U.S. Steps Up Probe of BMW Mini Over Steering Complaints

Safety regulators have upgraded an investigation into almost 60,000 BMW Mini cars for a potential steering problem associated with five minor crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a posting on its Web site on Monday that the engineering analysis covers vehicles from the 2004 and 2005 model years.

An engineering analysis typically precedes a recall. The agency first began looking at the problem in September.

NHTSA said regulators and BMW have received 519 complaints and more than 4,500 warranty claims relating to an unexpected loss of power in the electrically controlled steering system.

Complaints allege five minor crashes and three fires that resulted in melted wires, NHTSA said.

No injuries were reported.

BMW said a temporary glitch may be due to a malfunctioning cooling fan or an undervoltage condition in the steering system, according to NHTSA. Complaints of permanent steering problems may be linked to internal electronics.