Electric power steering (EPS) has become the norm due to its fuel efficiency and ease of use. However, like all things mechanical, EPS systems can experience problems.
This article will discuss the common issues and diagnose electric power steering problems. We will also provide tips on maintaining your EPS system to avoid these issues.
Eight Common Electric Power Steering Problems
The electric power steering problems listed below can cause significant headaches for drivers. Each problem will be described in detail and the primary cause and why it’s essential to address the issue quickly.
1. Power Steering Pump Failure
One of the most common EPS issues is power steering pump failure. The power steering pump provides hydraulic fluid to the EPS system. When the pump fails, it can cause the steering to feel heavy or unresponsive.
The primary cause of power steering pump failure is a loss of hydraulic fluid. This can be caused by a leak in the system or by incorrect fluid levels. It’s important to check the fluid level regularly and repair any leaks as soon as possible.
2. Electric Power Steering Motor Failure
Another common EPS issue is electric power steering motor failure. The EPS motor is responsible for providing power to the steering system. When the motor fails, it can cause the steering to feel heavy or unresponsive.
EPS motor failure is generally attributed to a loss of power. This can be caused by a blown fuse or a loose connection. Car owners need to check the fuse and connections regularly and replace any blown fuses as soon as possible.
3. Rack and Pinion Failure
The rack and pinion are vital components of the EPS system. It is responsible for converting the rotational motion of the steering wheel into the linear motion needed to turn the wheels. When the rack and pinion fail, it causes the steering wheel to feel harder to turn. It’s also possible for your gearbox to start building up heat and lose hydraulic pressure due to a lack of steering fluid.
Track and pinion failure is often associated with a loss of hydraulic fluid or an accumulation of debris in the system. As with power steering pump failure, it’s important to regularly check the fluid levels and repair any leaks as soon as possible.
4. Torque Sensor Failure
The torque sensor is responsible for measuring the force being applied to the steering wheel. Issues with the torque sensor can cause the steering to feel either too loose or heavy. Depending on the car model, you’ll also notice that the traction control light or check engine light is turned on.
Torque sensor failure is typically caused by debris build-up on the sensor’s surface. This can be due to a leak in the system or incorrect fluid levels. It’s vital to have the sensor cleaned regularly and repaired.
5. Steering Column Failure
The steering column is responsible for connecting the steering wheel to the EPS system. When the column fails, it can cause the steering wheel to become disconnected from the system. This can make it difficult to turn the wheel or cause it to feel loose. You may also notice constant clicking or grinding sounds while turning the steering wheel.
Steering column failure is often caused by a loss of hydraulic fluid or an accumulation of debris in the system. Additionally, the column can become damaged due to a car accident. It should be easy for mechanics to spot a damaged steering column and replace it, so it’s best to get your vehicle inspected as soon as you notice any of the signs.
6. ECU Failure
The ECU is the brain of the EPS system. It is responsible for processing information and sending commands to the other system components. When the ECU fails, it can cause the steering to feel heavy or unresponsive and the engine turning off at random times. You may even find the check engine light turned on.
ECU failure can be caused by various wiring and component issues ranging from short circuits to damaged electronics. Temperature also plays a role in ECU failure, as the unit can overheat and malfunction. Always take your car to a mechanic if you notice any steering problems or the check engine light is turned on.
7. Power Steering Belt Damage or Slippage
The power steering belt is responsible for providing power to the EPS system. When the belt is damaged or slips, it can cause the steering to feel heavy or unresponsive. Additionally, you may notice a burning smell coming from the engine bay, or the power steering fluid reservoir may be empty.
Power steering belt damage is typically caused by wear and tear. However, it can also be caused by an accumulation of debris on the belt or incorrect tension. It’s important to have the belt inspected regularly and replaced as needed.
8. Wiring Issues
The EPS system relies on a complex system of wiring to function correctly. When the wires become damaged or frayed, it can cause the steering to feel heavy or unresponsive. You may also notice that the check engine light or other warning lights are turned on.
Wiring issues can be caused by several factors, including car accidents, rodents, and corrosion. It’s important to have any damaged wires repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Electric power steering is a vital component of any vehicle.
Why It’s Important To Address Power Steering Problems Quickly
Electric power steering is a vital component of any vehicle. It’s responsible for making it easier to steer, especially at low speeds. When the system fails, it can make it difficult to control the car, leading to accidents.
Additionally, power steering problems can cause the check engine light to turn on, indicating other issues with the vehicle and is generally a sign that your vehicle has entered “emergency mode."
It’s important to address power steering problems quickly to avoid potential accidents or damage to your vehicle. If you notice any signs of power steering problems, take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.
How To Fix Electric Power Steering Problems
There are many ways to fix EPS problems, depending on the cause. Here are some common repair methods:
- Replacing the power steering fluid is often the first step in addressing power steering problems. Power steering fluid can become dirty or low, which can cause the system to fail. Replacing the fluid can often resolve the issue.
- Repairing or replacing the power steering pump: The power steering pump is responsible for providing power to the EPS system. When it fails, it can cause the steering to feel heavy or unresponsive. Repairing or replacing the pump can often fix the problem.
- Repairing or replacing the power steering rack: The power steering rack translates the driver’s input into steering wheel movement. When it fails, it can cause the steering to feel heavy or unresponsive. Getting the rack replaced or repaired (if still possible) can eliminate the issues.
- Replacing the power steering column: The power steering column connects the steering wheel to the EPS system. When it fails, it can significantly affect how you steer when driving. Getting them replaced should help get rid of the problem.
- Replacing the electric power steering control unit: The electric power steering control unit is responsible for controlling the EPS system. When it fails, it can cause the EPS system to fail. Replacing the control unit is often the best way to fix this problem.
- Repairing or replacing the power steering cables: The power steering cables are responsible for connecting the EPS system to the steering wheel. When they become damaged or frayed, it can cause the steering to feel heavy or loose, depending on the nature of the problem. Fortunately, repairing or replacing the cables is usually a relatively easy and inexpensive fix.
- Repairing power steering hose: The power steering hose carries power steering fluid to and from the EPS system. When the power steering hose fails, it can harm the power steering system and the way you drive your vehicle. Repairing or replacing the hose should be enough to fix this issue.
- Replacing the power steering belt: The power steering belt is responsible for driving the power steering pump. A damaged power steering belt can cause the pump to fail, leading to power steering problems. Replacing the belt is often the best way to fix this problem.
- Cleaning the power steering system: The power steering system can become clogged with dirt and debris over time. This can cause the entire EPS system to fail. Regular cleaning and proper maintenance of the system should help resolve the issue and prevent it from occurring again.
- Adjusting the power steering: If the power steering is not adjusted correctly, it can cause the system to fail. Adjusting the power steering can often fix the problem.
It’s important to note that some of these repair methods can be pretty expensive, such as replacing the power steering rack or ECU. However, addressing EPS problems early on can often help prevent more costly repairs.
It’s also worth noting that dealing with power steering problems should be best left in the hands of experts. Taking your vehicle to a qualified mechanic can help ensure that the problem is diagnosed correctly and repaired.
Electric power steering problems can cause a lot of inconveniences and even danger when driving.
Get Your Vehicle Diagnosed
Diagnosing electric power steering problems can be tricky, but it needs to be taken seriously. Electric power steering problems can cause a lot of inconveniences and even danger when driving. It’s essential to address any issues as soon as they are identified to avoid further damage to the system or your vehicle.
If you suspect that there may be a problem with your electric power steering, the best thing is to take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic or dealership. They will be able to diagnose the problem properly and suggest the best course of action.
At Auto Works of Brandon, we offer comprehensive vehicle inspection and diagnostic testing to help you determine what’s wrong with your car. Contact us today, and we'll help you find and fix any issues your vehicle may have.