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 4 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #204

May 142011


  • 21,545 miles


While driving on the interstate I noticed that there seems to be a dead spot or catch in the steering. You turn left or right very much and its like you have to pull harder to get it to turn. By then you have pulled too hard and the car jerks to whichever way you were turning. It does not happen all the time. I can be driving along and forget about it sticking and take a curve and it happens. Very unnerving.

- Lisbon, OH, USA

problem #203

Jul 242013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 33,000 miles
This vehicle has electric steering and it works intermittently and you have to fight the wheel to stay in your lane. Very dangerous !

- Merrimac, MA, USA

problem #202

Jun 062013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
The steering in the Z4 starts to get "sticky" when the temperature outside gets hot (~ >85 deg F). It doesn't return back to center on it's own and it feels like there are dead spots in the steering where you have to force the wheel back to make it move. It doesn't happen when the weather is cool - the wheel turns and returns to center normally. It only seems to happen in hot weather.

- Virgnia Beach, VA, USA

problem #201

Aug 052013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 56,000 miles


When driving in a straight line the car handles as it should. However, when an adjustment needs to be made to move the car to the right or the left the steering wheel will lock up until enough force is used to jerk it free. When this is done the car oversteers to the right or left. As the problem is getting worse the car is jerking more violently to the right or left when the steering wheel finally lets the steering adjust to the right or left. Taking the car to the BMW dealership, they diagnosed the problem as the entire steering mechanism including the electric motor assist will have to be replaced. Fields BMW in lakeland, Florida is the dealership that I took my car to have the problem diagnosed for $85. When I bought this car from furman Chevrolet in tampa, they cleverly forgot to write it into the contract even though I complained about the small hangup of the steering wheel at that time and they assured me that they would fix it. Now I am going to take what I consider a very unsafe car back out onto the highway and have to drive a piece of junk for the next 10 years unless there is a recall for their poor engineering or, worse yet, lousy parts. I have found that the BMW emblem at $35 is a hot seller and that the cup holders at $55,00 each are in great demand as it seems BMW can't engineer those to last either. I can hardly wait for the next failure. No wonder they had no Z4S on the lot for resale. I imagine they are staying as far away from these as possible as they must know they are cute cars, but really just junk!

- Plant City, FL, USA

problem #200

Aug 012013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 25,000 miles
This is for a 2003 BMW Z4 with just over 25,000 miles. As soon as I began driving on an access road and then a county road, I noticed the vehicle was not going in a straight line even though I was not turning the wheel. There was some play in the steering and the wheel felt stiffer than normal with a sticky feeling a few degrees left or right. As I drove down this straight road, the car continued to pull towards one side or the other and controlling it became very difficult. From behind, it would appear as though I was swerving while trying to control the vehicle. I felt like I could lose control of the vehicle so I drove as slowly as possible to the dealership. I explain the situation to the administrative staff and they took the car in for inspection the next day. The following day I received a call from the head mechanic to ask more questions. Again I provided more details about how the vehicle felt while driving and they requested permission to road test it. At first they thought the issue was related to wheel alignment, but upon further testing they realized it was more than that. The sticky steering column appears to have been damaged, the motor drive for the power steering. I was quoted $3,176 to replace. I spoke with the head mechanic, and expressed my displeasure with what appears to be a qa or design issue with this car and the fact I found hundreds of other reports and investigations launched into this exact problem with the Z4. In my opinion this manufacturing defect should be reason enough for a recall given the hazardous conditions created by the malfunction of a relatively new/unused part. BMW's insistence that I cover the cost of this part is also unreasonable, as I doubt they can attribute this malfunction to typical wear and tear given the light use of this vehicle.

- Doylestown, PA, USA

problem #199

Aug 052013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 24,000 miles
Two years ago in the summer, I drove my car back on the highway and the steering wheel was very hard to move. It was a sticky steering situation. The weather was also very hot. This problem has continued even when I am driving slowly. The weather temperature seems to be the critical factor. Yesterday, I drove the car and it steered perfectly. The temperature was in the 70S. Today, it drove fine in the a.M. but in the pm when the temperature reached above 80, the steering was "sticky" again. I have found many posts on line describing this identical problem. The car is a 2004 BMW Z4. This problem has happened within the last 2 years but the difference between the drive handling yesterday and today was very obvious.

- Reisterstown, MD, USA

problem #198

Oct 102007

Z4 6-cyl

  • 52,763 miles


Steering became difficult. When trying to turn the steering wheel it would stick or become hard to move the wheel. Then the steering wheel would stick in another position and become hard to turn again. This did not occur all the time but enough to be annoying. This problem may cause an accident.

- Oak View, CA, USA

problem #197

Jun 122013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 43,000 miles
While driving down the highway around town, I noticed the steering becoming"sticky". it was hard to keep the car in my lane. This continued for a couple of weeks and I took the car to a BMW repair shop and was given the news that I need a new steering column with power assist and that it was going to cost about $3800. Needless to say, it is not something that you can ignore. After seeing all the problems with power steering assist I am dumbfounded as to why BMW has not brought this to owners attention. The repair costs are astronomical!!! this is ridiculous. BMW should make owners aware of the potential problem and fix it. This will definitely be my first and last BMW.!!!!!!!

- Augusta, GA, USA

problem #196

Jun 152013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 19,600 miles
When it is hot outside the steering becomes rough, awkward, and potentially dangerous. It happens at speeds greater than 30 mph. The steering wheel will become "stuck" in a certain position and requires greater than normal force to move from that position. Using greater force to move the steering wheel from the "stuck" position creates the potential for over-steering.

- Fairfax Station, VA, USA

problem #195

Jul 042012

Z4 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Power steering did not move smoothly. On hot days the steering binds up. The steering wheel is hard to turn. A definite detent is felt in the steering, this detent requires extra effort to overcome, commonly causing oversteer and a back and forth track down the road. As car rolls down highway the small movements to go straight are unattainable as the steering is hard to turn as areas of higher resistance require extra force upon the steering wheel, and when the resistance is overcome the car steers to far in the desired direction and when a correction is attempted the same situation occurs. When the car is hot and this issue is present it is not possible to drive the car in a smooth straight direction. In attempting to maintain control I have on multiple occasions been nearly or slightly off the roadway and narrowly avoided several accidents.

- Bedford, IN, USA

problem #194

May 252013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 85,231 miles


Steering has become loose to the point where it is hard to keep the car on the road and find that over corrections are happening. Was told must replace the steering column at a cost of $3200. It is a widely reported problem that BMW should fix. It is a safety issue.

- Winchester, VA, USA

problem #193

Jun 132013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 54,850 miles
I was driving on the interstate at a moderate speed. When attempting to change lanes the steering became "sticky" and it was difficult to turn the steering wheel. This has happened multiple times since this incident. It appears to be worse when the weather is hot. In reading various BMW forums I found that this is a common problem with the 2003 Z4's and the NHTSA has or is conducting an investigation. I understand BMW has corrected the problem on later models. This really creates a dangerous driving situation and I am fearful of driving this car. Is there any action being taken by the NHTSA or BMW? I have contacted BMW but they will not acknowledge that there is a problem.

- Rock Hill, SC, USA

problem #192

Jul 152013

Z4 6-cyl

  • miles
Apparently there is a bearing inside of the steering column and it is not a sealed bearing (poor design). The grease leaks out of it and it becomes very difficult to steer and dangerous. The bearing is not replaceable so you have to replace the entire steering column at a cost of $3,000 to $4,000. The warmer the temperature the harder the steering. I won't even let my wife drive the car for fear she will have an accident. I even have trouble keeping it on the road at times.

- Mechanicville, NY, USA

problem #191

Jun 262013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 51,000 miles
I purchased this car used and have had problems with the steering since buying it 5 years ago. Had it at a BMW repair store they have informed me the steering column will need to be replaced for $ 3000 plus. After doing some research this is a common problem with this BMW. Why has BMW not issued a recall? this could be a severe problem that could cause accidents and death while you are driving! [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #190

Jun 242013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 35,800 miles
I'm having a safety issue with the steering being sticky. It is especially problematic at higher speeds and requires reasonable force to correct. This, in turn, causes over-steering constantly making the car very dangerous to drive on the highway. Car is low mileage: Under 36,000.

- Kennesaw, GA, USA

problem #189

Jun 222013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 102,500 miles
My steering column turns similar to the fan control switch on the Z4 from detent to detent and not smoothly like a volume control on a radio. If you reach forward to the fan control console and turn it you will note that it does not turn smoothly it goes from stop to stop to stop about every 5 degrees. Each stop is called a detent. So as you turn the knob it starts in a detent then as you turn it clicks into the next detent and stops then you have to twist a bit harder till it clicks into the next detent. That is how my steering column acts when it is hot outside. It clicks into one detent and that position may not keep you driving straight down the road. You try to correct it and it will not turn unless you push extra hard then it goes past the point that would keep you going straight down he road into the next detent and you are progressively headed off the other side of the road. As you try to correct it by turning back, it will not smoothly turn back, it resists till you push extra hard then it goes past the point that would keep you going straight and stops in the next detent and now you are headed off the road in the other direction.

- Berkeley Springs, WV, USA

problem #188

Jun 012013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
The steering sticks meaning it becomes unresponsive and requires extra effort on my part to move it again. I have to continue to move it else it sticks and I lose control for about a second. Very scary at high speeds. Basically if going in a straight line and I want to turn it is not smooth and I have to almost fight with it to turn.

- Springfield , MA, USA

problem #187

Jun 132011

Z4 6-cyl

  • 64,000 miles
Chronic problem with the steering being sticky when the weather is warm or when the car sits in the hot sun. The steering wheel when held steady driving down the road seems to stick in an exact position and if the weather is very warm the stickiness is such that when the car needs steering correction to stay in the driving lane that significant pressure is required to unstick the position of the steering direction. Once the driver's pressure causes the steering wheel to become unstuck the wheel will suddenly veer in the direction the pressure was applied, ie. Toward oncoming traffic or towards the ditch until the driver can quickly counteract the sudden release of the unstuck steering wheel. When the weather is particularly warm the car is no longer safe to drive for fear of loss of control. This car was purchased new from the local BMW dealership and driven almost exclusively by my wife since new.

- Champlin, MN, USA

problem #186

Jun 052013

Z4 6-cyl

  • 18,850 miles
I bought my used BMW Z 4 three years ago from a private party with 13,500 miles. Car is in showroom condition but when the temperature rises and the car sits in the sun, I have issues with the steering wheel sticking and locking. I find myself constantly fighting the steering wheel in hot weather and have no confidence in the steering capability of my vehicle. My last episode was last week when the temperature was in the 80's and the car sat out in the sun all day while I was at work. This car has under 19,000 miles on it and I find it unacceptable that BMW will not address this issue and do a recall immediately to address this common problem. I hope it doesn't take a fatality to occur before a recall is issued for this steering malfunction.

- Berlin, CT, USA

problem #185

Jun 082013


  • 34,200 miles
Steering got stuck, and car slid left to right.

- New York, NY, USA

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