Feds upgrade probe into 1st Gen MINI Power Steering Issue

Discussion in 'MINI News and Articles' started by Nathan, May 8, 2011.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    David Shepardson / / Detroit News Washington Bureau

    Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration upgraded an investigation into 60,000 2004-2005 Mini Coopers over power steering problems linked to three fires, the agency said Sunday.

    The federal safety agency said in a notice posted on a government website that it has reviewed 519 complaints alleging an unexpected loss of power steering assist while driving the vehicle. That can result in drivers having trouble steering or controlling the vehicle.

    NHTSA said BMW AG has also received 4,508 warranty claims for steering issues. Most of them — 2,800 — were for 2004 Cooper and Cooper S models.
    The agency said in its notice it was upgrading its investigation to an engineering analysis from a preliminary investigation that it opened in September.

    NHTSA's next step is to investigate and decide whether it will ask BMW to recall the vehicles.

    The agency says the complaints include reports of five minor crashes and three fires. The crashes are described as "hit the curb," the agency said. The fires are described as "melted wires."

    No injuries or serious crashes have been reported.

    The agency says it has received complaints for other model year Mini Cooper vehicles. NHTSA is evaluating "the frequency, consequence, and scope of this issue."

    According to BMW, drivers may experience a temporary or permanent loss of power steering assist. One cause may be a malfunctioning cooling fan or an undervoltage condition in the power steering system, BMW said.
    The automaker said a permanent loss of power steering assist may be due to an error in the internal electronics, and may also result in the continuous running of the power steering pump.

    A BMW spokesman didn't return a request for comment.
    BMW told NHTSA in December it didn't believe a recall was necessary.
    "Rather it is a quality/customer satisfaction issue," the automaker said in a Dec. 14 letter to NHTSA. The automaker said its testing showed that "in all cases, it was determined that the vehicle was controllable if a loss of power steering assist occurred to a typical driver."

    From The Detroit News: Feds upgrade probe into 60,000 BMW Mini Cooper vehicles | detnews.com | The Detroit News
     
  2. Vollgas

    Vollgas New Member

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    Possible recall

    Finally, something may get done about this issue.
     
  3. Firebro17

    Firebro17 Dazed, but not Confused
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    Is the problem largely connected with a clogged fan motor? I was told that the earlier MINIs didn't have a proper shroud covering the fan assembly, but the later ones were covered. Is that the case? I'll keep an ear open for the recall potential...
     
  4. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    So when the wires short out, melt and result in a small fire.... That would definitely cause an undervoltage condition in the power steering unit.

    Their description sounds much less ominous.

    See, you just need to use their language. When this crops up, just make your appointment. As they are rolling your burnt up MINI off the wrecker flat bed, just tell service to simply check for an undervoltage condition in the power steering unit....
     
  5. Rae

    Rae Club Coordinator

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    I was wondering about this too. You can install the shroud as an aftermarket part. My mechanic was the one to let me know about the issue with the fans getting fried and using the shroud as a solution.
     
  6. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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    Seems odd to me that they are investigating only through 05. My 06 uses the same exact setup & so do the later convertibles. Thankfully I have had no problems with my PS.
     
  7. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    Didn't they add a slot in the undertray and put more of a shroud to protect the fan in the 05 facelift that would have extended to 06 range and 07 convertibles?
     
  8. AliceCooper

    AliceCooper Club Coordinator

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    I hope they do a recall, maybe I will be able to get back some or all the money I spent on my 04 PS recently.
     
  9. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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    My 06 has a plastic grille on the fan, but the underpants look the same as the others.

    I'm on my 3rd fan, but the original PS pump whirrrs on...
     
  10. ScottinBend

    ScottinBend Space Cowboy
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  11. minimark

    minimark Well-Known Member

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    ??? My 06' doesn't have that duct?
     
  12. Firebro17

    Firebro17 Dazed, but not Confused
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    I earlier forgot to mention that my '05 does have a covered fan, albeit a plastic grill cover. I looked at the OEM part available from MINI Mania. I guess I don't get how fully enclosing, or encapsulating, the fan assembly can improve the circulation capabilities of the poorly designed/located component. Certainly it would seem that the whole assembly would not be allowed to breathe while covered up. Is the fan still drawing the air from underneath? It also seems like the heat from the bottom of the motor is more likely to be trapped with the MINI solution.
     
  13. am0eba

    am0eba New Member

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    I have an '05 MCSc. The OEM fan cover for the '05s and up was to prevent the earlier issue where the fan malfed due to getting clogged with debris... I'm one of the ones who experienced (multiple) temporary, heat-related failure of the power steering assist. Steering was indeed manageable, but fairly interesting because the failure(s) occurred during demanding twisty runs in the Malibu canyons (TUNA CYN RD...)

    In addition, I believe there is a third issue with '05's regarding the possible loss of function of the primary electric engine-cooling fan due to overload of the shared fuse with the power steering fan, resulting in engine overheating... Been a while since I've heard anything about these...

    _Dave_
     
  14. ScottinBend

    ScottinBend Space Cowboy
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    The duct is actually open to the front of the car, so when you are moving it acts as a ram air duct. And it does a great job of keeping the debris from blocking the fan blades.

    I believe it was only on the 05' and up verts.
     
  15. Firebro17

    Firebro17 Dazed, but not Confused
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    OK so it must be an improvement over the original design to add the modification. But what about the fusing problem am0eba brings up?
     
  16. ScottinBend

    ScottinBend Space Cowboy
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    That was fixed also........I believe it was factory fixed in late '03 and the prior affected cars had a TSB issued to have them fixed by the dealers.
     
  17. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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    Neither does mine...
     
  18. Firebro17

    Firebro17 Dazed, but not Confused
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    OK thanks. I'll keep an eye on this thread....
     
  19. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    The added ducting...

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    It bugs me that they say it's a customer satisfaction issue. Really? You lose your power steering and that's the same kinda thing as not liking the bolsters in the seats? :eek:ut:
     

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