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 6 of 13)

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problem #144

Feb 162012


  • 80,100 miles


The contact owns a 2003 MINIcopper. The contact stated that while the vehicle was parked in a residential garage, smoke emitted from under the hood of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic where the mechanic confirmed that the power steering pump caught fire and melted the wiring harness. The manufacturer was contacted. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 80,100 and the current mileage was 80,600.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #143

Feb 142012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 49,000 miles
While driving the 2003 MINIthe power steering failed making the vehicle difficult to steer. Since the original incident, the power steering works intermittently. Research shows the likely reason for the problem is a power steering pump failure. I am ordering a new pump to replace the failed pump. This seems to be a common issue with MINIfor this year model. MINIshould be held responsible for the cost of the repair including labor as the pump appears to have had issues since 2002.

- Wellston, OK, USA

problem #142

Feb 102012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 106,400 miles
Power steering seem a little hard but while cruising on the freeway it seemed like it almost went completely out. Hasn't happened like that since but its still a little harder to turn that what I think it should be.

- Tacoma, WA, USA

problem #141

Feb 062012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 90,500 miles


While driving to work at approximately 25 miles per hour and in the process of turning around a bend, my power steering gave out. As the curve was of decreasing radius, this failure was evident by a significant (>100%) increase in resistance to steering angle change and upon completion of the turn a complete lack of automatic return to a neutral steering path (the car wanted to "stay" in the turn). Returning the car to neutral steering angle also required significant (>100%) additional application of force. Upon pull-over and restart of the car, the power steering returned, but only for approximately one minute of driving. For the remainder of the drive the power steering fluctuated in and out making driving difficult. Car will be taken to dealer for fault diagnosis this week as the issue has persisted and continued to worsen (longer droughts of power steering operation) over the past week.

- West Point, NY, USA

problem #140

Jan 252012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 44,100 miles
My power steering first failed as I went into a turn on a highway. It suddenly became very hard to control the car, but luckily it started working again in time for me to complete the turn and not crash. I took it to my mechanic, who said it could be the power steering, but to wait and see if it does it again, as this is extremely expensive to repair. Then, two weeks later, the power steering failed permanently as I was attempting to make a turn after waiting at a stoplight. Luckily I was able to force the wheels to turn and avoid an accident, but now I will have a costly repair bill. I am fortunate that I was not injured in these incidents because I very easily could have been, especially when it failed on the highway.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #139

Feb 022007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
The power steering stops working while driving. Restarting vehicle would correct problem, dangerous because it is re-occurring more frequently. Dealership presently replacing faulty pump out of warranty. Youthfull - inexperienced driver warning to all!!!

- Franklin Square, NY, USA

problem #138

Jan 302012

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 75,400 miles


Power steering went out while driving making it hazardous to maneuver turning left. I reported this December 14 2011 and the dealership couldn't find problem. Replaced the power steering fan in December. Replaced the entire power steering pump January 30, because power steering would go out intermittently. I feel this is a dangerous problem and the power steering shouldn't fail. There should be a recall of this problem.

- Grand Prairie, TX, USA

problem #137

Jan 212011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
I was driving the MINICooper on a busy road when the power steering stopped working. The vehicle was impossible to steer. We were lucky not to have had an accident or hit a pedestrian. This is an unacceptable design. The vehicle should never be that hard to control even when the power steering malfunctions. This is a safety hazard and these parts should be recalled. I would not allow any of my family to operate the vehicle until there is a change in design to the part. Simply replacing the power steering pump with a new or refurbished part with a similar design will not make the vehicle safe.

- New Albany, OH, USA

problem #136

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 #135

Dec 052011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 70,426 miles
Power steering failure. Power steering pump failed suddenly without warning, causing the vehicle to become unresponsive to normal steering wheel operation, resulting in driver having to take unexpected and sudden steering correction to avoid running off the road or colliding with an oncoming vehicle.

- Springfield, NJ, USA

problem #134

Dec 212011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 152,000 miles


2003 MINICooper, power steering pump just quit making the car unsafe too drive. Was told this is a common thing with the MINICooper and after checking on line I see there is a lot of people having the same problem! I think BMW needs to step up to the plate and take care of this!!! after all 800 dollars for a new one is a bit much!!!

- Vassar, MI, USA

problem #133

Dec 232011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
On the date of incident I parked my car in a wells fargo bank parking lot after going to the gym. Upon returning to my car an individual who had parked next to me informed me that "your car is smoking" I looked and white smoke was coming from under the hood. I opened the hood to inspect it and saw white smoke which smelled electrical. The individual who noticed smoke came out of her SUV to help. She and I looked and she informed me that she saw a small flame coming from under the engine. I saw it and extinguished it with a bottle of water I had. I then heard an electrical spinning/humming as if something was still electrically charged. The smoke then began to intensify and got so out of control I was tempted to call 911 but then I thought to disconnect any power to the car by disconnecting the battery. This action cut all power to the car and stopped the smoke and electrical spinning/humming. I called aaa and had my car towed to my mechanic. On the evening of 12/23/2011 my mechanic called me and informed me that my power steering pump had failed and estimated the repairs at $1,046. On 12/26/2011 my car was returned to me by my mechanic who showed me the failed power steering pump which melted other wires and components of the power steering mechanism. Total out-of-pocket expenses was $1,053.

- Fountain Valley, CA, USA

problem #132

Apr 012010


  • 40,000 miles
The power steering pump failed while driving and proceeded to fail intermittently for several months with no warning, sometimes at high rates of speed and in turns. The power steering pump quit for good approximately six months later. I could have been severely injured or killed - or worse, hurt someone else. The MINICooper is very hard to steer without power steering. I'm a strong woman but it takes some serious upper arm strength and core strength to control the vehicle manually. The most disturbing part is the lack of warning. There is no clue that you are about to lose power. These parts are prohibitively expensive and there is a shortage of mechanics willing to work on these cars in our area. I don't know if the power steering fan was affected, as well, but I suspect it broke somewhere in that time, too. I know there are incidents of these cars catching fire, and thankfully, we have not experienced that. Please help. This is so dangerous.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #131

Dec 132011


  • 72,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper S. while driving at approximately 25 mph the steering wheel became stiff and difficult to maneuver. The contact restarted the vehicle and regained power steering. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnostic. The mechanic stated the electric power steering pump would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 72,000.

- Reading, PA, USA

problem #130

Jun 272007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 65,525 miles
The incident occurred back in June 27, 2007. I parked my car and then noticed there was smoke coming from the front of the car. Opened the bonnet and there were flames coming from the underside of the engine. The first attempt at using a fire extinguisher temporarily put out the fire, but it re-ignited and at this point called the fire department to put it out safely. The BMW dealer kept saying there was never a fire, just smoldering. The "smoldering" was the cause of a steering pump failure which overheats, which in turn damaged the loom (harness, or main wiring for the vehicle), which also ruined the battery. The cost was over $1000 to repair the "smoldering" damages. Prior to the steering pump failure, there was no indication that there were steering problems, nor any possible electrical problems. Car mileage was at 65,525 at the time of the incident.

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #129

Nov 162011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 107,000 miles
Power steering pump failed, steering became very difficult. Pump remained on after car was turned off and drained battery, now car will not run. Very dangerous issue!

- Lake Oswego, OR, USA

problem #128

Nov 152011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 193,000 miles
The power steering went out while I was driving on the freeway.

- Union City, CA, USA

problem #127

Nov 142007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
Attempting to turn into school parking lot, power steering abruptly stopped working, steering wheel became extremely difficult to turn. The power steering has intermittently faltered several times in the last year but has now failed entirely.

- Cibolo, TX, USA

problem #126

Nov 042011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 136,300 miles
Driving at slow speed turning right into parking garage power steering failed and almost caused vehicle to contact another car. This is the second time in the past week that the power steering has randomly failed. Turned off and restarted car and steering starts working correctly again.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #125

Oct 112011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 102,890 miles
2003 MINICooper S. car over heated and power steering failed. Pulled off to the side of the road. Fan on power steering pump failed, caused pump to fail and car to over heat.

- Voluntown, CT, USA

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