Twitchy steering - MINI Cooper Forum

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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old Jul 1st, 2014, 04:39 AM Thread Starter
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Twitchy steering

First post, couldn't find this exact problem in the archives so I hope this isn't repetitive.

I have a 2002 Cooper S with a bit over 50,000 miles on it (I know, I've only had it a year, must have been a snowbird car). Previous owner lowered it a bit more than stock, and I replaced rear control arms a while back. No other major changes I know about. 17" Toyo's with maybe 5,000 miles on them. Fresh alignment at that time.

Recently it seems like the steering has become more twitchy, and I can't tell if it's just my heightened perception or if there really is something wrong.

You know if you're on a section of road with grooved pavement and when the grooves stop the steering feels like it pulls a bit one way or another? It's that sensation. It's a very similar feeling to torque steer, but not necessarily in relation to pressing or releasing the gas pedal.

It's intermittent, and I usually only notice it at highway speeds. Today I turned to exit the freeway (maybe 70mph, a deliberate turn but nothing stupid), the car started to turn and then twitched (or suddenly turned a bit quicker than I moved the steering wheel), almost like a delayed reaction.

My regular mechanic took a test drive, checked it out and all he could come up with was worn out struts (which seem to have nothing to do with it in my mind).

Any ideas?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old Jul 2nd, 2014, 06:46 PM
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The steering on our car become a bit more twitchy and seemed to loose it's crispness. Part of the problem turned out to be one front wheel bearing with play in it.
But also found the front lower wishbone rear bush to have a bit of play also which couldn't have been helping. Even after the wheel bearing there was a noticeable improvement. Maybe help?
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old Jul 2nd, 2014, 09:08 PM
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I'd certainly be suspecting front wishbone bushes, and potentially worn shocks. I've had to change those bushes in all of the cars I've owned. Never bad enough to fail an MOT but always made a massive difference after changed.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old Jul 31st, 2014, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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So I ended up taking the car to my local repair shop where they replaced the control arm bushings, struts and strut mounts. $1,800 later, and it still didn't fix the problem.

Mostly at higher speeds (say 70+mph), I begin to turn and it "jumps" a bit in the direction I turn. Say I had turned the wheel left 5 degrees, on it's own it will jump over to 7 degrees.

Angry at having spent the money, today I took it to the Mini dealer in Tempe, Arizona.

They put it on the rack for an hour, and came back and blamed the installation of the new control arms, said the other shop had not installed them perfectly and that caused the steering problem. Also recommended other unrelated fixes.

I pointed out that the steering issue PRECEEDED the control arm replacement, to which the dealer had no good answer, except to suggest I pay $300 for them to adjust it.

I left.

Approximately 3 miles later, on the freeway at 65mph, I lose power. Engine still revs when I press the gas, but absolutely no power going to the tires.

I pull over and turn it off. Wait. Restart, and everything works fine.

Within seconds, I notice a new check engine light, the temperature gauge is maxed out, and suddenly I have no power steering.

I immediately called the dealer and asked if they still had any parts to my car lying around, like maybe a belt or a fluid cap or something. Dealer got a bit defensive and said the car was in perfect working order when it left (a mere 5 minutes prior...). I asked if they would tow me, they said just to drive it back.

I reminded him the temperature gauge was at the highest possible reading, he said for me to call a tow truck (and presumably pay for that myself).

The car is now at my regular shop being looked at.
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