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Government begins probe of BMW's Mini Cooper

WASHINGTON — The government opened an investigation yesterday into potential power steering problems in Mini Coopers built by German automaker BMW AG.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its web site that it had received 54 complaints about the loss of power steering in Mini Coopers from the 2004-2005 model years. When the power steering stops working, it can become more difficult for the driver to steer or control the vehicle.

NHTSA said the preliminary investigation covers about 80,000 vehicles.

BMW said it would cooperate with the investigation and it had not received any reports of crashes related to power steering problems.

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