2004 Mini Cooper

Steering problem
2004 Mini Cooper 4 cyl Automatic 78000 miles

1 time in dec 2009 and 1 time in feb 2010, my steering wheel became very difficult to turn. I turned off my car and restarted and the steering wheel was loose and worked after that. What is this issue and how expensive does it run to make sure it doesn't lock up again? How concerned should I be? I also had two leaks in my oil line and those were very expensive to fix and just fixed my thermostat--also very expensive. I don't know why with 78,000, i'm having these issues.
February 4, 2010.

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