really awful
Crashes / Fires:
5 / 28
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
80,215 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Mini Cooper Owner Comments (Page 10 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #64

Nov 102010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 83,000 miles


Power steering pump, noise, binding, and eventual failure.

- Walla Walla, WA, USA

problem #63

Sep 152009


  • 65,000 miles
Failed powering steering assist pump.

- Longview, TX, USA

problem #62

Sep 052010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 77,650 miles
On Sep 5, 2010 around 2:40pm, I parked my 2003 MINICooper in front of the lowe's store in san bruno, ca and went inside for shopping with my wife. After 20 minutes later we heard a store employee called 911 for the smoke/fire came out from my car. I went out the store immediately and saw the firefighters were about to put out the smoke. The firefighters opened the hood and heard the noise under the car. Next, they disconnected the car battery and the noise was gone. The MINICooper was towed to the auto repair shop for the diagnostics. Here is the diagnostics result: "inspected vehicle and found the power steering inoperative. Inspected power steering pump and wiring. Found wiring melted and the power steering pump failed. Found over current damage due to power steering pump failure causing battery light to illuminate. Replaced the power steering pump, wiring harness, power steering pump fan, and alternator." I believe this is a MINICooper design failure according to bbc special reports in 2009. Link 1: MINIpower steering failures www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2009/02/mini_steering_system_failures.html link 2: minis that could catch fire www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2009/04/mini_update.html.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #61

Nov 052010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 110,444 miles


Driving home from dropping my children off from school and the steering was very hard to turn the wheel. This was as I was going around a corner. It was very difficult to turn the wheel. I was fortunate that I was driving the car and not my teenage son or daughter as they would not have had the strength to avoid an accident. I have done some online research on MINICooper forums and discovered that this is a common problem due to failure of a electrical power steering pump. I contacted the local dealer MINIof murray Utah to see if there was a safety recall in force and was told there was none. I was also told that this is a well know MINICooper issue. The service rep said that he had the same problem with his own vehicle. This a safety hazard and could have cost my the life of my children. This must be recalled.

- Lindon, UT, USA

problem #60

Aug 302010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 40,500 miles
2003 MINICooper S - power steering has repeatedly failed at high and low speed driving. Wife ran onto sidewalk once when control was lost. Smells like something is burning when driving. Steering fails. When car cools control comes back, but fails again after less than a mile. Called 3 dealerships who all knew & had repaired cars with the same issues. Estimated $1500-2000 out of my pocket to fix with no help from manufacturer. I complained that the car had barely 40,000 miles on it and failure should not be occurring on german engineered car. One service tech said "the problems are in the pumps and those aren't designed or manufactured by BMW, so it is not bmws' fault." But they are the ones who sold these cars with theses issues for 4 years. Flushed power steering fluid myself which was burnt and black. Replaced with new recommended fluid. Lasted about 30 miles before burning smell returned and steering problems continued as before. Saw online article where BMW cautioned that 2002-2005 minis may have steering issues but no recall would be issued. The article estimated 225,000 cars at risk and a recall might destroy the MINIline. So be it. 2002 and 2003 models should be included in investigation of 2004 and 2005 model years. Considering selling the car to recoup investment, but after hearing of numerous steering failures and even fires that total the cars and even burn down homes and garages where they are parked makes me feel like I would be putting someone else unwittingly in danger. The car has currently sat in storage with the battery removed from the car while I debate whether or not to replace the power steering pump in hopes of fixing the problem or get rid of the car. I would have to tell they buyer the issues, which means less money, and I still owe $6500. I would lose all equity I have in a car I paid $20,000 for just a couple of years ago. BMW should fix this problem or I and others have unsafe cars worth a fraction of cost.

- Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #59

Oct 122010


  • 64,177 miles
Power steering pump failure that ended up in fire. Power steering failed and the battery icon light went on, afterwards it began to smell like burnt, I stopped the car immediately and open the bonnet, everything was covered on an ashes layer. The pump wires and connections were all melted along the pump.

- Braga, 00, USA

problem #58

Aug 152010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 136,400 miles


2003 MINICooper had power steering failure while being driven.

- Lockhart, TX, USA

problem #57

Aug 152010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I have a 2003 MINIcopper. I am experiencing the power steering shutting off. This has happened a few times usually when starting or stopping the car. And during hot weather in the summer. I also had the power steering fan replaced because it was bad.

- Long Beach, NY, USA

problem #56

Oct 092010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 47,578 miles
While driving, I noticed how difficult it had become to turn the wheel of the car when completing a turn. This occurred three times in succession at which point I was able to park the car safely out of traffic in a private parking lot. After opening the hood and not being able to see anything visually wrong, I.e., nothing broken, leaking, empty, etc. I called my husband who came to drive the car home. No warning lights appeared on the dashboard at any time when either of us drove the car. My husband did not experience any difficulty in turning the wheel when driving the car home. However, my husband then drove the car the same day a few hours later and encountered the same problem that I had. It was hard to turn the wheel - there was no power steering. This difficulty in turning the wheel happened in drive as well as reverse, whether turning right or left. Very scary!

- Kittery Point, ME, USA

problem #55

Aug 032010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 82,000 miles
Intermittent power steering (ps) failure. Approximately 20 minutes into a drive, power steering would fail (at any speed), making car extremely difficult and unsafe to drive. Took all my strength to turn the wheel; a frail person could kill someone. Turning the ignition off and on again would reset power steering assist. Had to replace ps pump fan and ps pump (damaged by overheating), at great expense (>$1100), to drive safely again.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #54

Oct 072010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 57,304 miles


Driving home yesterday, my 2003 MINICooper S suddenly lost power steering as I was going around a curve. I had to muscle the car back into my lane to avoid hitting the car in the lane beside me. I was about half a mile from home and made it there without further incident -- but turning at slow speeds was dangerously difficult. I contacted the MINIrepair shop this morning and they said that this intermittent unexpected loss of steering control is unfortunately somewhat common with minis.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #53

May 262010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 141,000 miles
On 5/26/10 lost power steering while driving on the long island expressway. 141,000 miles on car. Power steering electronic pump replacement cost $ $1005.

- E. Quogue, NY, USA

problem #52

Jul 162010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 5,600 miles
Power steering lock on it.

- Stamford, CT, USA

problem #51

Sep 022008


  • 46,594 miles
While driving a 2003 MINICooper vehicle steering malfunctioned while driving on highway. Auto barely made it to dealership. Determined to be a faulty power steering pump with adjoining parts. Vehicle had 46,594 miles and MINIwould not cover defect even though other owners complained of problem. Repair to me was $979.01 + 6% Connecticut sales tax!

- Newtown, CT, USA

problem #50

Jul 062010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 82,545 miles
When it first happened I was approaching a corner for a turn and without warning the power steering went out. Another car was at the corner and I almost hit it because I wasn't expecting to have to manually force the steering wheel to turn the car. There is no set time or length of drive for the power steering to just quit. Now even going straight down the road I can sometimes feel the steering stiffen up so I will make a turn to check and sure enough no power steering. Sometimes while in the middle of a turn the car will feel like it jumps a little sideways and I'm not sure if its the power steering trying to engage or what. I haven't done anything to replace the pump yet but I try not to drive it as often to decrease the chances of hitting something or the power steering pump going out all of the way.

- Rose Hill, KS, USA

problem #49

Jun 152009

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
2003 MINICooper S with 67,000K miles, power steering pump failed and caused a short circuit resulting in a complete meltdown. The pump, hydraulic lines, cooling fan and wiring harness were all burned or melted. There was no symptom or indication of a failure. Car drove and acted "normal" prior to parking it for the day. When I got back in the car, 8 hours later, no power steering. If it had been in my garage when the short/meltdown occurred, it may have caused fire. Miniusa basically said I was on my own due to expiration of my warranty. (60,000).

- Peyton, CO, USA

problem #48

Oct 102008


  • 55,000 miles
Driving 55mph on highway. Car starts pulling left and right as if caught in a groove. Pull off next exit and notice I have no power steering as almost impossible to steer as car comes to a stop.

- South Salem, NY, USA

problem #47

Sep 032010


  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. While the contact was driving approximately 30 mph, there was a loss of power steering without warning. The vehicle was driven to the side of the road. The engine was turned off and restarted. The vehicle resumed normally for two miles, and then the failure reoccurred. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the power steering pump was replaced. The failure mileage was approximately 77,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Marble Head , MA, USA

problem #46

Jul 182010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 74,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 MINICooper S. the contact stated that while making a left turn at approximately 25 mph, the power steering completely malfunctioned. The vehicle moved off the road and crashed into a telephone pole. The contact sustained minor injuries. There was no police report filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer had not been notified. The failure mileage was approximately 74,000. Updated 02/08/11 updated 04/21/11

- Pittsfield , PA, USA

problem #45

Sep 172010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 53,241 miles
Complete failure of power steering pump while driving resulting in almost complete loss of steering. Power steering pump was replaced only to have the remanufactured unit fail 12 months later. Upon investigation it became apparent that this is a known problem for 2002-2006 MINIcoopers. Have been informed that this pump design is poor and prone to failure.

- Kaukauna, WI, USA

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