MINI Dealer Tests Torque Steering Fix

Torque Steer Fix

Updated: MINI hasn’t officially released this fix. The dealer alone was responsible for it and MINI USA has not released a torque steering fix and has not given dealers any information about this update. This fix was only done to one car as a test and the cost was to simply pay for the labor. That said (and here’s the real news) the simple task of updating a 2007 MCS with software for the 2011 MCS did eliminate the torque steer as hoped. For some background on the software (standard on all 2011s) check out this previous article.

After talking to a technician and service advisor, they agreed to experiment on my car. It worked and they have done a couple others since. The price of $165 was the labor to perform the update. Again this is only being done at one dealership at this time and will not be available at your local MINI dealer just yet. A free update on the JCW has not been confirmed by MINI USA.

We’ve reported previously on Motoringfile that the 2011 MINI mid-model refresh includes new programming to eliminate torque steer in the MINI range. This software update coordinates the traction, stability and ABS systems to counter and eliminate torque steer. We’ve seen the results first hand on MTTS and they’re impressive. The burning question remained, however, would this fix be retroactively installable on pre-2011 R56/R55/R57 MINIs? The answer appears to be yes!

We’ve received word that a software update will be made available to owners soon. Pricing is a little unclear. One of our readers paid $165 for the update but that could simply be an hour of labor charged from the dealer. If so it would mean MINI is handing out the update for free and allowing the dealers to tack-on whatever labor they typically charge for a software update.

Our sources also tell us that on their 2007 MCS, the update performs as promised: no more torque steer. There are still some unanswered questions (will JCW owners get this free for starters) but it’s available starting today.

See your local service advisor for more details and let us know how the update goes on your MINI!

  • Julian

    didnt you say previously it will be free for JCWs? 😉

    anyway i dont think i want the fix. i can’t imagine this can be fixed (with a sofware patch) by anything else than just not delivering full power to the wheels (in turns). i dont want yet another system interfering with the way i drive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabad Jon Abad

    I’m assuming that the target audience for this is track folks? or is there a reason to spend $165 for the daily driver and occasional freeway-on-ramp enthusiast?

  • Clarence

    If you don’t like more control, you can always turn the stability control off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000326387071 Anthony Buglio

    Shouldn’t this be like another software update and be free to current Owners who are still under warranty?? Why should we have to pay extra for what is essentionaly a safety upgrade.

  • matt

    I was just in Saturday for service, and the sm had never heard of what I was talking about. Poop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/geneesanchez Gene Sanchez

    I fully agree with Julian. I wonder if there will be any way of disabling it from my incoming 2011.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    i can’t imagine this can be fixed (with a sofware patch) by anything else than just not delivering full power to the wheels (in turns).

    i’ve driven it. You won’t even notice it.

    i dont want yet another system interfering with the way i drive.

    Again you won’t notice it. It’s nothing like DSC or the like.

    I’m assuming that the target audience for this is track folks? or is there a reason to spend $165 for the daily driver and occasional freeway-on-ramp enthusiast?

    If you have ever felt torque steer than you’re the target market.

    Shouldn’t this be like another software update and be free to current Owners who are still under warranty??

    Because torque steer is not a fault. It’s been a fact of fwd cars for 80 years. In creating the refresh MINI developed a way to eliminate it. They are offering that to current R55, R56 and R57 owners for what is essentially an hour of labor at the dealer.

  • Bob

    OK, for most “upsides” there is a “downside”. What is the “downside”?

  • moe

    Is there a Technical Bulletin or other name or number I can use when talking to my local service advisor? They ignore vague descriptions as soon as I mention internet. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1742553353 Mark Smith

    None in my opinion. Drive a 2011 and see for yourself.

  • goat

    Fantastic news. Once again MINI has done something fairly unprecedented for the auto industry… improving currently for sale models then going out of their way to allow the software fix to be retrofitted to owners of earlier R56’s (status quo = “you want the new features, come buy a new car”).

    Very cool to see this kind of “legacy” support from a major brand… this is the stuff that customer loyalty and customer pride is made of!

    The main issues most criticized in the R56 now seem solved or nearly solved… interior looks cheap and plasticky? fixed/diminished with 2011 refresh. Torque steer like mad making for an annoying FWD back road driving experience? fixed/diminished with this software update and applicable to all cars back to 2007. Steering feel lacking and exterior styling disappointing (compared to the R53)? OK still working on those two perhaps… the designers and engineers need something to do for the gen3 car anyway…. :)

  • matt

    Gabe, in the case of tuned cars (which are more effected by this), where is the actual fix applied? The people that most need this have the most to lose by having their custom tunes wiped away.

    So is this applied to the DSC or ECU or some other controller?

  • Rocketboy_X

    “Because torque steer is not a fault. It’s been a fact of fwd cars for 80 years. In creating the refresh MINI developed a way to eliminate it. They are offering that to current R55, R56 and R57 owners for what is essentially an hour of labor at the dealer.”

    I would not say that. It was eliminated in the first generation, and reintroduced in the second. So it’s not necessarily a ‘fact’, but a lapse in the engineering department for the current gen. As a matter of fact, at one time it was one of the selling points of the MINI (just like they were pro-supercharger, and were down on turbos).

  • r.burns

    Less throtle when you turn and some are happy ?

    Very strange…

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    So is this applied to the DSC or ECU or some other controller?

    Good question. I’ll have to look into it.

  • Brian

    I remember the R53 selling point was that it had equal length drive shafts to counter torque steer.(or something like that)

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    I remember the R53 selling point was that it had equal length drive shafts to counter torque steer.(or something like that)

    The R56 has this too. The problem is the large amount of torque the turbo delivers low in the RPM range. The R53 with the supercharger never had the benefit of tons of torque down load thus didn’t have torque steer like the R56.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1255180342 Joe Covington

    So is this something that will help keep us careening into oncoming traffic when accelerating from a stop?

  • mellowmcs

    I wonder if this will apply to my car with the JCW engine kit.

  • http://www.ryephile.com Ryan

    Torque steer is caused by poorly designed suspension and steering geometry [where the pivot points are physically located], not the power steering computer. This electronic “fix” is a lame attempt to save face. See R50/53 for good front-end geometry and subsequent lack of torque steer.

  • Augie05

    As mentioned, r53 has less torque so easier to manage this issue.

  • Frank

    Hmmm – I’m assuming (and I fully realize the danger of that!) this fix will not be as effective – or maybe more so? – on cars equipped with the factory-installed MECHNICAL limited-slip diff? My 2009 R56 MCS is one such animal, and anyone with LSD knows how entertaining that can be – unless the road is icy!!!

  • Borinot

    A few hours ago I thought… MINI finally going to take care of customers!. I found excellent news, but now very rare … I do not understand anything. What are you playing? Do you put an update on the car and do not know where it comes from?. What plays MINI?. A workshop can solve a serious problem for $ 156 (one hour) and MINI has done nothing to fix it for years. I’m fed up with these issues. What else are they hiding?.

  • that.guy
    This software update coordinates the traction, stability and ABS systems to counter and eliminate torque steer.

    Hopefully you can turn this off. Sounds scary to me. Like the eDiff “feature” that smokes your brakes within a few laps. Applying brake pressure during acceleration is not a good idea (let alone efficient). Better idea would be to design the suspension and steering geometry right to begin with.

  • lavardera

    Maybe you guys can shed more light on this since you seem to have it all figured out. What is the big difference between the R53 and 56 suspension up front? Thought the rear was much the same. What makes you think the front is different?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    What is the big difference between the R53 and 56 suspension up front? Thought the rear was much the same. What makes you think the front is different?

    There is no real difference.

  • robble

    The r56 has more torque steer than the r53 because…

    It has a heckuva LOT more torque.

    duh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000710531652 Matt Richter

    If you really want to know what leads to torque steer, read a good book on suspensions. It’s not just caused by un-equal length drive shafts (though that can contribute). Another big player is called the scrub radius (distance between the effective center of the contact patch and the pivot point of the steering axis). This means that camber settings and wheel offset come into play as well. Anyway, it’s close to a fact of life for most FWD cars, to one degree or another.

    The Ford Focus RS has a really slick front suspension design that minimizes torque steer in a much more powerful car than the MINI. It’s called the RevoKnuckle and you can read about it here: http://www.autolinedetroit.tv/journal/?p=2934

    Anyway, while many complain a lot about the torque steer of the car, it can be modified a lot with proper choice of front wheels, tires and camber settings.

    Matt

  • nickmini

    Honda driver: I’m torque(steer)-free! R53 driver: Where is torque(steer)!? R56 driver: Hold on tight!

  • Ric

    Gabe looking fwd to your update about how this ‘fix’ is applied. I’m very sceptical about this fix

  • that.guy
    Honda driver: I’m torque(steer)-free! R53 driver: Where is torque(steer)!? R56 driver: Hold on tight!

    Driver of tuned R53 with much more torque than an R56: What? It’s a FWD car with a lot of power, of course it has torque steer! MazdaSpeed3 driver: Whatever. Buh bye underpowered Euro losers! Focus RS300 driver: Holy cr@p I love torque steer!!

  • http://www.ryephile.com Ryan

    The R56’s front suspension has significantly less anti-dive, and the roll centers are changed from relocated lower control arm ball joints. These changes reduce steering feel and add torque steer, but they also add lateral grip and reduced lap times on the track. To flatly claim there’s no difference between generations is just being ignorant, sorry to say.

  • http://www.ryephile.com Ryan

    Furthermore, the people that keep claiming it’s the R56’s “massive” low-end torque need a reality check. My turbo-R53 had 260wLbFt with NO torque steer, and VW MkVI platform has 200wLbFt out of the box, with unequal length driveshafts, and NO torque steer.

    I just test drove an ’11 [justa] Cooper, and it had lots of torque steer, even at part throttle. Torque steer is a misnomer. It’s not caused from excessive engine torque, its caused from the suspension geometry.

    No electronic band-aid is going to fix the root-cause of the problem.

  • pete

    wow… people get OH SO bent out of shape about 1st or 2nd gen. minis… while MISSING THE POINT BRILLIANTLY. So yeah, there seem to be a torque-fix for those with lesser-or-better gen 2 minis and really, it would be nice to know what it feels like instead of getting into a pointless debate about which gen is better and how Mini “should” have designed this or that. This is about a FIX, take it or leave it.

  • r.burns

    Thank you US people, you are the first cause of the aseptisation of the R56 generation

    I know, here on Motoring you are a little more purists, but Sales and Polls control…

    Remember R53 popping exhausts “shutting up”…

    The only solution is to upgrade suspensions, JCW or other less expensive

  • that.guy

    <Thank you US people, you are the first cause of the aseptisation of the R56 generation

    Actually our negative influence goes back much further than that. We were the ones who requested the dampers to be softened on the original R50/53; we couldn’t live without that huge Rube-Goldberg-ian auxilliary cup holder, and then we insisted that the S be offered with an automatic transmission. You’re welcome.

  • that.guy
    To flatly claim there’s no difference between generations is just being ignorant, sorry to say.

    Oh no you didn’t.. Let’s see how Gabe handles this.

  • superc00per

    My guess is that the program cuts the amount of power assist to the power steering system during periods of high torque. That could be via programming of the electronic steering, or a cut in power to the power steering fluid pump. I have no idea what method they are using. The system does something similar now when you try to yank the wheel in one direction from a full throttle start. You have to really fight the system to turn when this happens.

  • r.burns

    Or… you can control your foot !

    Soon we won’t even have a wheel, with all these electronic assistances

  • goat

    Ryan has a very good point… and I know for fact he is basing his statement on measuring/driving/experimenting/fabricating suspension geometries on both gens of MINI, which to this engineer is more credibility than those claiming it is SOLELY because of the greater torque of the R56 or – worse – those who say it is unavoidable in a FWD car. The front suspension geometry was definitely “messed up” for the R56, hence all the torque steer issues, even at moderate power levels, let alone JCW levels. It is telling that a good bit of the torque steer is mitigated just by replacing the high-riding 4×4 suspension with the JCW suspension or aftermarket equivalent.

    But getting back to the big picture here, this is a “good news story”, not a bad one! I, for one, am glad to see MINI releasing this software upgrade.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Soon we won’t even have a wheel, with all these electronic assistances

    Of course there are inconsequential parts differences but the design & geometry is the same.

  • goat

    [re: front suspension geometry being more similar than different.] Interesting… thanks Gabe. Regardless of what it is causing it, the R53 gen, stock/JCW/even modded for high HP/torque, seem to have less “FWD-itis” than the R56.

    But like I mentioned above, this is a good news story… R56 torque steer is apparently greatly reduced / eliminated, and it can be retrofitted to 2007- cars, so that finally the incredible low-end torque of the Prince is more an asset than a liability.

  • that.guy
    the incredible low-end torque of the Prince

    I think you meant to say the “unexceptional low-end torque of the Prince”.

  • that.guy
    Of course there are parts differences but the basic geometry is the same.

    Aw Gabe man, that’s all u got? “Basic geometry is the same”? Even very subtle geometry changes make significant differences in handling. I’m going to have to go ahead and give Ryan the win in Round 1.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000398251447 Bradley Sketchley

    So many of the comments in here are completely useless

  • Hoover

    @Bradley Sketchley: Agreed. For example, see the comment directly above this one. Oh…that would be yours.

  • Paul

    this is going nowhere. I love my mini but boy, give it to their owners to endlessly debate and say absolutely nothing useful. I was hoping to get some info here on a possible “improvement” but got a good example of pissing contest instead. LAME.

  • lavardera

    Soooooo, lets review. What do we know so far? Equal half shafts the same. Suspension geometry the same. Newer engine has higher low-end torque. But our experts say its not the torque causing the torque steer. Ok. Is it the phony hood scoop?

  • J. Banks

    Just one more reason to cling tightly to my no silly buttons to push R52 burble butt.

  • robble
    Bradley Sketchley Oct 5th, 2010 Link So many of the comments in here are completely useless..

    or just flat head scratchingly wrong:

    I think you meant to say the “unexceptional low-end torque of the Prince”.

    That statement sounds like someone who has never driven and r53 or r56 and has no clue at all what power each has.

  • robble
    Driver of tuned R53 with much more torque than an R56:

    Really? Where is that person?

    I saw ryan say he has 260lbs torque in his highly modded r53.

    Funny that I’m hitting right at 270wtq with only a canned tune and intercooler. Alta is hitting right at 300wtq..

    The r53 may be great for upper rpm HP, but the r56 rules below 5000 rpm.

  • that.guy

    Sorry, Robble, let me be more precise: “Driver of tuned R53 with more torque than a stock R56.” Plenty of those people around.

  • pete

    … I wanted to learn about the fix, instead, I got to read useless comments about R53 vs R55.

    awesome.

  • robble
    that.guy Oct 6th, 2010 Link Sorry, Robble, let me be more precise: “Driver of tuned R53 with more torque than a stock R56.” Plenty of those people around.

    I still don’t get where you say “unexceptional low end torque of the R56”. I bet the R56 has more lots more torque at 2k rpm than your modded r53.

    pete Oct 6th, 2010 Link … I wanted to learn about the fix, instead, I got to read useless comments about R53 vs R55. awesome.

    Hi Kettle! Glad to see you had such an informative post that everyone wants to read.

  • that.guy

    @Robble Apologies if you still don’t understand my point. Clearly I am being inarticulate. I meant “unexceptional” as in there are other FWD cars on the market with as much or more low end torque than the R56 that don’t have massive torque steer issues. Or at least their owners don’t whine about torque steer so much that the manufacturers were forced to issue a software patch to cover up the problem.

  • lavardera

    I think the only thing that has been made clear is that it’s the R53 owners that whine about the R56 torque steer.

  • jbkONE

    I own an ’02 R50. Definitely no torque steer there. I took a 2009 R56 S for a test drive a few weeks ago and didn’t feel a hint of tq steer- I even let go of the wheel and it kept straight. I wish I knew what you were all talking about.

  • http://Motoringfile.com Art B

    I have just had the software downloaded in my 2009 JCW Clubman……The results have been interesting…..

    1. Although not mentioned as an anticipated change, I would put money on an even greater steering resistance increase with the Sport Button on.

    All settings on default…no sport button, no DTC…NO Torque Steer!

    Sport Button and DTC active: First several hard accelerations…NO CHANGE…all over the road…As I drove several more miles with several more starts, it seemed to “learn and re-adjust” to a level of not being present at all times.

    Example: Hard start in first gear, No Torque Steer, it seems to be ready for the hard torque at this stage…But shifting to 2nd and 3rd with hard acceleration ….the power/torque come on at different points in the power band, over-powering the fix to a noticable degree. It will squirel around a bit, but nothing like before the upgrade.

    On my 12 mile trip into work this morning I was hard pressed to motivate any Torque Steer at all.So…..

    At this point I’m satisfied with the results and the added resistance in the steering effort!

  • Greg Epperson

    So 3 days of comparisons between models, If you want the fix go check it out, if not don’t worry about it. No matter what model you drive we are all MINI OWNERS can’t we all just get along? We all love OUR mini’s for different reasons, stick/ auto, convertable/ hardtop. Mini owners none the less…

  • Pingback: Torque Steer Software update - MINI2 - MINI Forum()

  • Ray

    I’m running the Alta Stage 3. Dyno’d at 260ft lbs at the wheels. I’ll go with the mechanical locking diff when I replace the clutch. All this programming is going to slow the car down. Apply the brakes, let up on the electronic throttle, and there ya go. No torque steer. Come on now. Does Mini/Bmw think we are stupid? The only reason the JCW or MCS does have mechanical LSD is to save costs. Also this 1.6L is capable of so much more. Why is it so detuned?

    Ray

  • DK

    Wow – Just had my dealer install the software update to my 2009 MCS R57 convertible (May 2009 Build Date)and the torque steer is TOTALLY GONE. I detect no fall off in performance or acceleration from a standing start and I can’t feel anything unnatural in the steering feel. This was more than worth the $160 the dealer charged!!! Amazing difference!!!

  • ArtD

    Can someone who has had the torque-steer software upgrade installed provide the name of the dealer.

    My MINI dealer wants to speak with a dealer that has already performed the upgrade before considering doing it for me.

    I have a 2009 JCW convertible, and the torque steer can be dangerous. I recently stepped on it aggressively to pass someone, and the torque steer pulled the car so vigorously to the right, I almost hit the car I was passing.

  • DK

    Mine was done by Global Imports in Atlanta, GA. The technician was Gabe. A friend also had his JCW reprogrammed by Global and he reported excellent results – no more torque steer.

  • ArtD

    Thanks for the help DK!

  • Anonymous

    So did this update get released?