View Full Version : Sudden power steering failure and no fix for years?

Loose rivets
11th Nov 2014, 16:18
Just left a lifelong pal, a not-too-well girl, and it seems her 07 Vauxhall Corsa suffers intermittent loss of power steering. A quick search seems to indicate it's been a common fault for a long time. NOT impressed.

Even on this little car I can see how dangerous it could be for someone not expecting it and also not having a huge amount of physical strength. A quick search seems to be saying it might have an electric PS pump. It would explain a lot.

Nothing is showing on the readouts, and they say try to get the car to them withing two days or the codes will be erased. Sigh :ugh:

She doesn't have a lot of dosh, and the local agent charged her 300 quid to look at it. [email protected]%@$ds!

To me, this is something that should have been got right on day one of the fault being known about.

Has anyone any experience of such a worrying issue?

11th Nov 2014, 16:22
it might have an electric PS pump
I don't think it is a pump - it will be a motor-assist system.

http://workshop-manuals.com/vauxhall/astra-j/steering/power_steering_system/description_and_operation/power_steering_system_description_and_operation_electronic_p ower_steering/

11th Nov 2014, 17:40
A car is like any other piece of electromechanical piece of equipment. Parts run out of lubrication, wear out and in some cases just die of old age. The car is seven years old after all, so its not unreasonable to expect some moving parts to need maintenance, repair and replacement eventually. 300 to investigate it without resolving the issue does seem pretty steep though.

This was on MIGWEB, a site for Vauxhall owners:

CORSA ELECTRIC POWER STEERING (http://www.eurocarparts.com/suspension-and-steering)

There are some common faults with the Corsa Electric Power Steering (http://www.eurocarparts.com/suspension-and-steering)
that manifest themselves as one or both of these conditions

1: The car pulls to one side or is easier turn in one direction when
all else seems to be correct. E.g. Tyres equal, steering and
suspension (http://www.eurocarparts.com/suspension-and-steering) geometry good, brakes (http://www.eurocarparts.com/brakes) and wheel bearings good, driven on
a straight and level road.

2: When turning, the steering will randomly seem to jam or stick for
an instant, and the steering wheel becomes suddenly heavy and then
reverts to normal.

Both of these can be rectified using a few commonly available tools
and less than an hour's work. By many accounts the solution from your
friendly Vauxhall Opel dealer is to replace the entire column.


The most common problem by far with the Corsa EPS is caused by the
torque sensing mechanical components wearing with age leading to an
error with the torque sensor reading that gradually gets worse. The
situation can be rectified by adjusting the position of the torque
sensor to a new zero position.

1: Steering (http://www.eurocarparts.com/suspension-and-steering) pulls or has a preference for one direction
Full details of this procedure are available with photographs
elsewhere, but it is worthwhile mentioning now that you will need a
good degree of dexterity and a few useful tools to achieve it. Tools:
Medium sized Phillips screwdriver, T2.5 Torx bit, flexible driver,
small 2BA or 1/4" ring spanner, 13mm ring spanner.

Turn the Steering (http://www.eurocarparts.com/suspension-and-steering) wheel to expose the two pop-on screw covers on the
retaining screws for the steering column switch covers, remove the
covers and the two phillips screws underneath. Remove the three
phillips screws underneath the lower steering (http://www.eurocarparts.com/suspension-and-steering) column switch cover and
remove the cover. Remove the fuse cover and take out the two screws
beneath the fuse box to allow the lower section of the dash to be
pulled away.
On the lower right hand side of the steering column assembly just
inside the dash, there are two torx screws holding the steel cover
plate that protects the torque sensor. Remove both of these using the
flexible driver and T2.5 torx bit. Remove the cover. Before
proceeding, mark the position of sensor body relative to the steering
column body.
If you only need to reset the torque sensor position, you need only
loosen the screws to allow adjustment. If you need to fix the
sticking steering problem then the sensor must be removed. The torque
sensor is retained with two more T2.5 torx screws. The lower
retaining screw can be accessed fairly easily by pulling the lower
right section of the dash away from the metal structure. The upper
one is more difficult and may be slackened using the torx bit in a
small ring spanner.
Next, turn the steering column to gain access to the bolt that
secures the lower steering column universal joint to the rack spigot
that projects up through the floor. Remove the retaining bolt and
swivel the joint away.
If you have a short piece of plastic drain pipe or a cardboard tube,
slide it over the universal joints so that the steering column is
free to turn without jamming on anything (like your hands).

When the ignition is turned on and the engine started, the EPS will
drive the steering column depending on reading of the torque sensor.
If you do this now, there is a chance that the wheel will be driven
continously in one direction. The column has a position sensor at the
top behind the steering wheel that will count 30 turns from end to
end before it jams. Check this before proceeding. Then turn the wheel
back to centre (15 turns from one extreme).
Now be ready to turn off the ignition if the next step causes the
wheel to spin rapidly. Turn on the ignition and start the engine. The
steering may spin rapidly, Switch off if it does. Rotate the torque
sensor fractionally and turn on the engine again. Repeat this process
until the steering is still when the engine is running.
Then, give the steering wheel a short tug in one direction and let it
settle, then do the same in the other direction. The wheel may
continue a little or might bounce back a little. If necessary adjust
the torque sensor position until the behaviour is identical in both
Now switch off, and check the steering centre position by counting
the turns, and reset it in the central position.
Repeat the torque sensor setting procedure to ensure that the
behaviour is identical in both directions. Adjust if necessary. When
you are satisfied that the steering is balanced and neutral turn off
the ignition, and tighten the sensor retaining screws.

Refit the Sensor cover, re-assemble the lower universal joint, refit
the covers and screws and test drive.

2: Random Jamming or "notchy" steering.
This fault is caused by the mechanical components that translate the
steering column effort (Control Demand) into motion that is
proportional to torque. Direction is inferred by the magnitude of the
torque being positive or negative. This mechanical translation is
managed using a slant-pivot coupling connecting the upper and lower
parts of the steering column that operates a sliding collar normally
held in a central position by springs. The motion of the slant-pivot
coupling is limited, and at either extreme allows direct coupling
between the upper and lower sections of the steering column. The
torque sensor detects the position of the sliding collar and produces
an electrical signal to represent the effort and direction of turning
the steering wheel. The EPS system then activates the motor that
drives the lower section of the steering column in the correct
direction to reduce the sensor reading to zero. i.e. No more turning
is demanded.
The problem occurs when the slant-pivot coupling or the sliding
collar bind or lock at some position in the travel. The components
are lubricated when built, but the lubricant degrades over time and
eventually hardens and dries where it is thinnest. When the steering
is turned slowly or by a small amount the friction at some points is
enough to make the coupling bind rather than slide, causing a zero
torque reading that effectively removes all power assistance until
the coupling moves. To the driver this seems like the steering just
got very heavy or jammed for an instant.
It is possible to reinvigorate the assembly using a mixture of
ordinary gear oil and a molybdenum disulphide based additive such as
molyslip or stop smoke.

Carry out the same procedure as case 1, then mark the correct
position of the torque sensor and remove it.
Inject no more than 15cc of the Oil & MoS2 lubricant mixture into the
void around the sliding collar and replace the torque sensor
carefully. It will be necessary to rotate the sensor until the sensor
actuator engages with the sliding collar correctly. Until the sensor
is correctly engaged it will fail to seat properly. Do not force it
into place or use the screws to try and pull it into position. The
sensor arm is biased to one end by a spring and it will have moved
when the sensor was extracted. Offer it into place and feel for the
situation where the sensor arm spring tension can be detected. When
it is in the right position it will just go into place easily and
then it can be rotated to the correct neutral position as previously

Before replacing everything else, start the engine and check that the
steering behaves properly. If it turns in one direction switch off
immediately and reset the torque sensor position by following the
procedure for case 1.

After lubricating the internal components, a few days may need to
elapse before the lubricant penetrates all parts of the coupling.
Over this time the steering will gradually become lighter and may
start to favour one direction as the coupling finds a new equilibrium
position. If this occurs it will be necessary to reset the torque
sensor position again.So, in answer to your question, yes, it does seem to be an issue that others have had.

Loose rivets
11th Nov 2014, 19:26
G-C, yes it looks as though I jumped to a duff conclusion.

mechta, thanks for that. Given the nature of the work, I would draw the line of what to work on way above someone else's steering, but it will allow me to arm her with an argument or so.

I've had PS failure on a MK10 Jag many years ago. I hadn't seen a single car on the A140 on one lovely spring morning. (those were the days) On a long left 60mph bend I just missed having a head-on with the first opposite traffic I'd seen - a HUGE lorry. The belt went with a loud bang and the manual reversion was via a box, not a rack, and it was very, very heavy. I would have hit it had I not overpowered the resistance. It got my attention.

I also had the top blow off the same box due to under-designed studs. In this case it only left a large patch of pretty foam on a pub forecourt.

I shall read in with more care later.


11th Nov 2014, 22:32
Check the ps fluid level.

A mates XC 90 Volvo had the same issues...

If the fluid is leaking, the level reduces, resulting in intermittent failure of the system...

11th Nov 2014, 22:44
Electric fluid?

12th Nov 2014, 00:09
Shytorque said "Electric fluid?"

What do you think they put in the battery?

12th Nov 2014, 08:14
A quick search seems to be saying it might have an electric PS pump. It would explain a lot.

Has anyone any experience of such a worrying issue?

Sort of.

FWIW I once had a little citroen as an airport car...Driving home along a nice straight autoroute very late one winter's night the heater blower motor clattered a bit and then burnt out......the fumes quickly dispersed so I bravely decided to continue :ooh: A few kms later as I attempted to negotiate the ever tightening curve on the exit slip I discovered an interesting technical quirk of the vehicle - the heater fan motor and the power assist shared the same fuse :eek::eek: (as did the rear screen heater, but that was the least of my problems)....

12th Nov 2014, 08:40
Two years ago my daughter complained that her power steering had failed on her Toyota MR2. I had a quick Google and discovered that it was an electric system so I went round and hit the motor with a mallet. It has worked ever since. I understand that the brushes tend to stick and that would explain intermittent failures.

Shortly after this, the pump on my ABS system failed so I gave it the same treatment with the same success.

As they say, if it moves when it shouldn't use duct tape. If is doesn't move when it should, use a hammer.

12th Nov 2014, 09:03
'Percussive maintenance',nice !


12th Nov 2014, 10:03
Working on La Palma a few years ago, and the project scientist (who usually insisted on driving) complained for days about how heavy the steering was on our rental Renault. I drove one day, and about 200m from the hotel turned around to return the car to the airport. The PS was banjaxxed. He was a big lad, but wrestling that thing up mountain roads to nearly 8000' must have been a bit of a task. :rolleyes:

cockney steve
12th Nov 2014, 11:06
Very interesting,re-Vauxhall P/s...A friend's Astravan would have the "notchy " symptoms and was told the fault was with his year-old battery
Having checked the voltage under load, I refuted this and we swapped the battery , same symptoms. A new battery cured the problem.......a year later....intermittent notchy steering.

You haven't lived until you've driven a Rolls when the engine dies suddenly (late Shadow/early Spirits have 2 weak transistors in the electronic ignition ) Not only are you trying to lug 2 ton of car, against the resistance of a stopped pump, your brakes are totally dependent on the capacity of 2 pressure accumulators. When they're depleted,NO BRAKES! :eek: I'd swear you can feel the steering-wheel bending as you try to aim the now-silent projectile.

Yamagata ken
12th Nov 2014, 11:48
You haven't lived until you've driven a Rolls.... You haven't lived until you've driven a manual steered (no power) 8-wheel (four axle, 28 ton) ERF. In another life I used to drive a tipper. One day, pulling on to a roundabout (at reasonable speed) fully loaded, the ERF turned in perfectly normally. Negotiating the roundabout, the back end came around in a massive oversteer moment. Cue ken (aka fiddler's elbow) applying opposite lock, 17 turns from lock to lock.

The rearmost outer tyre on the nearside had punctured, hence the slow-motion potential truck wreck.

Later. Different job, different employer. Running bobtail (bobtail is an artic without trailer) from London to Frankfurt in a TK Bedford, mid-winter, 0-dark-0. Pishing with rain on a slick autobahn, therefore about 40mph. Back end aquaplaned and tried to swap ends. No power steering, but Ken's on the job. Max attack, a zillion turns and we've missed the centre barrier, then another zillion turns to take lock off and get straight. That night, I used all three lanes plus the hard shoulder.

Power steering is for gurls :)

12th Nov 2014, 12:04
What do you think they put in the battery?

Gel electrolyte.

The Flying Pram
12th Nov 2014, 12:12
@ Yamagata ken - I still have vivid memories (from 45 odd years ago) watching the driver of a fully laden double decker bus really heaving on the steering wheel, when negotiating the junction just down the road from me. It would have been a Gardner 5LW (LX?) powered Bristol chassis, with Eastern Coach Works body. The engine is probably still in use, powering a fairground ride somewhere...

12th Nov 2014, 12:19
Gardner engines in the buses in Hong Kong were 'overhauled' several times before being sold-on to the Junk users.

Yamagata ken
12th Nov 2014, 12:36
The Flying Pram. Yes, Gardner 180 engine. That was the ERF too. With a massive flywheel and seven speed David Brown crash gearbox, climbing over the brow of a hill went like this.

Max revs in given gear, change up. Double de-clutch, in to neutral. Wait for the next gear, wait wait. Truck stops. Re-engage first, make happy signs to the line of traffic behind. Drive off. Continue climbing. Max out in given gear, double de-clutch, truck has stopped before revs have matched. Make happy signs to the even longer line of cars trapped behind. Rinse and repeat.

An alternative is that Scania/Volvo/Mercedes etc. got truck design (including power steering) right. ERF/Foden/Bedford/UK seem to have problems dealing with the 20th Century.

The Flying Pram
12th Nov 2014, 19:39
G-CPTN - Many of the bus fleet I'm referring to went "round the clock" every year for up to 25 years! Quite a testament to their construction, considering virtually all that mileage was stop-start city driving. I was told it was normal for Gardner's to do 250,000 before a de-coke, and up to a million before a complete strip down.

Yamagata ken - Only 5 cylinders, probably about 100 HP?, and (IIRC) only 4 speed DB boxes. As a schoolboy passenger, I remember once coming to a complete stop approaching the crest of a steep hill, whilst the driver was trying to downshift from 2nd to 1st... Then they got some new single deckers which had underfloor 150's, a 5 speed semi automatic box, AND power steering. It was like entering a new world - for the driver, as well as us passengers!

Rivets - sorry for the considerable thread drift, I hope you will accept some nostalgia on my part.

12th Nov 2014, 21:08
Having experienced a Vauxhall Corsa electric steering problem, I was most chuffed when YouTube furnished a solution.

Even better was finding that said solution actually worked and I didn't end up coated in oil.

None of which helps the OP.

12th Nov 2014, 23:28
Two years ago my daughter complained that her power steering had failed on her Toyota MR2.

MR2s had power steering? With so little weight at the front, isn't that rather like putting power steering on a go-kart?

Loose rivets
13th Nov 2014, 00:08
Well, thanks to this thread I'm learning, but I don't like what I see.

In a perfect world, I can understand how this is cheaper to produce and indeed, maintain, but it's far from a perfect world.

I imagine this system is susceptible to grot and poor maintenance - in equal measure. I fear I have little confidence in technicians that may be fair to good, but are loaded with a million new devices to learn every year. I still remember the faces of Freddy Laker's tekkies as the visiting DC10 guys were trying to teach them on-the-pan fault finding. Anyway, back to Earthbound problems.

Corsa b power steering, fitting new load sensor and testing the unit, www.rallywiz.com - YouTube

27th Apr 2017, 13:43
Hi i have just joined and wondering if there is a simple fix as my wife's diesel Vauxhall corsa seems to lose power when slightly moving steering wheel left or right when driving it doesn't keep power my wife's just past her driving test would be nice if we could get it fixed thanks for your help

27th Apr 2017, 15:21
Shytorque said

What do you think they put in the battery?

Any fule kno that the battery is filled with smoke!!!

300 sounds a complete rip-off. Find an independent mechanic.

Loose rivets
27th Apr 2017, 15:29
pvmw, I suspect ricardian has forgotten about his post by now.:}

Tony. Tell us if it's an hydraulic system with pump, or electric. And the power loss. Do you mean the steering power, or the power of the whole car? As in, when you turn the wheel, you can feel the car being slowed. Small engine cars used to not manage the pump very well, though hopefully, that's a thing of the past.

27th Apr 2017, 15:41
Cost of a replacement is about 200 trade and 300 public. (http://www.ecutesting.com/catalogue/product/vauxhall_corsa_power_steering_eps_-_electric_power_steering_eps303390.html) Should be able to get a local garage to do the job. Workshop manual is online (http://workshop-manuals.com/vauxhall/corsa-d/m__steering/eps_electrical_power_steering/eps_steering_column/repair_instructions/eps_steering_column_remove_and_install/replace/), doesn't look long or difficult.

Or you might be able to find someone locally like these guys (http://www.amacuk.co.uk/eps-power-steering) to fix it.

27th Apr 2017, 17:15
Welcome TonyLee - to the madhouse.

27th Apr 2017, 17:51
Citroen C3 diesel had intermittent power steering problems when elderly battery was drained starting on cold winter mornings. New battery completely cured the power steering problems.

28th Apr 2017, 10:21
Are we such a nation of weaklings nowadays that we need power steering on these tiny cars? Fifty years ago even big family saloons didn't have it as standard, and it wouldn't even have been an option on Mini-sized cars.

28th Apr 2017, 10:43
Are we such a nation of weaklings nowadays that we need power steering on these tiny cars? Fifty years ago even big family saloons didn't have it as standard, and it wouldn't even have been an option on Mini-sized cars.

True, but modern car tyres are twice as wide and the steering has close to half the turns between locks, so the effort required is multiplied.
Try turning the wheel of your modern car with the engine not running.....

28th Apr 2017, 13:02
Never had steering problems with my '67 Mini. It just goes where you point it, even at radical speeds :}
Has technology regressed in the past 50 years?!

28th Apr 2017, 13:26
I suspect that suspension design has changed to allow for power steering, instead of being arranged to minimise steering effort in the days of manual steering.

I learned to drive on a Humber Hawk and then moved on to driving trucks without power steering.

28th Apr 2017, 16:35
Electric power steering getting ready for driverless cars. If they had done all this at once it would have been a disaster. Steering,brakes,gear boxes ,handbrake ect are nearly ready for driverless cars now.

Windy Militant
28th Apr 2017, 18:09
Years ago I worked at a place where they had a homemade crane. They welded a Hiab boom onto an old ERF tractor unit. No power steering and with no trailer it was a bit nose heavy or as my mate put it " You have to have arms like Popeye to drive the F:mad:g thing.

When I moved to where I am now we had a Simon hydraulic cherry picker on a Bedford TM chassis. A number of us had site licences to use it round the lab. One day a colleague was assessed to see if he could be let lose on it.
Shortly after I bumped into the guy who did the assessments, who was usually a grumpy sort, chortling to himself. He explained that the first thing our man did was heave on the steering wheel and head but the wind screen. As the only thing he'd driven up until then was a Ford Fiesta with power steering he did not expect to have to use both hands and both feet on the dash to move the wheel! :}

28th Apr 2017, 18:11
Try turning the wheel of your modern car with the engine not running.....

Yes, that's really hard - but you are pushing the fluid back through the pump. Years ago plenty of my mates had cars with tyres wider than modern ones, and, on Minis, fitted smaller steering wheels too, and had no trouble steering. Modern cars have too few turns lock to lock to make things easy for the poor snowflakes and therefore require power steering.

29th Apr 2017, 03:20
Are we such a nation of weaklings nowadays that we need power steering on these tiny cars? Fifty years ago even big family saloons didn't have it as standard, and it wouldn't even have been an option on Mini-sized cars.

It's not so much weakness as it is unexpectedness.

Radial tires have a lot to do with this pervasive invasion of power steering. They have a lot more side drag than the old bias ply tires did. So driving a rutted road now puts a lot of bad feedback to the driver.

Search YouTube and archive.org for old car commercials, and watch the steering wheel.

Lots of turns, lock to lock. Lots of correction.

Power steering fixes some of that because there is little feedback from the road, and lessens the number of turns required to put a vehicle into its tightest turn radius.

But when it malfunctions... Wow.

I had a 1962 Oldsmobile station wagon for a while. It had the old "deciduator" and a hydraulic piston on the cross link to provide assist using pressurized oil.

Had to keep that particular belt tight and happy, or it would shudder and vibrate under even moderate steering.

The whole thing here is the surprise factor when any system suddenly changes behavior.

29th Apr 2017, 20:33
By law, vehicles must be capable of being steered after a failure of the power assist - though of course there is a much greater effort required.

29th Apr 2017, 22:08
The Infiniti Q50 has a fly by wire steering system. There is no physical connection between the steering wheel and the actual steering mechanism. Things could get interesting if the system failed.

30th Apr 2017, 11:48
There's also a big difference in the behaviour of engine-driven power steering and the more modern electric ones, we have one of each. The engine driven one can cause the engine to stall if you manoeuvre it at idle revs when cold, the electric one doesn't. It does have one odd effect though, if you're winding the electric window up whilst turning at low speed, the window sometimes stops as it detects the slight voltage drop caused by the power steering pump motor and sees it as a load on the window (e.g. your arm stuck in it).

30th Apr 2017, 12:49
Isn't electric steering another of the weight reduction 'improvements', that in turn produce 'better' Co2 emissions?

Like doing away with spare wheels.