REPAIRING ELECTRONIC POWER STEERING

PSPA discusses common questions when it comes to Electronic Power Steering

Power Steering Parts of Australia (PSPA) says that with the ever-increasing volume of Electronic Power Steering (EPS) in new vehicles from nearly all OE manufacturers, the specialist power steering repair industry has a whole new field they will have to learn.
As when Hydraulic Power Steering took over from Manual Steering, now EPS systems are starting to make Hydraulic Power Steering redundant.
PSPA says that generally, if a vehicle owner has a steering problem and takes it back to the dealer, they will recommend a completely new steering assembly. In some cases, this will be correct but in other cases, they can be repaired.
So why can’t technicians simply dismantle the unit and put it back together if parts are available? PSPA explains there are more than ten key manufacturing companies making EPS for OE car companies and their products all differ.
It states the three most popular types are Pinion, Column and Rack assist units. Sensors detect the motion and torque of the steering column and a computer module applies assistive power through an electric motor coupled directly with either the steering column or steering gear. This is just one of many types of electrical units in some of the above steering systems.
So how do technicians repair the EPS in that case? PSPA says that in some cases it will be fairly simple and a scan tool will work, but with the majority you will need specialist computer diagnostic units on-hand.
PSPA says it has an ongoing programme of increasing the range of parts available to replace worn or damaged components within these EPS units. Some items are circuit boards, brushes, bushings and sensors.
When undertaking this kind of work, PSPA cautions you to remember that a lot of time will be spent undertaking diagnosis and you need to charge for that service or agree to a partial rebate if they give you the full job to do. As such, PSPA suggests you update a written job card with details of work to be done including estimated diagnostic time showing the hourly rate that the customer will be liable to pay and make sure they sign it.
Available testing equipment
PSPA notes that various testing equipment is becoming available and some units require the vehicle computer to again match with the EPS electronics or the EPS system will not work.
It says it is now distributing a range of European manufactured Virtual Car System units (VcarSys) with a full support network to back them up through the subscription programme. The range of VcarSys units start with:

  • The ‘Easy’ model which can do an in-car test and reset if required. This will be released when more functions are completed during manufacture.
  • The ‘Mini’ model is used with a windows laptop and can recalibrate the computer system. Cable sets are required to attach to the EPS unit and in this model it is a lightweight cable.
  • The top of the range ‘Model 11’ has a built-in scan tool and is mounted into a hard-plastic small suitcase. Cable sets are required to attach to the EPS unit and in this model, the cable sets are heavy duty.

Annual contracts are required for the Mini and MK11 so you can receive all the latest software updates. Cable sets are sold as required and generally ten sets are included in the price of these two units. Ongoing cable sets for newer vehicles will also be available as required at a cost.
PSPA says its new range of computers will allow the steering units module to be paired ready for installation back into the vehicle and it will then work with the vehicle’s computer.

For more information, please contact Power Steering Parts of Australia on pspa@pspa.com.au or by calling 08 9295 6666.