Steering Angle Sensor Malfunction (Signs, Causes + Solution)

steering angle sensor malfunction

Have you ever wondered what steering angle sensor malfunction means and how to fix that? Well, we got you covered.

Modern vehicles are equipped with numerous sensors and electronic components that enhance their performance, safety, and convenience.

One such sensor is the steering angle sensor (SAS), which plays a crucial role in various vehicle systems, including electronic stability control (ESC) and electric power steering (EPS). In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the importance of the steering angle sensor, the symptoms of its malfunction, the causes of failure, and solutions for addressing these issues.

What is a Steering Angle Sensor?

The steering angle sensor is an essential component of a vehicle’s electronic stability control system. It monitors the position and rate of rotation of the steering wheel and sends this information to the vehicle’s power steering control module.

This data helps the module determine the required steering assist, ensuring smooth and precise control of the vehicle.

The SAS is typically located within the steering column and consists of multiple sensors packed into a single unit. This redundancy ensures accuracy and reliability in the sensor’s readings.

In addition to its role in the electronic power steering system, the SAS is also involved in other vehicle systems such as electronic stability control and lane-keeping assistance.

Analog vs. Digital Steering Angle Sensors

Steering angle sensors come in two primary types: analog and digital. Although they serve the same function, they calculate data differently.

Analog sensors use differences in voltage signals to determine the steering’s rate of turn and angle positioning. In contrast, digital sensors use LED lights to measure the angle of the steering input.

Both types of sensors provide vital information to the vehicle’s electronic systems, ensuring optimal performance and safety.

Symptoms of a Bad Steering Angle Sensor

Like any other sensor in a vehicle, steering angle sensors can wear out or fail due to various factors. Here are some common symptoms that indicate your steering angle sensor may need replacement:

Illuminated Warning Lights

Your vehicle’s power steering and brake control units rely on data from the steering angle sensor. If there’s an issue with the sensor, the vehicle’s computers will detect it and trigger warning lights such as the stability control and electronic power steering lights.

However, since multiple vehicle issues can trigger these warnings, it’s essential not to assume that they’re solely caused by a faulty SAS.

Difficulty in Turning the Steering Wheel

A vehicle equipped with electric power steering needs accurate steering angle data to function correctly. A malfunctioning steering angle sensor might send incorrect signals to the vehicle’s computer, resulting in improper or unnecessary adjustments to the steering.

This can cause difficulty in turning the steering wheel and affect the overall handling of the vehicle.

Awkward Steering After Wheel Alignment

After your vehicle undergoes a wheel alignment, it’s necessary to reset its steering angle sensors.

If the mechanic fails to do so, the sensors may send inaccurate signals, leading to awkward steering and potential safety hazards.

Read also >> Steering Wheel Malfunction: Problems; Diagnose (Fixed)

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Causes of Steering Angle Sensor Malfunction

Several factors can contribute to the malfunction of a steering angle sensor. Identifying the root cause of the issue is crucial for addressing it effectively. Here are some common causes of steering angle sensor failure:

Faulty Wiring

Wiring issues can result from harsh weather conditions, poor maintenance, improper repair jobs, rodent damage, or general wear and tear.

If the wiring becomes damaged, it may be unable to transmit signals between the sensor and the vehicle’s computer, leading to a malfunctioning steering angle sensor.

Failure to Reset After Alignment

If a mechanic neglects to reset the steering angle sensor after performing a wheel alignment, the sensor may continue to provide inaccurate signals based on the previous alignment.

This can cause steering issues and require a reset to resolve the problem.

Hard Faults

Hard faults occur when the vehicle’s computer fails to receive a signal from the steering angle sensor. This lack of communication can disrupt the vehicle’s traction control system and cause the power steering to cease functioning.

Plausibility Faults

Plausibility faults arise when the data from the steering angle sensor doesn’t align with other information received by the vehicle’s computer.

If the sensor is damaged, or overly sensitive, or there’s an issue with the yaw rate sensor or lateral acceleration sensor, a plausibility fault can occur.

Broken Steering Angle Sensor

In some cases, the steering angle sensor itself may fail or become damaged, necessitating replacement to restore proper functioning.

How Steering Angle Sensors Work with Electronic Stability Control

The steering angle sensor is an integral component of a vehicle’s electronic stability control system. The ESC system uses the information provided by the SAS, along with data from other sensors such as yaw rate sensors, lateral acceleration sensors, and wheel speed sensors, to maintain vehicle stability and prevent loss of traction.

When the ESC system detects a loss of steering control, it signals the engine control module (ECM) to reduce engine torque.

This is often achieved through a throttle angle reduction in vehicles with electronic throttle bodies. If torque reduction is insufficient to regain control, the ESC module applies brakes to the appropriate wheels to restore directional control.

The Importance of Steering Angle Sensor Calibration

Steering angle sensors must be calibrated following a wheel alignment or the installation of suspension or steering components.

This ensures that the sensor provides accurate information to the vehicle’s electronic systems, preventing steering issues and maintaining optimal safety and performance.

There are two primary methods for calibrating a steering angle sensor:


Some vehicles can self-calibrate the SAS by turning the steering wheel from lock to lock and then centering it.

Others may require a set of specific commands or driving conditions to initiate the calibration process. In some cases, the vehicle may automatically recalibrate the SAS during normal driving in a straight line for a set period.

Scan Tool Calibration

In other instances, a scan tool is necessary to recalibrate the steering angle sensor. Some alignment equipment even includes SAS calibration functionality, eliminating the need for a separate scan tool during the alignment process.

It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for calibrating the steering angle sensor to ensure accurate and reliable performance.

Steering Angle Sensor Replacement Cost

The cost of replacing a steering angle sensor can vary depending on the vehicle make and model, as well as labor costs.

On average, a steering angle sensor replacement costs between $150 and $500, with the sensor itself ranging from $120 and $250 and labor costs between $80 and $250.

When seeking a replacement, it’s crucial to consult your vehicle’s manual and work with a trusted mechanic to ensure the proper sensor is selected and installed.

Can you reset a steering angle sensor?

Yes, the steering angle sensors (SAS) can be reset after performing a wheel alignment or replacing a component that can alter the toe and thrust angle. Resetting can be done through self-calibration, a test drive, or the diagnostic scan tool reset.

Some newer vehicles can self-calibrate by turning the steering wheel from lock to lock to center and then cycling the key.

Alternatively, you can go into the Wheel Alignment System, select Wheel Alignment, then Reset Memory, turn the ignition key off and wait for the message.

It’s recommended to perform the calibration on the ground, versus a lift. However, if the underlying issue causing the fault is not fixed, resetting the sensor may not solve the problem.

How do you test a steering angle sensor?

To test a steering angle sensor, you will need to use a diagnostic scan tool. The scan tool will display the steering angle sensor information in degrees and can be used to check if the readings are accurate.

A faulty steering angle sensor can trigger warning lights on the dashboard or cause the steering to be loose or unresponsive.

If you suspect that your steering angle sensor is faulty, it’s important to have it diagnosed and repaired by a certified mechanic.

Calibration of the steering angle sensor may be necessary after replacing or working on other parts of the vehicle that can affect the toe and thrust angles.

Calibration can be a static or dynamic process depending on the vehicle and is crucial for the proper functioning of the vehicle’s stability systems and ADAS functions.

Does disconnecting the battery reset steering angle sensor?

The SAS or steering angle sensor may need to be reset after the battery is disconnected, especially on some vehicles where it is required to reset the SAS after the battery is disconnected. However, this reset may not be enough.

It is important to note that if the SAS is not recalibrated after alignment or replacement, the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system may not function properly, and symptoms of a failing SAS include warning lights such as the Traction Control Light or Check Engine Light coming on, play or erratic movement in the steering wheel, poor handling, or uneven tire wear.

To test a steering angle sensor, a diagnostic scan tool is needed to display the sensor information and check for accuracy. A faulty sensor can cause warning lights and affect steering, and calibration may be necessary after repairs.

What happens if you don’t calibrate steering angle sensor?

If you don’t recalibrate the steering angle sensor (SAS) after alignment or replacement, it can cause symptoms such as warning lights, poor handling, or uneven tire wear. Failure to recalibrate the SAS can also lead to false activation of ADAS functions such as lane departure systems.

If the sensor has stopped functioning entirely, it can trigger the traction control light, which can indicate a problem with the vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit.

Additionally, errors in the SAS can cause the vehicle to self-correct itself even when correction is not required, which can lead to collision or injury due to incorrect road feedback.

Therefore, it is important to calibrate the SAS after any repair or replacement to ensure accurate and safe operation of the vehicle.

Where is steering angle sensor located?

The steering angle sensor is located inside the steering column, usually near the steering wheel. It is housed in a sensor cluster and measures the angle of the steering wheel to help drivers maintain control of their vehicles.

Is a steering angle reset included with an alignment?

No, a steering angle reset is not typically included with a wheel alignment. It is a separate procedure that must be performed after a wheel alignment, as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Failure to recalibrate the steering angle sensor after a wheel alignment can cause warning lights to appear, poor handling, uneven tire wear, false activation of ADAS functions, and even trigger the traction control light.

It is important to calibrate the sensor after any repair or replacement to ensure accurate and safe operation of the vehicle.



The steering angle sensor is an essential component of modern vehicles, contributing to the overall safety and performance of your car.

By understanding the symptoms of a malfunctioning sensor and the potential causes of failure, you can address issues promptly and maintain optimal control over your vehicle.

If you suspect a problem with your vehicle’s steering angle sensor, consult a professional mechanic to diagnose the issue and provide the necessary repairs or replacements.

This will help ensure the continued safety and performance of your vehicle on the road.

Steve P.

Steve is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Riviera. Steve is based in Boise, Idaho.

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