MINI's parent company, BMW, is recalling MINI Cooper and Cooper S vehicles -- including some convertibles -- from the 2002 to 2005 model years. According to a bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some of those vehicles might lose power steering functionality, making them harder to control, especially at low speeds.
The problem is rooted in an electro-hydraulic power steering system built by Robert Bosch Automotive Steering in Germany. NHTSA documents don't explain the problem in detail, saying only that the system "may experience temporary or permanent loss of assistance due to manufacturing and field exposure issues". Should that happen while a vehicle is in motion, it could make the car much more difficult to steer, increasing the risk of an accident.
The recall affects the following models:
- 2002-2005 MINI Cooper
- 2002-2005 MINI Cooper S
- 2005 MINI Cooper Convertible
- 2005 MINI Cooper S Convertible
All told, 86,018 vehicles in the U.S. are affected by the recall. To date, BMW says that it has received five reports of injuries that may be related to the power steering problem.
NHTSA and BMW have been keeping an eye on this issue for some time. In 2013, the automaker issued a 13 year/150,000 mile extended warranty for the vehicles listed above, but last month, NHTSA determined that a recall was a more appropriate remedy.
BMW says that it will mail recall notices to owners around December 1, 2015. After receiving those notices, owners will be able to take their vehicles to a MINI dealer, who will inspect the electro-hydraulic power steering system and replace components like the pump and wiring as necessary. This recall supersedes the aforementioned extended warranty program.
If you own one of these vehicles and have questions, you're encouraged to call MINI customer service at 866-825-1525. Alternately, you can ring NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about recall #15V660000.