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 4 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #184

Nov 122012


  • 113,000 miles


Driving home from work getting off the turnpike to take my exit right, my 2003 MINIcooper kept going straight. Very frightening experience as I could not turn the wheel coming off highway speeds. There is no warning at all when this happens, you just cannot turn the wheel to negotiate your turn. I've driven cars without power steering, but when you have an electric power steering failure it is impossible to steer this car. BMW must take responsibility for this well documented dangerous failure and do the right thing or someone is going to get seriously hurt and/or hurt someone else. Cost to fix the steering pump failure - $1200.

- Mechanicsburg, PA, USA

problem #183

Jul 132012


  • 135,000 miles
As I was pulling into my driveway I noticed that smoke was coming from my hood. I immediately stopped the car and popped the hood to find smoke and fire coming from my engine compartment. I was able to disconnect the battery and extinguish the fire before it did extensive damage. Cause of fire was failed power steering pump.

- Macon, MO, USA

problem #182

Oct 012012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 53,000 miles
Electric power steering pump stop functioning while driving. Sudden lost of power steering. Difficult to steer. This is the second pump that was replaced on the vehicle about two years ago. The first pump stop working about two years ago.

- Mount Pleasant, SC, USA

problem #181

Sep 012012


  • 100,000 miles


Power steering failure. Power steering failed while driving at approximately 35-40 mph. Upon turning off and restarting vehicle power steering worked for a short period of time - followed by intermittent failures/normal operation.

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #180

Jul 112012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 73,000 miles
The power steering pump fails causing a loss of power steering in my vehicle while driving. This sporadically occurs while driving causing a safety hazard as it becomes very difficult to steer the vehicle.

- Warminster, PA, USA

problem #179

Oct 062012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 73,000 miles
I was driving down a small city street in my 2003 MINICooper S and went to make a left turn - as soon as I did, the steering became very heavy...and un-responsive. I was able to through muscle strength force the car through the turn but had there been anyone next to me this surely would have caused a collision as it was a very difficult turn. The disappearance of the power steering was sudden and was completely gone. The car is now parked.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #178

Sep 162012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 132,000 miles


Power steering function failed; steering is now non-powered.

- Pleasanton, CA, USA

problem #177

Mar 032012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 139,158 miles
The power steering quit while driving on interstate (I85) on March 3, 2012. We had just purchased the car so we took it back to dealer and he had the pump and reservoir replaced (took 2 weeks). Power steering just went out again (09/26/12) with same symptoms (sporadic operation - mainly not working) while driving to work.

- Abbeville, SC, USA

problem #176

May 132012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
On the morning of Sunday May 13th 2012 (mothers day), I drove the vehicle approx 11 miles to my mother-in-law's home. During this 11 mile ride all seemed normal with the vehicle. After visiting for a few hours I drove it approx 5 more miles to a stop & shop, again all seemed fine with the vehicle. Within the 10-15minutes I was inside purchasing mothers day flowers, stop and shop employees had noticed a fire in the parking lot. I walked into the parking lot to find the police and fire fighters approaching my car. When I got to it there was no more fire but still plenty of smoke coming from under the hood and driver side wheel well. I took a look under the car to see that there was no more fire, so the fire department left. I was not able to start the car so I jacked up the front of the vehicle to see what had caught fire. The fire had originated from the electric/hydraulic power steering pump. The socket on the pump was still smoking a lot and very melted. The plug connector on the 12V/grounding cables feeding the pump was also very melted. Since this fire occurred on a 12V line it also shorted out the battery completely. I was able to jump the car started in order to drive it about 15-16 miles home. Since then the pump has been disassembled to find that the entire circuit board was compromised (burned/ashes). I decided to file this complaint after I had researched this issue extensively. Apparently this is a common problem. Most simply fail, either causing accidents or merely making it extremely hard do drive. Few other unlucky owners have there pumps burst into flames. MINIis aware of the issue but offers minimal to no compensation. In Canada a recall has already been issued for these defective pumps. I can only hope and pray that NHTSA along with MINIusa choose to issue a recall before this causes a very serious accident (if it hasn't already).

- Oakville, CT, USA

problem #175

Sep 092012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 52,300 miles
I drove my car to my sports team practice, parked and promptly had to relocate my car to an adjacent lot. The power steering did not work upon starting the car to move it and there was no evidence or warning of it's failure. Not even the check engine light went on.

- Foxboro, MA, USA

problem #174

Sep 062012


  • 85,000 miles


As I was pulling away from a stop sign, I realized that I couldn't turn the steering wheel. I put the car in reverse and went back and forth trying to see if something was stuck. I did this a couple times, then realized my power steering was out. I checked the fluids and they were fine. Took the car to a mechanic and they ran diagnostic tests and determined the power steering pump was faulty.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #173

Aug 272012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 64,000 miles
Complete power steering failure. Faulty/failed pump internal control circuitry.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #172

May 152012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
My power steering suddenly failed as I was driving on a windy back road, almost didn't make the turn, and since it has failed completely. When I called the local MINIdealership (MINIof fairfield county, ct) last week to finally get the part replaced (quoted $1700 at multiple locations) the customer service person replied with, "how did you know about the recall?" overjoyed I drove my MINIin this morning at 7am only to be told that there is no official recall and I am still on the hook for the $1700. Not pleased. Calling MINItoday.

- Bridgeport, CT, USA

problem #171

Aug 232012


  • 121,000 miles
Drove 2003 MINIto work 11.5 miles. As I was making a turn into the parking garage the steering went out and became very difficult to maneuver. There was no warning or previous indication that there might be a problem with the steering.

- Avon, IN, USA

problem #170

Jul 162012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 122,000 miles
After leaving the highway and negotiating the off ramp, the power steering simply stopped working. The steering became extremely difficult so I pulled over, shut the car off and lifted hood to inspect. The was no visual indication of issues an fluid level is fine. After restarting the steering worked fine again. Several days later the same situation occurred in the middle of a corner, it was all I could to maintain control through the corner. I read where there was some "opinions" that if power steering cooling fan was bad it could cause this to happen so I replaced. Still happens intermittently. I will likely pull the steering unit to inspect but the biggest issue is it gives a false sense of security. When you restart the engine everything seems ok so you continue, sometimes for weeks. The problem is that the failure can occur in the middle of a turn and cause a serious accident. There is also no lighted indication of the failure on your dash, so you don, T expect it. This will end up killing someone if it hasn't already.

- Belmont, NC, USA

problem #169

Jul 292012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
Was stopped in parking lot, fire started in engine bay. Power steering has been intermittent for awhile. Shop indicated that the fan failed and caused the pump/wiring to completely melt. This issue is widely known and found on MINIcooper forums.

- Eden Prairie, MN, USA

problem #168

Jul 122012


  • 106,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. While driving approximately 30 mph, the contact noticed a chattering noise and suddenly the vehicle would not accelerate. The contact also stated that he was a mechanic. After inspecting the vehicle, he noticed that the transmission would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. Prior to the transmission failure, the steering wheel became difficult to maneuver. After inspecting the vehicle, the contact noticed that the power steering pump and cooling fan would have to also be replaced. The approximate failure mileage was 106,000.

- Waverly, MN, USA

problem #167

May 152012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 142,035 miles
Power steering failed. Car is rack and pinion steering and can be driven without the pump but had I been going around a curve when it failed, the increased wheel effort required could have resulted in a serious accident!

- Jamestown, NC, USA

problem #166

Jul 202012


  • miles
Power steering pump is whining and according to dealer is going to fail at anytime. Unfortunately this unit does not fail in the driveway it fails while driving the vehicle. Hopefully I will be driving when this happens as my wife will not have the strength to get the car under control. There has been a recall in Canada for this same problem and all of us MINIdrivers in the us are wondering why we don't have a recall here.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #165

Jul 092012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 86,600 miles
I was going around a 90 degree corner at about 15 mph when the steering seemed to lock up. I quickly realized that the power steering had failed, and I wrestled the steering wheel to complete the turn. Since then, the power steering has not worked 90% of the time.

- Columbus, OH, USA

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