How to Diagnose a Failing Steering Position Sensor
Your steering position sensor is a donut-shaped sensor in the steering column. It monitors your steering inputs and communicates the information to the ECU. It’s a small part, but it plays an important part in your GM’s steering system. It’s such a key component that you will feel a difference in your vehicle’s steering when it malfunctions.
Symptoms to Look Out For
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A failing steering position sensor may lead to erratic steering, which can put you and your passengers in serious danger. If you experience one the following symptoms, you may need to replace your steering position sensor:
- Steering boost varies during the same corner.
- Steering is always over-boosted.
- Traction control light is illuminated.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should perform a diagnosis and if needed, make a repair as soon as possible. Before jumping into the diagnostic process outlined below, let’s rule out something first.
Did Your Car Just Get a Front End Alignment?
Some steering position sensors need to be reset when the vehicle is aligned. It’s common for technicians to forget to do this. Did you start experiencing the symptoms right after having your car aligned? If so, your steering position sensor is likely fine and just needs to be reset.
Getting a Diagnosis in 5 Easy Steps
All you need is an ohmmeter and 5 minutes of your time.
- Go underneath the dash and locate the steering column.
- Next to the column is a wiring connector wrapped in foam tape. Grab a nonmetallic tool and scrape off enough foam tape so that you can access the connector.
- Use a small flathead screwdriver or pick to remove a plastic retaining pin from the connector. Then unplug the connector.
- Connect an ohmmeter to the orange and blue leads of the sensor. (NOTE: Wire color may be different on your vehicle, so be sure to check your shop manual or 'google' it. Just know that no harm will be done if you measure the wrong leads.)
- Have a friend turn the wheel back and forth. Watch the ohmmeter - if the value exceeds 12,000 ohms, or shows an open circuit, then it’s time to replace the sensor. If the value stays under 12,000 ohms, then the sensor passed the test.
(Note: This procedure will work for many GM vehicles, but may be incorrect for some. Please search Google or refer to a service manual to verify the steps for your vehicle.
Replacing the Sensor or Installing an Actuator Kit
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If your sensor is bad, you may choose between two options to repair it:
- Replace the sensor.
- Install an actuator kit. (This makes the sensor unnecessary. See this article for more information.)