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Old 03-09-2010, 12:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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GM's ecomodding efforts leads to recall of Cobalt (electric power steering probs)

Some of you are already aware of this...



Quote:
General Motors announced it would recall 1.3 million Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s built between 2005 and 2010. GM will replace the motors on their electric power assisted steering (EPAS). Over time the motors can reportedly fail and lead to a loss of steering assist.
Source: Autoblog

(EDIT: note I highlighted the word "assist" above - when the e-motor stops, you still have manual steering.)

You can be pretty sure GM only put the electric pumps in the cars as a fuel saving measure.

It does make me wonder how many other reliability issues we might see as auto makers embrace less mature technologies in an effort to improve efficiency.

Maybe the thought is unwarranted - electric motors don't usually have reliability issues (not like they're an immature technology). More likely a production process or materials issue from a supplier.

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Old 03-09-2010, 12:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Interesting. I wonder if this is a different pump than they put in the '04 Ion.
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Old 03-09-2010, 12:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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...when the electric steering-pump stops, you loose steering, but the engine's still running.

...when the engine-driven hydraulic steering-pump stops, it's the engine that's probably stopped...but, not always.

Last edited by gone-ot; 08-21-2012 at 07:13 PM..
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Old 03-09-2010, 12:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I suspect it's because when engine driven power steering pumps start to fail the engine can handle the increased load, an electric pump the motor over heats and blows the fuse or burns out the motor, solution? stop putting power steering in cars.
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Old 03-09-2010, 12:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryland View Post
I suspect it's because when engine driven power steering pumps start to fail the engine can handle the increased load, an electric pump the motor over heats and blows the fuse or burns out the motor, solution? stop putting power steering in cars.
*said in a whiny 12 year old voice*

But then my arms will get tired, and I will be able to tell if my tires are low simply by how hard they are to turn. I don't want that!!! Plus, do you know hard it is to parallel park while texting with manual steering?
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hello -

Yeah, I'm familiar with that. I call the Saturn Ion a "Proto Cobalt" because it's based on the same GM Delta Platform. I researched it here :

Ion-Centric repair list? - SaturnFans Forums

And thought about the ecomod of removing the motor entirely :

Disable Electric Power Steering? - SaturnFans Forums
Quote:
I am curious. Has anyone disabled the electric power steering? If yes, was the car driveable at the 2800+ curb weight or was the steering just way too heavy?

I am asking because it seems like you could bypass the electric motor overheat issue by removing the motor or just setting it up the electric motor to spin freely (in theory this would keep the control modules happy and not throw a code). This would save you the worst-case-scenario $900+ cost of a new steering column (I do know you can get the motor separately for much less $$).
From what I am able to surmise the electric motor gets dirty. This leads it to overheat and shutdown to protect itself from burning out.

Assuming it would be too hard to steer without the motor, my solution would be to buy a second motor and swap them out at regular intervals. That way I would be able to clean one motor at my leisure. I could even keep it in the trunk as a "spare", ha ha. Supposedly it's a snap to remove them on Cobalts. On Ions I think there is more dashboard guck in the way.

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Old 03-09-2010, 01:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Tele man View Post
...when the engine-driven hydraulic steering-pump stops, it's the engine that's probably stopped...but, not always.
My experience is that almost all hydraulic power steering failure is the result of a broken belt.

And why would an electric power steering system even have a pump? I don't know anything about Chevy's system (just the EPS on my Insight), but it seems pretty Rube Goldbergish...
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Clev -

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clev View Post
Interesting. I wonder if this is a different pump than they put in the '04 Ion.
I am sure you have the problem (you might not see the pictures if you are not a member of saturnfans.com) :

ION Power Steering - SaturnFans Forums
Quote:
The power steering on my 2005 Ion went out. The dealer wants $900 to replace the steering column. I heard Saturn has come out with a fix that doesn't require the entire column be replaced and is much cheaper. Anyone heard about this?
SaturnFans Forums - View Single Post - ION Power Steering
Quote:
Originally Posted by cfg83 View Post
Hello -

I found this. It uses a Chevy Cobalt as an example of how electric power steering works :

Electric Power Steering - Copyright AA1Car
Electric Power Steering

Quote:
CHEVY COBALT ELECTRIC POWER STEERING MODES

The General Motors EPS system has several modes of operation:

* Normal mode -- Left and right assist is provided in response to inputs and vehicle speed.

* Return mode -- Used to assist steering return after completing a turn. Feedback from the steering position sensor prevents the EPS system from "overshooting" the center position.

* Damper control mode -- Used to improve road feel and dampen kickback. This mode typically kicks in at higher vehicle speeds.

* Protection mode -- Protects electrical components from thermal damage and excessive current flow if the steering is held all the way to one side in the lock position too long.
I have an e-manual that explains 2005 Ion power steering control logic. I'll post that in the next few days.

...

SaturnFans Forums - View Single Post - ION Power Steering
Quote:
Originally Posted by cfg83 View Post
Hello -

I got this from a flea-bay e-manual for an S-Series. But, lo and behold, it had Saturn Ion specs too :





...
Is it right to call it a pump? I think on all Ion's it's an electric motor attached to the steering shaft.

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Old 03-09-2010, 01:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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...I stand (sit?) corrected and agree the word "pump" is not appropriate in this instance.
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hi,

I think power steering and power brakes on a small-ish car are completely unnecessary. Just do the engineering to let them work "manually" -- it would be more efficient, I'll bet!

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