hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
67,838 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

problem #18

Sep 022014


  • 113,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. While driving approximately 55 mph, the steering wheel seized. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who stated that the power steering pump failed. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 113,000.

- Sherburne, NY, USA

problem #17

Jul 232011

Cooper 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper S. the contact stated while driving 65 mph the power steering failed. The vehicle was driven onto the emergency lane because the steering wheel was very hard to maneuver. The dealer was contacted in regards to a recall and stated only a class action law suit was in progress. The contact was told to bring the vehicle into the dealer to be repaired at her own expense. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 58,000. Updated 08/31/ the power steering pump was replaced. Updated 09/12/11

- Salmouth, ME, USA

problem #16

Sep 152010


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. While driving approximately 20 mph he attempted to make a left turn and the steering wheel became very stiff. The vehicle was driven onto the emergency lane and turned off. Upon restarting the vehicle, the steering wheel remained very stiff. The vehicle was parked and shut off. An authorized dealer informed the contact that they needed to replace the control module on the power steering pump. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 80,000.

- Princeton, MA, USA

problem #15

Sep 022010


  • 114,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. While making a right turn at 10 mph, the power steering suddenly failed. The steering wheel became difficult to turn. The contact pulled over and turned off the vehicle. He waited 20 minutes and restarted the vehicle which performed normal. The vehicle was taken to three loca lmechanic. One mechanic stated that the power steering harness needed to be replaced. The vehicle was also taken to an auto parts store where the contact was informed that the power steering pump needed to be replaced. Another mechanic verified that the power steering pump had to be replaced. The failure mileage was approximately 114,000 and the current mileage was approximately 114,300.

- Greenwood, DE, USA

problem #14

Jan 102009


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper. When the contact drove the vehicle at any various speeds she noticed that the power steering would suddenly begin to malfunction without warning. The steering wheel became difficult to turn. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the contact was informed that the power steering pump needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired when the complaint was filed. The failure mileage was 60,000 and the current mileage was 63,000.

- Fort Worth , TX, USA

problem #13

Jan 222010

(reported on)


  • 26,578 miles
Courtesy copy to the administrator of letter from kathleen biddick to MINIusa re steering pump system of MINImodels manufactured in 2003 -2007. The sudden and unpredictable loss of steering power in a vehicle is a threat to all drivers especially in fast moving traffic. The consumer is requesting a refund of $1,180.44 to cover the repair of the steering pump system on her 2003 MINICooper. The steering pump failed because of a manufacturing defect.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #12

Oct 312009


  • 88,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 MINICooper S purchased new. He stated while traveling at speeds of less than 65 mph, the vehicle began pulling to the right. Shortly after that the battery charging warning light illuminated and the contact immediatley smelled a burning odor. He pulled over and found there was a fire coming from under the hood. The fire department arrived shortly after however he had already extinguished the fire. The insurance company and mechanic determined the fire was a result of a faulty power steering pump cooling fan. The vehicle was repaired under his insurance company. The failure and current mileages were under 88,000.the VIN was not available.

- Moraga, CA, USA

problem #11

Nov 152007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 107,000 miles
I will be installing what will be the third manual 5-speed transmission in my MINISame problem, seems to be the final drive bearing is failing likely due to lack of lubrication. I have records of all service and check it regularly and it has never been low. The bearing is apparently not getting a proper supply of fluid. Problem number two, my power steering pump failed on me once. It exploded while I was driving. The hoses basically got too hot and blew up. I fortunately was able to limp it to a shop without any fire. On another occasion the power steering fan continued to run even when the ignition was shut off, needed to replace the entire pump this time which cost me $500 installed with a remanufactured pump. Third, I have had to put three windshields in the car. None of these repairs were warranted! MINIneeds to suck it up and claim responsibility for these shoddily made cars, they have made their money and don't care to help with anything. I am a loyal BMW customer but I think I will stick with the older models now as they aren't impossible to work on and find parts for. God knows I will not pay 23 grand for this nightmare again.

- Ventura, CA, USA

problem #10

Nov 162007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 56,000 miles
The power steering pump failed suddenly and unexpectedly (no warning) while driving, making the steering wheel significantly more difficult to turn and driving the vehicle significantly more dangerous.

- Norwalk, CT, USA

problem #9

Nov 132007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 55,000 miles
First power steering problem occurred around 31,000 miles, in the form of a slight vibration. Since the 50,000 miles mark, power steering has failed on innumerable occasions, frequently 5 or 6 times within a few minutes, and while driving and taking sharp turns, potentially causing loss of control of the vehicle. At first, turning ignition on and off temporarily resolved the issue. However, this is no longer effective. Other power functions have been disrupted as well, such as power locks and power windows, sometimes locking you in the car (door latch mechanism is also unpredictably faulty at the same time, resulting in being potentially locked in without any means to exit the car-this has happened on a couple of occasions). The power steering is now staying on even after the engine is turned off and the ignition key removed, and as a result, the battery is being discharged. Based on available information, this is the final stage before the car spontaneously catches on fire. I am now in a situation where my car is at risk of spontaneously catching on fire, and my locks and windows frequently unexpectedly malfunction, particularly when the steering pump malfunctions, potentially locking me into my car, with a steering pump that will not shut off and threatens to catch on fire. Catch on fire while I'm locked into my car...

- Wayne, NJ, USA

problem #8

Oct 032007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 71,050 miles


Parked my 2003 MINICooper on the street. Smoke started billowing out of the engine. Popped the hood and saw the smoking continuously emanating from the engine compartment. Had the car towed to the MINIdealership in princeton. They told me that the power steering pump failed; that it leaked and melted the engine harness and power supply cable and power steering fan connectors. Also, the main coolant fan was not functioning properly; and there was another leak in my valve cover gasket. I have read many instances where fires have been started for the same reason, and am lucky that did not happen to me. However, the damage to the car totaled over $3400. I had to have the power steering pump replaced; along with the engine harness, power supply cable, power steering fan and main cooling fan. If this is an issue with many MINICoopers especially 03 and 04 editions, I think the manufacturers should take responsibility to fix the problem and ensure that it does not happen to anyone else.

- Toms River, NJ, USA

problem #7

Apr 202007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
The power steering pump failed on my 2003 MINICooper. It went through stages of operation and non-operation before finally going out all together. I was charged $1,000 to replace.

- El Cajon, CA, USA

problem #6

Sep 132006

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 65,000 miles
Parking the vehicle after a 35 mi commute to work with the ignition was turned off the electro hydraulic steering pump continued to run. The only way to turn the pump off and avoid overheating was to disconnect the battery. The failure was corrected by replacement of the electo hydrolic steering pump. Old part is not available.

- Countryside, IL, USA

problem #5

Jun 272007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 65,525 miles
My car was brought into the dealership for an oil change and rear brake repair on Tuesday (June 26, 2007). Wednesday evening (June 27, 2007) the car was driven 15 minutes, parked for almost an hour, then driven a mere 30 seconds to change to a different parking spot. Walked away for a minute and noticed smoke coming from the front of the car. Upon opening the bonnet, there was flames coming from the underside of the engine. The first attempt at using a fire extinguisher temporarily put out the fire, then it re-ignited which the fire department was then called to put it out safely. The car was brought the next morning (June 28, 2007) to the dealership and was not looked at until the next day (June 29, 2009). The diagnosis was the steering pump failed, upon which it overheats causing the fire. The fire then damaged the loom (harness, or main wiring for the vehicle), which also ruined the battery. Prior to the fire, there were no signs that the steering was failing, nor any indication that there was any other possible electrical problems. Car mileage was at 65,500 at the time it was brought to the dealer, and about 65,525 miles at the time of the incident. Nothing will be done until the insurance agents from both the consumer and dealership assess the damages.

- Rosemead, CA, USA

problem #4

May 252006

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 79,300 miles
TL-caller owns a 2003 BMW MINICooper. Current mileage 104650. Failure mileage 99330. While going around a turn at 40 mph, it became hard to turn the car and he knew that the power steering had failed and he drove the car come. He purchased the replacement part from the dealer and installed it. Weather was dry. Temperature was approximately 30 degrees. Ktf the consumer stated both failures were aat the electrical connector. Water entered the connector which caused corrosion and a then a short. The terminal would then brek off causing the pump to fail. Updated 06/08/07.

- Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #3

Apr 212007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 55,000 miles
Driving normally, noticed that the power steering was not working. The car was very difficult to steer. Parked car and noticed smoke coming from the engine compartment. Looked under hood, noticed smoke getting worse, so I drove the car up to street level from garage. Looked under hood and there was a small fire starting at the lower rear of the engine. I was able to use fire extinguishers to put out the fire just as the fire department arrived. Had car towed to the dealer. The initial diagnosis was that there was a stuck relay in the power steering unit, causing it to overheat. A wiring harness on or near the power steering unit was damaged by the heat and shorted some wiring, causing the fire. The fire was localized to the engine compartment. Car is currently being repaired at the dealer.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #2

Jan 042007

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 42,000 miles
Parked vehicle outside grocery store. Returned after <5 minutes to find smoke pouring from the hood. Opened hood to determine cause and smelt electrical smoke, and saw flames coming from under the engine. Doused flames using a fire extinguisher from store, and disconnected battery. Initial dealer investigation indicates that the damage was to the power steering pump and wiring harness. Had I not stopped for groceries, I would have been unlikely to notice the smoke/fire early enough to prevent the loss of the vehicle. Insurance and dealer root cause investigation is still pending, but after some research on the internet (mostly www.northamericanmotoring.com/forums/showthread.php?T=73527) I found at least 10 other instances of a fault in the power steering pump causing fires. BMW is obviously aware of some of these problems, as they made changes to the power steering pump and power steering fan wiring harness in 04 models on. It seems to me that there is a systematic problem with the power steering pump on minis. No fuse blew, and to have an electrical component run to the point where is combusts, without any fuse or thermal fuse protection seems a gross design deficiency to me.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #1

Aug 152004

Cooper 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 22,624 miles
Was driving down a 2-lane curvy road at night, dry weather, 75 F at 30 mph when car began to whine whenever steering wheel was turned. As I decelerated to 10-15 mph to make a 90 degree right turn around a curve, the steering wheel became suddenly extremely difficult to turn. Almost T-boned a car traveling in the opposite direction around same curve. Was able to get the car back in my lane, and get it home, but not without a lot of effort. Called BMW service, they acknowledged they've serviced a few minis with the same problem, and was most likely a power steering pump failure. Car will be towed today.

- Shelton, CT, USA

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