Electric power steering (EPS) is an essential part of any car and a major advancement in power steering technology. It makes maneuvering the vehicle convenient and safer for the driver and passengers. Power steering increases your car’s agility, allowing you to deftly avoid obstacles and steer with ease.
Unfortunately, as sturdy and dependable as power steering is, it can still become defective over time. When this happens it can be a real issue. So, what causes electric power steering failure?
There are several reasons why your steering might fail, and we will cover these causes in this article. You will also find answers to some frequently asked questions about electronic power steering problems.
What Causes Electric Power Steering Failure?
Having a faulty steering wheel can be frustrating. The first thing you should know is that electric power steering systems differ from hydraulic ones, so the diagnosis and repair processes differ.
There are three types of electronic power steering failures: electric motor, torque sensor, and electronic board failures.
One reason you might be experiencing EPS failure is a faulty mounted electric motor. The primary cause of issues with this motor is excess heat. The electric motor is more likely to fail when exposed to high temperatures.
You might also experience issues if the motor gets infiltrated by water, debris, or other contaminants.
Additionally, in brush style systems, carbon contamination may occur, which can also lead to steering failure. Brush style systems are more likely to fail than brushless style systems.
Failure of the EPS may also be due to the torque sensor. A torque sensor is more likely to fail than any other component in the EPS system.
A contacting style sensor has a higher chance of failure than a non-contacting one. This is because the metallic contact point on the sensor ages with time and loses its effectiveness.
The electronic board and circuitry may also contribute to a faulty EPS system. The job of the EPS board is to process electrical signals. It also acts as the center of communication between the circuits and sensors in the system.
Due to this workload, the EPS board can get overheated, leading to power failures.
Also, constant power cycling in components like the relays, resistors, capacitors, and mosfets can affect the steering over time. This electrical issue occurs most often when the board is close to the exhaust component and the engine.
Another cause of failure in the EPS board can come from contaminants (dirt and water). Keep in mind that the microprocessors are not normally susceptible to failure and can usually be ruled out when running diagnostics or repairs.
Diagnosing and Fixing Electric Power Steering Failures
As previously mentioned, the approach for repairing a faulty EPS differs from hydraulic steering due to its electronic layout.
Hydraulic steering requires repairing, servicing, or replacing crucial components like the pump or belt. On the other hand, EPS servicing requires programming, electronic calibration, and sometimes electrical component work.
Due to the nature of the EPS, you cannot always determine the failure or its cause simply by physically inspecting the system the way you would a hydraulic system.
In order to service an EPS failure in older vehicle models, your repair shop has to implement processes that will help deal with electronics. These include:
- Using an electronic scan tool to find out if there are any communication or electronic issues.
- Sourcing for quality components and electronics from aftermarket providers.
- Finding a solution that addresses the programming aspect of electronic repair.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The use of electric power steering is still relatively new, and there are several questions that you might need answered regarding the topic. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
Can Electric Power Steering be Affected by Low Battery?
A car that runs with EPS uses a battery, and when the power of the battery runs low, the electric control module (ECM) will turn off the EPS.
While this won’t damage the EPS or your car, it is quite unsafe if it turns off while your vehicle is still in motion. With that said, you should still be able to use the steering wheel, you will just need to put in more effort to steer it.
Is Adjusting the Electric Power Steering Possible?
Since the steering is electrically controlled, you can adjust it to suit your needs. You can change the wheel speed and weight. To do so, reach out to your mechanic or dealer and ask them to adjust the steering wheel for you.
What Does the Electric Power Steering Light Mean?
The EPS light usually comes on when there is a problem with the system. Unlike hydraulic power steering, the EPS does not use hydraulic fluid for steering.
So if the warning light comes on, you cannot check for fluid levels. Instead, your problem is probably from the battery. Your best bet is to check the battery connectivity, and, if everything looks normal, try a jump start. If this doesn’t work, you might just have a bad battery.
What Does it Cost to Fix Electric Power Steering?
There are numerous factors to consider when taking your vehicle in for a power steering repair, including the cause of the problem, taxes, the mechanic, and your location. These factors will determine the total cost of the repair.
Typically, the average cost of replacing a faulty power steering control module is about $700 to $800. The module costs around $500 to $600, and the service charge is between $150 to $200.
Technology is evolving rapidly, and power steering systems are no exception. However, even the most advanced technology can sometimes experience failures. So, if you were wondering what causes electric power steering failure, we hope this article answered your questions.
There will be challenges as automotive manufacturers transition to producing more vehicles with EPS because the method of repairs is entirely different from servicing a hydraulic power steering system. With time, this process will become easier.
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