Power steering has revolutionized the driving experience by making it easier and more comfortable to maneuver vehicles.
However, like any other automotive system, power steering is not immune to failures and issues. One common problem drivers encounter is the power steering assist fault.
Here are a few steps you need to take to fix the power steering assist fault, which includes:
- Check for Top off or replace power steering fluid
- Repair or replace leaking hoses or connections
- Replace the power steering pump
- Fix or replace the control valve
- Replace the electric motor
- Replace the torque sensor
- Address electrical malfunctions
- Replace or reprogram the ECU
This article will provide an in-depth understanding of the power steering assist fault, its causes, symptoms, and various ways to fix it.
1. Understanding Power Steering Assist Systems
Before diving into the power steering assist fault, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the power steering assist systems and their functioning.
Hydraulic Power Steering System
Hydraulic power steering systems have been around since the 1950s and rely on pressurized fluid to assist in steering. The system consists of a hydraulic pump, reservoir, hoses, and a control valve.
As the driver turns the steering wheel, the pump pressurizes the fluid, which then helps move the steering rack, making it easier to turn the wheels.
Electric Power Steering System
Electric power steering systems (EPS) are a more recent development, gaining popularity in the last couple of decades. Instead of using hydraulic fluid, EPS relies on an electric motor for assistance.
Torque sensors detect the amount of effort applied by the driver, and the electric motor provides the necessary assistance.
There are two main types of EPS systems: column-mounted and rack-mounted, with the former being more common in lighter vehicles and the latter in larger and heavier vehicles.
2. What is a Power Steering Assist Fault?
A power steering assist fault occurs when there is a problem with the power steering system, either hydraulic or electric.
This issue can manifest in different ways, such as difficulty in turning the steering wheel, unusual noises, or warning messages on the dashboard.
It is essential to address this problem promptly, as it can significantly impact vehicle control and potentially lead to accidents.
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3. Common Causes of Power Steering Assist Fault
There are several reasons why a power steering assist fault may occur. Some of the most common causes include:
Hydraulic System Causes
- Low fluid levels or contaminated fluid
- Leaking hoses or connections
- Failing power steering pump
- Damaged control valve
Electric System Causes
- Electric motor failure
- Torque sensor issues
- Electrical malfunctions
- ECU (Electronic Control Unit) problems
4. Symptoms of Power Steering Assist Fault
When experiencing a power steering assist fault, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty turning the steering wheel, especially at low speeds
- Vehicle pulling to one side when driving straight
- Unusual noises (such as whining or grinding) when turning the steering wheel
- Vibration in the steering wheel
- Warning lights or messages on the dashboard
- Leaking fluid (for hydraulic systems)
5. Diagnosing Power Steering Assist Fault
To properly diagnose a power steering assist fault, it is essential to identify the root cause of the problem. Some of the steps you can take to diagnose the issue include:
- Inspecting the power steering fluid levels and quality (for hydraulic systems)
- Checking for leaks in hoses and connections (for hydraulic systems)
- Examining the power steering pump and belt (for hydraulic systems)
- Using an OBD2 (On-Board Diagnostics) scanner to check for any fault codes related to the power steering system (for electric systems)
- Inspecting electrical components and connections (for electric systems)
6. How to Fix Power Steering Assist Fault
Depending on the root cause of the power steering assist fault, there are several ways to address the issue:
Hydraulic System Fixes
- Top off or replace power steering fluid: If the fluid levels are low or the fluid is contaminated, top off or replace the power steering fluid as required.
- Repair or replace leaking hoses or connections: If you find any leaks in the hoses or connections, repair or replace them to prevent further fluid loss and damage to the system.
- Replace the power steering pump: If the pump is failing, it will need to be replaced to restore proper functioning of the hydraulic system.
- Fix or replace the control valve: If the control valve is damaged or malfunctioning, it may need to be repaired or replaced.
Electric System Fixes
- Replace the electric motor: If the electric motor has failed, it will need to be replaced to restore the power steering assist functionality.
- Replace the torque sensor: If the torque sensor is malfunctioning, it may need to be replaced to ensure proper assistance from the electric motor.
- Address electrical malfunctions: Inspect and repair any electrical issues, such as damaged wiring, connectors, or fuses, to ensure proper functioning of the electric power steering system.
- Replace or reprogram the ECU: If the ECU is causing the power steering assist fault, it may need to be replaced or reprogrammed by a professional mechanic.
7. Resetting Power Steering Assist Fault Warning
Once the root cause of the power steering assist fault has been addressed and fixed, you may need to reset the warning message on your dashboard.
This can be done by turning off the vehicle and restarting it two or three times. This process should reset the electrical components and clear the warning message.
However, it is essential to ensure that the issue has been resolved before attempting to reset the warning.
8. Preventive Maintenance for Power Steering Assist System
To avoid encountering power steering assist faults, it is essential to perform regular preventive maintenance on your vehicle’s power steering system. This may include:
- Regularly checking and maintaining appropriate power steering fluid levels (for hydraulic systems)
- Inspecting hoses and connections for leaks or damage (for hydraulic systems)
- Periodically replacing power steering fluid as recommended by the manufacturer (for hydraulic systems)
- Ensuring that the electric motor and related components are functioning correctly (for electric systems)
9. Cost of Fixing Power Steering Assist Fault
The cost of fixing a power steering assist fault depends on the root cause of the problem and whether it involves a hydraulic or electric system. Some approximate costs for common repairs include:
- Replacing power steering fluid: $50 to $100
- Repairing or replacing hoses or connections: $100 to $300
- Replacing the power steering pump (hydraulic systems): $300 to $600
- Replacing the electric motor or torque sensor (electric systems): $500 to $1,000
- Addressing electrical malfunctions: $100 to $300
- Replacing or reprogramming the ECU: $500 to $1,500
Keep in mind that these costs may vary depending on your vehicle’s make and model, the labor costs in your area, and whether you choose to use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or aftermarket parts.
How much does it cost to replace a power steering assist motor?
The cost of replacing a power steering assist motor can vary depending on several factors, including the make and model of your vehicle, the availability of the part, and the labor costs at the repair shop.
On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $900 for the parts and labor involved in replacing a power steering assist motor. However, the cost can be higher or lower depending on your specific circumstances.
It’s always best to get an accurate estimate from a certified mechanic or dealership before proceeding with any repairs.
This will help you avoid any surprises and ensure that you get the best possible price for the work that needs to be done.
How long does power steering repair last?
The lifespan of power steering repair depends on the specific component that needs to be repaired. For instance, the power steering control unit should last the life of the vehicle in most instances, while the power steering pump typically lasts up to 100,000 miles or better before needing replacement.
To increase the lifespan of your power steering pump, ensure you regularly maintain it and have it replaced at least every 100,000 miles.
Can you replace power steering yourself?
Replacing power steering components, such as the power steering pump or hoses, can be a complex and difficult task that requires specialized knowledge, tools, and equipment.
Therefore, it is recommended to have a certified mechanic or dealership perform power steering repair to ensure proper installation and functioning of the system.
How often do you need to replace power steering?
There is no definitive answer on when to change power steering fluid. However, it is generally recommended to change the power steering fluid every two years or every 75,000 miles to avoid damage to the power steering pump and seals.
This can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
It is important to note that modern cars with electric power steering do not require power steering fluid and do not need to have their fluid changed.
How to reset power steering assist fault?
Resetting a power steering assist fault code can depend on the make and model of your vehicle.
However, in general, you can try resetting the code by disconnecting the battery for a few minutes and then reconnecting it. This will clear any codes stored in the system and may reset the power steering assist fault.
It is important to note that resetting the code may not fix the underlying issue causing the fault, and it is recommended to have the vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic or dealership to diagnose and repair the problem.
Ignoring the fault can result in further damage to the power steering system and potentially lead to more expensive repairs.
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A power steering assist fault can significantly impact vehicle control and safety. As a responsible driver, it is essential to address this issue promptly and thoroughly.
By understanding the causes, symptoms, and fixes for power steering assist faults, you can ensure that your vehicle remains safe and reliable on the road.
Regular preventive maintenance and timely repairs can help prevent power steering assist faults and keep your driving experience smooth and enjoyable.