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Mini Cooper Power Steering Problem

So I bought a used 2002 Mini Cooper S a couple of months ago. About a week later the steering wheel completely seized up on me on the highway. After taking it to the dealer they told me someone had put the wrong power steering fluid in the system and they would have to replace the pump and flush the entire system. I had this repair done and it cost me over $1000. While I was having my mini repaired the gave me loaner mini to drive around. I noticed that the steering on the loaner was silky and smooth and I could turn the wheel easily with a couple of fingers. I was really looking forward to having that feeling with my mini after the repairs were done. To my dismay when i got my mini back the steering did not lock up any more but the wheel was still difficult to turn when the car was moving very slowly (parking etc) It never moves as easily as the new mini. Also whenever i break or accelerate quickly the steering wheel jerks around in my hands violently. I took the mini back to the dealer for some other repairs and mentioned this to the guys there. They said they checked the pump and it was working fine and all of the other parts were working fine as well. This seems strange to me as I do not feel if the power steering is working i should have to wrestle with my steering wheel. It always provides a lot of resistance to my hands and can be very tiring to drive. Any thoughts?


You have a lot of concerns.

First off, how much newer was the loaner Mini Cooper compared to yours?
Was it also an S, or was it a Base model?

If it was a base model, then it doesn’t have the sport steering feel, which is much lighter and easier than the S version your car has.

That would also explain why the car doesn’t jerk when you stomp on the accelerator, because what you are feeling there is the torque steer induced by the powerful engine on a small front wheel drive car.

If the steering wheel is pulling while you are braking, then you most likely have a brake issue at one of your wheels that needs to be attended to. Typically, if it pulls to the right, it means that your front left or right rear brake caliper might not be functioning properly, and if it pulls to the left, that would point to the right front, or left rear caliper being the issue.

Also, I would want to know how they determined that someone used the wrong power steering fluid in the car. Most of the fluids I have seen are all the same color, and unless they went through the expense of sending off the fluid for technical analysis (hahahaha), there’s probably no way they can tell the difference between one brand of fluid compared to another, if they are the same color, and over all weight of fluid.

Now, if what they saw was that someone replaced the power steering fluid with 75-90 weight rear axle oil, then that’s pretty straight forward.

If you want a lighter steering wheel feel, you might need to replace the Mini S you have with a newer version like the one you drove.