperatures.

- Yorktown, VA, USA

problem #19

May 172009


  • 35,500 miles
If the car is left in the sun or is used on a hot day (seems to be above 85F degrees), the steering wheel is very heavy and "sticky" +/- 5 degrees off center. The car will not travel straight without constant correction and the steering wheel feels locked without extra effort to move its position. Driving the car in this state is unnerving and unsafe. It has led to multiple overcorrection on public roads when attempting to turn the wheel due to the extra effort. BMW na has not acknowledged a defect and will not attempt to correct it.

- Bothell, WA, USA

problem #18

Apr 282009


  • 70,000 miles


2003 Z4 3.0I has become unsafe with increases in steering sticking and notchiness. To make matters worse the symptoms vary with ambient temperature so the overall steering feel will vary from morning to noon to night.

- Dunn, NC, USA

problem #17

Dec 182008


  • 41,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW Z4. While driving 60mph his vehicle shut off in traffic. The road conditions were not a factor. The vehicle was accelerating at the time the engine shut off. He was able to maintain control of the vehicle but there was no power steering and the brakes failed. It became was very difficult to steer the vehicle. There were no warnings prior to the failure. He was able to operate the vehicle normally after 20 minutes. The following day when the vehicle started there was a bubbling noise in the engine area that lasted for approximately 2 minutes. No problem. The dealer and manufacturer confirmed that the vehicle was not a part of the recall. He was also advised that he would have to pay $152 for a diagnosic check. The failure mileage was 41,000.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #16

Feb 222004


  • 6,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW Z4. While driving 70 mph in hot weather, the steering binded and made it difficult to switch lanes on the highway. Also, there was a possibility that the contact could lose control of the vehicle. He had to make sudden maneuvers to avoid potentially losing control. The dealer was unable to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer advised him to take the vehicle to the dealer. The current mileage was approximately 48,000 and failure mileage was approximately 6,000. Updated 10/14/08 updated 10/23/08.

- Freeport, IL, USA

problem #15

Mar 142008


  • 45,000 miles
Vehicle has electric power steering. Intermittently, and without warning, power assist unit fails. Consequently, driver must use a firm grip and substantial force to control vehicle, especially at slower speeds. Unit fails either at engine start or while driving. Vehicle has only 45,000 miles. Steering torque fault was cleared during diagnostic check by independent BMW technician but fault has since recurred. Nearest authorized BMW service center also has checked vehicle. Owner was informed that fix would require replacement of upper steering column at cost to owner of $2,360 plus diagnostic fee. BMW North american contacted for assistance. They, in concert with the dealer, declined to offer any financial assistance to owner to replace defective components. Problem remains unresolved. Owner feels this vehicle has a defective part which creates a significant highway safety risk, especially to those unsuspecting of the potential fault. Date of incident below is first occurrence of problem, while owner was pulling into a parking spot.

- Chester, MD, USA

problem #14

Aug 032008


  • 24,000 miles


My vehicle is a 2003 BMW Z4. The ┐eps┐ electric power steering seems to bind on hot days. This could result in a collision and to date BMW is not fixing the problem.

- Leduc, 00, USA

problem #13

Jul 062008


  • 32,000 miles
Sticky, grabby, tight steering. No correction to center. Heavy feel and notchy. This problem occurs on hot days, especially after the car sits in the hot sun for a couple hours. Most noticeable driving at highway speeds. After sitting overnight, in the morning when it is cool, the steering is fine.

- Annapolis, MD, USA

problem #12

Apr 242006

Z4 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 12,600 miles
The steering is "sticky" when driving with interior heater on full/hot. If car interior temps cool down the problem goes away. I have to over steer to get the car to move in the direction I want and this causes a safety concern as the car will move too far in that direction. This issue is known to BMW and other owners.

- Sault Ste. Marie, MI, USA

problem #11

Mar 282006

Z4 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 20,051 miles
Auto was exhibiting a knocking sound when approaching a full lock position. Dealer upon second complaint replaced the "lower steering column joint assembly part # 32-30-6-769-265". after the parts replacement the steering of the car has been noticeably impaired and exhibits steering that is very vague and exhibits a looseness on rough roads or during sharp turns such as parking or a U-turn. Dealership states that there are appropriate technical bulletins but chose not to release information in them. Car is parked awaiting BMW regional technical service inspection.

- Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #10

Oct 202005

Z4 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 25,000 miles
Growing steering difficulties with 2003 BMW Z4 purchased new. Dealership acknowledges there is a problem and says BMW is trying to determine a fix (this was months ago). BMW says sorry - refer to dealership, I believe this is a serious potential safety hazard which should be investigated for possible re-call.

- Galveston, TX, USA

problem #9

Aug 302005

Z4 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,150 miles
I previously submitted a complaint with confirmation number 10135197. Since submitting that complaint, I have been on BMW related message boards and discovered the problem with high temperature "sticking" steering on 2003 BMW Z-4 roadsters is not only well known to BMW, but they have come up with a repair. Unfortunately, BMW is not recalling, not notifying and they are insisting that a car owner wait until a complete part failure that can be verified at the dealer to take any action under the car warranty. This problem comes and goes with outside heat. A dealership is not always around to verify the issue. I have talked with BMW usa headquarters in New Jersey and they throw me back to the dealer. If you took what BMW usa says at face value, they have no control over this issue. That is not turning out to be the case. Unfortunately, the dealer says they cannot act without BMW authorization and that requires the replacement of a verifiable failed part. The dealer is caught in the middle. There has been nothing but double talk from the people in New Jersey at BMW headquarters. The internet postings on this problem indicate how severe the issue is. The problem is world wide on 2003 Z-4's. it occurs in high outside temperatures and can, according to some postings, come on with no notice at high speeds. One driver described how he narrowly averted putting his car into the center divider of a highway. Feel free to check these boards, one of them is "roadfly.com" where a whole thread exists to discuss this problem. Another is "Z4um.com." Apparently the entire steering column must be replaced with one updated from original specs. The part number is 32-30-6-766-486. It is dangerous, unsafe and a risk of life for people to be driving these cars when the steering wheel handling hardens and control of the car is placed in jeopardy. BMW should be required to recall all of these cars and replace the defective part with the improved one.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #8

Aug 302005

Z4 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,150 miles
Car sat in hot sun all day. Entered car to drive home and noticed steering was hard as speed increased upwards to 30 mph. As speed increased steering became very hard, requiring torque on steering wheel. At a stop the steering was normal, wheel could turn as always. At higher speeds up to 55 mph, when car wheels turned, the action was "choppy" or in increments rather than smooth and with the precision car normally had. It almost seemed like heavy weight on front of car. Checked run flat tires. No problem. Parked car at home. Two days later took vehicle to dealer and steering was normal. Dealer recognized a problem. Had same year and model with similar problem occurring daily. Could not duplicate the problem. Told me factory service bulletins said do not replace parts unless problem duplicated! dealer suggested I drive car until problem returned and then bring it in. They would do nothing until they could duplicate problem to perform diagnostic. Dealer not open 24 hours a day, other cars at same dealership with problem. Car was unsafe to drive when problem recurred. According to dealer, manufacturer is aware of problem, has technical bulletin out, but no parts replaced until failure occurs at dealership. Car being parked in sun by dealer to see if problem will duplicate. Car unsafe to drive!!! other cars there, same model and year with same problem.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #7

Jun 142005

Z4 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,800 miles
Car was parked uncovered for about eight hours each day during a one week period and upon retrieval of the vehicle steering was noticeably malfunctioning. It was stiff and required excessive pressure to turn. A couple of days it had more of a notchy feel and would turn in increments with additional pressure.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #6

Jul 122005

Z4 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 13,885 miles
In the heat the steering on my 2003 BMW 4 becomes erratic and I lose proper control of the vechile

- Fort Lauderdale, FM, USA

problem #5

Jun 262005

Z4 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 33,900 miles
Steering sticks and resists turning briefly in hot temperature. 90F+

- Ilsip, NY, USA

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