Your steering wheel angle sensor is vital to your car’s electronic stability control system. This sensor tells your car’s computer how far you have turned the steering wheel, and is used in conjunction with other sensors to keep your car stable when driving on slippery surfaces.
If your steering angle sensor goes bad, it can cause your car to spin out of control on icy or wet roads. In some cases, a faulty steering angle sensor can also cause your car to veer off course when making a turn.
A bad steering angle sensor can be dangerous, so it is important to have it repaired as soon as possible if it is not working properly. Steering angle sensor repairs can be costly, but they are worth the investment to keep you and your family safe on the road.
5 Symptoms of a Bad Steering Angle Sensor
You may experience several symptoms if your steering angle sensor is not working properly. Here are five signs to watch out for:
1. Check Engine Light Illuminates
First and foremost, the check engine light will usually come on when a sensor isn’t sending the right signal to the engine control unit. This may indicate that the steering angle sensor is going bad.
2. Traction Control Light Illuminates
In addition, to the check engine light, you may also see the traction control light come on if your steering angle sensor is going bad. This is because the traction control system uses information from the steering angle sensor to adjust the wheel’s spin.
3. Heavy Steering Wheel Turning
When the steering angle sensor isn’t working properly, it may cause the steering wheel to feel heavy when you turn. This can make it difficult to maneuver the vehicle, especially at lower speeds.
4. Strange Steering after Wheel Alignment
You may notice that your steering feels strange after you’ve had a wheel alignment. This may be due to the fact that the steering angle sensor needs to be reset after an alignment is performed. It may feel strange in the sense that the steering may be less responsive or more resistant in certain turns.
5. Variations in Steering Boost
Last but not least, one of the more common symptoms of a bad steering angle sensor is variations in steering boost. You may notice that the steering feels different when you turn the wheel at different speeds. This can be extremely dangerous as it can make it difficult to control the vehicle in certain situations.
What Does a Bad Steering Wheel Sensor Do?
When your steering wheel sensor is going bad, it can cause your check engine light to come on. In addition, your traction control system may be affected, and you may notice that your steering wheel is heavy to turn or that your steering feels strange after a wheel alignment. You may also see variations in the amount of steering boost you get from your power steering system.
What Causes the Steering Angle Sensor to Malfunction?
The most common causes of a bad steering angle sensor are the following:
1. Faulty Wiring
A very common cause of steering angle sensor problems is faulty wiring. Over time, the wires that connect the sensor to the rest of the car can become damaged or corroded, causing signal problems. Heat and vibration are often the culprits for damage to the wires.
2. Failure to Reset after Alignment
In some cases, the steering angle sensor may fail to reset after a wheel alignment. This can cause the sensor to give incorrect readings, which can lead to problems with the check engine light, traction control system, and power steering.
3. Hard Faults
Another common cause of steering angle sensor problems is hard faults. These are typically caused by physical damage to the sensor itself, such as from a car accident. Hard faults can also be caused by electrical problems, such as shorts or voltage spikes.
4. Plausibility Faults
Plausibility faults are another type of problem that can occur with the steering angle sensor. These typically happen when the sensor is not mounted properly, or when there is something wrong with the way it is connected to the car. Plausibility faults can also be caused by software issues, such as incorrect calibration.
5. Broken Steering Angle Sensor
You may have a broken steering angle sensor if you notice that your check engine light is on, your traction control light is on, or your power steering is not working properly. In some cases, a broken steering angle sensor can also cause the car to pull to one side.
6. Diagnosis of a Failing Steering Angle Sensor
In order to diagnose a failing steering angle sensor, the first thing that your mechanic will do is hook up a scanner to your car’s computer. This will allow them to check for any codes that have been stored in the computer. Next, they will test the voltage and resistance of the sensor itself. Finally, they will take the car for a test drive to see if they can reproduce the symptoms.
How to Fix a Faulty Steering Angle Sensor
There are a few different ways to fix a faulty steering angle sensor. The first thing that your mechanic will likely do is check the wiring and connectors for any damage. They may also clean the contacts on the sensor itself. If the problem is with the software, they may need to update the calibration or reprogram the car’s computer. In some cases, the sensor may need to be replaced altogether.
Steering Angle Sensor Replacement Cost
The cost of fixing a steering angle sensor will vary depending on the severity of the problem and the make and model of your car. In most cases, you can expect to pay between $200 and $400 for the parts and labor. However, in some cases, the cost can be as high as $1,000 or more.
A steering angle sensor is vital to your car’s safety system. It can cause your check engine light to come on, your traction control system to fail, and your power steering to malfunction. If you notice any of these problems, be sure to take your car to a mechanic right away.
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