Power steering(1) is an essential feature of modern vehicles that decreases the effort of turning the car and increases the driver’s comfort. Furthermore, power steering also improves the vehicle’s response rate, allowing a driver to quickly change the car’s direction by turning the steering wheel.
Some drivers ignore this light, considering it a sign of low hydraulic fuel or some sensor error. However, this sign can notify some severe errors such as power steering failure. So, it is recommended that drivers never ignore this warning light as it can cause serious accidents. This article has highlighted some reasons for the blinking of this warning light and some remedies that can resolve this warning light issue.
Difference between a Hydraulic Power Steering and an Electric Power Steering?
However, there has been some fine-tuning in this power steering system for 50 years. In hydraulic power steering, the pump uses the fluid that creates hydraulic pressure on the steering rack and pinion. This allows the driver to turn a heavy vehicle with minimal effort. But the major disadvantage of hydraulic power steering is that it utilizes power from the car’s engine and impacts the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
On the other hand, an EPS (Electronic Power Steering) is the most widely used power steering system in modern automotive.
As a driver, you might have noted that turning an EPS at low speed, such as parking or simple maneuvering, is easier than taking high-speed turns. However, EPS does not take any power from the car’s engine; instead, it takes power from the car’s battery. So, it has no impact on the car’s fuel economy.
Common Reasons of Power Steering Warning Light and Remedies
Defective Torque Sensor
Due to the modernization in technology, electric power steering(2) has been introduced to make the drive easy and safe. Moreover, the electric power system also helps reduce fuel consumption, which helps reduce the emission of harmful gases. The Electric power steering system is helpful as it limits the effort required to change the direction of the steering. The electric power steering consists of the shaft torque sensor. The torque sensor is between the output shafts and the input part of the steering.
The shaft torque sensor determines the input power required to rotate the steering wheel. The torque is calculated through the help of rotors present above and below the sensor. These torque sensors mainly operate at the power of 5V.
Other than it, there is a change that voltages supplied to the sensor are accurate, but the sensor is defective and cannot find the exact torque. Thus, the faulty sensors then transmit the wrong information regarding the rotation of rotors, and this issue can also turn the power steering light on as a warning.
Try cleaning the sensor with soapy liquid in case of a defective torque sensor. The torque sensor is placed behind the steering wheel and wrapped around the steering column. It is recommended to read the car’s instruction manual as some models have two torque sensors, and there can be a possibility that you are cleaning the wrong sensor. If the sign does not go even after cleaning the sensor, try getting it replaced by contacting a professional mechanic.
Low Hydraulic Fluid
The power steering system (3) usually operates on the steering fluid. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain the steering fluid at its level because it helps in generating the required amount of pressure. This generated pressure helps in moving the direction of the steering wheel. The power created by the steering fluid is then transferred to the hydraulic pump, which allows the vehicle wheel to rotate in the required direction. Therefore, the steering fluid plays an essential role as it helps in safe driving by creating the right amount the pressure. If the steering fluid falls below the level, it would not be easy to rotate the vehicle in the right direction. Hence, it becomes difficult to drive, and more accidents can occur.
Changing the hydraulic liquid every 50,000 miles and reading the instruction manual to find the best fluid for your hydraulic power steering is recommended. An expert driver can replace the steering liquid by jacking up the vehicle and finding the power steering reservoir attached to the steering pump. However, you might require extra equipment to drain the liquid, such as a turkey baster. If the sign appears again after some days of fluid replacement, it is recommended to visit a professional mechanic to check the leakage in the hydraulic pump.
Defective Hydraulic Pump
Another cause of the illuminated power steering light is the defect in the hydraulic pump(2). The hydraulic pump may not work accurately and cannot provide the required pressure. This would “dry out “the hydraulic system(4) of the vehicles, and as a result, the steering wheel may get defective. So in the cause of defected hydraulic pump light can turn on as a warning signal.
There are chances that the electric power steering light may turn on due to the electrical connection error. The wires may become weak, and as a result, the light is turned on. Moreover, there is a chance that the steering wheel may become slippery and difficult to control while driving. This may occur due to the defective steering gear or bearing.
The electrical errors can be complex and cannot be comprehended by a simple driver. Further, circuits can be complicated, and connecting the wrong wires can cause a short circuit. Thus, it is recommended to visit a professional mechanic who can comprehend electrical errors and provide a feasible solution.
Faults in Steering Rack and Belt
The power steering light(3) can turn on because of the defective steering rack mount. The steering mount can defect due to the vibrations in the steering wheel. These vibrations usually occur due to a weak electrical connection or defected bearing system.
In this situation, you are recommended to replace the particular component of your power steering that is causing hindrance in its performance. It is thus requested to visit a professional mechanic to get the defective parts replaced.
Difference in the Tire Pressure
The warning light(2) turns on when the pressure of the tires becomes less and the steering wheel becomes hard. Due to low pressure in the tires, the steering wheel can become stiff, and as a result, there are chances of accidents. In addition to this, the car frame can be bent due to low pressure. Therefore the warning light appears to make the driver aware of the fault. Also, the difference in the tire pressure can cause drifting from one end of the road to the other.
In case of low tire pressure, you should fill the tires with the air pressure recommended in the instruction manual according to the weather conditions. Further, some vehicle models have the recommended air pressure numbers printed in the door channel. Therefore, you can check the tire size and fill the air accordingly.
I had a power steering warning in a couple of vehicles I owned. In my experience, resolving the power steering light issue in hydraulic power steering is easier. In this case, the light mostly appears due to a leak in the power steering hydraulic pump, or the fluid has become older. On the other hand, I owned a Toyota Prius with an EPS that showed this power steering warning light. Different sensors are associated with an EPS, and the electronics are so complex that it takes much time for a professional mechanic to diagnose the problem. And the cost required to resolve the EPS warning light issue was greater than the vehicle with hydraulic power steering.