really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 7
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,252 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Mini Cooper Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #31

Jul 012008


  • miles


Windshield cracked from the bottom where it meets the hood of the car. Driver's side window does not go down. I only hear a clicking sound. Water pump, oil pan and valve cover gaskets failed prematurely. I can't shift the car into first gear without multiple attempts.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #30

May 142016


  • 102,000 miles
While traveling North on us 221 from bent mountain, va to roanoke va my hydralic steering totally failed. As I travelled a short distance my brake light warning lights, ABS light, other brake system light, battery light and air bag warning light came on. I looked at the engine temperature guage and the temp was normal. I pulled into a parking lot, raised the hood, checked the fluids in the engine compartment and reentered the car. While sitting in the drivers seat I heard a loud explosion, looked forward and noted thick steam coming from the engine compartment. I turned the engine off, exited the car and when the steam dissipated I noted that the cooling system filling/overflow tank was split in half damaging a protecting cover on the firewall and sprayed a building wall and window with engine coolant 10 feet away in front of the vehicle. I had the car towed to martin's german service in cave spring, va. Because the closest dealership in located in North Carolina 150 miles away. Due to service volume they will not be able to evaluate the problem until 24 May 2016.

- Bent Mountain, VA, USA

problem #29

Dec 092015


  • 168,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. While driving approximately 15 mph, the power steering seized. The battery and temperature gauge warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was not diagnosed nor repaired. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign number: 15V660000 (steering); however, the part to do the repair was unavailable. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was unknown. The approximate failure mileage was 168,000.

- Gulf Breeze, FL, USA

problem #28

Oct 292015


  • 79,000 miles


Our 2003 MINICooper was driven in October 2015 in first and second gear, in bumper to bumper slow traffic, uphill for about a mile. When we shut the car off and got out of it, a fan in the engine compartment continued to run. We went back into the car, started it again, then shut if off for a second time, and the fan continued to run. The fan ran about 5 to 10 minutes while the car was parked. We have been told that the stage 1 cooling fan has failed and that the stage 2 cooling fan was running to cool down the engine.

- Hawthorne, NJ, USA

problem #27

Mar 152015

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 71,500 miles
Steering fluid continuously leaks - replace hydraulic hose twice - known defect - MINIrefused to fix for free engine cooling - fan runs after shutoff continuously - known defect - MINIrefused to fix for free electrical - doors, windows, sunroof fire off on their own while car is moving and when is parked. Will do this at highway speed or when sitting outside (rain or shine) - car unlocks itself and windows all open up -known defect - kind of distracting at highway speed -MINIrefused to fix for free. Dealers will not fix these issues unless you make them recall vehicles with multiple small problems ( not just one big problem) - this model has 73 tsbs that dealers charge you to fix even though the problems are known and dangerous issues. In my mind, many small problems can be more dangerous than a few big ones - steering, door locks, cooling - not good. This is an old car but these problems are old too - known tsbs should not be subject to warranty time frames, they are still dangerous after the warranty expires. When these cars are routinely serviced, these known/dangerous issues need to be corrected or the cars should be taken off the road. I used the date of the last incident, not the first one. Thank you.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #26

Dec 012014


  • 130,000 miles
This MINICooper a 2003 w/130K miles driven by a young female. She had no idea her wheel was going to fall off the driver side front. She had called for a check engine light on and intermittent battery failure. It was ask that I drive the car and listen to a pop coming from the wheel section. The pop was the entire wheel assembly moving forwards and back bumping the wheel wells as the car went forward. Needless to say I didn't drive far nor did I accelerate faster than 10 mph. I told the parent of the driver that the car was not drivable under any condition and that it needed immediate attention. The lower control arm bushing rubber was completely gone. I do not know if this is a defect. This part is a mount and it's holding many components of this car together. It is nothing like I have seen before used as a mount. I have seen the rubber worn from this type part but they were not being used as a mount. When the rubber on this part deteriorates it causes the mount to be unstable resulting in the whole wheel assembly moving like a swing forwards and backwards while driving. In a traffic situation this could be devastating to more than just the driver of this car but also to the cars driving near if the wheel were to come off in their traffic. Needless to say the MINICooper would immediately fail in traffic with the brake cylinders hitting the road causing flying sparks, if rear ended it would more than likely flip. This is a dangerous scenario. This car was purchased second hand as are a lot of cars. This is not a part on anyone's check list and not one you consider to be one of this type of failure. I am filing this complaint but I am not the owner of this car. I am merely concerned at the implications of the deterioration of the rubber and what those implications mean to the other purpose this part is suppose to perform and can't when the rubber is gone.

- Canton, TX, USA

problem #25

Apr 272012


  • 68,000 miles


Drain hose from sunroof drain running down A-pillar came dislodged through "normal wear and tear" causing massive flooding to the interior of my car. It was rendered unserviceable and totaled, on June 16, 2014, but uncovered by insurance. This was nothing that I was aware of that was an issue, nor were any recalls ever issued on this issue. I had it in to the dealership in 2012, 2 years ago, for electrical failure, and they thought it was merely the battery, so they replaced it and it seemed to be fine, but they said to keep the battery as a back up "just in case" because it still appeared to be a good battery. Then later in 2013, I took it back to the MINIdealer for general service and I said I noticed water in the boot (trunk) and for them to check the hatchback seal to see if there was any leaks, they said no, and no further investigation was done for either event. I believe that both these events were results of the faulty drain hose from the A-pillar being dislodged for so long. Today, the automobile left my possession, to an auction house. I wanted to file this complaint so that you, the NHTSA can perhaps have MINIissue a recall to fix this issue and have them change their vehicle's sunroof drainage system so that someone else doesn't have a car totally ruined by flooding due to this defect in engineering and design. After viewing some MINIforums, I am not the only person who has had this issue has happened to their MINICooper. I'm very sad, because I happened to really enjoy this car, and it was totally fun to drive. I was advised by a friend who is a motorcycle mechanic and my insurance agent to file this report with your organization, in hopes that something will be done about this. Too many people don't speak up, and I am not one to let something done wrong to me go without a fight! do all you can to rectify this issue with MINI

- Mason, OH, USA

problem #24

May 242012


  • 158,000 miles
Driving highway speeds, steering got really heavy hard to turn, then the battery light came on, starting smelling something electrical burning, pulled over off the road shut car off, smoke coming from the hood, open it, smoke was coming from the back of engine. Smoke subsided in a few minutes, called tow truck, tow back to work, over the next couple of days found that the power steering pump locked up and fried it, it also draw a lot of amperage that it blow 100 amp main fuse under fuse block, burnt main power wire to power steering pump. Replaced pump, wiring and fuse.

- Philadelphia , PA, USA

problem #23

Jul 152013

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 114,975 miles
The power steering pump, fan, hydraulic fluid pump chf 1 core charge) and hose clamp were replaced by the dealer 5 days earlier. MINICooper/BMW sent me a letter for voluntary replacement because my MINIcopper 2003 had too many complaints with this issue. The car was running ok except for the power steering after the replacement I only drove about 70 miles because I was off from my school. The incident happened on July 15, 2013 approximately at 3:45 pm. I drove about 30 miles back from work. Parked the car in front of rite aid in rancho palos verdes. When I returned to the car it wouldn't start. Used jump cables for several minutes without success. Went to my mechanic close by. My mechanic came to look at the car, he was able to start the car. I drove back home about 6 miles. When I parked the car the car was very hot and most of the lights in the panel were lighten. I must mention that my car has a new battery and new starter (both were replaced 9 months ago). It seems that the problem is directly related to the electrical system and to the replacement of the part on 7/17/2013.

- San Pedro, CA, USA

problem #22

May 032013

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 62,000 miles
After driving the car under normal circumstances a short distance and parking the car, a fire ignited in the engine bay. The fire extinguished itself prior to the fire truck arriving. Vehicle was towed to local dealer who, upon inspection, indicated the power steering pump and/or associated hardware had failed and caused the fire.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #21

Apr 212013

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 113,000 miles


The power steering pump doesn't shut off when the car does. The pump ran until the battery died.

- Chatsworth, CA, USA

problem #20

Dec 112012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
I parked my car in a parking garage after driving approximately 20 miles. I walked to a dentist down the street for an appointment. While at the dentist I get a call that went to my voicemail that my car (while parked with the engine off) was on fire and was filling the parking garage with smoke. Upon receiving the message I rushed home to find that the fire was already out, but the smell of smoke was still very strong. I noticed that the inside indicating lights of the car were on as if the key was in the ignition of the car. I immediately disconnected the battery and inspected the car to find the source of the fire. Upon inspection I found that the flames had come from behind and slightly below the motor. There was a metal shield that was blackened by the flames that I could not see around so I jacked up the car and removed the driver side wheel to further inspect the source of the fire. After doing so I could then clearly see that the source of the fire was the power steering pump due to the surrounding burn marks. The total amount of damage has yet to be assessed by my insurance company. They towed the car and are inspecting the car on Dec 13, 2012.

- Palmdale, CA, USA

problem #19

Jun 282012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 74,100 miles
While I was driving MINI2003 (odo: 74K) on I-90 highway at 70mph, suddenly the power steering wheel stopped working on June 28, 2012. I barely made to exit from the highway, and got home. Next day, the car was sent to the BMW-MINIdealership, and assessed the failure of power steering pump. They know this happens frequently with MINIbut it was not covered by manufacturers. The only option was to replace the part. The part was replaced and the cost was $1,200.

- Cambridge, MA, USA

problem #18

Mar 252012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 83,567 miles
My 2003 MINICooper (R50), with manual shift and 83,567 miles, was parked on a city street when a passerby noticed smoke and fire coming out of the engine area. The fire department was called to put the fire out. The time from the car being parked until the flames were extinguished is estimated at 10 to 20 minutes. The car was towed the following morning to a MINIdealer service center for diagnosis. The diagnosis was that the auxiliary power steering cooling fan had failed. The other items that are estimated to need replacement are the power steering pump, engine wiring harness, auxiliary wiring harness, power steering pump reservoir hose and power steering return hose. At the time I was on a trip out-of-town 600 miles away from home and the car is still at the out-of-town dealer. Prior to the incident no signs of anything suspect with the car were noticed. Approximately 1 hour prior to the incident the bonnet of the car was opened at a military entrance gate vehicle inspection and no signs of any issues were noticed at that time. To my knowledge there is no aftermarket equipment in the affected area. I am the 2nd owner of the car having purchased it at 35,086 miles mid-2007 from a long-time friend who was the first owner. I maintain the car and keep all maintenance records. I believe the manufacturer should be responsible for all repairs and the return of the car to my home. I have read about recalls by Transport Canada for 2002-2005 MINIsteering pumps which would indicate this issue is worthy of investigation for recall. This is a dangerous vehicle defect. Please formally investigate this incident.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #17

Mar 032012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Car impacted the rear end of a Jeep at low rate of speed (was braking to avoid crash in the front). Upon impact the car burst into flames. The air bag deployed. Luckily the occupant of the vehicle was able to get out of car. Within minutes the car was totally in flames. No one was killed or seriously injured but if the occupant did not get out when they did the occupant would have died due to smoke or flame injury.my complaint is that this low front end impact should not have resulted in immediate fire and large flames. I have photos of the car just after the occupant got out of the vehicle and also photos of the car after it was towed back to wrecker yard.

- Abilene, TX, USA

problem #16

Apr 012009

Cooper 4-cyl

  • miles
Beginning in approximately April of 2009, the airbag warning light has been on constantly. Anyone who is intelligent enough to use any internet search engine can find hundreds of accounts of the same issue. Due to what has been independently verified as a wiring problem in the seat sensors, the airbag warning light is always on and can cause the car to deploy with improper force. This is a widely known issue with MINIowners, and several independent mechanics have all attributed the problem to a wiring harness underneath the seat that breaks due to moving the seat back and forth. Unless I'm missing pages from the manual, moving the seat back and forth is a normal function, and it should not be considered normal wear and tear if simply moving the seat back and forth can render the airbag sensor useless. MINIacknowledged this issue in 2006, and stated in the interest of customer satisfaction, we are extending the warranty coverage of the vehicle for defects that may occur, for this specific air bag warning lamp issue, on your vehicle for 10 years / 150,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Under terms of this warranty coverage, MINIwill cover all necessary repair costs related to this action. I have been told three times by MINIthat this does not apply to my car. They cannot provide any information as to why it does not apply. They just tell me that my car is not eligible for this repair despite the fact that it clearly fits the bill. This is a major safety issue. The wiring is clearly defective, and nobody should have to pay out of pocket to have a defect corrected. MINIwon't even pay to have a technician diagnose the issue.

- Springfield, OR, USA

problem #15

Nov 092011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 121,000 miles
Upon turning on my driver's side heated seat, one part of my back seemed to be getting extremely hot. Upon turning around, I saw a small hole had been burned in the seat cover and was smoldering and smoking. I immediately turned off the seat warmer. It took many minutes to cool down and stop smoking. Thankfully the vehicle was stationary when this happened. If it had been in motion, my safety would certainly have been comprised, as I could have sustained burns before pulling the car to the side of the road. The distraction of a burning seat is also not an insignificant safety hazard as well.

- Sparks, MD, USA

problem #14

Jul 312011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 41,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW MINICooper S. while driving, the vehicle shut off. The contact noticed smoke coming from underneath the hood. When the battery was disconnected she noticed that the wires were melting. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was inspected. The dealer informed the contact that the relay and power steering pump both failed and would need to be replaced. The manufacturer was aware of the failure. The current and failure mileages were 41,000..updated 09/19/11 the control harness and power supply harness connector melted on the power steering motor. The vehicle has since been repaired.

- Auburn, WA, USA

problem #13

Feb 242009

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
2003 MINICooper S with power steering failure. Power steering goes in and out. Car radio turns on when car is off and no key is in the engine, causing battery to drain. Once my power steering went out when I was leaving a parking area causing me to hit the car in front of me. I have not repaired damages. I have however replaced the engine due to faulty wiring in aprox 2009. A fuse that runs everything for cooling blew and gave me no warning the engine was overheating.

- Marvel, CO, USA

problem #12

Nov 092010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles
My 2003 MINICooper has almost caught on fire several times, replaced transmission, electrical harness, power steering pump, A/C hoses and A/C service, wheel bearings, injection plugs etc....... I still cannot find the real problem why is causing a short, it has almost caught on fire several times, this car has been the most dangerous car I have ever own, I have never spend so much money on trying to fix any vehicle, right now I'm about $11,500 in costs of repairs, this is a crime to the consumer, I have been reading about a class action lawsuit that is in progress, I hope and pray that we get justice from the maker of MINI

- Fontana, CA, USA

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