There are several issues that can affect your electric power steering. Whenever you encounter one of them, it’s important to first find out what the problem is before trying to fix it. An electric power steering system can fail due to many reasons, including bad tires and a problematic suspension system. In this guide, you’ll learn to spot some of these issues and how to fix electric power steering problems whenever they occur.
Common Power Steering Problems and Their Fixes
1. Unresponsive and rigid electric steering
Since the electric power steering does not use hydraulic fluid to provide the assistance needed, most of the issues encountered are associated with an electric fault. Your electric steering comes with a motor that is powered by the car’s electrical system. Based on the torque and effort applied by the driver when steering, a computer decides how much assistance is needed.
When it comes down to how to fix electric power steering problems, the first thing that you should do is look for faults in your wires and connections. You’ll also need to check that your battery has enough voltage and that none of your fuses are burnt. The wires should also be in good condition. If you’re wondering why is my electric power steering not working, shut off your car completely and restart it. This will reset the electrical system and fix the electric power steering fault.
If these solutions don’t work, get your hands on an OBD2 scanner or a simple code reader. It will help you find any diagnostic trouble codes that may be stored in the power steering module. With this, you can pinpoint exactly where the problem is. Make an appointment with a mechanic afterwards to have all the parts of your electric system checked.
2. No power steering assist
If your steering wheel suddenly requires extra muscle to turn it, your power steering assist could be losing its power. This is a common issue that occurs in hydraulic power steering systems. At their heart is a hydraulic pump that displaces a hydraulic fluid to provide the pressure needed to make turning your car easy.
The fluid passes through a discharge hose while control valves regulate how pressure is routed. As you can tell, there are more parts involved here. The first step here when figuring out how to fix power steering problems is to check the hydraulic power steering fluid. If it is low, top it up to the appropriate level.
Check under the car for any puddles that may indicate that you have a leak. Power steering fluid is normally pink, red, or clear. Leakage may be an indication that the hydraulic hoses and lines are damaged. It could also be a sign of a defective or cracked component, or perhaps damage that may have been caused by a recent accident. Have it checked and repaired.
3. Grinding, Whining, and Squealing Noises
Grinding, whining, squealing and rattling noises occur mostly when parts start to rub against each other. A typical power steering system comes with several parts that may be causing unwanted noise when damaged. They include a damaged steering rack mount; a loose, worn out, or misaligned power steering belt; or bad strut bearings.
These problems are mostly accompanied by other issues such as a steering wheel that feels heavy, jerks, is hard to turn, or seems uncontrollable. Bad strut bearings and tie rods are also common symptoms of electric power steering failure that can also cause the wheel to stray while driving.
Additionally, loose steering gears, wheel bearings, or steering linkages can cause excessive play and noise in your steering wheel. If you’re not sure how to fix electric power steering problems in your car, contact a professional.
4. Vehicle that is pulling and drifting
If you notice that your car is drifting from side to side or pulling to one side when driving, this could be an indication of low or uneven tire pressure. It will most times be accompanied by a tire pressure monitoring system light that pops up on the dash. To fix it, you’ll need to fill your tires with the right amount of pressure.
Make sure that your steering gears are functioning as they should and that they are lubricated correctly. A faulty suspension can also cause the car to wander while driving. If it’s pulling or drifting, this can be an indication that your vehicle is simply out of alignment or that your steering wheel is off-center. These are also common causes of electric power steering failure.
What to Do When the Power Steering Goes Out
The most common symptom of a power steering system failure is an electric power steering that stopped working suddenly or becomes difficult to turn. If this happens spontaneously when driving, here are some safety tips that you can follow before figuring out how to fix electric power steering problems.
1. Put your hazard lights on
The first step is to turn your hazard lights on to communicate to other drivers that there’s something wrong with your car. This will tell them to be cautious when approaching you and allow them to pass you safely.
2. Pull over to the side of the road
Take a look at the vehicles approaching you from the back to determine whether it’s safe to pull over to the side of the road and stop the car. This may require you to put extra muscle into the steering wheel depending on the level of damage the system has. Don’t be in a hurry to switch lanes. Take your time.
3. Check the severity of the situation
Once you’ve come to a full stop, assess the severity of the problem. Can electric power steering be fixed? You can switch the car completely off and turn it on again to see if your electric power steering will come back. If it does, drive to the nearest mechanic. If it still remains stiff and hard to turn, and you don’t know how to fix electric power steering problems, call a tow truck and have the vehicle towed.
Why it’s Critical to Maintain the Power Steering System
The engine provides the power you need to move around using your car. But without the steering wheel, you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere. Throughout the years, automotive engineers have worked hard to ensure that the steering wheel is easy to use. This is by ensuring that cars come with power steering to help steer them without a fight.
It can become highly problematic and exhausting to drive your car when the power steering system is down. This increases the safety risks for both the driver and passenger. Keeping your power steering functional and well-maintained helps to prevent any safety issues and keeps your car in good working condition.
How to Care for the Power Steering system
Power steering systems comprise various components that need to function correctly at all times. If you have an electric power steering system, some of the major parts include a steering torque sensor, a dedicated control module, an electric motor, and related fuses and wiring. For a hydraulic power steering system, parts include a fluid pump, hydraulic lines and hoses, and hydraulic fluid. Here’s how you can take care of these components.
1. Keep hydraulic fluid at the correct level
Your power steering fluid needs to stay at the correct level to help the system function correctly. If it’s low, top it up. If it’s contaminated, change it with high-quality hydraulic fluid. You can flush the system occasionally with new and clean fluid to remove contaminants.
2. Check and replace fluid pump
Like any other part of your car, the hydraulic fluid pump can age and wear out. If it stops functioning properly, the fluid will not flow through the system. This can cause some of the parts to dry out and wear quickly. The entire system will then fail eventually. The most common issue with power steering pumps is that the bearing goes bad. Check your hydraulic fluid pump regularly and replace it if it’s damaged.
3. Inspect hoses and hydraulic lines
Your hoses and hydraulic lines help to transport hydraulic fluid within your power steering system. If they become corroded or dry over time, they can crack and cause leaks. The same can happen if they are exposed to extreme temperatures. Inspect your hoses to confirm that they are still in good working condition.
Your vehicle needs to have clear passageways. If they are blocked or clogged, the best thing to do is flush the system. Sometimes, the problem could be a pressure leak where there are seals. Seals are normally non-serviceable and the only way to fix them is to get new seals alongside the steering rack and gear or fix the leak using a stop leak.
4. Don’t ignore any signs of failure
Before figuring how to fix electric power steering problems, we went through some of the symptoms that can tell you if there could be a problem in the system. It’s important to never ignore these symptoms. If your steering wheel feels tight, rough, or inconsistent, follow up on the issue with an automotive specialist that you trust.
On That Note
Whether you drive a car with a hydraulic power steering or electric power steering system, it’s best to know how to fix it when you encounter a problem. If by any means you become unsure of how to go about it, visit a trusted auto shop for a check. Be sure to stick around for more maintenance tips.
Can electric power steering be adjusted?
Yes. It’s possible to adjust your electric power steering to suit your individual needs. You can make alterations to the electronic system to change how heavy or light the steering wheel feels and how stable it is at high speeds.
Can you make electric power steering lighter?
Yes. You can make the electric power steering lighter. This is ideal for drivers with limited mobility that may not have enough strength to steer or for persons who can only operate the steering wheel with one hand.
Can electric power steering leak?
Unlike the hydraulic power steering system, the electric power steering system does not use fluid, a pump, or hoses. It, therefore, cannot experience any leaks. It also requires no maintenance as it draws power from the battery and vehicle’s charging system.
What causes electric power steering failure?
Most electric power steering failures are caused by an electric fault or bad motor. The problem could also be due to bad wiring, a damaged control module, a bad steering torque sensor, or a burnt fuse.
Can a bad battery cause electric power steering problems?
If the battery that’s keeping your car’s electric systems running is bad, it’s possible that it can cause damage to the electric power steering. However, if the battery is good enough to start the car and keep it running, then it’s good enough to keep your electric power steering functioning.
Can you fix electric power steering?
You can fix your electric power steering if you have the right tools to diagnose and fix the problem. If you’re not sure how to go about it, visit a certified mechanic to have your vehicle checked and repaired.
What causes steering to be stiff?
The most common cause of a stiff steering wheel is loss of power steering. It could be due to low power steering fluid within the system, a fluid leak, or electrical issues in an electric system. You’ll need to inspect these components to find and fix the problem.
How much does it cost to fix electric power steering?
Replacing a power steering control module costs between $742 and $769 on average. Labor will put you back about $106 – $134. Parts here are priced at $635. It’s good to note that these are ballpark figures that do not include taxes, fees, location, and the make of the car.