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 7 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #144

Jan 032012

Z4 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles


The power steering assist has failed on the car making it very difficult to steer. Luckily it failed while on a straight part of an interstate as my daughter was driving the car and this severely frightened her. She did not overreact and we took appropriate measures to get the vehicle home. Online research indicates that this issue was being investigated by NHTSA in 2010 but can not find any indication that an actual recall is in place. This is a very dangerous thing to happen, especially in a state with a lot of winding roads (Tennessee). I purchased the car used last year and also had a water pump failure that resulted in a blown engine. I wish this issue had been investigated also as I understand that it is a common failure with this particular engine. There is also a problem with the speedometer and fuel gauges reading incorrectly. I read that one owner was contacted by BMW North America after they filed a complaint regarding the power steering with NHTSA and BMW voluntarily fixed the problem for the owner. I hope I have the same luck after posting this complaint. Thank you.

- Greenbrier, TN, USA

problem #143

Jul 012010

Z4 6-cyl

  • 34,000 miles
Steering becomes intermittently "sticky". first symptom is that when I turn the wheel normally nothing happens. As a result, I turn the steering wheel more and then suddenly the car turns. Immediately, I have to turn the wheel back the other way to avoid going off the road. The problem is repeated when I turn back in the other direction and I essentially end up weaving down the road. When I brought the vehicle in to have it checked after the first occurrence, the symptom couldn't be reproduced by the servicemen who looked at it. In retrospect, I've realized that I was always having the car checked when it was cool out (mornings & I lived near lake superior), but the problem seems to occur only when it is hot outside (over 70 to 80 degrees). Since I couldn't solve the problem, I have dramatically reduced my driving with this vehicle. However, after recently moving to a different part of the country, I mentioned the problem to a new serviceman last month. He said this was a well known problem with the Z4 steering bearings. After spending some time searching on the internet, I was shocked to see how many people have reported this same problem (including to this website). I have never heard of a similar problem with any other vehicle; it certainly seems to me this is some sort of design flaw. It is hard to imagine steering bearings wearing out due to normal "wear and tear" with only 34,000 miles on the vehicle. Please recall this vehicle asap and force BMW to fix the problem before someone is killed!

- Freeport, ME, USA

problem #142

Jun 222011

Z4 6-cyl

  • 69,182 miles
After being parked for a few hours in the sun on a hot day (over 80 degrees) the steering sticks. It is most noticeable at highway speeds where it becomes very difficult to make fine adjustments so it is hard to hold the car in a lane. This has occurred multiple times and is a predictable problem when the temperature is high and the car has been parked in the sun.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #141

Nov 212011


  • 67,870 miles


The steering mechanism and wheel seem to stick. The steering wheel does not travel smoothly within the normal steering range. When the car is being driven on a straight line... suddenly, you are not able to keep the car going straight, which causes the driver to attempt to correct and typically causes the car to move erratically from side to side to keep the car center on the driving lane. Driving the car under normal driving conditions has become a battle to keep the car straight on the road. Over corrections are inevitable and this can cause loss of control and accidents/collisions.

- Winter Springs, FL, USA

problem #140

Jun 102011


  • 49,000 miles
In hot weather the power steering gets extremely sticky and when making a turn such as on an exit ramp the steering wheel has to be pulled to return it to the straight position which raises the distinct possibility that the car could go right off the ramp if not caught. This problem also causes swerving when making small steering corrections on the highway, the car can swerve into another lane. Dealers are unwilling to address this issue and the on-line Z 4 forum indicates that this is a very common problem apparently due to design flaws.

- Hudson, NH, USA

problem #139

Apr 042011

Z4 6-cyl

  • 28,000 miles
I had the steering on this vehicle get worse on the interstate after I filed the first complaint. I contacted BMW usa and took it to the BMW dealer. I was told by BMW usa that my problem was the defect that they were aware of. However, they told me that they will not repair any of these vehicles unless there is a recall. Is it going to take a few more fatal crashes for the someone to step up and force this manufacturer to correct this problem? even though I am the second owner of this car, it was purchased in Florida where you are suppose to enjoy a convertible. However, this failure occurs at temperatures above 77 degrees. Now that I know of this problem, how can I pass it on to another who might not be an experienced driver and join BMW in being the instrument of their death.

- South Daytona , FL, USA

problem #138

Nov 012003

Z4 6-cyl

  • 5,000 miles


When traveling on a highway, the car steering is very hard to hold straight, veering from left to right. I only have 32,000 miles on the car and it still happens. Service reps verify that all steering components are within specifications.

- Villanova, PA, USA

problem #137

Aug 022004

Z4 6-cyl

  • 43,730 miles
1.vehicle unsafe to drive; unable to maintain steering or keep vehicle on the road safely. 2.vibrations while driving vehicle 3.manual gear box; shifting through gears not smooth, not engaging smoothly 4.water leaking inside of vehicle trunk and rear seat areas. Vehicle trunk area was saturated with water after raining; filling water over the battery box and carpets, shorting out electronics. 5.outside of vehicle; plastic components early deterioration; front windshield wiper area black plastic cowl and antenna. Inside of vehicle black plastic cover for convertible top 6.rain sensor inop 7.door locks inop/intermittent 8.windows regulators plastic broken.

- Oviedo, FL, USA

problem #136

Oct 062011


  • 71,000 miles
My steering wheel light goes on then the car handling becomes very difficult to control. The problem started one day on the highway. The wheel was suddenly hard. This problem happens several times a day: When I start the car and at any random time while I'm driving. I have to restart the car in order to get the power steering back (before the next failure). This is very dangerous since nothing is telling me when the next issue is going to happen. I'm always scared to make a turn or to change lanes.

- Coral Gables, FL, USA

problem #135

Oct 012009

Z4 6-cyl

  • 25,000 miles
BMW Z4 developed a notchy or sticky feel as I was driving on the highway. It feels like the steering wheel locks in place and extra effort is required to turn the wheel. There is no warning before this occurs. Problem was very sporadic at first but seems to be getting worse as I my driving time increases.

- Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #134

Mar 152011

Z4 6-cyl

  • 104,155 miles


I was driving my 2003 BMW Z4 on the highway going roughly 65mph when I noticed the steering became very notchy and stiff, the car felt as if the steering wheel was sticking and not turning to center freely. Driving like this the car is difficult to keep in your lane, a very scary feeling when driving at highway speeds. The steering problem continued until I returned home and was still noticeable at city speeds, wheel still sticking around turns and not returning to center position after completing a turn. The problem occurred several times since then, not giving me a good sense of security when driving. This problem only starts to happen after or while driving at speeds above 60mph. I'm contacting you because I have read numerous complaints of BMW Z4 owners having similar safely problems. Please let me know if anything develops regarding a recall of any faulty steering equipment on this vehicle.

- Everett, WA, USA

problem #133

Sep 192011


  • 31,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW Z4. The contact was exiting a residential driveway when the steering wheel seized. The contact turned the vehicle off and on to get the power steering to reset. The power steering assist lasted for a few minutes before failed again. The contact stated the failure recurred sporadically and without warning. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and was told that the entire steering column and electronic power assist system needed to be replaced. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 31,000.

- Lafayette, LA, USA

problem #132

Sep 102011


  • miles
The steering wheel of the vehicle is sticky and is difficult to turn after it is in place for more than a few seconds. This causes difficulty in maintaining the driving direction of the car and in many cases causes an overcompensation in steering.

- Furlong, PA, USA

problem #131

Aug 272011

Z4 6-cyl

  • 9,000 miles
2003 BMW Z4 9500 miles, when hot the steering locks in position and excessive force is needed to correct the steering, causing a jerk making the car jerk to the side and then you have to recorrect. Happens at high and low speed. Has not been repaired.

- Beloit, WI, USA

problem #130

Aug 272011


  • 21,000 miles
2003 BMW Z4 (21,000 miles) - steering becomes dangerously sticky when the outside temperature is warm (above 80 degrees or so and especially after the car has been parked in the sun). The steering wheel won't return to center and the car jerks side to side when the steering un-sticks as the driver tries to make small steering corrections. This results in a dangerous swerving of the car side-to-side when trying to drive straight down the road, particularly at freeway speeds.

- Kirkland, WA, USA

problem #129

Nov 152009

Z4 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW Z4. While driving approximately 35 mph, the contact noticed that the steering wheel would not return to the center position. The contact had to jerk the steering wheel to the center. The failure recurred intermittently at temperatures under 45 degrees and over 75 degrees at different speeds. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostics and the vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 70,000. Updated 09/21/11 updated 11/02/11

- Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #128

Jan 012010

Z4 6-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
In temperatures below 45 F and above 75 my steering hangs up just off center so when I drive down the freeway it looks like I zigzag from side to side, and around turns it becomes especially dangerous because when it catches I have to use a bit more force to un jam it and at high speeds it almost throws me into a spin or crash into the guard rail. The previous owner had mentioned this problem but says he rarely drove the car it didn't seem to bother him. I cannot afford the 2600- 3600 price tag for the repair and since BMW has known about this problem since 2003 and has failed to recall this problem myself along with several thousands of other BMW Z 4 owners deserve a free correction for this problem.. instead BMW is fleecing the poor fools who happen to own a Z4 model, , do I have to die behind the wheel of this car before BMW does something about it.

- Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #127

Aug 072011

Z4 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
The vehicle is usually kept in the garage. After sitting in the sun in temperatures exceeding 85 degrees, the car steering was hard to operate. It felt as though the steering was manual -- hard to turn on a curve and hard to turn left and right. This only seems to happen when the car sits outside in hot weather. I have not had the problem checked by my mechanic.

- Laurel, MD, USA

problem #126

Jan 012010

Z4 6-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
Difficulty steering the car when the steering sticks. The warmer the temperature, the steering feels stuck and with the least movement of the steering wheel, the car feels like it loses control. It is fine in the morning and when it is cool but when the temperature is over 80, I feel like I have no control of the steering. No accidents yet!!!!! it has been happening for at least a year.

- Cicero, NY, USA

problem #125

Jul 252011

Z4 6-cyl

  • 94,181 miles
Vehicle steering sticks around center when weather is hot and is worse at higher speeds which increases the danger for loss of control.

- Lowell, AR, USA

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