Electric Power Steering Failure Symptoms: What are the Common Causes?

Newer vehicles often come equipped with electric power steering as standard equipment. On the other hand, there is a risk that this device will malfunction, leaving you stranded on the road. In this post, we will go through electric power steering failure symptoms, as well as the various reasons and solutions.

Drivers report experiencing a loss of power assist when their electric power steering fails. A car may also pull to one side while being driven if it is experiencing other symptoms, such as an abnormal noise coming from the power steering motor.

What is an Electric Power Steering System (EPS)?

A vehicle’s steering system, known as electric power steering (EPS), is one that employs an electric motor to provide the driver with assistance while turning the wheels. The conventional hydraulic power steering system, which makes use of hydraulic fluid to provide assistance to the driver, has been replaced with this technology. EPS is a more recent technology that, in comparison to hydraulic power steering, provides a number of benefits, including the increased economy in terms of fuel use and decreased emissions.

In addition to this, it is more dependable since there are fewer opportunities for anything to go wrong as a result of the reduced number of operating components. For instance, there are no fluid leaks or problems with the power steering pump. You do not have to be concerned about the amount of power steering fluid. However,  electronic power steering may be more costly to maintain or replace than a conventional power steering system.

EPS System – Sensors & Basic Working Principle

When turning the steering wheel, a driver who has an electric power steering system installed will receive assistance from an electric motor. The motor is attached to the column that steers the vehicle and, in order to provide assistance, it communicates with the recirculating ball-type steering gear or rack-and-pinion. The electric motor gives a boost or an assist whenever you turn the steering wheel, which makes it much simpler for you to turn the wheel. The functions of two of the most essential sensors in the EPS system are:

  1. Torque Sensor

The amount of assistance that is supplied by the electric motor may be determined by the torque sensor. A signal is sent to the electronic control unit from the torque sensor, which detects the amount of force that the driver applies to the steering wheel (ECU). The ECU will then decide how much assistance to offer from the electric motor.

  1. The Speed Sensor:

The speed sensor determines how quickly the wheels are rotating by sending a signal to the electronic control unit (ECU). The Electronic Control Unit (ECU) determines how much assistance to offer from the electric motor based on this information as well as data from the torque sensor. Some automobiles use a steering angle sensor separately.

Risks of Driving With a Malfunctioned EPS System

If the electronic power steering (EPS) system malfunctions while you are driving, the car will be more difficult to drive. This may make it challenging to maintain the automobile in its lane and can even force the vehicle to wander from its intended path. In extreme situations, the vehicle may not even be able to move at all.

If you happen to be in such a situation, it is imperative that you keep your cool and refrain from panicking in any way. To the best of your ability, maintain control of the car while bringing it to a halt as gradually as possible. Once the car has come to a complete stop, activate the hazard warning lights and make a call for help. If the EPS system has malfunctioned, you should not even try to drive the car. It’s possible that you and others, including yourself, might be seriously hurt or even die.

 6 Common Symptoms of EPS Failure

There are a few different electric power steering failure symptoms that might point to a problematic EPS system. The following is a list of the most prevalent symptoms:

  1. EPS Warning Light:

    In the event that your electric power steering system malfunctions, a warning light for the EPS may turn on in your dashboard. When this light is illuminated in either red or yellow, it indicates that there is an issue with the power steering. If you notice that this light is on, you need to have your vehicle checked out by a professional as soon as possible.
  2. Loss of Power Assist:

In the event that the EPS system fails, the power assist will be disabled. This indicates that it will be harder to spin the steering wheel. It’s possible that the loss of power assist may be rapid or it might be gradual. If it comes on suddenly, it raises the risk of serious injury or death since it makes it more difficult to maintain control of the vehicle.

The steering wheel will get progressively more difficult to turn as time passes. Because of this, traveling over long distances may be exceedingly exhausting.

  1. Vehicle is Pulling to One Direction:

If the electric power steering system in your car fails, you may notice that the vehicle begins to pull to one side. Because of this, it may become impossible to maintain the car in its lane, which might put everyone and everything in risk. In most cases, the issue may be traced back to a faulty sensor or a power steering motor that is not operating properly.

If any of these components stop working, it may turn the car to one side with greater ease than the other.

  1. Whining Noise Coming From Power Steering Motor:

You car hear a whining sound coming from the power steering motor if there are problems with the power steering system. The gears within the motor are causing this noise by grinding against each other and creating friction. As the EPS system begins to fail, the noise will become more noticeable.

In this particular scenario, the engine is unable to provide the amount of torque required to spin the wheels. If the motor is not the appropriate size for the vehicle, the EPS system may also fail to give ample assistance.

  1. Soft Steering Wheel When at High Speed:

If you are traveling at high speeds and find that the steering wheel is less responsive than normal, this might be an indication that the EPS system is malfunctioning. The electric power steering provides the capability to modify the amount of assistance provided in response to changes in the driving environment.

For example, greater assistance may be supplied at lower speeds when turning the steering wheel is more difficult, and less assistance may be offered at higher speeds when turning the steering wheel is easier.

6. Vibrations From Steering Rack:

It is imperative that you take the vehicle to repair as soon as possible in the event that you detect any kind of vibration in the steering wheel. Rack and pinion gearing is used in an electric power steering system to facilitate the transformation of the rotating motion of the steering into a linear motion.

This is what causes the wheels of the vehicle to turn while it is in motion. There is a possibility of vibration being transmitted to the steering wheel if the rack and pinion are not aligned correctly. This issue is often brought on by a rack and pinion that has been broken or worn down over time.

What Causes Failure of the EPS System?

There are 4 main reasons behind an electric power steering failure:

  1. Issue in the Control Unit:

Problems with the control unit are often to fault when it comes to breakdowns with electric power steering (EPS) systems. The control unit, often known as the “brain” of your car’s EPS system, is the component that is in charge of analyzing the data collected by the sensors and communicating those interpretations to the motor. Failure of the EPS system is a possibility in the event that there is an issue with the control unit.

Problems with the control unit might result in the failure of the EPS system because the control unit might not be calibrated correctly. It is possible that it will not be able to appropriately interpret sensor data if it has not been calibrated correctly. Because of this, the EPS system may provide inaccurate information to the motor, which may ultimately result in the EPS system being inoperable.

  1. Driving on Rough Terrains

Driving over difficult terrains is another prevalent factor that might cause the EPS system to malfunction. When you are driving over uneven terrain, the electronic stability program (EPS) has to work harder to keep the car stable.

Because of this, the components of the EPS may be subjected to a great deal of stress, which may eventually result in component wear and tear. It’s possible that the system won’t be able to endure the shocks and vibrations that come with traveling across rough terrain, which might result in it breaking down.

In addition, if you drive on harsh terrain, there is a danger that the EPS system may be damaged by debris. This risk increases the longer you drive on rough terrain. In the event that a rock or another item strikes the EPS system, it has the potential to cause damage to the steering rack as well as other essential components.

  1. Malfunctioning Sensors

The electronic power steering (EPS) system is dependent on sensors for the collection of data on the vehicle’s speed, steering angle, and other elements. If any one of these sensors is malfunctioning in any way, it has the potential to bring the whole EPS system to a halt. There are situations when the sensor could get damaged and need replacement. In other circumstances, the sensor’s calibration may need to be adjusted.

  1. Electric Motor Failure

The electric motor is certainly one of the most crucial elements that make up the EPS system. In the event that the electric motor fails, it has the potential to bring the EPS system down with it. An electric motor might stop working for a number of different causes. One possible explanation is that the brushes that are located in the motor have become worn over time.

Electrical current is transmitted from the brushes to the rotor in the course of their operation. When they reach their end of life, they will be unable to carry electrical current.

One further thing that may go wrong with an electric motor is the bearings within the motor being worn out over time. The rotor is able to spin because it is supported by the bearings. If the bearings get worn out, the rotor will not be able to spin, which may potentially lead to the failure of the motor.

 How to Fix EPS Problems?

In contrast to traditional hydraulic steering systems, this one does not need the steering pump or fluid to be replaced. Therefore, you will need to use an entirely new method in order to resolve the problems associated with the EPS system. The following are some suggestions that might assist you in repairing issues with your electric power steering.

  1. Scan for Possible Errors

The first thing that you are going to need to do is attach a scan tool to the diagnostic port on the car. Checking for any problem codes that the EPS may have recorded will be much easier with this information. Before continuing, it is important to make a note of any error codes that may have been generated.

  1. Check the Wiring

After you have taken note of any problem codes that may have been shown, the following step is to inspect the wiring that is associated with the power steering system. Conduct a thorough inspection of each of the cables and connections, looking for any indications of wear and tear or damage. If you discover anything that isn’t right, ensure any broken components are fixed or replaced as soon as possible.

What is the Cost of Fixing a Failed EPS System?

When an electric power steering system breaks down, the expense of getting it fixed may be rather substantial. In certain instances, the total price may even end up being more than that of the full steering system. The failure of the electric motor is the issue that manifests itself with the EPS system more often than any other issue.

The cost ranges from $350 to $500 for the expense of replacing the electric motor. The sensors or control unit can malfunctioning, which would account for the other typical issues. In such a scenario, you have to shell out a significant amount of money to highly trained mechanics. A procedure of this kind may cost anywhere between $200 and $300.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does EPS  light indicate low power steering fluid levels?

Because the electric power steering system does not contain any fluids, it is no question that your car’s EPS warning light will turn on for this. Whenever the electric power steering light comes on, it is often a sign that there is an issue with the system that controls the electric power steering. It does not imply that the fluid levels in the power steering system are low.

What is the most common cause of EPS failure?

Failure of the electric power steering may be caused by a few different typical issues. The issue could be with the electric motor, control unit or with sensors.

Is the EPS system powered by a car battery?

A battery does really provide the energy needed to run an electric power steering motor. It is thus probable that you will not get any help when steering if the battery is low or if you have a battery that is not very strong. For the power steering motor to function properly, it requires a certain amount of power from the electric supply. It may be difficult to maneuver the vehicle if the battery is unable to provide the necessary power.

Can we make adjustments to an EPS system?

Adjusting an electric power steering system is definitely something that can be done. You may modify both the amount of assistance it offers when steering and the degree at which it will deliver that assistance. You can also control the level of support it provides while braking.

What is the difference between hydraulic and electric power steering?

Electric power steering and hydraulic power steering both have a few important distinctions between them. In hydraulic power steering, the wheels are turned by applying pressure to a fluid, but in electric power steering, an electric motor is used to help in turning the wheels.

When compared to hydraulic power steering, electric power steering is often more efficient. It also tends to provide the driver with a driving experience that is smoother and more responsive. Additionally, the maintenance requirements for electric power steering are often lower than those for hydraulic power steering.

The Bottom Line

In today’s modern vehicles, one of the most significant safety features is the electric power steering system. It makes it possible for the driver to keep control of the car even when turning, and it provides more assistance when it’s required, such as during movements that are performed in an emergency.

Because it makes steering simpler, it may help reduce the likelihood of accidents happening. The driver has the ability to maintain the vehicle in the proper lane in order to avoid any possible dangers.

On the other hand, electronic power steering systems are prone to breaking down as well. If your vehicle’s electric power steering system breaks down, getting it fixed may be quite expensive.

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