Mini's public communications with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the issue are decidedly oblique and simply pointing out owners could "experience temporary or permanent loss of the electro-hydraulic steering assistance." Worryingly, Mini claims it's aware of 20 accidents and five injuries due to the power-steering issue.
This isn't the first time Mini has had problems with the power steering systems on these first-gen Coopers. The automaker had so many claims of bad power steering pumps and cooling fans that it upped the warranty on those units to 13 years or 150,000 miles for the same 2002 to 2005 models being recalled here. This author's personal 2006 model is on its third fan and second pump, though that year has never officially been investigated or recalled.
A slight drop in steering assist and a low-battery warning at engine startup are the main signs your car needs recall work. Owners of the affected hatchbacks and cabrios will be notified by Mini and asked to report to their local dealer to have the electrohydraulic steering system's wiring and components inspected. Any repairs will be done free of charge. Read on for the official NHTSA bulletin.
NHTSA Campaign Number: 15V660000
Potential Number of Units Affected: 86,018
Manufacturer: BMW of North America, LLC
BMW of North America, LLC (BMW) is recalling certain model year 2002-2005 MINI Cooper and Cooper S vehicles and 2005 Cooper and Cooper S Convertible vehicles. The affected vehicles may experience temporary or permanent loss of the electro-hydraulic steering assistance.
If the vehicle experiences a loss of power steering assist, extra steering effort will be required at lower speeds, potentially iincreasing the risk of a vehicle crash.
MINI will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the electro-hydraulic power steering system, replacing the components and wiring, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin December 1, 2015. Owners may contact MINI customer service at 1-866-825-1525.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.