Power Steering Recall

Roughly two years ago, Chrysler recalled approximately 442 Dodge Ram pick up trucks for a problem with the electric power steering (EPS) module.  The recall applied specifically to 2015 -2016 Ram 1500 trucks manufactured between January 22, 2015 and September 13, 2015.  The problem had to do with short circuiting of the EPS circuit board that would cause the loss of power steering and increase the risk of a crash.  Since that recall was put in effect, reports have been received that indicate that the short circuit is not enough to cause the 100 amp fuse, that is supposed to protect the module, to open.  As a result, the short circuits are causing wiring to overheat and ignite resulting in vehicular fires.  It should be noted that overheating of the wiring has not been addressed and is not part of the original recall.  The original recall is identified as NHTSA campaign # 16V16700 and Chrysler recall # S19.  A copy of the recall is attached below.  The second page shows a wiring diagram and the connection between the EPS module and battery through the 100 amp fuse that is in question.  Also shown is the connection between the battery and the power center.  If a fire occurs, the origin appears to be in the area of the battery and power center, both of which are located on the driver’s side of the engine compartment above the left front wheel well.  Complaints regarding vehicular fires related to this recall should be reported to NHTSA through their website at www.nhtsa.gov.

Recall & wiring diagram0001

Recall & wiring diagram0002

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Electric Power Steering

In a previous blog article, I discussed how complicated products were becoming as a result of the rapidly changing technology industry.  In another example of complex technology, electric power steering is replacing hydraulic power steering.  For the most part, this isn’t news.  Two years ago however, GM began recalling 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles because the power steering motor would fail.  Keep in mind that in a hydraulic system, pressurized fluid would assist the driver in turning the front wheels either left or right.  In an electric system, the power steering motor does this job.  But, when it fails, power steering disappears.  When power steering disappears, more effort is required from the driver in order to maintain control of the vehicle.  If the driver is unprepared for the additional strength required, then the risk of a crash increases. This is also true for a hydraulic system.  It is understood that the power steering motor depends upon input from sensor(s) in order to determine the steering wheel’s position and whether to move the front wheels right or left.  GM has stated in their recall that the power assist will return the next time that the vehicle is restarted.  This statement implies that somehow, something in the motor has a tendency to fix itself and return to normal until the next time the “something” decides to cause the motor to fail.  It should be noted that although not proven, the power steering motor might have a tendency to alternately stop operating and then start again causing the steering wheel to oscillate back and forth. Doing so, will likely cause the vehicle to move sideways, back and forth.  We are investigating a situation with just this type of movement.  Just one more thing for the driving public to have to worry about. If you have experienced a power steering problem you are urged to have it checked.  The recall for this vehicle can be seen on the NHTSA website or on the GM website.

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