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 5 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #164

Jun 202012


  • 95,000 miles


Power steering occasionally fails during low speed turns, e.g. U-turn or driving in parking lots.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #163

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 #162

Jun 012010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • miles
Power steering failed, making it very difficult to steer. Nearly impossible to turn wheel while stopped. My wife can barely drive the car. From researching this site and other sites, my situation seems to be the same as thousands of others, and I would like my name to be added to the current investigation.

- Winston Salem, NC, USA

problem #161

Jun 122012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 128,000 miles


On 6/12/12 I was driving my car towards my small neighborhood at speed of 10-15 miles an hour. For no apparent reason the steering wheel felt as if it was locked in place. With all my force I had to pull over to the side. I had the car checked and confirmed that the hydraulic power steering pump has failed. There was no service engine light on or any warnings what so ever, the power steering pump failed without any notice. If I were driving at high speeds of 70 miles an hour on the freeway I could have seriously been hurt.this is unacceptable.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #160

Jun 032012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 121,991 miles
At approximately 35mph the power steering of my 2003 MINICooper erratically engaged and disengaged several times. I responded by slowing down and trying to maintain control of the vehicle. Once stopped, I turned the car off completely. Once out of the vehicle I heard an electric motor running. I opened the hood to investigate and noted a small amount of smoke rising from the aft portion of the engine compartment. I went back to the ignition switch to confirm it was off and removed the keys. The electric motor continued to run and as I went back to the open hood the smoke volume had increased dramatically. The smoke had a very clear electrical smell and color. I immediately began trying to disconnect the battery. While obtaining tools from the hatch of the car, the electric power steering pump assembly erupted in flames. I obtained my fire extinguisher and directed it at the aft portion of the engine compartment. This produced no results and the flames returned quickly. I then got the tools from the hatch of the car and cut the battery cables. This caused the fire to subside immediately. At the repair facility the power steering pump assembly (electric) was removed and determined to be the cause of the fire. The fact that I had tools and 25 years mechanical experience prevented this car from burning to the ground. In my opinion this is a major safety issue on two levels. First: Loss of directional control. Second: Fire hazard, electrical component that cannot be turned off with the ignition switch. This must be investigated and the manufacture directed to apply a fix to all affected vehicles.

- Winston Salem, NC, USA

problem #159

May 262012


  • 140,000 miles
I purchased a used MINICooper S six months ago, in December 2011. I drove my vehicle as I normally due, just across town about 10 miles, and it was fine. I parked my car and went inside. When I came out, about 10-15 minutes later, and tried to back out of the driveway, the power steering was non-existent. I pulled back into the driveway and checked the fluid level and let the car cool down for a few more minutes. When I restarted the car, the power steering was back. Since then, the power steering is intermittent. If the car is hot, it usually does not work, but if the car is given a chance to cool down, then it seems to work, but the problem is occurring more and more frequently and I have found many complaints from other MINIowners.

- Danville, VA, USA

problem #158

Feb 152012


  • 120,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. While driving approximately 55 mph, the steering wheel became difficult to maneuver. The vehicle suddenly regained power steering. The failure recurred intermittently. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostics or repairs. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Grove City, OH, USA

problem #157

May 152012


  • miles
I drove my 2003 MINICooper S to my local department of transportation to renew my driver's license. Nothing abnormal occurred on the trip to the dmv. When I got in and began to drive home, there was no power steering. Later that evening, I started the car when it was cool and the power steering was back until the car warmed up. The radiator fan and the power steering fan do not function upon doing research on the internet, I have found that this problem occurs extremely often in 2002-2007 minis. I also found, posted on a MINIforum by someone claiming to be an engineer, a diagnosis of the problem. Carbon dust from the electric motor that operates the power steering pump gets into the control unit attached to it. Since the chip was not properly sealed with a lacquer, it causees a short circuit in the chip. This causes the pump to fail. Another possible cause is the failure of the cooling fan for the power steering pump. The fan can seize, stop cooling the pump, and eventually it will overheat. This also trips a fuse that stops the radiator fan. As a result, the engine can also overheat. I have determined that the fan has stopped working. Since I have only had this car since the middle of winter and the has been the only warm day I have driven it, this was the first time I noticed it. I plan to avoid the $1000 charge to have it replaced at the dealer by repairing it myself but many people are not this fortunate. I believe this design flaw can and will cause serious accidents to occur. If my mother, sister, or girlfriend had been driving my car on the highway when it failed, they would not have been able to steer resulting in a serious crash. While perusing various MINIforums, I have read stories of several serious crashes. I would like to see a recall on all 2002-2007 MINIcoopers so that this problem can not harm someone.

- Coeur D'alene, ID, USA

problem #156

May 112012


  • 119,560 miles
While driving, it felt as though my power steering had gone out. I continued to drive to my location. Once in the parking lot, steering became near impossible, especially while going at very slow speeds. When I went to back out of my parking spot that evening, it was unable to be done, causing me to call a tow truck to tow my car.

- Archbold, OH, USA

problem #155

Aug 132011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 89,550 miles
The power steering failed and stooped working as I was driving through boston. Now, the power steering pump stays on even when the key is taken out of the ignition.

- Wiscasset, ME, USA

problem #154

Apr 022010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 94,927 miles


Vehicle lost power steering. I had the power steering assist cooling fan replaced twice and the relay switch for the cooling fan. It worked fine for a time. Now (10,000 miles later) is intermittent.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #153

Apr 212012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 85,400 miles
Power assist for steering failed completely while driving normally. Subsequent brief (< 1 minute) function after restarting engine also ends up in failure. Behavior is consistent with failure that caused Canada to issue recall for same model vehicle for same issue (Transport Canada recall # 2003055).

- Bridgeport, CT, USA

problem #152

Apr 082012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 69,600 miles
The power steering system failed. It comes from the power steering pump failure and also made the alternator and battery go bad. It becames very difficult to turn the wheel.

- Newark, DE, USA

problem #151

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 #150

Apr 022012


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. The contact stated that the power steering assist failed without warning while driving approximately 30 mph. The power steering warning light illuminated after the failure occurred. The steering wheel had to be turned with extreme force as smoke emitted from under the hood. The contact was able to extinguish the fire. The fire initiated in the steering pump compartment. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 80,000.

- Bristol , TN, USA

problem #149

Apr 012012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 125,559 miles
The power steering went out just after I purchased it. I see that there are multiple complaints about this problem for nearly every year model that this vehicle has been produced for the american market. I called a local dealership to see if there was a recall and I stated that message boards online were loaded with angry customers complaining about the same thing. They refused to admit that there's a problem and want to charge me $2500! please, NHTSA, do something about this!

- Sugar Hill, GA, USA

problem #148

Oct 132010

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
Went down a dirt rode to meet a client. Powersteering was working. Met with client, got back in the car, and the powersteering was no longer working. It is very difficult and dangerous to drive this car when there is no powersteering.

- Horseshoe Bend, ID, USA

problem #147

Nov 152011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 193,000 miles
The steering pump failed on the freeway.

- Union City, CA, USA

problem #146

Jan 202012


  • 79,000 miles
Steering pump failed and had to be replaced.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #145

Mar 102012


  • miles
While driving at high way speed car lost steering assist, intermittently came bad then failed, I then slowed down steering did not came back, once stopped large amount of smoke coming from under hood the smell of electrical burning, even with key off I could hear electric power steering pump still trying to run, the fire was from the heavy battery feed wires into the power steering pump the composite end of pump melted, once I disconnected the battery the source of fire was removed, I have spent the last 4 years working in a GM dealer ship, master ase tech, I feel if I was a typical consumer and had not known to pull battery power the out come could had been worse.

- Holladay, UT, USA

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