really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
30,349 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Mini Cooper Owner Comments

problem #16

Mar 262012


  • 113,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper S. while driving approximately 55 mph, the contact noticed smoke emitting from under the hood. The contact stopped the vehicle and found a fire had erupted in the engine area and under the vehicle. The contact was able to extinguish the fire. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic but was not inspected for the cause of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 113,000.

- Dearborn Heights , MI, USA

problem #15

Mar 222007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 28,639 miles
Turning from a left hand turn lane on to a side street as I have done at least 4 times a day for over 10 years, I lost all power and the ability to control the vehicle. In the middle of the turn the loss of power, the loss of steering, and the loss of brakes caused me to run into the curb. This accident resulted in the right front wheel and assembly being replaced. Not long after getting my MINICooper S the hesitation of the accelerator when stating off in first gear began. I was told by the service rep at the MINIdealership that there was no fix for this problem. I've had too many near accidents because of it. Going back as far as 2005 I have complained about my steering and the noise it makes. The whole steering unit has been replaced 2 times, yet in 2009 I experienced a total loss of power while traveling at speeds of 65 mph. The power loss was electrical even though my engine was still running. The final outcome was MINIreplaced the alternator and battery. I've complained time and again yet with no help unless it's coming out of my own pocket. Since owning this MINICooper S I've spent nearly $6000 in repairs. Because of the interdependent nature of the asc/dsc on the vehicles braking, electronics, and even starting acceleration from a stop; has this feature been properly studied as the culprit for the many and varied problems this particular car has? in the uk there is a blog called watchdog that has 180 people who posted between February and April 2009 that all had the same problem with the power steering that I and hundreds of others have reported. How can such a serious problem go unresolved for so long. There is no doubt that this problem alone falls under the United States code for motor vehicle safety (title 49, chapter 301).

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #14

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 #13

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

problem #12

Nov 162010


  • miles
The sparkplug has blown completely out the head of my 2003 MINICooper, I went on line and found out that this is becoming a common problem.

- Dixon, CA, USA

problem #11

Dec 052008


  • 52,000 miles
I purchased my '03 MINIcopper S with 49K from a Honda in mechanicsburg, pa dealer in August. In December, I purchased tires and then went to a self-service carwash afterward. When I got home and before I put it in the garage, I took out the hose and washed off the wheels and under the car. During the process there was white smoke, which I thought was steam from the water hitting the manifold. I put the car in the garage and later when my wife came home she commented on the smoke and mist in the garage (it was quite cold that night.) the next day when I pulled the car out, the steering was very stiff and I only drove it out the driveway and on the road before I realized the power steering was completely out. I drove it about 15 miles to the dealer after checking fuses and determining that the problem was beyond my mechanical skills. The power steering pump, fan and harness were replaced along with the battery (shorted out). Insurance adjusters from hondacare (extended warranty), state farm insurance company (my comprehensive insurance) and the dealership determined that the power steering pump had caught fire. Their conjecture was that I had put out the fire with the hose when I sprayed under the car. Honda care paid $1999 from extended warranty for the power steering pump, battery, power steering harness and fan. A total of $2700 additional from state farm comprehensive insurance (hondacare extended warranty would not cover harness, towing and diagnostic work from the MINIdealer in Maryland, etc because they were the result of damage caused by the power steering pump fire); state farm insurance was exceptional and covered the difference with comprehensive covered. The parts are not available at this time but I was told that there are reports including pictures from adjusters at hondacare and from state farm insurance.

- Hershey, PA, USA

problem #10

Apr 182004


  • 68,600 miles


The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. The contact had the transmission replaced three times. In addition, the brackets that support the muffler have rotted. Underneath the hood, the brackets that support the horn have also rotted. The contact will take the vehicle to the dealer again for another repair. The failure and current mileages were 68,600.

- Flushing, NY, USA

problem #9

Oct 162006


  • 10,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. Upon taking the vehicle in for an oil change, it was discovered that the driver side struts needed to be replaced. Approximately four months later, the passenger side strut needed to be replaced. The front and rear brakes were also replaced and the vehicle had an oil pan leak. The driver's and passenger side window motors failed and needed to be replaced. The current mileage was 12,900 and failure mileage was 10,000.

- L.I.C., NY, USA

problem #8

Dec 022007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
While driving the car to the dealership for service I heard a loud noise and felt a shutter, then a loss of power and smoke to the rear of the car. I turned motor off and coasted to the side of the road to make sure everything was ok. Once stopped, I tried to restart the car. Saw more smoke and sparks from the tail pipe. I then sat and started to call a tow truck, when I noticed flames coming from the hood scoop. I popped the hood and upon opening it, noticed a fire at the front of the motor, directly in front of the supercharger. I was unable to put out the flame, so I call 911 and the fire department was on site to put out the fire in a few minutes, but by then the entire engine compartment was engulfed in flames. Allstate called it a total loss.

- Tracy, CA, USA

problem #7

Jul 142004


  • Manual transmission
  • 10,000 miles
After the 10,000 mile oil change was performed, the vehicle failed to start on the first attempt, it idled rough and sometimes stalled when stopped at a traffic light without warning. The dealership has reprogrammed the computer, drained the fuel and put in other grade of fuel. After numerous attempts, the fuel pump and injectors were replaced but remained to lose fuel pressure overnight.

- Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #6

Dec 012003

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles


Below is a quote of another person, I am experiencing similar problems except for "total loss of power" which has not happened to me. Also, the studdering problem in first gear is greatly reduced when the "active skid control" is disabled. My MINICooper S was purchased in May 2003. "new MINICooper S automobile (purchased in June of 2003) experiences a noticeable and significant stumble when engaging first gear and accelerating from a stopped position. The stumble is significant enough to cause a stall condition and results in unreliable throttle response. The problem is worse at higher RPM engagements, in hotter weather, and with the ac engaged. The stumble feels like a momentary loss of power and then shortly thereafter, power is returned to the wheels. The problem occurs on virtually every engagement but is considerably worse on the first engagement after the car has sat for several hours with the engine off. The problem is less severe when turning the car left or right while engaging first gear. This issue renders the throttle response unreliable and can stall the automobile at unexpected times. No crashes have occurred at this time but the potential for a rear-end collision due to a stall or a side impact collision due to stalling when crossing an intersection is present. Additional issues related to engine management and throttle response occur in the same automobile have occurred but these additional problems have been intermittent and difficult to reproduce. In general, the additional problems seem to occur in on temperature days with ac engaged and include a full loss of power for an extended period of time while engaging first gear and a noticeable surging during acceleration as is the driver was pressing and releasing the gas."

- Miami Beach, FL, USA

problem #5

Sep 302003

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 4,000 miles
MINICooper 2003 cvt stalls in slow traffic or starting from stop light. The check engine light goes on; however, the engine shuts off. In addition, it has happened twice in a month considering that the vehicle is only a month old. Also, the cvt transmission is very jerky and could surge on an occasional basis. Informed that it's a software problem and no repair is needed at this point. I think it is a serious safety issue.

- Issaquah, WA, USA

problem #4

Aug 102003

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 800 miles
My MINICooper July 2003 build has what is referred to as either a "stumble" or a "hiccup". basically what happens is that the engine momentarily cuts out when accelerating from a stop, causing a pause and than resumiing with a jolt. This problem is being complained about by numerous MINIowners for over 1 year (see numerous complaints on this subject at www.minicooperonline.com/mod...opic&topic=9951 and also at mini2.com yet the MINIdealers claim ignorance about the problem, or say they have heard of a few complaints on the S but not on the Cooper. Some MINIusa reps (1-866-ask-MINIadmit it is a known issue on both the Cooper and the Cooper S. othes claim ignorance. They give people different responses, but generally when they do admit it is a known issue they also say that "engineering is collecting complaints" or "they are working on a fix" but they offer no projected fix date at all. They do take some people's VIN number when filing the complaint, but say they have no system of letting you know if or when a fix is to be expected. We MINIowners are frustrated over this ongoing, annoying, and potentially lethal defect. MINIshould be put to the task of repairing this issue or to stop selling the car period. They are fully aware that they are selling cars which has this defect wtih no fix. They are stealing (misrepresentation) and endangering the public.

- Larchmont, NY, USA

problem #3

May 152003


  • miles
While driving at any speed and without any prior warning vehicle will stall. Consumer has made contact with the dealer on four separate occasions, but problem still occurs.

- Pomona, CA, USA

problem #2

Jun 062003


  • miles
Intermittently while driving vehicle at 55 mph engine is losing power and won't pass the 20 mph. Dealer has inspected the vehicle several times, and could not duplicate or correct the problem.

- Pacifica, CA, USA

problem #1

Dec 222002


  • 550 miles
While driving 30 mph or less the vehicle stalled.

- New Brunswick, NJ, USA

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