The Basics of EPS
In car language, EPS is the acronym for Electric Power Steering. It’s a relatively new feature that more and more vehicles will have in the coming years. The obvious questions are what is it exactly and how does it differ from the traditional hydraulic power steering?
Let’s start with the basics. Most cars have hydraulic power steering. Basically, a power steering system is designed to help you when you’re exerting force on the steering wheel to turn the vehicle. The hydraulic system is constantly pumping fluid, which has been found to waste horsepower, and that leads to the waste of fuel. Bottom line: it negatively affects the fuel efficiency of your vehicle.
Electric Power Steering is slowly replacing many hydraulic systems in vehicles today. This system increases fuel efficiency by eliminating the need for the bulk and weight of a power steering pump and its hoses. This also takes away the issue of fluid leaks and the need to check steering fluids. An added bonus: the EPS is quieter than the hydraulic system because it doesn’t create the noise of a pump. Drivers appreciate a higher level of steering accuracy and refinement. Because this system is driven by software, it can better adapt to changing driving conditions, and it even provides steering assistance when the engine is not running.
Some models that have the EPS feature include the Acura NSX (the first production car with EPS), the Toyota Prius and RAV4, the Chevy Malibu (2004-2009), the Pontiac G5 (2007-2009), the Saturn VUE (2002-2009) and the Chevy Cobalt and Equinox (2005-2009).
Any new system is not without its challenges. In March of this year, GM recalled 1.3 million 2005-201 Chevy Cobalt; 2007-2010 Pontiac G5s; and 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuits sold in Canada, along with 2005-2006 Pontiac G4s sold in Mexico to fix power steering motors that had the potential to fail. If the EPS fails, the driver will experience an increased steering effort, especially if the car is going under 15 mph. The recall was the result of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation that stemmed from over 1,100 complaints it had received from drivers whose vehicles lost steering power. GM stated that the older models will get repaired first because the problem doesn’t typically appear until after 20,000 to 30,000 miles of driving.
With hydraulic systems, fluid leaks, over time, lead to stiffer driving conditions and more effort needed to turn your vehicle. The EPS failure means a much more immediate difficulty, although the vehicle is still drivable. As the system continues to evolve, such challenges will become less frequent.
Johnny Nocera has been on the radio airwaves in Southwest Florida with “Dr. Johnny’s Car Clinic” on FOX News radio 92.5 FM, 1240/1270 AM every Saturday morning from 9-10 for over 25 years. He also owns, along with his sons J.R. and Jimmy, Supreme Auto and Collision located in downtown Naples, and has been in business for more than 35 years.