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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've searched the forums and can't find another case like this. I have an absolute lemon. After fixing a blown water pump the power steering is now acting up.

Fault:
- When I turn on the ignition the power steering pump immediately starts to spool up (Doesn't wait for me to start the engine).
- It takes a long time (maybe 30 seconds) for the pump to come up to speed, then works perfectly as if there is no fault (makes the usual noises, and the steering feels perfect).
- NO fluid is being lost from the power steering system. There is wetness around one of the high pressure joints but it's been like that for its whole life.
- The ECU is reporting the P0500 fault (speed sensor "A") - gotta look at that. Possible that the dealership left a wheel sensor unplugged after replacing the water pump.
UPDATE: Also, when you turn on the ignition the alternator charging light doesn't come on.

Fix:
During the replacement of the water pump they knocked the connector loose on the back of the alternator that supplies the alternator charging light signal, hence the software was putting the pump into low power mode rather than spinning it up quickly. Simply plugged it back in and away we go!

Car:
Feb 2002 Mini Cooper - Aus spec.
103,000 km

Anyone know what the bejesus is going on??? And what the likelihood that it will fail totally???
 

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The steering is speed sensitive, 2 speeds as I remember and the speed sensor is used to dictate which mode it runs in -so looks like that is the problem with luck-not that you seem to be having any!!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the advice but no good. Checked the wheel sensors and all are plugged in. Cleared the fault and been on a couple of trips and the speed fault code hasn't come back.

I'll keep investigating and post what I find, but I'm thinking it might be the pump control module acting up.
 

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CHEQUE IT OUT
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i just hope for your sake that the power steering pump isnt on its way out, my mates a mechanic and he said that a new power steering pump is £800!!!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I hope it's not the pump too! Thanks for the advice all, I shall keep an eye on the fault codes and the fluid level (no leaks so far) and let you know what I find.

For now it's driving well, and the last 3 times I've driven it the pump has spooled up almost instantly. Here's crossing my fingers I don't find the fault the hard way...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Update: Things are getting weirder....

1. I pulled off the signal and power connectors off the pump and cleaned them up. They looked perfect, but I cleaned them up anyway. No effect.

2. I traced back the earth for the pump (located underneath the fuse/relay holder under the bonnet (next to the battery on the Cooper and next to the air filter on the S). Cleaned that up and no effect.

3. I've discovered that if I turn the ignition key just enough to engage the starter motor lockout without actually starting the car (that mechanical thing that stops you turning the key after it's started, and you have to turn the ignition off then on again to start), then the pump fires up PERFECTLY first time every time.

It's looking more and more like an electrical problem, but not with the pump. According to the schematics in the Bentley manual the pump is activated by the ECU, and that appears to work when it feels like it. Maybe a loose wire / bad contact in the ignition switch???
 

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N.O.T.R.A.M.O.O
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When you turn the ignition on, without the engine running, does the battery charge warning light come on?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ooooh, GOOD CALL! No battery charge light, only the oil pressure light.

So what does that mean? This all started after they replaced the water pump and fan (ribbed v) belt - have they mucked something up with the alternator?
 

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N.O.T.R.A.M.O.O
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If you look above the alternator, you will see a three wire connector and a black inline fuse holder, check the fuse, it will probably be ok, but worth checking anyway.
It most likely one of the wires at the back of the three wire connector (the black/yellow I think) will be broken, its a doddle to fix, just bypass the connector on that wire with a repair peice.

hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks heaps. Not sure how to get to it yet - on the Cooper with the water pump in place looks like you need to get the radiador out or the manifold off. So little room and such fat fingers....

Will keep you posted.
 

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N.O.T.R.A.M.O.O
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You should not need to remove anything other than possibly the black plastic cover over the fuel rail (cant remember, cos our cars dont have them anymore!) The connector is on top of the alternator, and is joining two harnesses about 50mm to the right of the EVAP purge solenoid, not plugging into the alternator itself.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Found it. No signal on either pin (there are two wires going in, 3 coming out). Attached a pic.

Over the weekend I'll whip the radiator hose off (the one that runs under the manifold) and I should have room to get to the back of the alternator.
 

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Just chillin'
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I'm experiencing the same sort of problems with my MCS - the power steering is heavy sometimes when starting off and will occasionally cut out while driving. Switching off and back on again sorts it out.

Does anyone know where the connectors from the alternator are on a Cooper S? Comparing the picture above to my engine bay, I cannot see the wiring.

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi Mike,

Not sure about the connector from the alternator on the S. Two things to check though:

1. When you turn your ignition on is your alternator light coming on? If yes, then check 2 below. If no then you've got the same problem as me.

2. You may want to check three connections on the power steering pump (harder to do on the S given the larger drive shafts). Check the big power connector to the pump hasn't come loose (the most common problem, and has happened to me and a couple of other guys I know). Look for the thick red wire going to the pump and check the quick fit connector on the pump. Then check the smaller control wires (the two smaller wires going to the pump). And finally check the earth connection to the body of the car. Should be under the air cleaner / fuse box / ECU box in the S.

BTW on mine I've tried everything to get to the back of the alternator but no luck. Will be getting the manifold off tonight (all of 5 bolts so hopefully not too big a job) and see how I go.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
All fixed!! Thanks C.Noble you were spot on about the problem being the signal from the alternator. Just a loose connector, but even after removing the coolant hose I still needed to drop the manifold off to get my hand to the back of the alternator.
 

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Just chillin'
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Hi dsakko

Thanks for your input. My alternator light was on (hoped it wouldn't be!) so I ended up taking the car to Mini to look at.

£370 later, I returned to the car after it had a new p/s pump fitted. Hasn't missed a beat since and has a 2 year warranty.
 

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THE STICK
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I got one from a 'friend' via BMW £50 and an hours labour :D

Its not as terrible a thing as some worry. Only issue is when they mealyt bits of the wiring loom.
 
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