Electric Power Steering Problems

As technology evolves in the automotive space, auto Manufacturers are shifting from conventional power steering to electric power steering systems (EPS). Don’t confuse EPS with an electro-hydraulic system, which is a hybrid of both conventional and electric power steering systems. Electro-hydraulic steering is a hydraulic steering pump controlled by an electronic motor.

So, what is electric power steering, and how does it works?  EPS is a steering system that uses electricity to steer the wheels by augmenting the force needed to turn the wheels instead of applying hydraulic principles.

It has several sensors that detect the driver’s input (speed, position, torque) and forward these data to an electric control unit, which analyzes them and applies them via the electric steering assistance motor.

As technology evolves and new systems are introduced, they also come with their ups and downs. So in this article, we’ll discuss at length, most common electric power steering problems and answer some users’ mind-boggling questions such as ‘can a bad battery cause electric power steering problems?’

Most Common Electric Power Steering Problems

electric power steering problems toyota

Like every mechanical and electrical component in a vehicle, there are issues that associate with electric power steering systems. Listed below are electric power steering symptoms and problems you should watch out for.

Alignment issues: One of the most common Ford electric power steering problems is alignment issues. You can also encounter this issue on other electric power steering vehicles.

Alignment issues simply mean situations where the EPS provides more assistive torque and speed in one direction than the other wheel. For example, the steering wheel may be heavy while turning to the right and lighter while turning to the left. In any case, if the wheels are properly aligned, this problem may be from the steering angle sensor.

To fix the steering angle sensor, you need to recalibrate it to send accurate data to the electric control unit (ECU). Once recalibrated, the ECU will start providing the required amount of assistive torque and speed.

Lack Of Power Assist: If you notice a lack of power assist, chances are diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) has activated the fail-safe strategy, resulting in a lack of power steering assist. To fix this, you need to diagnose and reset the system.

As much as there are no steering hoses and pumps involved in the EPS system, it is designed with other system components that may malfunction. Some other vehicle brands like Volkswagen, Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda electric Power Steering problems you may encounter includes;

Sounds In The Steering Wheel: if you hear sounds in the steering wheel, you are likely to have issues with the steering column and steering gear. If the noise sounds squeaking, it may be from the electric power steering control module.

Uneven power steering assists: If there is uneven right-left Power Steering assist, it is likely a problem with; alignment from one or more wheels, electric power steering pump/rack, torque sensor calibration, steering electric control unit (ECU).

Hard Or Heavy Steering: A hard or heavy steering wheel is typically a problem from one of the following; steering column shaft, steering electric control unit, electric steering rack/pump, torque sensor.

When Driving, Driving Assist Does Not Decrease: there should be a varying difference in power assist from when idling and when driving based on steering torque and wheel speed. So, if the power assist remains the same when driving, there are issues on any of these;  electric motor, torque ECU.


Does Low Power Battery Affect  Electric Power Steering?

The majority of cars use hydraulic power steering systems. At the same time, some use electro-hydraulic steering systems. Only a few cars use electric power steering and, if you own a car with electric power steering, if the battery runs low for any reason, the ECM can turn off the electric power steering.

It can be dangerous If the electric power steering control module switches off the car while in motion. However, if such happens, you can still turn the steering wheel, but it will require more effort.

Can Electric Power Steering Be Adjusted?

Yes, electric power steering can be modified to suit individual preferences since it is electrically controlled. For instance, you can modify the steering weight to high-speed stability and steering feel.

What Does It Mean When The Electric Power Steering Light Comes Up?

The electronic power steering light typically illuminates on the instrument cluster to notify the driver of a problem in the EPS system. Unlike the hydraulic power steering, the EPS does not use steering fluid in providing power steering assist.

If the light comes on, there is no steering fluid level to check; instead, it should be issued with the battery. Try checking your battery connectivity and try a jump-start.

Can cold weather affect electric power steering?

Apparently, summertime is not good for driving. It’s during summer that we leave our homes to commute on icy or snowy cities and towns to get to our workplace. Drivers face difficulties during this time, and it can be tremendous for drivers who don’t understand the optimal principles and techniques of driving on icy and snowy areas.

Here are two problems you’re likely to face in the summer season when driving with hydraulic, electro-hydraulic, or electric power steering;

Under-Steering: Under-Steering refers to when a driver tries to make a corner and the wheels return to their original direction. This mainly occurs when driving on high gears or when trying to corner at high speed, but the tires did not grip or make traction on the road. The best way to prevent this from resulting in a collision is to shift to lower gears.

Vehicle pulling to one side after installing winter tires: It can be a fainting experience to see your tires pulling to one side while going to the other side, vice versa. The cause of these steering issues usually lies in the alignment and not the steering itself. To fix this, take your car to a mechanic to correct the alignment.

Can You Make an Electric Power Steering Light?

If your EPS is too heavy or you want to make it lighter for personal reasons, consult your dealership or mechanic to lighten it to be easier to turn. Power Steering lighting is ideal for you if;

  • You use one hand to steer the wheel
  • You have reduced strength
  • You have rheumatism.

How Do You Check Electric Power Steering Problems

Electric Power Steering has different working principles from the traditional hydraulic power steering system due to its electronic design.  Instead of having a physical inspection, repairing and replacing faulty mechanical parts, EPS diagnosis involves programming and calibration, and some system work. EPS cannot be diagnosed via physical inspection like the hydraulic steering.

To properly diagnose or service the system, your dealership or mechanic needs to implement the following;

  • A scan check for diagnosing system faults that deal with communication and electronic issues.
  • Contacting an aftermarket manufacturer for a high-end components rebuild.
  • Electronic repair solutions.

How much does it cost to fix electric power steering?

The cost of fixing electric power steering relies on the actual cause of the failure, taxes, labor charge, location, and the dealership or mechanic handling the repair.

If you have a bad power steering control module, the average cost of replacing it should be around $700 and $800. Parts should be around $550-600, while the service fee is around $150-200.

Final words

As technology evolves and automakers are transitioning to electric power steering systems, it is an involved process. However, you should analyze electric power steering problems and their advantages before making that shift.

To the best of our knowledge, transitioning to an EPS system is one of the best ways to showcase your business in the evolving automotive space.

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Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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