I have an '03 Mini Cooper (base model), and a couple of years ago my power steering stopped working all of a sudden. I started up the car and it was gone. When this happens, I can actually hear the power steering working (it makes a sort of high-pitched humming sound) and then it fades within 10 seconds. I took it to a shop, and they said I needed a new steering pump or steering column (I forget which), but it was too expensive so I never got it fixed. Not the best decision, I know. I drove it around for about a year without power steering, gaining muscle mass in the process. Every so often the power steering would return briefly after starting the car, and I would drive it around, but then the next time I would start the car it would be gone again.
Then one day I had to get a new battery for the car, and after getting it installed, the power steering magically worked again! This reinforced my suspicions that the problem could be electrical. The power steering worked wonderfully for months. Then a week or so ago, it cut out again and hasn’t come back on. Same problem as before, seemingly– I hear it when I start up the car and then it fades.
I have read some other questions on here about people with pre-2006 Minis and power steering problems, but I don’t know if this is the same situation (ie-need to replace power steering fluid, etc).
Other info: The driver-side window doesn’t work either, nor does the cigarette lighter/adapter. It has ~175,000 miles. I drove it cross-country (1 way) and the first power steering problem happened when I was living in San Francisco.
Thanks for reading,